A quick scan of the shelves offers dissertations’ worth of material for future cultural anthropologists. In addition to toothbrushes and a variety of dried foods, necessary goods include the following: texts on Hegel and anarcho-syndicalism (30 minutes); condoms (20 minutes); paintbrushes (15 minutes); yoga mat (one hour); guitar (14 hours); Casio watches (2 hours); hemp soap (one hour); Chia Lincoln (one hour); stovetop coffee maker (2 hours); and a blue Peugeot bike—originally fifteen hours, reduced to ten due to necessary repair work. These are the must-haves of a certain subset of the cultural stratosphere, revealing that the project’s real divide is social, not economic.
It’s easy to mock Stevenson’s dismissiveness, but he’s quick to delineate between idleness—a form of inquisitive and generative aimlessness—and laziness, its apathetic doppelganger. The distinction is particularly relevant to the book’s desired audience: aspiring artists, or “young gentlemen,” as Stevenson would have it, eager to while away their time. In this regard, “Idlers” is less of an apology than it is a dispatch from the field.
For my money, the Biennale’s most impressive—and subtle—works were sculptural, and among these, interventions into the vast exhibition spaces. In Klub Europa German artist Hans Schabus placed a wooly mammoth and decapitated stegosaurus in the middle of the Oranienplatz’s narrow courtyard, making it difficult for viewers to catch the entirety of the visual joke without leaning out the window to see it. With Das Haus Bleibt Still (the house stays still) Adrian Lohmüller set up a Chinese-water-torture piping system that slowly dripped onto a salt block, creating crystal formations that melted into a nearby bed.
Hayes’ set was part of the Guggenheim’s Haunted show—an examination of how photography and video have responded to new forms of documentation over the past half century. Assuming viewers walk straight up the spiral, the show opens on Warhol and closes on Tacita Dean, with a scattered theoretical survey of post-‘60s art in the middle. Focusing on photography—the imperfect marriage of ghost and machine—the curators posit that in the 21st century media landscape, images negotiate the collective experience of history and memory, and for better or worse, can be remade at the artist or viewer’s volition.
Levinstein’s photos recall the vibrancy of Robert Frank’s urban scenes and the unselfconsciousness of Walker Evans’ hidden-camera subway shots, but with elements of levity and the grotesque. He’s happy to trade unguarded expressions for the instant of surprise, to capture the shock of recognition when making eye contact with a stranger. As a result, Hipsters has the democratic feel of surfing the crowds during a New York summer.
As a financial wonk and Berkeley liberal, Lewis’ books have the rare quality of appealing to two audiences at once: bankers and people who consider reading financial journalism on par with a trip to the dentist. (I fall into the latter camp). In Liar’s Poker, passages about mortgage-backed bonds and credit default swaps—boiled down to their most digestible essentials—are interspersed with accounts of the self-described “Big Swinging Dicks” that ran the show, casting doubt on any theories that statistical failures were entirely to blame for looming financial troubles.
Unlike other Israeli writers of his generation, Keret’s writing tends to avoid religion or politics, allowing him sidestep the country’s historical hang-ups while investigating the kinds of weird subjective experiences that tend to push people towards God or government in the first place.