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Alan Gilbert

Alan Gilbert is a poet and writer whose most recent book of poems is The Everyday Life of Design.

Every Dog Has His Day

I don’t quite remember who made the comparison, or what segment of the political spectrum the person occupied,1 but this individual once likened former United States President Bill Clinton to one of those excessively needy dogs that continues to jump-up on people, slobber, and frantically wag its tail no matter how often its big wet nose is smacked with a rolled newspaper by its brutish owner.

Aria Dean: (meta)models or how i got my groove back

In The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Shoshana Zuboff describes our contemporary political and economic regime, in which physical movements and online social relations are carefully tracked in order to mine activities related to consumer choices and habits.

WILLIAM POPE.L: Proto-Skin Set

When Kendrick Lamar performed at the 2015 BET Awards in front of William Pope.L’s massive, frayed American flag, it was a spectacular display of a work by an artist who for decades has explored the hyper-visibility and simultaneous inscrutability of “blackness” as a racial category.

YUN-FEI JI: Rumors, Ridicules, and Retributions

One version of the origins of capitalism posits that it was built on the backs of rural peasants. Or, more precisely, it was built by rural peasants after their shared land was expropriated from them through a variety of means, both violent and nonviolent, and they were forced to enter a wage-based economy.

Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds: Surviving Active Shooter Custer

At this point it may be obvious to say that history is usually written by the victors, but other histories are also always being composed, and there are innumerable forms this writing can take. During the past forty years, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds (Cheyenne/Arapaho) has created work addressing the ignored and suppressed histories of Native people in North America.


This dynamic between a grand vision and its subtle undercutting appears throughout Martin’s show. Even though he is working as large as ever—both literally and metaphorically—Martin’s work remains playful and personable.

YTO BARRADA: How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself

Yto Barrada’s How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself oscillates between ethnography and abstraction, with bits of documentary images mixed in. This impressive show ranges chronologically from prehistory—more specifically, the Late Early Jurassic Period—to the present, the former represented by a partly reconstructed Tazoudasaurus dinosaur fossil hanging from the ceiling in separate pieces.

Unholding and other exhibitions of Native American art

On November 16, 2017, an underground section of the Keystone Pipeline in northeastern South Dakota spilled over 200,000 gallons of oil. As part of the same pipeline network, the Dakota Access Pipeline had been deemed too hazardous to locate near the local water supply of Bismarck, North Dakota, and so was rerouted beneath the Missouri River upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Emily Jacir: La Mia Mappa

The aim of the installation, the centerpiece of La Mia Mappa, is to make explicitly political and allegorical historical connections between Palestine and Ireland under British colonial occupation, with a focus on 1917 in the former case and 1916 in the latter.

MOUNIR FATMI: Survival Signs

In his current exhibition filled with formally precise artworks using a clear set of visual tropes—typewriters, sharp objects, and books—one work by Mounir Fatmi feels incongruous: a small, slightly blurry black-and-white photograph of a man sporting an Adidas satchel standing next to a glowing circle on the ground.

Francesco Clemente: Works 1978-2018

William Blake’s poem “The Sick Rose” describes the destructive power of a “dark secret love” on a flower’s “crimson joy.” This nefarious force is both eroticized and made phallic in being depicted as an “invisible worm.”

Nick Cave: If a Tree Falls

Three untitled sculptural installations in Nick Cave’s current exhibition, If a Tree Falls, feature tightly bunched rows of black fiberglass and polyurethane hands reaching up in a gesture that might be a greeting, a sign of solidarity, or a request for help. All three versions are dated 2018, as is the rest of the work contained in Cave’s show, which is spread across both of Jack Shainman’s Chelsea venues.

Baseera Khan: snake skin

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias” memorably describes the eventual fate of all empires: “boundless and bare / The lone and level sands stretch far away.” And while it has been difficult to imagine alternatives to the current world order that arose after the collapse of the Berlin Wall three decades ago, cracks in the façade are multiplying. At Baseera Khan’s exhibition snake skin, a fourteen-foot-tall by six-foot-wide column constructed from pink foam insulation is horizontally sliced into seven similarly-sized pieces that are stacked, stood upright, and leaned across the gallery.

Use Alternate Route

If James Joyce returned from the dead to write about a working-class African American woman who drives an eighteen-wheeler along the South Texas border, he might have written a novel that resembles Gayl Jones’s Mosquito.

Hoa Nguyen’s A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure

Nguyen's writing’s concision, its general lack of narrative, its refusal of standard forms, its gaps and pauses are all ways of interrupting the flow of experience and, more importantly, the conventions and directives—the normative ideologies—embedded within her flow.

Sound Mappings

Broadcasting from various points around Williamsburg and other parts of Brooklyn, and with a home base/performance space deep in south Williamsburg, microradio—aka “pirate radio”—station free103point9 is more than just a transmitter of music.

System Failure (I could have been a contender mix)

How big is too big to get pushed around the store In a shopping cart? In any case, it means less space For other items. Pausing before a shelf full of badass.

Alan Gilbert Poetry

A conference attendee’s stick-on name tag keeps falling to the floor, collecting more lint and dirt each time


Alan Gilbert is the author of two books of poetry, The Treatment of Monuments and Late in the Antenna Fields, as well as a collection of essays, articles, and reviews entitled Another Future: Poetry and Art in a Postmodern Twilight.

Full Circle: The Holt/Smithson Foundation

Alan Gilbert profiles the Holt/Smithson Foundation, tracing the histories of its namesake artists and outlining the trajectories of its ambitions as an organization.

Virtual Architecture: Art, Pandemic, Protest

A poet and critic considers how the construction of a virtual architecture and mass participation on virtual platforms enables consumerist ideologies to play out on a grand scale, eviscerating the traditional work day and transforming our expectations as we attempt to experience art and protest in the streets.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

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