DAILY: MAY 23, 2019


An excerpt:


There is perhaps no better encapsulation of the difference between the two modern American political parties than this one: Republicans start from the presumption that “treason” and “spying” will be prosecuted without actual evidence, while Democrats start from the presumption that only once they have seen all the evidence of everything ever, they might conclude that some further investigation is warranted. Donald Trump leads deranged stadium rallies in chanting “lock them up” without ever specifying who committed what alleged crime. Democrats, faced with a case of what would be felony obstruction of justice but for a legal guidance against prosecuting a sitting president, insist that they cannot initiate impeachment proceedings because they need to gather more information. Republicans standing two inches away from a Seurat painting see a still life in crimes committed, while Democrats standing six feet back are certain that just one more blue dot would help them see the whole picture.

This is not a new problem. Those of us who feared that the Mueller report would never be the smoking gun Democrats were dreaming of warned that limiting the reach of the aperture to criminal obstruction and illegal “collusion” by necessity blocked out a massive range of criminal and impeachable conduct by the president and his confederates. Last week Walter Dellinger made the same observation about the Democrats’ strange myopia around the new holy grail—an unredacted Mueller report.

Democrats in leadership pretend at conviction and lack courage. The president is lawless and corrupt and surrounding himself with the machinery of lawlessness and corruption. These same Democrats are waiting for the full picture staring them right in the face to emerge. Every step they take closer allows them to miss the big picture, distort the narrative, and chase an ever more elusive final dot. If the public isn’t with them yet, it’s because the public doesn’t have all day to spend in a museum and needs to have the picture presented to them where they live. Congressional Democrats have to repaint the picture that is already directly before them. This shouldn’t be complicated. It’s proving beyond their competence.

(2)  TILDA SWINTON CURATES HER FIRST GALLERY SHOW.   AN EXHIBIT OF PHOTOGRAPHS GROUPED AROUND THE THEME OF GENDER FLUIDITY WITH VIRGINIA WOOLF’S ORLANDO AS A UNIFYING THEME.  She also references Sally Potter’s 1992 film adaptation, whose lead role was a breakthrough for Ms. Swinton. Here is the interview by Ted Loos n the New York Times about it all.

Swinton on the red carpet at Cannes for her film The Dead Don’t Die directed by Jim Jarmusch. Gown by Haider Ackermann

I often tell people that Hudson, where I live, is Mayberry directed by Wes Anderson.  And Tilda Swinton is Aunt Bee.  I mentioned that to someone a few months ago and they said, “I just saw Tilda down the block.”

Tilda Swinton can boast of many achievements, having performed in more than 70 films, including “Michael Clayton,” for which she won an Oscar in 2008.

In a way hers is the broadest of careers, stretching from her salad days of the 1980s working with the acclaimed independent director Derek Jarman to her appearance in this year’s Avengers: Endgame,” which is already one of the highest-grossing movies of all time.

But until now Ms. Swinton, 58, has never organized an art exhibition.

The show, “Orlando,” which opens Friday at the Aperture Foundation and features nearly five dozen photographs by 11 artists, is Ms. Swinton’s first foray into art curation.

Mickalene Thomas, “Untitled #4 (Orlando Series),” 2019, a portrait of her partner, Racquel Chevremont.CreditMickalene Thomas/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Aperture Foundation, New York

The list of artists includes established names like Mickalene ThomasLynn Hershman Leeson and Ms. Potter, as well as up-and-coming talents like Elle Pérez. The summer issue of Aperture magazine is also devoted to the project, with Ms. Swinton serving as guest editor. She worked with the publication’s editor, Michael Famighetti.“She has a great eye,” said Ms. Thomas, who photographed two subjects — her partner and muse, Racquel Chevremont, and the performance artist Zachary Tye Richardson — and then corresponded with Ms. Swinton via email to select images for the show.Ms. Swinton spoke energetically about her work during a visit to New York last month. These are edited excerpts from the conversation

“Untitled” (2009) by the Swiss photographer Walter Pfeiffer, who is known for his images of free-spirited youth.CreditWalter Pfeiffer and Art + Commerce; Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ProLitteris, Zurich


How did this get started?

I had been in conversation with Aperture for a while about doing something, and we came around to this idea of “Orlando.”

Curating is new for you, yes?

I curated an exhibition of experimental film at the ICA London a long time ago. I’ve also curated film festivals quite regularly. But nothing on the walls until this.

Discussions of gender are so prevalent now, more so than when you did the film “Orlando.” Did that naturally lead you back to this story?

I think that’s the Trojan horse of “Orlando”-ness — both the film, but more important the book — is that it’s all about gender-bending. And it really isn’t.

So what’s it about?

It’s about inevitable, perpetual change being the only thing that we can rely on, and it’s about identity being positively negligible. It’s a properly revolutionary book. I propose hypothetically that had Virginia Woolf continued this book for another thousand pages, Orlando could easily have turned into a mouse.

And yet the story is so poignant in the way it deals with the male-to-female transformation:our protagonist waking up one day as a woman and carrying on.

Gender identity is one aspect of it. And [Woolf] deals with it so beautifully and wittily and playfully and profoundly. But it’s so importantly about class, too, and that’s a taboo that nobody talks about, ever.

Zackary Drucker’s 2019 portrait of Rosalyne Blumenstein.CreditZackary Drucker and Luis De Jesus, Los Angeles

You seem to inspire gender-fluidity — in “Suspiria” last year, you played both male and female roles. Why do directors think of you for that?

Well, I very often instigate it. So I have to take a certain amount of responsibility. Don’t blame them! [laughs]

Where does that come from?

I’m really interested in transformation — especially what I call the precipice of transformation. And for me it’s very often just as exotic to play a bourgeoise housewife, as in “The Deep End,” who is looking after her family and suddenly finds herself being drawn to this gambling blackmailer. Or for that matter in “Julia,” playing a totally avowed alcoholic becoming a mother, in a way.

So what were the nuts and bolts of the putting the exhibition and the issue together?

It was an invitation that I sent out to some people that I thought might respond. And very gratifyingly, every single person was able to respond, except for one person who was just too busy.

Ellis photographed by Max Vadukal for Los Angeles magazine.


  • Kevin Sessums is the author of two New York Times bestselling memoirs, Mississippi Sissy and I Left It on the Mountain.

  • Show Comments

  • Frank Regan

    Love James Walcott but this is too fucking long. BEE is not worth it.

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