The artwork on the cover of this issue looks pretty simple: an elegant arrangement of colorful, cartoon-like flowers. Pretty it is; simple it most certainly is not. Artist Jill Magid scoured the digital worlds of hundreds of video games—from Super Mario to Minecraft—and selected pixelated plants and photo-realistic flowers from virtual landscapes that she then assembled into bouquets worthy of the fanciest dinner party. After that, she took the resulting images and crafted her first series of NFT-backed artworks, which dropped on Valentine’s Day. The collection comprises 165 animated bouquets, including one that you can view online at artwrld.com and on Art in America’s Instagram, where Magid has generously collaborated with us on our first animated cover.
Like the many other artists featured in this issue, Magid’s practice is research-based. Behind the artworks that appear in the pages here are hours of serious, studious labor, though that is not to say such artists are scholars. In a roundtable discussion, Magid tells Art in America associate editor Emily Watlington, “By exploring … systems in ways that are different from traditional research, I can try to peel away or subvert some of the meanings implicit in how they work. I don’t tell stories so much as I produce them.”
Neither are such artists news reporters, even if they sometimes end up doing similar kinds of work. For this issue’s Portfolio, Watlington interviewed Rayanne Tabet, who delves into repatriation, a topic familiar to most of us from the pages of the New York Times and elsewhere, as more and more art objects find their way back to their countries of origin. “[A]rchitects do this thing called site analysis,” Tabet says, “when you’re assigned a site, you study it from economic, political, social, geological, and other perspectives. I … apply the same logic to found objects, excavating stories that are all around us.”
In a way, it’s what all artists do: fashion new stories from old ones.
—Sarah Douglas, Editor in Chief
NEW TALENT: HANGAMA AMIRI
by Jordan Amirkhani
The textile artist depicts the lives of women under Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
TBA21-Academy director Markus Reymann tells us what’s on his mind.
HARD TRUTHS: STRETCHED THIN
by Chen & Lampert
Artist-curators Howie Chen and Andrew Lampert consider the advantages of yoga over art criticism, and schmoozing instead of dog-sitting.
CRITICAL EYE: SHARK ATTACK!
by Jo Livingstone
Peter Gimbel’s 1971 Blue Water, White Death launched the tropes that define shark imagery in film and art today.
THE EXCHANGE: STRANGE WEATHER
by Aki Sasamoto with Nick Lutsko
An artist and a climate scientist discuss meteorological maladies and climate change.
ONE WORK: ELAINE CAMERON-WEIR
by Eli Diner
Dressing for Windows/Dressing for Altitude/Dressing for Pleasure evokes associations with militarism, religion, and S&M.
PROFILE: CHRISTINA QUARLES
by Tyler Malone
The jumbled torsos and limbs in the Los Angeles–based artist’s paintings suggest subjective senses of self.
Travis Diehl on Aleksandra Mir and Tim Griffin, eds., Bad Reviews.
Q&A with Tate Modern conservator Annette King.
Moderated by Emily Watlington
Jill Magid, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, and Crystal Z Campbell discuss their artistic-investigative techniques and discoveries.
PORTFOLIO: RAYYANE TABET
The artist talks about following facts into gray areas open to interpretation.
A special pull-out print accompanies the article.
by Minh Nguyen
Highly political experimental filmmaking has become an oppositional tool around the world.
by Kavior Moon
Artists throughout the ages have used research in different disciplines to question the norms of knowledge production.
by Emily Watlington
Forensic Architecture’s campaign to expose sociopolitical abuses dabbles dangerously with post-truth proselytizing.
IN THE STUDIO: TUAN ANDREW NGUYEN
with Lumi Tan
The artist born in Vietnam and raised in California talks about the vital role of storytelling
and community engagement in the ongoing process of decolonization.
Art Institute of Chicago
“A MOVEMENT IN EVERY DIRECTION: LEGACIES OF THE GREAT MIGRATION”
Baltimore Museum of Art
MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Greene Naftali, New York
“SHE WHO WROTE”
Morgan Library & Museum, New York
Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York
NATHALIE DJURBERG AND HANS BERG
Tanya Bonakdar, Los Angeles
Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon
Kamel Mennour, Paris