The history of the Southwest is long and vexed. Many think of America as developing from east to west, from the original 13 colonies to settlements made in the name of Manifest Destiny. But the West in all its richness was there, of course, long before it was “discovered” by venturers from elsewhere. The region has been home to a palimpsest of cultures, but the gruesome theft of land from Indigenous people remains a defining trauma. The southernmost parts of the Southwest at one time belonged to Mexico; today that area is embroiled in battles over immigration, and scarred by a former president’s xenophobic desire to build a wall. Plagued by drought, the entire Southwest tolls the ominous bell of climate change.
All of this is evident from the sky. As Jackson Arn writes in this issue, in a fascinating piece about aerial photography of the region, the idea of the Southwest “has always been as much God’s-eye as ground-level.” In these pages, you will find meditations on all kinds of art produced in—or about—the Southwest, as well as accounts of how the region has been represented. In postwar art history, the Southwest is synonymous with Land art, but, as Sean J Patrick Carney writes in his kaleidoscopic consideration of Walter De Maria’s Lightning Field, that art has more fraught intersections with seamy aspects of American culture than some might think.
If borders seem to disappear in the air, they also blur on the ground, a phenomenon that Nadia Rivera Fellah explores in her essay dealing with photographs and other artworks related to cross-border migrant communities. The art of that locale records history in different ways, from a collaborative installation that evokes the radiation poisoning experienced by Navajo mine workers to renderings of Pueblo people by Rose B. Simpson that, as writer Lou Cornum puts it, “feel like an Indigenous retelling of Mad Max.” I hope you come away from this issue with a deeper understanding of a complex and captivating place.
—Sarah Douglas, Editor in Chief
NEW TALENT: CHARISSE PEARLINA WESTON
by Chris Murtha
Using panes and slumped glass, the sculptor examines the fraught relationship between transparency and Blackness.
Novelist Sam Lipsyte tells us what’s on his mind.
THE EXCHANGE: BIOGEOLOGY
by Nina Canell with Sophie Roosth
An artist and an anthropologist discuss biomineralization, timescales, and the definition of life.
HARD TRUTHS: FIRE SAFETY
by Chen & Lampert
Artist-curators Howie Chen and Andrew Lampert advise readers on the perils of listening to art advisers and navigating NFT regret.
CRITICAL EYE: HUNGRY LISTENING
by Amalie Dublon
Mariah Carey’s 1997 hit “Honey” is rife with critically rich issues of pleasure and debilitating need.
ONE WORK: EXPANDED EXPANSION
by Cassie Packard
An Eva Hesse sculpture from 1969 combines a large accordion format with pioneering use of materials like latex and polyester resin.
PROFILE: JUMANA MANNA
by Kaleem Hawa
A video artist and sculptor honors Palestinian peasant politics.
Lucy Ives on Julia Voss’s Hilma af Klint: A Biography and the artist’s multivolume catalogue raisonné.
AT HOME IN THE BORDERLAND
by Nadiah Rivera Fellah
Artists such as Louis Carlos Bernal, Ronny Quevedo, Amalia Mesa-Bains, and Laura Aguilar capture the tension between migrant domesticity and personal nonconformity.
by Jackson Arn
Aerial photography captures the Southwest’s natural splendor, explosive urban development, and military secrets.
LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE
by Sean J Patrick Carney
A visit to Walter De Maria’s Lightning Field prompts reflections on con games in the American West, old and new.
SHOCK WAVES & WET CONCRETE
Interview with Lucy Raven
The Arizona native talks about growing up in the Southwest and her work related to the region. A special pull-out print accompanies the article.
FROM THE GROUND UP
by Elizabeth S. Hawley
Diné women artists often draw upon cultural tradition to address today’s ecological crises.
SCRIPTS FOR THE LAND
by Erica DiBenedetto and Kelly Montana
The paintings of activist and pedagogue Felice Lucero are rich with allusion to Pueblo history and rapport with the earth.
by Lou Cornum
Rose B. Simpson’s figurative ceramics and automotive sculptures express Native American resistance to cultural erasure and environmental emergency.
Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia
Alexander R. Bigman
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Hauser & Wirth, New York
Cristin Tierney, New York
Ara H. Merjian
Cannupa Hanska Luger
Center for Craft, Asheville, North Carolina
Robert Alan Grand
Pace, Los Angeles
Sprüth Magers, Los Angeles
Esther Schipper, Berlin