at Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (through 20 March 2021)
Reviewed by Nancy Kay Turner

Simphiwe Ndzube’s Silumko (2021)

Simphiwe Ndzube’s engaging exhibit, entitled Like the Snake that Fed the Chameleon at Nicodim Gallery, is a visual and aural treat composed of paintings, sculptures and two installations, all bathed in a soundscape created by the artist in collaboration with Thabo K. Makgolo and Zambini Makwetha. A master storyteller, Nzdube creates an existential, otherworldly space where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The work defies easy explanations, as mystery is piled on top of enigma. Each painting or sculpture shares a homemade, do-it-yourself aesthetic, with all seams made…

by Lisa Zeiger

“All I can see is the frame.”
–Robert Mitchum in Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past

The art of Shirin Neshat is the pure, clear pool at the heart of a Persian garden. On its surface play fountains of poetry and music, films and visions. In its depths reside all the sequestered emotion, alluring ritual, and ambivalent traditions of the artist’s native Iran. Long gone from another country, Neshat exalts its beauty in the photographs, video installations and feature films she has been making since the early 1990s. …

at William Turner Gallery, Los Angeles (through 28 November)
Reviewed by Lita Barrie

Mark Steven Greenfield’s powerful exhibition of Black Madonna paintings, currently on view at William Turner Gallery, is perfectly timed to coincide with the election of the first woman of color, Kamala Harris, to be our next Vice President; while the exhibition notably follows on the years-long Black Lives Matter protests that in all likelihood lifted Ms. Harris to the second highest office of the land.

As an African American artist who emerged out of the Black Power movement in the late 1960s, Greenfield has had a long…

Reviewed by Alci Rengifo

Chasing the Light
by Oliver Stone
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 352 pp., $25.20

If there is anything the year 2020 has shaken into the very fabric of our imperial society, it’s that nothing ever goes according to plan, rarely is anything absolutely assured. While a biological threat has upended not only our nationalist pride as a world hegemony, it no doubt has uprooted many personal obsessions with career paths and lifestyle. That most provocative of American film directors, Oliver Stone, has now released a passionate and absorbing memoir, Chasing the Light: Writing, Directing, and Surviving Platoon, Midnight…

Reviewed by John Biscello

The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish
by Katya Apekina
Two Dollar Radio, 353pp., $12.74

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

In the name of nursery rhyme remixology, first let us add the soothing menace of a Pink Floyd soundscape to the tale, and then let us peer into the fragmented disaster that the fallen Humpty has become, and realize that he was never an anthropomorphized egg-man at all, but rather a family incestuously consolidated…

at The Barbican, London (through 24 Jan 2021)
Reviewed by Christopher P Jones

Despite what intuition tells us, history is constantly changing. The revision of the past happens all around us and at all times, sometimes perniciously and sometimes for enlightened reasons. For her first exhibition in the UK, Toyin Ojih Odutola has done a brave and remarkable thing. She has created an entire origin-myth that not only revisits ancient African history but invents it. …

by Max King Cap

“My father was a little headstrong, my mother was a little armstrong. The Headstrongs married the Armstrongs, and that’s why darkies were born.” — Rufus T. Firefly, Duck Soup, 1933

He had done it before. One can readily find the photographs of his handiwork; two human torsos, headless, the legs amputated just below the knee. Young and fit but unidentifiable, their fingertips rasped smooth. When first put on display, tens of thousands saw this pair of dismembered bodies and admiringly walked right by them.

Although Ota Benga, standing just fifty-nine inches tall, was cruelly kept with…

Reviewed by Kristy Puchko

Is there a word for cinema that lures you in with a dark promise, then delivers something profound, surprising, and humane instead? When I first saw the trailer for The Painter and The Thief, I thought I had its number, having seen myriad of true-crime docs. The tantalizing trailer teased a tale of two sides: the painter and the thief. I assumed theirs would be a story of victim and criminal, hero and villain, saint and sinner. However, what documentarian Benjamin Ree offers is far more compelling and so exhilarating that made me relish being wrong.

by James McWilliams

Two portraits; two men. Both are from 1930s Mississippi. The men are situated together, photos 22 and 23, both from Eudora Welty’s only published book of photographs, simply titled Photographs. If you could put a frame around both images it would be the Jim Crow South.

The image to the left is of an older, stout black man with a white moustache that droops around his mouth. He sits on a bench in a cluttered work yard in Grenada County. It looks to be the end of the workday. A small chicken darts past his left knee…

by Henry Cherry

Until the End of the World is a film, like the best of them, that stands outside of genre. Part sci-fi epoch, part love story, part road movie, it begins and ends with an image of the Earth’s curvature. Made by director Wim Wenders, it is the culmination of his most successful period as a filmmaker, a truth made all the more striking in that at its initial release, Until the End of the World was a failure.

Now that the world has gone womblike, it’s a perfect time to revisit Wim Wenders’s 1991 film. A globe-trotting…

Riot Material

RIOT MATERIAL is LA’s premier literary-cultural magazine with an eye on art, word, and forward-aiming thought. Check out our gallery on IG: @ riotmaterial.

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