A gold square dominates the cover of Bomb’s 126th issue; it sits in the middle of a naked male figure’s chest, which appears to be a subject of a woman’s painting; her hand is partially hidden behind the square, the explicit center of intrigue in Peter Rostovsky’s Photoshop painting Autopsy (2012). Painting appears to be the ironic instrument of autopsy here, a way of dissecting. Conversely, the square underlines an intrusion, and omits something in the drama between man and woman, or hides it. The square seems out of place in the composition, as though it comes out of nowhere, ”bombed,” if you will. Thus, the image implodes with questions, conundrums.
This issue continues to uphold the magazine’s tradition of bombing its audience with the new in art, imploding with witty and informative conversations between novelists, filmmakers, performers, musicians, poets, and sculptors, with samples of their work.
Filmmaker Amie Siegel “turn[s] the architecture of relationships, the structure of fiction and its edges, inside out,” writes Lynn Hershman Leeson, herself a filmmaker. Leeson and Siegel’s conversation published in Bomb keeps pinging back to Siegel’s latest work Provenance, a film that “traces the furniture of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret backward from collectors’ homes to exhibitions to auctions to “restoration”—and finally to Chandigarh, India, where they originated,” according to Siegel. The work hopes to recover an object’s origin, the traces of how it came to be. Certainly, the subjects are not mere objects, but entities owned by two giant figures in architecture and interior design who planned and designed the city of Chandigarh. How Siegel maneuvers her camera to document the furniture’s recent auction at Christie’s impacts the being and meaning of the furniture in question.
Alan Felsenthal’s brief review of Lav Diaz’s Norte, The End of History (2013)—which was an Un Certain Regard selection at Cannes in 2013— could have been a conversation with the Philippine director as well, since Felsenthal himself has advised us to “avoid reading the synopsis from online reviews” and urges us to live with Diaz’s world for four hours, a world in which “Adam Smith has won”—a line used in one of the characters in the movie. Felsenthal suggests that Diaz offers a world without escape, without hope.
Eduard Màrquez’s flash fiction “The Tattoo” offers a perspective on escape wherein a figure in Willem de Kooning’s painting Two Women in the Country, “detached herself from the canvas and, leaving a train of oil, enamel, and charcoal, exited the museum through an office window left ajar.” Perhaps that woman hates being stuck in the country, and wants to live the city, outside the quiet world of museums, outside de Kooning’s mind, his art. Does she care about clothes at all? Surveillance camera operators must love to zoom in on her, curious about her sketchy appearance, as though de Kooning refuses to let the lines of her body connect. Marquez’s story throws a comic comment on how art escapes and frees itself from the imagination of art, to exile itself into the real, or feeds its content into the real, to blur the boundary between art and the real. One can argue that Bomb produces that kind of effect—that blur—in its audience, when artists talk about their work.
Indeed, Garnette Cadogan’s conversation with Edwidge Danticat offers a closer view into Danticat’s latest novel Claire of the Sea Light, that “the anxiety in Claire is not at all about exile . . . but about a parent not being able to care for his child,” says the novelist. Danticat understands that however layered the meaning of ‘exile’ is to her critics, its foundations, once applied to work like hers, rests on the color of one’s skin, which, in many ways, restricts the meaning of a work. Thus, she underlines a different restriction here, in order to uphold her novel’s universal dimensions. These opposing restrictions inspire ways of grounding the novel in the world of Danticat. While they are insightful, these explanations can reveal too much. Perhaps this is the blur in her work, like the woman escaping in de Kooning’s painting. It’s as though Claire has stepped out of the novel through the confines of an interview thread, through Danticat’s voice, once again.
Editor-in-Chief Betty Sussler’s team has assembled an issue that might steal your attention from your next subway stop; your next BART stop is Downtown Berkeley, but you end up in Richmond, and in your head Mary Halvorson and Kai Althoff are deploying notes to lines in Paul Hlava’s “Ellen”:
We’re losing time
like drunk pirates who
wake in a rowboat
in the Empire’s naval port
we move with force
against the currents
that carried us there
You now feel like the gnat in Hans Witschi’s The Gnat (1993), a green, diabolical figure, monstrous, and you’re ready to fly away from whatever is framing you, back to where your wings were mere pages from a magazine stand.