At MASS MoCA, Cauleen Smith Builds an Afrofuturist World

In the artist’s largest survey to date, science fiction and narratives of black resistance offer a vision of a more inclusive future At the threshold of ‘We Already Have What We Need’ – an exhibition of film, installation, textile and works on paper by multimedia artist Cauleen Smith at MASS MoCA – visitors are beckoned in by a three-and-a-half-minute video of a young girl twirling in a cape. Spin (2012), from Smith’s series ‘The Way Out Is the Way Two: Fourteen Short Films About Chicago and Sun Ra’ (2010–12), shows the girl perform a quick balletic hop before turning, arms outstretched, on a concrete ledge to the soundtrack of Sun Ra’s ‘El Is a Sound of Joy’ (1968, recorded 1956). The child’s repetitive spinning action combines exhilaration with focus and a simultaneous connection to, and transcendence of, her quotidian environment. This free yet attentive movement also serves as a legend for interpreting the visionary contents of the exhibition. Curated by Susan Cross, the show knits together several of Smith’s genre-defying approaches to social critique, 20th-century experimental cinema and Afrofuturist world-building. Cauleen Smith, Camera, Pen, o...

Life-Size Cardboard Cutouts Exist To Make Sure Your BFF Is With You Always

You know how it is when you’re headed off to a girl’s weekend or big family event and the one person you really want to be there can’t attend? The one person whose presence makes everything little (lot) more fun? Have no fear — now you can be with your BFF forever — a cardboard version, anyway —  and never ever spend one second apart, even if they can’t be there in the flesh. According to their site, Cardboard Cutout Standees makes it a snap to create and order your own personalized cardboard cutout — of yourself, your spouse, your BFF, your former coworker you didn’t really know but made really funny fart jokes and you sort of miss working with. And these puppies are so life-like, it’s like they’re right there beside you — only a titch less “talky.” There are three options for your life-size doppelgänger: One-the cheapest version is your standard cardboard, perfect for indoor use only. Two-a foam core option which provides the sharpest image quality for maximum creepiness. And three-the corrugated plastic option if your airless blowup doll needs to “survive the elements or you want to reuse it for multiple events.” I feel like this may be a “one and done” type of gift but I’m n...