“Thinking is my fighting,” Virginia Woolf said, and this might be Sentilles’s motto. Her profound and unsettling meditation on war and violence proposes many ways—writing, painting, making music, taking photos—to counter, if not undo, war’s devastation. Writing in the line of John Berger and Susan Sontag, Sentilles starts with the moral implications of looking at images of pain. She considers ethical problems of aestheticizing suffering and asks what good can be done for the victims by the viewer’s sympathy and unease. Yet without seeing exactly what war does, how will people learn to reject it as a solution? Writing in brief chunks, personal as journal entries, Sentilles tells multiple stories simultaneously. These concern a student in her art theory class who had served as a guard at Abu Ghraib; her grandfather, who was traumatized by his service in World War II; and Howard, a CO who was imprisoned for his refusal to serve. These profiles lead to discussions of Japanese American internment camps, lynchings, PTSD (and its foreshadow, the fear-driven anticipatory TSD), the inheritance of trauma by later generations, the use and sacrifice of animals in war, and artists’ appropriation of war images for art. While Sentilles, a former divinity student, closes with a prayer that the world be made anew, she knows the task will be long and difficult.
Pettibon first rose to prominence designing the logos and album art for seminal ‘80s punk bands like Black Flag while self-distributing a groundbreaking series of graphic zines. The works in this monograph, spanning nearly 4 decades and a variety of mediums, speak to Pettibon’s genius in melding high and low culture into artworks that often include textual components, with quotes from philosophers, novelists, and politicians interspersed among his images. Pettibon’s treatment of subjects like baseball, surfing, George W. Bush, and the Vietnam War make him one of the finest contemporary visual artists illuminating the colorful, wacky, and destructive underpinnings of American culture.
Mike Lankford’s Becoming Leonardo might seem like a pure flight of fancy, but it does rest on the foundation of prior research and makes a serious attempt to dig through the layers of mythmaking that surround Leonardo da Vinci. It is indeed not a conventional biography, but Lankford’s wry humor, his sharp conclusions, and his pure brilliance when it comes to getting inside people’s minds will convince you that perhaps Leonardo himself would have enjoyed this one.
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Melville House - March 28th, 2017