If the common run of contemporary art risks triviality in the pursuit of seduction, the new kind incurs hysteria as a toll of earnest intensity. Emotional reach exceeds formal grasp throughout the show, and certain melodramatic lurches fail entirely. (I don't care what Robert Kusmirowski intends by his painstaking reconstruction of the Una-bomber Ted Kaczynski's cabin; it's dumb.) But the futility of artistic technique in the face of world conditions may constitute a subject for art as substantial as any other, and rather more compelling than today's stacked-deck models of success. Bhabha's gruesome death's-head neatly—that is to say, messily—critiques Damien Hirst's famous diamond-encrusted skull, which sold last year for a reported hundred million dollars. Work like Bhabha's tacitly cancels the credit of artists who allude to terror and horror without personal investment. Existentialist standards of authenticity may be back in force, however fleetingly. How much can we bear of art that, like Sebald's writing, glories in bottomless malaise? I expect we'll find out.
Read the full article at The New Yorker.