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Special Issue: Searching for America

Introducing the American Issue #3

Who has a voice in today’s culture?

Yukinori Yanagi, (2001)

BY Charlotte Burns
executive editor of In Other Words

In Other Insights

Welcome to our annual American issue, focused on the question of who has a voice in US culture. The search for what America really is, or for who Americans actually are, is at the heart of much of the writing.

The scope of the essays span artists of different generations and takes in various viewpoints. This is our third iteration of the American issue (you can find earlier editions here and here) and, each year, there are changes in the kinds of stories people want to write. The sense of optimism that colored the first issue has become subdued and, perhaps fittingly for an issue about voice, people want urgently to be heard more than to listen, which is no doubt a function of these fraught times.

Our goal has been to publish different voices who might together present an illusionistic patchwork image of American culture today. Critic Christian Viveros-Fauné finds a country “paralyzed by an aching desire for connection and an increasingly violent vindication of separateness” in the photographs of Curran Hatleberg while William J. Simmons focuses on the resurgence of nostalgia and neo-noir in contemporary culture. Jonathan Griffin writes about various artists whose voices have defined the nation over the past century or so, while Aruna D’Souza writes about modern day protests and Matthew Thompson pays homage to Laura Owens as a great American artist and innovator. Ed Tang has compiled America in pictures while Pablo Helguera has created an original artoon.

Allan Schwartzman writes about the overlooked work of American artist Scott Burton as well as the great American success story (which is also the great American curse) in “Just Ask Gatsby”, while Michael Rudokas focuses on the work of emerging artists within the LGBTQ+ community. Antwaun Sargent writes beautifully about the pioneering pictures of self-taught artist Marcus Brutus, whose work creates a new way of seeing this country.

These articles kickstart our summer schedule; longer reads for these more lanky days. Please, dive in and tell us what you like and what you feel is missing. 

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