(some new & recent work)
Hello from Munich, where the friend I’m staying with has an energy bill projected to increase by 200%. I’m here to look at some art for a piece. Everyone else is here for Oktoberfest and dressed like this:
They seem to be having a good time. Whatever you need to take your mind off things.
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This is mostly a quick in-case-you-missed-it note about some recent work. First, I have a new short story in the October issue of Harper’s called “Siberia.” I don’t think writers are very good at telling people what their work is about (and for those few who are, should they?), but I can say it includes playwrights and war theaters, and that I once wanted to be a playwright myself. (Someone told me not-so-gently to try short stories instead.)
It’s paywalled, but if you already used your free article & need a reason to subscribe, this issue also includes Yiyun Li, Percival Everett, and Rachel Kushner. I recommend!
I was in Munich almost exactly a year ago to write for this piece in Foreign Policy (since translated into German?) on a local climate symposium set in 2050 & pitched as a hybrid social sciences conference/performance art piece. It was an interesting way to think through the ubiquitous call for “new narratives” about climate change.
The city looks different this time, and not just because of the outfits. I’m learning to look at the climate debates from a new angle through a series on climate change and Old Masters paintings for Nicholas Hall gallery in New York. Each piece refracts one of the four classical elements (earth, air, water fire) through the art, history, and environment of one of Europe’s cities. So far I’ve done Dresden landscapes and record heat waves through the lens of Bernardo Bellotto (earth), rising waters and Romantic seascapes in Hamburg (water). It’s been both fun and challenging.
Allegories of the classical elements were a common trope for Old Masters. Here’s a really lovely one for fire by Bruegel the Elder (sadly not in Munich).
When it comes to Bavarian kitsch, on the other hand, I’m afraid I remain a philistine. Outfits I am more likely to pull off than Lederhosen: