The Critical Mass Issue | Editor's Letter

Via Issue 187, The Critical Mass Issue!

Written by

Matthew Bedard

Photographed by

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Styled by

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Farah Al Qasimi. “M Napping On Carpet” (2016). Los Angeles County Museum Of Art, Purchased With Funds Provided By Joann Busuttil, © Farah Al Qasimi. Photo Courtesy The Third Line, Dubai.

Dear Readers,

It’s always a complex conjecture: did things suddenly bust at the seams, or is the bust in question a product of a long-term low boil that finally exceeded its stovetop pot?

There’s tipping points all around us. Radical weather, malls being shot up, record teen suicide, dried up funding for critical programs, obesity, overpopulation, fentanyl, suppressed voices, traffic, fake news....and this list is hardly exhaustive.

What is one to do? Well, we are not in the advice vertical, and we are also not known to dissect the above topics with any sort of journalistic heft or responsibility. We are a joy vehicle. We are escapism. And so while we will, time to time, acknowledge the pressurized cultural forces that surround us, we’d sooner remind our readers to go easy on themselves. To remember why they set out to do something meaningful to them in the first place. That perhaps the best medicine when things have reached critical mass...is to just let their hair down and hit the dance floor.

Enter The Critical Mass Issue, our annual survey of music and auditory expression, anchored, of course, by other items of inquiry that concern tipping points, bubbles bursting, masses, and the need for soulful reprieve.

Pictured is “M Napping on Carpet” by artist Farah Al Qasimi, who features in current LACMA group exhibition, Women Defining Women in Contemporary Art of the Middle East and Beyond, which showcases the work of 75 women artists who, according to the show lit, “were born in or live in what can be termed Islamic societies.” I think the topic of tipping points in such a survey is self-evident, so we won’t expend our time there. But what I love about this image is what could be described as its emotional suspension, its pause before potentially potent action takes place. Perhaps we’ve all assumed such a pose, either to start our day, or to end it.

And what I loved even more was the environmental synthesis with the pose and its decor in question—perhaps symbolically suggesting that the suspension, or the pre-meditation here, is congruent, in some weird way, with the environment around us. Pressurization, tipping points, and critical junctures are all universals. If we remind ourselves of that, perhaps they are more navigable than we realize.

Please enjoy the issue, please remember to always save a dance, and in the words of the late Jerry Springer, “Please take care of your- selves...and each other.”

Sincerely, Matthew 

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Farah Al Qasimi, Los Angeles County Museum Of Art, The Third Line, Dubai