Read the Top <em>Cultured</em> Conversations of 2021

Read the Top Cultured Conversations of 2021

Kandis Williams’s Modernity is not merely a compromise between novel forms of commercially driven social organization and this archaic cultural pattern of patrilineal exogamy, but more fundamentally, a deepening of the compromise already integral to any exogamy that is able to remain patrilineal (2019). Photography courtesy of Night Gallery and David Zwirner.

Renée Green and Kandis Williams 

Filmmaker Renée Green of Free Agent Media confabulates with artist Kandis Williams of Cassandra Press about filmmaking, Blackness and semiotics. Though they have never met in person, the duo shares an artistic frequency, having often been denied institutional support for their work. “It actually makes me angry that I haven’t seen more of your work,” says Williams to Green, “because I feel like I was denied language where I’ve had individual conversations about how my work might fit into art history.”

Moses Sumney, photographed by Erik Carter in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles.

Moses Sumney and Caroline Polachek

In conversation with fellow musician Caroline Polachek, Moses Sumney speaks on how he captures ideas in his mind’s eye. They discuss the fickle nature of memory, and how it is being taken for granted in this new digital age. “There’s so much I blank out on,” he says. “When it comes back, it feels really magical to me.”

Photography by Evelyn Pustka. Mark Duplass styled by Jules Wood. Natalie Morales styled by Kimmy Erin. Hair and makeup by Diana Ivanov. Photo assistance by Jonathan Chacon. Special thanks to the Isrow family for their generous hosting.

Mark Duplass and Natalie Morales

While surviving the pandemic rollercoaster was enough for most of us, filmmaker overachievers Mark Duplass and Natalie Morales decided to grace the world with Language Lessons (2021). Discussing the movie collaboration, Morales reveals that her working relationship with Duplass helped quell her imposter syndrome so she could step in her directorial power and appreciate the strength of collaborative work. “With Language Lessons,” says Morales, “it’s such a special feeling because my only intent in making that movie and making it with Mark is to tell a very honest story about being seen by somebody and somebody loving you for no reason, just because you’re you.”

Hari Kondabolu. Illustrated portrait by Atticus Bergman.

Hari Kondabolu and Ajay Kurian

A new father with a Netflix special and a hit podcast, comedian and filmmaker Hari Kondabolu discusses the new wave of activism, marginalization and changing his comedic identity with artist Ajay Kurian. Kondabolu moved to Seattle in 2005, organizing for immigrant rights in the day, and doing comedy in the evenings. “I’m up there to be the truest version of me,” says Kondabolu. “And the truest version of me is interested in all these things that I need to explain to people so that we’re on the same page.” He wanted to express his political opinions and he figured out that he could do this with humor. Kondabolu’s “comedy isn’t about racism,” says Kurian. “It's about living a life in which you can’t avoid it.”

Hasan Minhaj. Styling by Sam Spector. Thom Browne coat, jacket, shirt, pants, socks and boots.

Hasan Minaj and Brandon “Jinx” Jenkins

With his multihyphenate friend Brandon “Jinx” Jenkins, 35-year-old Daily Show alum Hasan Minhaj speaks about his upcoming projects, his rise to fame and his new role in Apple TV’s The Morning Show. Known for his award-winning special Homecoming King and a six-season Netflix show, Minhaj is often in service to his audience’s understanding of the political and social world around them. His storytelling is personal, and his superpower is his relatability. “How can I shape the world through this, to the best of my ability?” he asks.

Alex Katz, Dancers 11, 2019. Photography courtesy of the artist and ARS.

Alex Katz and Emma McMillan

Artist Alex Katz discusses his career trajectory from set design to paint and the way dance influenced his work with Emma McMillan, a fellow artist who once posed for his work and established an unexpected friendship. Katz believes that understanding “gesture and motion” are very important to art. “That’s been my hand from the beginning,” he says. “I think the paintings are about time and light.”