Press Play 2019 Opening Night
co-presented with The Baffler

Join Pioneer Works and The Baffler to kick-off Press Play, our annual book and music fair. Opening night features a preview of the exhibitor fair, a panel on criticism presented by The Baffler, and a night of music from Empath and Control Top, with additional DJs through the evening.

The night will begin with a conversation on contemporary criticism: Culture is sick as hell, and criticism is dying! A zealous TV culture has declared Total Victory over arts criticism in our newspapers and magazines, cannily replacing the longform review with the listicle or behind-the-scenes profile. Everything has become reality TV, we’re told, under the aegis of a reality TV president. The hellward trajectory of cultural commentary began years before our present lucid nightmare, with the axing of arts journalists and advertorial clickbait’s short-lived reign of terror. Meanwhile, tarrying in the underworld, has criticism perhaps found a new (and suitably Mephistophelian) lease on life? Join critics Jennifer Krasinski, A.S. Hamrah, Lucy Ives, Jonathon Sturgeon, and Kate Wagner to find out.

Jennifer Krasinski is a Brooklyn-based writer and critic. She is a senior editor at Artforum, and formerly an art columnist for the Village Voice. A regular contributor to Bookforum, and a contributing editor to Yale University’s Theater magazine, she is on faculty in the MFA Art Writing Department at the School of Visual Arts, and is the recipient of a 2013 Creative Capital / Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant.

A. S. Hamrah is the author of the The Earth Dies Streaming, a collection of film criticism. He has been n+1’s film critic since 2008 and was the editor of the magazine’s film review supplement. He has worked as a movie theater projectionist, a semiotic brand analyst, a political pollster, a football cinematographer, a zine writer, and for the film director Raúl Ruiz.

Lucy Ives is the author of the novels Loudermilk: Or, The Real Poet; Or, The Origin of the World and Impossible Views of the World. Her writing has appeared in Art in America, Artforum, The Baffler, frieze, Granta, Lapham’s Quarterly, Vogue, and at She currently teaches in the Image Text interdisciplinary MFA program at Ithaca College, as well as at NYU’s XE: Experimental Humanities & Social Engagement Master’s program.

Jonathon Sturgeon is editor in chief of The Baffler. He was previously senior editor of the magazine, deputy editor of artnet News, literary editor at Flavorwire, and senior editor at The American Reader. He has contributed essays on literature, visual art, cinema, and politics to the Guardian, Frieze, ArtNews, and The Paris Review, among other outlets.

Kate Wagner is an architecture and cultural critic based in Washington, DC. She is the creator of the blog McMansion Hell. Kate has written about architecture, design, and culture for numerous publications including The Baffler, The Atlantic, CityLab, and The Nation and is an opinions columnist at Curbed.

Empath brings us a warm earth noise pop from Philadelphia. Made up of singer-guitartist Catherine Elicson, keyboardist Emily ­Shanahan, drummer Garrett ­Koloski, and Randall Coon on synthesizer, they are “2018’s trippiest punk band,” according to Rolling Stone. Their new album, Active Listening: Night on Earth, is now available through Get Better Records.

Control Top—singer and bassist Ali Carter with guitarist Al Creedon and drummer Alex Lichtenauer—rip open space for catharsis. Their explosive songs are a synthesis of varied interests and backgrounds: Carterʼs innate sense of new wave melodies, Creedonʼs sirening noise guitars, Lichtenauerʼs feverish hardcore drumming. Their debut full-length Covert Contracts, out now via Get Better Records, balances composition and chaos, equally inspired by pop and no-wave. With her lyrics, Carter responds to feeling trapped and overwhelmed in a capitalist patriarchy, offering indictments of wrongdoing and abuse of power, odes to empathy and ego death, as well as declarations of self-determination. Brimming with post-punk poetry for 2019, itʼs the sound of agency being reclaimed.

Find out more about Press Play here.

The Baffler is America’s leading purveyor of indignant left-wing political criticism and cultural analysis, publishing six times a year in print and every day of the cursed workweek online. Established in 1988, the magazine is currently edited by Jonathon Sturgeon and headquartered in New York.

Pioneer Works Press publishes a range of projects that explore new ways of thinking, and seeks to advance the dissemination of knowledge and art through publication and recorded sound. Through our imprint, bookstore, and annual Press Play publishing & music fair, we seek to demonstrate that publication is essential to accessing the arts beyond the institution, and that it is a foundation of all creative practice.