John Markoff's “Whole Earth” and Ulysses Jenkins’s “Without Your Interpretation”

April 1, 2022

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This week it’s a LARB Radio doubleheader. In the first half of the show, Kate Wolf talks with John Markoff about his latest book, Whole Earth: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand. Brand is probably best known as the creator of the Whole Earth Catalog, a countercultural magazine he published regularly between 1968 and 1972, and then infrequently up until 1998. With influences ranging from the Beat poets whom Brand met as a youth in San Francisco to his experimentation with LSD, the wisdom of indigenous cultures, and the philosophy of Buckminster Fuller, Whole Earth Catalog featured articles on sustainable living, ecology, and emerging technologies. As Markoff shows in his book, Brand — who’s worked as a photographer, writer, political advisor, and environmental activist, among other things — is not an easy person to pin down. His sympathies have ranged from libertarianism to eco-pragmatism, which stresses “useful technologies,” including nuclear power. Brand is now 83 and Markoff’s book is based on many years of interviews with him.

In the second half of the show, Kate is joined by artist Ulysses Jenkins on the occasion of his first, long overdue retrospective, Without Your Interpretation, which runs until May 15th at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Jenkins’s career spans five decades and he’s known especially for his pioneering video and performance art pieces, which often explore questions of race, multiculturalism, ritual, representation, and technology. Born in Los Angeles in 1946, Jenkins has been integral to the artistic evolution of the city, collaborating and forming collectives with many other important artists, including Senga Nengudi, Maren Hassinger, David Hammons, Nancy Buchanan, Harry Gamboa Jr., May Sun, and Kitt Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz.