Molly has written for venues including the New York Times, CNN, Vice, Rhizome, The Paris Review, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, and The Daily Beast.
Vanity Fair: From Pussy Riot to Snowden: the Dissident Fetish
The Organization whose gala I drank at does deeply admirable work, but its hush on domestic political prisoners mirrors that of those with more troubling motives. By ignoring humans locked in their own cells, states can pretend that dissent is only punished elsewhere. They can both toast hell-raisers abroad, and clamp down on hell-raisers at home.
Empires love their dissidents foreign.
VICE: Photo Real: On Photoshop, Feminism, and Truth
Photoshop, the belief goes, takes a true record of a moment, and turns it into an oppressive lie.
But fuck Photoshop. Photos are already lies.
Politico: George Bush’s Paintings Aren’t Funny
Bush’s 30 oil-on-board portraits of world leaders will hang at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas through June 3. As artifact, they’re fascinating, even if as art they’re not.
VICE: Theater of Justice
Courtrooms are a violent theater. The violence happens off-scene: in Rikers Island where a homeless man recently baked to death; in the shackles and beatings and the years far from everything you love. But the courtroom itself is the performative space, the stage where the best story triumphs, and where all parties, except (usually) the defendant, are just playing parts.
VICE: On Turning 30
Age is a weapon society uses against women. Each year that you gain comfort in your own flesh, your flesh is seen as worth less. Thirty, like 40 or 50, is a demarcation line, but a particularly loaded one. Cross it, says the world, and you leave the trifling-but-addictive privileges of girlhood behind.
Creative Time Reports: Google Glass, the Corporate Gaze and Mine
Because most women have spent most of history pregnant, nursing, burying miscarriages, and/or taking care of wealthier women’s kids, most “great” Western artists have been men. The male gaze is all mixed up with the gaze of an artist. When women started making art en masse, we were thought to see differently
Creative Time Reports: Banksy Takes the Art World’s Money, But He Won’t Buy Its Line
The Internet lacerated itself for not buying Banksys at a 10,000-percent discount. But would you recognize art if it wasn’t marked as such?
VICE: Filthy Lucre
Artists too have their myths. The lies told to artists mirror the lies told to women. Be good enough, be pretty enough, and that guy or gallery will sweep you off your feet, to the picket-fenced land of generous collectors and two-and-a-half kids. But, make the first move, seize your destiny, and you’re a whore.
VICE: Talking About My Abortion
When some defenders of choice talk about abortion, they often focus on edge cases: rape victims, life-threatening pregnancies, or teens who don’t know how babies are made. That kind of dialogue sometimes makes it seem like abortion is reserved for “other” women. Women who aren’t like them. Which, despite all delusions of enlightenment, is exactly what I thought when at 20, I realized I had an embryo growing inside of me.
CNN: My Arrest at Occupy Wall Street
“Occupy Wall Street taught many middle-class white people what poor people and people of color had already known. The law is often a hostile and arbitrary thing. Speak too loudly, stand in the wrong place, and you’re on the wrong side of it.”
Paris Review: Diego, Frida, and Me
Of course, concepts are best cast in stark terms, as abstract representations of truth. People, not so much. Diego made his own ass the focal point of his mural at the San Francisco Art Institute. Frida’s communism was so fervent that one of her last paintings, done in a morphine haze after her leg was amputated, bears the title Marxism Will Give Health to the Sick. But history reads them along gender lines. Diego is masculine, intellectual, universal. Frida is feminine, emotional, personal.
Jacobin Magazine: Art After Occupy
I’m an artist. My job is to apply colored mud onto a surface. Just like the construction workers on the mural job, I’d be covered in toxic dust, freezing and wobbling on a rickety platform. I have dirty nails and rough hands. Art is carpentry as much as metaphysics. We’re blue collar workers with pretenses at the sublime.
VICE: Shooter Boys and At-Risk Girls
The right way for a white girl to be angry is to turn her anger inwards. She should be a victim, like the patients in Reviving Ophelia, a psychiatrist’s late-90s textbook on broken girlhood. She should starve or cut or blow boys who treat her badly. A crusading shrink should scoop her up, and return her to good grades, tasteful clothes, and happiness–heart and hymen intact.
VICE: The World of a Professional Naked Girl
A woman’s beauty is supposed to be her grand project and constant insecurity. We’re meant to shellac our lips with five different glosses, but always think we’re fat. Beauty is Zeno’s paradox. We should endlessly strive for it, but it’s not socially acceptable to admit we’re there. We can’t perceive it in ourselves. It belongs to the guy screaming “nice tits.”
VICE: How Can We Stop Cops from Beating and Killing?
Occupy Wall Street activist Shawn Carrié always dreamed of becoming a classical pianist, and he was on his way, with a full music scholarship to New York University. That all changed on March 17, 2012, when, during a demonstration at Zuccotti Park, a New York City police officer pulled his thumb back and back and back until it broke. Six other cops kicked him until he bled from his ears …
Shawn would never play piano at a professional level again.
MEDIUM: No One Reads Kafka in Gitmo
Ringed with razor-wire, Guantanamo practices a security culture so rigorous that when a journalist accidentally left an iPod in his bag, our press escort worried that the guards who confiscated it would have to smash it with a hammer. Guards peer at each detainee through cell cams every three minutes. Detainees are moved between camps in shackles and sometimes on backboards, something a guard told me was for “their safety” but could not explain how. Their genitals are searched before and after they use the phone.
VICE: Guantanamo Bay is Kafka on the Carribean
I first came to Gitmo to cover the military commissions. During my second trip, I was the third artist granted permission to draw the prisons. The Joint Task Force offers journalists a carefully choreographed tour—the point of which is to show that the Bad Old Gitmo of public perception is not Gitmo Now.
The Daily Beast: The Faces of Guantánamo
During the invasion of Afghanistan, the United States offered locals $5,000 bounties for turning in terrorists. Instead, we got a mixture of Taliban draftees, guys who shot rifles at Islamic training camps in the 1990s, Uighurs fighting China and, above all, Arabs in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, branded by Bush as “The Worst of the Worst,” they are to be held until the end of the “War on Terror.” But wars on concepts seldom end.
VICE: It Don’t Gitmo Better Than This
Gitmo’s prison camps were built, in principle, to hold and interrogate captives outside the reach of US law … Since he was inaugurated in 2008, President Obama has twice promised to close Gitmo, but 166 men still languish in indefinite detention. It is a place where information is contraband, force-feeding is considered humane care, staples are weapons, and the law is rewritten wantonly.
Creative Time Reports: The Bradley Manning Truth Battalion
By handing hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables over to Wikileaks, Manning revealed drone strikes, civilian deaths, and the torture of Guantanamo detainees. In return, the U.S. government charged him with espionage and aiding the enemy. On July 30, Manning’s trial lurched to its inevitable conclusion. No matter how skilled his defense, he would be found guilty. He would spend his life in jail.
The Guardian: Bradley Manning and Us
Loyalty is life and death for soldiers. But like courage, it’s a morally neutral virtue. Its morality depends on how you view the cause it serves. Like any whistleblower, Manning may have betrayed his institution, but he did so out of loyalty to humanity.
VICE: The Fight to Save America’s Best Free College
Since 1859, Cooper Union has been free. Cooper’s original endowment is supplemented by donors, alumni, and, most crucially, rent from the land under the Chrysler Building, located 39 blocks away. Growing up in New York, I viewed Cooper Union through the filter of legend. Because it was free, it took only the best.
VICE: Lulz and Leg Irons: In the Courtroom with Weev
On the morning of March 18, I was sitting with friends at the Federal Courthouse in Newark, waiting to hear how long Weev would spend in jail. I didn’t go there to write an article. I went because his conviction was wrong, and my friends and I cared for him. I meant to be another body filling the courtroom, to provide whatever support that’s good for.
VICE: Slaves of Happiness Island
Though it is now only a sunbaked construction site, Saadiyat, a ten-square-mile atoll 500 yards off the coast of Abu Dhabi, will be home to branches of the Louvre, the Guggenheim, and New York University, alongside hotels, shopping, and luxurious homes. It will be a cultural paradise, conjured by the country’s vast oil wealth but built on the backs of men who are little more than indentured servants.
VICE: Caught Between ISIS and Assad
Patrick and I crossed into Syria easily. While Turks have so far maintained an open-border policy for Syrians with papers, the same cannot be said for the rest of the world. Our US passports guaranteed freedom of movement. For Syrians, theirs chain them to a quadrangle of four countries, at the whims of politicians who seldom view them as human.
Talking Points Memo: Istanbul: Before the Tear Gas
Fans of Istanbul’s three main football teams- Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, and Beşiktaş – have shared enmity nearly since the clubs were formed. But since the 2013 Gezi protests, which came to symbolize the battle against state authoritarianism, they’ve united. They share one enemy now, the police.
VICE: I Confronted Donald Trump in Dubai
I am sitting two scant yards from Trump père et fille at a media briefing for the Trump International Golf Course, which is being built by the Emirati firm DAMAC Properties in conjunction with Donald Trump Townhouses and Villas. Trump has promised it will be the greatest golf course in the world.
Ivanka is angry because I asked a real question. In Dubai, this can land you in jail.
The Guardian: Syria’s war, 3 years on: ‘a horror film’, in faces of the dead and voices of revolt
In wars, it’s easy to see the dead as gore on a Twitter feed, as statistics to be shrugged away. Hanano’s #100000Names Oral Memorial for Syria is an attempt to give Syria’s dead back their humanity.
Newsweek: In Syria, Western Fundamentalists Are Tweeting From Amongst the Corpses
… if Europeans like Chechclear are living out their Call of Duty fantasies, they do it at the expense of Syrian lives. In the territory it holds in Syria’s North, ISIS is imposing its harsh interpretation of sharia law with torture and beheadings. Its Western fighters are tweeting selfies in the ruins.
MEDIUM: Coffee With Refugees
If the media ignores refugees’ heroism, many governments deny their humanity. Refugees are often people with no place. No passports, protection, or pull. They don’t fit into neat boxes. To the state, it would be better if they didn’t exist.
MEDIUM: Syria’s Queer Refugees
Homosexuality is illegal in Syria, but a well-off young Damascene could still have a life, as long as he was discreet. The war changed that.
The New York Times: Syria’s Spreading Bloodshed
The uneasy peace has now shattered as the civil war in Syria has spilled over the border, renewing old enmities. Since I left, the Lebanese government has called in the army to take control of Tripoli.
Interviews and Profiles
Paris Review: A Conversation with Warren Ellis
“Somewhere, on an NSA server in Utah, there sits an email from Warren Ellis threatening to strangle me to death with my own intestines.” An interview with Warren Ellis.
VICE: A Conversation with Art Spiegelman
Art was in his Borgesian-library/studio—“The Haus that Maus Built”—surrounded by a century’s worth of illustration books. He climbed a ladder propped against his tall, wooden shelves like a mad archivist, grinning, pulling out the volume that might best speak to my ink-stained heart.