The Best of Art F City, 2015

by Rea McNamara on December 31, 2015 Lists + The Best


Revisiting the ‘Simple Net Art Diagram’, reviewing an art fair’s virtual tour, calling out Georg Baselitz, breaking news on the USC MFA Class, and even bringing back nerdocracy. Readers, we truly feel a real sense of accomplishment for the stories we wrote in 2015, especially after amassing them in a ‘Best of’ list such as this. We not only paid artists to attend art fairs, but also investigated sexism is arts publishing and even had two Renaissance cosmetics experts dish on body hair removal. Who else publishes this shit? No one.

Our favorites have been organized under headings that you might find helpful. You can skip to them by clicking on the headline links below:

A Brief History Of…Art FairsArtist CommissionsIMG MGMTReviews, We Went To…Interviews, OpinionNewswireEventsResources


Art historicism we get behind.


A Brief History of the Simple Net Art Diagram, Michael Sarf and Tim Whidden

“Now, I know what you’re thinking: ‘What the hell is the ‘Simple Net Art Diagram’ and why does it keep showing up in my browser/net-art lecture series/AFC posts/Rhizome party-announcements?’ Excellent question.”

An Incomplete History: Looking Back at Rhizome’s Professional Surfer, Paddy Johnson

“Nearly ten years later, we’re still remixing, blogging and collaging material, only we’ve moved to different platforms. Given the relevance of ‘Professional Surfer’ to today’s online culture the question I asked revisiting this show was simple: Does it hold up as an exhibition and a historical document?”


Who knew thought was possible at an art fair?

Inside Paris Photo: The Art Fair Almost No One Saw – Michael Anthony Farley on Paris Photo

“The experience of ‘visiting’ Paris Photo feels uncanny, often frustrating, and occasionally poignant. The fair was obviously intended to be experienced IRL, but was driven online as a result of reality’s dangers.”

NADA Trend Watch: Everyone Loves Painting, No One Is Painting, Michael Anthony Farley

“[Michael] Manning’s work seems to suggest that one could seamlessly produce an authorless physical commodity out of the ether of social media in much the same way the artwork present at the fairs is endlessly photographed, reblogged and copied across the digital world.”

Talking Heads: A Dual Review of the Armory by James Panero and Drank Pee

Here is the latest addition to Mike Kelley HOME® from Raymour and Flanigan. Great at hiding stains and children. And I like it.”


We even pay artists to attend art fairs.

Jake Sollins Report: Armory Show 2015 – Jake Sollins on the Armory Fair

“‘Do you buy art?’ Answer: ‘Yes, but don’t tell my wife.’”

Real Life Versus Instagram Life at the Armory Week Fairs – Greg Allen on the Armory Fair

“Art is now optimizing itself for image virality.”

Sam Rolfes: Otherworldly Portraits at the Pulse Art Fair – Sam Rolfes on the Pulse Art Fair

“‘I ended up being entertained by the gallery attendants,’ says Rolfes. ‘Once the scene of collectors had faded from the booth’s vicinity, they slouched over their iPhones—in contrapposto—or other various states of digital repose.’” After visiting Pulse, artist Sam Rolfes made us alien-like digital sketches of gallery dealers and attendants.


Enlivening art discourse outside of academia since 2008.


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This image-based essay by Best Unrepresented Artist Peter Burr in collaboration with Porpentine explores the video game’s infinite dungeon, and introduced a new AFC feature, “dark mode”.


Your meat and potatoes.

Neal Medlyn, Wicked Clown Love, 2015

Neal Medlyn, Wicked Clown Love, 2015. Photo: Ian Douglas

Must Like Loud: Neal Medlyn’s Explosive Seven Part Opus – Paddy Johnson on Neal Medlyn’s Emerald Edition at American Realness

“When a performer spends several nights grinding his dick in your face for art, you want to find something good to say about the performance.”

Is Site Specificity Relevant to a Generation of Nomads? Not Really – Michael Anthony Farley on Sight | Site | Cite at OUTLET

“Throughout Sight | Site | Cite there are numerous references to travel—or, as in Mira Alibek’s Hysterical Body series, personal space—but few engagements with urban or architectural space. Perhaps, after decades of musing on modernism and its legacy, unsuccessfully fighting the destruction/gentrification of the city, and the increasing importance of digital experiences, many artists are weary of engaging with the built environment.”

Is Claire Bishop Mired in Citational Modernism? – Rea McNamara on Déjà Vu: Contemporary Art and the Ghosts of Modernity at OCAD

“We all get that we’re in this ghoulish cannibalistic cycle where artists are reformatting modernism — complete with saccharine nostalgia sans original progressive agenda — to the extent that they’re annihilating the past in an institutionally tasteful and collector-approved way.”

Congratulations MoMA: You’ve Made Yoko Ono Boring –  Michael Anthony Farley on Yoko Ono: One Woman Show at Museum of Modern Art

“Yoko Ono’s greatest successes were about finding earnest moments in absurd celebrations of the mundane or a dissolution of hierarchies of value. MoMA seemed bent on proving to us that these gestures can be reduced to a forced aura of preciousness surrounding physical minutiae.”

Stories Made With Love: Sondra Perry’s Lineage for a Multiple-Monitor Workstation – Paddy Johnson on Sondra Perry at Judith Charles Gallery

For every flag that is buried, another just like it is hung. There are no lasting solutions. The same battles are fought over and over. As folklore has it, each fold of the flag has a different meaning, the first referring to life and the second to everlasting life.


The places we go.

paddy kusama 2

Inside Yayoi Kusama’s “Obliteration Room,” parked inside David Zwirner.

We Went to to the Yayoi Kusama Selfie Chamber – Paddy Johnson and Corinna Kirsch on Yayoi Kusama at David Zwirner

“Yeah, I was there one day later, and people were hanging chains of dot stickers from the lights. It looked like a product of boredom.”

We Went to the LES and the LES Went All Out – Michael Anthony Farley and Corinna Kirsch on Salon de Mass-age at Shin Gallery Project Space, John Baldessari at Shin Gallery, Martin Roth at Louis B James, and Simon Schubert at Foley

“Translation: We only have one Baldessari…but we threw in a ball pit! I get the connection, they’re extrapolating themes from the diptychs (the dots and the rope), but it’s like the Baldessari is a jumping off point for a super fun experience. I don’t think you can even call this an art show. It’s definitely not a Baldessari show.”

We Went to North Carolina: The Weirdest Contemporary Art Museum in the South – Paddy Johnson and Michael Anthony Farley on Point & Counterpoint: NC Arts Council Fellows 2014-2015 at SECCA

“I’m always impressed by how much thought you bring to the art you look at, Michael. I do think, though, that you bring more to this work then it may deserve.”


The most interesting people we know.

Artist Graham Coreil-Allen leads a SiteLines tour.

Artist Graham Coreil-Allen leads a SiteLines tour.

The Anarchist Flâneur: Graham Coreil-Allen’s Critical Urbanism – Michael Anthony Farley

“Graham Coreil-Allen is a multidisciplinary artist, activist, and resolute pedestrian.”

Changes at Contemporary Art Daily: A Conversation with Founder Forrest Nash – Paddy Johnson

“I think of art as a social system. The question of what is and isn’t an artwork, in my opinion, is a rhetorical distinction that is always being agreed upon by a loose group of people. I think you can look at the relationships between those people and see the outlines of a system.”

Two Experts on Renaissance Cosmetics: Jackie Spicer and Dr. Jill Burke – Editor Whitney Kimball

“Right, so let’s talk about body hair removal.”


Oh hey, I have an idea.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Surface Tension (1992). Installation photograph by Maxime Dufour. Credit: Whitechapel Gallery

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Surface Tension (1992). Installation photograph by Maxime Dufour. Credit: Whitechapel Gallery

Will Electronic Superhighway Accurately Historicize New Media and Internet Art?

“It remains concerning, then, that a historical survey such as this would not engage other organizations involved in supporting the preservation of new media and digital-based artworks. Rhizome is not the only digital art archive.” Rea McNamara on Whitechapel’s upcoming survey, and what’s already missing.

What’s the Use of an Art Critic in a City on Fire?

“Truthfully, I’ve wanted to cry for black Baltimore, but I don’t feel like I’m entitled to those tears. And deep down, I know that many people agree with me.” Michael Anthony Farley reflects on living in Baltimore in the immediate aftermath of the Baltimore riots after the arrest and death of Freddie Grey.

Seriously, Fuck You, Georg Baselitz

“Can collectors all just agree never to buy a Georg Baselitz painting again?” Paddy Johnson on Baselitz’s sexist bullshit.


News now.

Drawing by Edie Fake, one of the USC Seven

Drawing by Edie Fake, one of the USC Seven

USC MFA Class of 2015 Calls for Resignation of Fine Arts Dean

AFC broke much of the news in the controversy surrounding the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Fine Arts, thanks to the USC Seven who resigned a year into the MFA program in protest who then contacted Corinna because they were fans of AFC. The calls for Dean Erica Muhl’s removal was followed in June by a petition with over 760 signatures from the international art community, including Anton Vidokle, Catherine Opie and Martha Rosler.

Over 100 Artists and Small Businesses Forced Out of Gowanus Buildings

“‘I’ve only been here for four months,’ artist Karen Heagle told me, speaking of her studio at 75 10th Street. ‘I have been in New York for 25 years and that is the fastest I’ve been removed from a studio.’”

e-flux and DeviantArt Lose .ART Bid to Russian Venture Capitalist

Since 2012, AFC has been covering .ART, the widely contested Top Level Domain Bid. Despite the efforts of a grassroots campaign fighting for the domain’s integrity, it ultimately just became yet another centralized online entity.

Female Art Writers Open Up About Sexism in Publishing (Part One & Part Two)

“At a previous job I earned half as much as a male colleague of mine, despite the fact that we shared the same job title and I had almost two years seniority on him.” Corinna Kirsch, in her last AFC series, surveys female critics, writers and journalists on the inequities and even out-and-out harassment they encounter in the field of arts writing.


We’re everywhere!

Stay in New York at The Queens Museum

Stay in New York at the Queens Museum. All photos by Liz Ligon of Liz Ligon Photography.

Seven Takeaways From Stay In New York – Paddy Johnson on Stay in New York

“The rent in New York sucks. It’s really high. It’s only getting higher. Is there any end in sight?” In July, we organized our first conference, Stay In New York, to discuss the ways in which artists can keep holding onto affordable spaces in the city. The resulting dialogue on community, gentrification and displacement was inspiring, and saw a lot of traction occur on the issue, like coalition-building among attendees.

Open Engagement: What Happened Over the Weekend – Corinna Kirsch on Open Engagement

“During a session on teaching social practice in higher education, several audience members addressed the potential ‘problem’ of students using social practice art for evil, trying to figure out what to do if a student wanted to partner with the NRA or the Klu Klux Klan on a project. What? This an actual worry?” Corinna attended the annual conference devoted to social practice in April, and came away with a few quick observations.

Superscript: Two Days in an Auditorium with Art Critics – Paddy Johnson on the Superscript conference for art writers at the Walker Center

“If there’s one thing Superscript made clear, it’s that the advent of email, Facebook, and Twitter doesn’t mean we’re talking to each other. There’s so much we don’t know about other publications, from each other’s publishing ethics to what we pay and get paid.”


Always go to the source.

Opened in 2014: 99 Cent and Handjob Gallery and Store. Photo courtesy the gallery.

Opened in 2014: 99 Cent Plus and Handjob Gallery and Store. Photo courtesy the gallery.

AFC’s Guide to New Art Galleries in New York – The AFC Staff (project lead by Corinna Kirsch)

“Looking for new galleries? Done. We’ve found all of New York’s new galleries that have opened post-Sandy.” Yep, we’re handy like that.

The Definitive Stay in New York Reading List – Paddy Johnson and Corinna Kirsch

Who else publishes such an extensive affordable workspace conference reading list? We do.

Bringing Back the Nerdocracy – Paddy Johnson and Corinna Kirsch

In January, Paddy and Corinna compiled this mega list of art blogs. As expected, we got a lot of comments.

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