Archive of Emily Colucci

Emily has written 55 article(s) for AFC.

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Emily Colucci

I’m Afraid Of Americans: Farley Aguilar’s “Bad Color Book” At Lyles & King

by Emily Colucci on January 18, 2017
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Sometimes it takes the right sociopolitical moment for an artist’s work to land its critique. That’s precisely what happened with Farley Aguilar’s paintings, currently on view in his solo show Bad Color Book at Lyles & King.

A couple years ago when I saw his work at Volta New York, I wrote off the Florida-based artist’s monumental splattered canvases as a throwback to the hypermasculine, “bigger is better” style of painting. But, his current exhibition, filled with threatening representations of crowds, resonates with the populist anger and frenzied mob mentality tapped into by Donald Trump. While Aguilar sourced his painting’s imagery from vintage photographs, his themes, rendered with an anxious, frenetic hand, are chillingly timely.

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Pussy Grabs Back For Planned Parenthood In “Nasty Women” At Knockdown Center

by Emily Colucci on January 16, 2017
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In the months since Donald Trump’s election, I’ve often wondered about the possibility of art to enact tangible change. Looking forward to four years of terrifying and potentially life-threatening rollbacks on progressive achievements, how can artists do more than just address these issues aesthetically?

Nasty Women at the Knockdown Center provides a practical answer by effectively combining art with tactics of grassroots organizing. As much a benefit as an art show, all the proceeds from the artwork sold will be donated to Planned Parenthood. And with the first step to repealing Obamacare passing in the Senate the night before the opening, the exhibition could not come at a better time.

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Ni’Ja Whitson’s “A Meditation On Tongues” Conjures The Dead At Abrons

by Emily Colucci on January 11, 2017
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Sitting in Ni’Ja Whitson’s A Meditation On Tongues Sunday night, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was watching ghosts. Part of the American Realness festival, their moving performance (Note: Ni’Ja identifies as gender non-specific and prefers the pronouns “they/their”) reinterpreted Marlon Riggs’s seminal 1989 film Tongues Untied, which explored the fraught intersection of black and gay male identity during the critical years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

More than an ode to an important cultural object, A Meditation On Tongues seemed like a raising of the dead. By appropriating the film’s dialogue and imagery, Whitson and their fellow performers channeled the lost generation of black gay men depicted in the film through the bodies of today’s gender nonconforming and queer artists of color. This allowed Whitson to not only address a wider range of gender presentations, but also powerfully represent the ongoing legacy of Riggs and other late poets, writers and dancers in Tongues Untied.

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Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe Straddle NYC’s Past, Present and Future in ‘Paranoia Man In A Rat Fink Room’

by Emily Colucci on January 9, 2017
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New Yorkers are prone to nostalgia. It’s a byproduct of the city’s rapid changes and frequently traumatic displacements, which is why art addressing these constant evolutions is almost always relevant.

The latest project confronting New York’s transformations is Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe’s Paranoia Man In A Rat Fink Room at Storefront for Art and Architecture. While gentrification is well-trod artistic territory, the show takes a fresh angle on the subject by representing, at once, the city’s seedy past, transitional present and sleek future. Beyond the city, the installation also indirectly but successfully points out the alternative space’s anachronistic placement within the open-air mall of contemporary SoHo.

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Cate Blanchett Is Possessed By 20th Century Artists In Julian Rosefeldt’s ‘Manifesto’

by Emily Colucci on January 5, 2017
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Manifestos don’t age well. This became clear as Cate Blanchett, playing twelve different characters, channeled some of the most notorious artist manifestos of the 20th century in Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto at the Park Avenue Armory.

And yet, the installation succeeded not in spite of the manifestos’ irrelevancy, but because of it. The show compellingly reveals the universal drive to replace previous generations’ achievements with the fiery ideals of younger artists. There’s something reassuring about this continual cycle of rejection and innovation, as well as the inspiration viewers can still find within past manifestos.

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Girl Power Is Back: Top 10 Shows For Women In 2016

by Emily Colucci on December 21, 2016
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Despite the misogynistic horror of Donald Trump’s campaign and eventual election victory, 2016 was a great year for women in the art. There were compelling solo exhibitions by women artists in major institutions, a copious list of all-women group shows and dynamic revivals of unfairly overlooked female artists’ careers. It seems like 2016 marked the return of much-needed 1990’s-style “girl power.”

Granted, there’s still a long way to go for equal representation, particularly for women artists of color. But, hopefully, this is just the beginning. To celebrate this year’s exciting and timely return to feminism, I selected the ten best shows featuring women in 2016. Results below:

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Do It Slow: A Conversation With Sara Reisman on ‘Enacting Stillness’

by Emily Colucci on December 20, 2016
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Stillness as a form of protest is nothing new. There are numerous examples of die-ins, sit-ins and even, hunger strikes that mobilize through immobility. And yet, at a time when many are searching for methods of resistance to Trump’s upcoming administration, a reminder of the potential power of stillness seems necessary.

A current exhibition at The 8th Floor provides this much-needed refresher. Enacting Stillness gathers a group of artists who use slow moving bodies and themes of waiting, silence or inaction in order to provoke dialogue and maybe even, political change.

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Rob Pruitt Measures Obama’s Legacy In Paintings At Gavin Brown’s Enterprise

by Emily Colucci on December 14, 2016
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Sometimes an artist’s project is so timely that it doesn’t matter if the concept is hokey. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Rob Pruitt’s The Obama Paintings, which is currently on view at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise.

Starting with Obama’s inauguration in 2009, Pruitt embarked on an eight-year long project to paint Obama every day of his two-term presidency. These red, white and blue-toned works might look cheesy in another political moment. But, in the context of the looming Trump administration, The Obama Paintings provides a meaningful opportunity to reflect on Obama’s presidential legacy, as well as the forthcoming exit of this empathetic and considerate leader. I’ll admit, I got a little choked-up in the gallery.

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Do The Divisions Between Artist, Writer and Activist Matter Post-Election?

by Emily Colucci on December 9, 2016
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What is an artist’s role in activism? A panel at e-flux on Tuesday night explored the question many in the arts community have been wondering since Trump’s election a month ago.

The panel What Now: The Artist-Writer As Activist-Critic not only considered artist writing as a form of sociopolitical and institutional critique, but it also took a more expansive look at the intersection of art and activism. And this focus struck a nerve. Even on a rainy and miserable evening, the event space at e-flux was filled to capacity with over 70 people searching for a way forward in the forthcoming Trump administration.

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I Went To The Jewish Museum’s “Take Me (I’m Yours)” And All I Got Was This Stupid T-Shirt

by Emily Colucci on December 7, 2016
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A loud, tacky sign emblazoned with “Everything Must Go” would not feel out of place in the Jewish Museum’s current exhibition Take Me (I’m Yours). A rack of plastic goodie bags branded with the exhibition’s title hang in the show’s entrance, encouraging viewers to fill up on artist-made pins, T-shirts, used clothing, candy and a 25-cent ball of air from Yoko Ono. With this free-for-all curatorial style, the exhibit looks more like a display of samples than a contemporary art show.

That’s a bad thing. The whole show feels like a gimmick designed to lure people in the door by offering them free swag. Meanwhile, the Museum is presenting the idea that they are challenging the traditional relationship between art and its viewers, which not only isn’t true (it’s been done to death), it distracts from the sociopolitical critiques made by many of the artists in the show. Simply put, the show is a disaster.

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