From the category archives:

Reviews

Three Shows: Beki Basch, Hein Koh, and “Photo Flesh”

by Michael Anthony Farley on May 19, 2017
Thumbnail image for Three Shows: Beki Basch, Hein Koh, and “Photo Flesh”

The next week is a good time to do some art-seeing on the westside of downtown Baltimore. Michael Jones McKean’s commission from The Contemporary has transformed an old department store into a dystopian museum and it’s teriffying and great. You can check it out by appointment until May 31st, when it will be deinstalled. Luckily some of the city’s strongest artist-run spaces are within a few blocks of the show and also tend to accommodate by-appointment viewings. I checked out three openings last weekend: Beki Basch’s trippy Vision Quest Lundi: Flush / Flood at Current Gallery, Hein Koh’s technicolor wonderland Joy & Pain at Platform, and the group show Photo Flesh at Terrault Contemporary featuring three international genre-bending photographers from the Birmingham School of Art.

Read the full article →

Michael Jones McKean Makes Museums Existentially Terrifying

by Michael Anthony Farley on May 19, 2017
Thumbnail image for Michael Jones McKean Makes Museums Existentially Terrifying

In Michael Jones McKean’s The Ground, presented by The Contemporary, the artist has inserted a dystopian anthropology museum in a long-vacant department store. It’s smart, funny, and just a little terrifying.

See it while you can.

Read the full article →

The Venice Biennale: An Orphanage for the Terminally Out-of-Touch

by Paddy Johnson on May 17, 2017
Thumbnail image for The Venice Biennale: An Orphanage for the Terminally Out-of-Touch

It was close to midnight when my phone started lighting up last week. James Comey, the head of the FBI, was fired and the freak out was almost immediate. I felt lucky to be in Italy. A buffer from US news was necessary to maintain any kind of focus on the Venice Biennale, not to mention one’s sanity. And yet, even from this distance, the turmoil back home certainly drove home one point: Art isn’t going to save democracy. Art has no impact on Donald Trump’s actions, the FBI, or any of the Republicans in the senate and congress. People can call their representatives. Art cannot.

All of which is to say, the art professional who believes artists are magical unicorns who will save us all is looking increasingly silly. And so, visiting this year’s Venice Biennale Viva Art Viva curated by Christine Macel, which begins with the premise that artists will shape the world to come, felt a bit like walking through a United Way commercial. The upside of this: the 2017 Biennale more diverse than many of its predecessors. The downside: diversity isn’t of much value if the show is bad.

The Biennale fails both thematically and visually.

Read the full article →

The Last Day of Disco; DUOX4Odell’s: You’ll Know If You Belong

by Michael Anthony Farley on April 28, 2017
Thumbnail image for The Last Day of Disco; DUOX4Odell’s: You’ll Know If You Belong

When tasked with paying tribute to a long-shuttered nightclub, Wickerham & Lomax went an unusual route. Their ambitious DUOX4Odell’s: You’ll Know if You Belong, which closes tonight in Baltimore, speaks to loss and placelessness as much as glamour.

Closing Reception: April 28th, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
1723 N. Charles Street, Baltimore

Read the full article →

Three Shows: Olafur Eliasson, Alice Neel and Romare Bearden

by Paddy Johnson on April 26, 2017
Thumbnail image for Three Shows: Olafur Eliasson, Alice Neel and Romare Bearden

A few thoughts on Olafur Eliasson, Alice Neel and Romare Bearden. TLDR: See Romare Bearden at DC Moore Gallery before it closes this Saturday.

Read the full article →

California Dreaming: “Golden State” at Marianne Boesky Gallery

by Emily Colucci on April 7, 2017
Thumbnail image for California Dreaming: “Golden State” at Marianne Boesky Gallery

As a New Yorker, much of my conception of California is filtered through films and TV. At least recently with the popularity of HBO’s Little Big Lies and the continued guilty pleasure of the Real Housewives franchise, California looks like it’s made up of big houses, bigger drama and staggering affluence. But, in addition to the extreme privilege in Orange County, Beverly Hills and Monterey, the state, according to Census research, also has the highest poverty rate in the nation.

Curator Drew Sawyer takes aim at this divide through deceptively simple means in his group photography exhibition Golden State at Marianne Boesky Gallery. Sawyer juxtaposes both staged and documentary style representations of enormous wealth with lack to showcase both individual and communal aspirations. Now, this is a recipe for a pretty standard show, but what makes Sawyer’s approach stand out is how his juxtapositions give us greater insight into a less pictured part of California–not just lower income neighborhoods, but the social and governmental structures that support them.

Read the full article →

The Revolution Might Still Be Televised: “Public Access/Open Networks” At BRIC House

by Emily Colucci on March 31, 2017
Thumbnail image for The Revolution Might Still Be Televised: “Public Access/Open Networks” At BRIC House

Sometimes an exhibition succeeds more as a source of creative inspiration than a collection of timely artworks. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the current group exhibition Public Access/Open Networks at the Gallery at BRIC House.

The show, curated by BRIC’s Jenny Gerow with freelance curators Reya Sehgal and Lakshmi Padmanabhan, gathers historical and contemporary video art that was broadcast publicly whether through public access TV or YouTube. The physical exhibition is just aspect of the show, which also includes an assorted program schedule of screenings, live tapings and symposiums.

Read the full article →

Climbing Generations Of Trauma And Muslim Heritage: Baseera Khan’s “iamuslima” at Participant Inc.

by Emily Colucci on March 28, 2017
Thumbnail image for Climbing Generations Of Trauma And Muslim Heritage: Baseera Khan’s “iamuslima” at Participant Inc.

The personal is political is one of the longest enduring clichés in contemporary art. But, sometimes, an artist can dust off this tiresome trope to more effectively shed light on a critical issue with their own life and cultural heritage than with cold, hard facts.

The latest of these exhibitions is Baseera Khan’s iamuslima at Participant Inc. The show does more than just counter our current environment of Muslim bans and government-sanctioned discrimination. Instead, the artist takes aim at its historical legacy by referencing her and her family’s experiences.

Read the full article →

Finding Light (And An Ode To The Ass) In The 2017 Whitney Houston Biennial

by Emily Colucci on March 23, 2017
Thumbnail image for Finding Light (And An Ode To The Ass) In The 2017 Whitney Houston Biennial

Seven small spray bottles labeled “Trigger Spray” and a packet of tissues emblazoned with “Your Feelings Are Valid” sit on a pedestal in a back corner of the Whitney Houston Biennial at Chashama. In a silly sendup of trigger warnings and safe spaces, the corresponding label for the work by Elana Langer lists humor along with the other materials. As it turns out, this isn’t just an ingredient in Langer’s piece. Humor is key to many of the all-women group show’s inclusions, which felt like a breath of fresh air with the doom and gloom of both the Whitney Biennial and the daily outrage of the Trump administration.

Read the full article →

Cataloguing Immigration’s Impact At Yinka Shonibare MBE’s “Prejudice At Home: A Parlour, a Library and a Room” at James Cohan Gallery

by Emily Colucci on March 17, 2017
Thumbnail image for Cataloguing Immigration’s Impact At Yinka Shonibare MBE’s “Prejudice At Home: A Parlour, a Library and a Room” at James Cohan Gallery

Six thousand patterned books line the walls of two rooms at the back of James Cohan Gallery. The spine of each book is emblazoned with names of first and second generation immigrants who have impacted British culture–Christian Bale, Tom Stoppard, Sir Ben Kingsley, Henry James, Yoko Ono, Anish Kapoor, John Galliano and even, rumored “Becky with the good hair” herself, Rita Ora. Basically, it’s your dinner party dream list.

This towering reflection of immigrants’ historical influence comes courtesy of Yinka Shonibare MBE’s installation The British Library, currently on view as a part of his solo show Prejudice at Home: A Parlour, A Library and A Room. With Trump’s travel ban and increased crackdown on undocumented workers, the installation could not have arrived in New York at a more crucial moment. As countless articles attempt to make the case for immigrants and refugees by pointing out foreign-born founders of tech companies or American inventions created by immigrants, Shonibare’s installation achieves what these listicles can’t. It confronts viewers with a tangible, physical record of immigration’s creative impact on a country.

Read the full article →