From the category archives:

Reviews

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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The Timelessness of Sex, Violence, and Portraiture: Otto Dix at MUNAL

by Michael Anthony Farley on January 13, 2017
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In Mexico City, a collaboration between German and Mexican museums grapples with making sense of Otto Dix’s prolific and diverse oeuvre. It’s a wild success, largely due to a light curatorial touch.

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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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Ligia Lewis at American Realness: Forceful Celebrations

by Paddy Johnson on January 10, 2017
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It took me about 15 minutes to notice that the performers in Ligia Lewis’s “minor matter” were wearing black contacts that obscured the white of their eyes. That’s probably because for the duration of the piece, I was preoccupied by the worry that performers Jonathan Gonzalez, Ligia Lewis, and Hector Thami Manekehla might accidentally break a partner’s vertebrate. “minor matter” is approximately 65 minutes of these dancers slamming each other on the floor, climbing on top of one another and basically beating the shit out of each other. I loved it.

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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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No Fear: Macon Reed at ICA Baltimore

by Michael Anthony Farley on December 15, 2016
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In her new show Who’s Afraid of Magic? Macon Reed present a playful DIY-meets-high-femme body of work about witch hunts, misogyny, and violence.

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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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Pipilotti Rist at The New Museum: Feel-Good Feminism

by Paddy Johnson on December 9, 2016
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Feminism isn’t easy to pin down. It’s a social movement that shares a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, and social rights for women. It’s famously defined by waves (first, second and third) that only a few of us can fully explain without referencing Wikipedia.

For me, feminism is characterized less by the social movement it describes, than by woman who chose for themselves what they like, what they want, and who they are. It’s simple, and that’s part of why I like it. It’s inclusive, and it can be fun, pleasurable and charming—all qualities of the most infectious and influential kinds of movements.

As it happens, this is exactly the strength of “Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest”, the New Museum’s 30 retrospective of the artist’s videos curated by Massimiliano Gioni.

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