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Reviews

The Spiritual Failure of Tony Oursler’s “Imponderable”

by Rhett Jones on July 22, 2016
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Is there a secret, intertwined history that ties together mass media, spiritualist con artists, pulp fiction and the unreliability of the image? Tony Oursler’s “Imponderable” would like you to think so. The multimedia artist’s latest work (on at MoMA through January 8th, 2017) is a 90-minute immersive video experience that attempts to draw connections between all of those topics as well as his own familial autobiography and other threads that relate to his collection of spiritualist memorabilia. Unfortunately, when the work seems to come close to solidifying a thematic relationship between the various subjects on its mind, it tends to feel a bit like a magician clumsily employing misdirection. The audience sees a hat, a beautiful assistant and a rabbit up the sleeve, but no magic.

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Hoarding For History: “The Keeper” At The New Museum

by Emily Colucci on July 22, 2016
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I wonder what the crew of A&E’s guilty pleasure Hoarders would say about the New Museum’s recently opened exhibition The Keeper. With four floors of artists’ obsessions, the collecting impulse on view is more manic and compulsive than merely an academic archival interest. In fact, the exhibition looks a lot like the aftermath of a Hoarders Anonymous meeting.

Before attending the group exhibition, I expected the show might too easily and predictably engage with the current archival trend in contemporary art. I’m so glad I was wrong–I wasn’t looking forward to donning white gloves to paw through precisely organized archival boxes.

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Say Yes To Death With Rachel Stern At Black & White Gallery/Project Space

by Emily Colucci on July 20, 2016
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Why does the division between life and death always seem narrower in the American South? Maybe it’s the prevalence of ghost stories or just the spooky imagery of Spanish moss hanging from a live oak tree.

Rachel Stern delves into this tenuous Southern boundary between life and death in her current solo exhibition Yes, Death at Black & White Gallery/Project Space. And what could be more emblematic of the transition into the afterlife than cemeteries?

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Not an Alternative: “FORTY” at MoMA PS1

by Emily Colucci on July 13, 2016
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Can alternative spaces and their anti-institutional goals ever be faithfully represented inside a museum? If MoMA PS1’s current exhibition FORTY is any indication, the answer is a definitive no.

What makes this realization even more awkward is that in this show, the alternative space and institution are one and the same. As its name suggests, FORTY honors the 40th anniversary of PS1 by looking back to its first exhibition Rooms. The show, like Rooms, is organized by Alanna Heiss who founded PS1 in 1976. The former alternative arts space was just one project launched under Heiss’ nonprofit Institute for Art and Urban Resources Inc.

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I Downloaded “Tinder for Art” and Haven’t Found Love Yet

by Michael Anthony Farley on July 8, 2016
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I decided to test drive the much-discussed art purchasing app Wydr today. It’s been described as “Tinder for art,” which is a little misleading. Basically, it’s more of a shopping app than a social networking platform. You can swipe right to favorite an artwork, or left to say “not my type.” If something catches your eye, you can tap on the work, see the artist’s name and purchase information, and add it to your shopping basket. For the past hour or so, I’ve been doing a lot of swiping left.

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A Door-Shattering Breakthrough At Denny Gallery’s Pop-Up “The City & The City”

by Emily Colucci on July 8, 2016
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Nothing underscores the fraught tensions of gentrification quite like the deafening sound of a large glass door shattering behind you. Moments after I entered Denny Gallery’s East Broadway pop-up space this Wednesday, the gallery’s door splintered with a bang and a startling crack. Fragmenting into a wall of tiny shards, the broken door trapped the gallerists and me inside. “You’re not art press, right?” jokingly asked Director Robert Dimin. Well, actually…

As the initial shock wore off, Dimin, between calls to his building contractor and the gallery’s main Broome Street space, tried to piece together what happened. Was it the scalding summer heat that weakened the glass–a product of faulty construction and sweltering temperatures? Or was it something more nefarious such as a warning sign from a neighborhood hostile to symbols of gentrification like a gallery?

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The Great Firewall of GIFs: Miao Ying’s Chinternet Plus

by Michael Anthony Farley on July 8, 2016
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Currently featured as part of the New Museum’s First Look: New Art Online series, Miao Ying’s “Chinternet Plus” takes on Chinese web censorship, corporate aesthetics, and propaganda with the power of .net art.

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#FOMO in Suburbia

by Michael Anthony Farley on July 6, 2016
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I arrived late to the opening reception of Love Me and Delete Me. The gallery is located on a community college campus in a not-very-convenient suburb outside Baltimore. By the time I found it, performance artists and noise musicians had finished their sets and were smoking outside on the otherwise deserted brutalist campus. The scene looked as if it had been plucked from a low-budget post-apocalyptic sci fi film from the 80s. It was an appropriately dystopian prelude to an exhibition about technology and isolation.

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People Have The Power: “Of the people” At Smack Mellon

by Emily Colucci on July 6, 2016
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“Register to vote here,” reads a sign board in front of Smack Mellon. This sign is an unexpected sight, even for a Brooklyn non-profit art space known for its provocative shows. While art and politics frequently meet theoretically in the contemporary art world, they don’t often merge in such a blatantly practical way.

The connection between electoral politics and art drives Smack Mellon’s current exhibition Of the people. Curated by Erin Donnelly, Of the people arrives just in time for both the Democratic and Republican national conventions this month. The timing was not lost on Donnelly who brings together a multidisciplinary group of artists from around the United States to investigate, as the press release describes, “the of-the-moment political opinions shaping the 2016 presidential race.”

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ICP Enters the 21st Century with a Bunch of Mirrors

by Rhett Jones on July 1, 2016
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For a prime example of ambitious curating standing in the way of excellent artwork, look no further than the convoluted mess of a show at the International Center for Photography’s brand new Bowery location. While I’m always up for seeing art that takes advantage of technology and addresses our weird wired world, this show is filled with wrong-headed assertions, painful hanging choices, and eyeball-straining design.

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