From the category archives:

Reviews

Museum Punk Show in Need of A Sound Guy

by Michael Anthony Farley on February 24, 2017
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In a past life, Mexico City’s Museo Universitario Del Chopo was a punk flea market. Today, it’s gone back to it roots (kinda).
Punk. Sus rastros en el arte contemporáneo is a fantastic survey of both punk and its impact on contemporary art. But when so much of that influence has been on video art, the logic of a gallery presentation is questionable.
The show feels a bit like it should be a film festival but has been squeezed into a white box. Good luck trying to sit through more than a dozen videos with overlapping sound on different loops.

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No Paintings for Old Men: I’m Done With Amy Feldman

by RM Vaughan on February 24, 2017
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I have to hand it to NYC-based painter Amy Feldman: not every artist can cause me to temporarily lose the will to carry on writing and the energy to carry on chronicling our bankrupt, post-meaning culture. What, I wondered as I walked around the palatial Blain/Southern Gallery, is the damned point anymore? Confronted on all sides by Feldman’s aggressively vacuous, massive canvasses, I can’t even argue conclusively that Feldman’s work is good or bad. It operates so outside of any qualitative value scale that I understand—as if attacking the very idea of value—that it defeats all rational readings of art or art making. All I can do is respond. And respond I must.

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You Want It Darker: Robyn O’Neil’s “The Good Herd” At Susan Inglett Gallery

by Emily Colucci on February 23, 2017
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Is any art that depicts a vivid sense of doom and gloom immediately relevant in 2017? Yes, if Robyn O’Neil’s current solo exhibition The Good Herd is any indication.

Previously, the Los Angeles-based artist’s dark surrealism felt like an anachronism. Her drawings in exhibitions like 2011’s Hell were, at once, a throwback to Odilon Redon’s trippy drawings and Edward Gorey’s Goth wit. This didn’t exactly click during the comparative calm of the Obama years. But now, with the daily hellish roller coaster of Trump’s administration, O’Neil’s anonymous figures and ominous symbolism have become strikingly timely, addressing the isolation many feel from their fellow Americans who voted an orange demagogue into office.

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Doomed Capitalism And Psychedelic Escape In David Spriggs and Matthijs Munnik’s “Permutations of Light” at Pittsburgh’s Wood Street Galleries

by Emily Colucci on February 17, 2017
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Before the election and the daily drama of Trump’s administration, I never fully understood just how important the current sociopolitical state is to the success of an exhibition. Of course, I was aware that timeliness could make or break a show. But, less than a month into Trump’s presidency, work that normally wouldn’t interest me in galleries I typically bypass have taken on new meaning and resonance.

The latest project to remind me of art’s dependence on its political context is David Spriggs and Matthijs Munnik’s dual exhibition Permutations of Light at Pittsburgh’s Wood Street Galleries. The show presents two large-scale immersive installations, Spriggs’s Gold and Munnik’s Citadels, on separate floors of the gallery. Concentrated on formal aspects of light, color and form, this type of experiential installation (which are often associated with Wood Street Galleries’ programming) have become so commonplace that they seem, at this point, like a crowd-pleasing cliché. But, when viewed in the context of our surreal times, Spriggs’s critique of capitalism and Munnik’s escapism feel surprisingly relevant.

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Remixing Intersectional Feminism At Pittsburgh’s Miller Gallery At Carnegie Mellon University

by Emily Colucci on February 15, 2017
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Even as feminism experiences a resurgence, there’s still a marked lack of representation of women of color and gender nonconforming individuals in both art and political activism. This disparity was recently debated on an international level with the criticism launched at the disproportionately white and cisgender Women’s March. A current show HACKING/MODDING/REMIXING As Feminist Protest at Pittsburgh’s Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon provides a direct rebuke of this continued inequality by emphasizing the power of intersectional feminism (feminism that embraces multiple, overlapping social identities beyond gender, including race, ethnicity, sexuality and class).

The exhibition leads by example by bringing together a group of twenty two artists who fracture and rearrange technology to create their own narratives within male-dominated fields like gaming, net developing and computing. Organized by artist and game developer Angela Washko, the show, in many ways, is an answer to the much-reported lack of women in tech industries (Washko cites a 2013 study in her introductory wall text, stating only 26% of the positions in computing jobs in the U.S. are held by women). But, with its smart and diverse curation, HACKING/MODDING/REMIXING As Feminist Protest goes further than exhibitions about feminism often go, taking on race and other identity issues. This makes the show not only politically relevant, but also necessary viewing during our current feminist revival.

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Material Light on Substance, Heavy With Dick Pics

by Michael Anthony Farley on February 10, 2017
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Is a bigger fair necessarily a better fair?

Having doubled in floorspace since last year, Material Art Fair feels like a totally different beast. The fair has moved to two lower floors of Expo Reforma, with larger booths arranged around “courtyards” for conversation and concessions. There are plenty of new exhibitors, and much of the work looks far more market-friendly than the wares last year.

Opinions remain divided over whether or not these changes are a good thing…

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Avoiding Contemporary Politics At A.I.R. Gallery’s “Sinister Feminism”

by Emily Colucci on February 3, 2017
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One of the few positive side effects of Trump’s chaotic pussy-grabbing rise to power is the revitalization of feminism as an active political tool. Between the Women’s March and women-driven exhibitions like Nasty Women, women are now at the forefront of the resistance to Trump’s dangerous administration. The strength of this feminist revival explains why the failure of A.I.R. Gallery’s 12th biennial exhibition Sinister Feminism is such a disappointment.

Rather than a strong rebuke of a misogynist administration, Sinister Feminism, curated by Piper Marshall with Lola Kramer, shows a stubborn refusal to scrap wonky aesthetic concerns in a time of political emergency. Not only is the exhibition’s attempt to rethink feminist art’s essentialism hackneyed, it also felt disassociated from reality.

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Justin Peck’s “The Times Are Racing”: Biting, But Not Too Hard

by Paddy Johnson on February 1, 2017
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To be sure, “The Times Are Racing” is no Swan Lake (also at The New York City Ballet). But does the production live up to Peck’s reputation for genius? There’s no short answer to this question.

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What’s So Bad About An Echo Chamber? Jim Torok’s “The New Age of Uncertainty” At Pierogi

by Emily Colucci on February 1, 2017
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The term echo chamber has been thrown around since Trump’s election. When applied by conservatives, it’s used mostly as an attempt to dismiss the alleged close-minded perspective of “coastal elites,” a critique with few merits, even if sometimes true.

The limitations of this critique are especially visible in Jim Torok’s current solo exhibition The New Age of Uncertainty at Pierogi.The work articulates progressive panic and anxiety due to our current political atmosphere through a series of text-based paintings and portraits. In many ways, the exhibition simply reflects back the liberal perspectives those in the New York art community already see daily on social media. This approach has some obvious weaknesses, namely preventing the show from landing a far-reaching political critique. Instead, the exhibition succeeds more as a portrait of a specific ideology and frantic psychological state.

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What Should Anti-Trump Art Shows Achieve?: Petzel Gallery’s “We Need To Talk…”

by Emily Colucci on January 27, 2017
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Since Trump’s election, numerous exhibitions have attempted to address the seemingly endless horror of his presidency. But, how should we judge these shows’ efficacy? Is the quality of the included work enough or should viewers demand more practical political action? A visit to Petzel Gallery’s disappointing We Need To Talk… convinced me of the latter.

The exhibition’s proposed exploration of the many fraught issues currently under siege seemed promising. But, with an unwavering devotion to showing big name artists, half-assed attempts at engaging the general public and a convoluted donation strategy (the press release vaguely states, “A percentage of sales will be donated to any organization that seems appropriate to artist and collector.”), We Need To Talk… came out well short of its activist goals. So short, in fact, that the goals of the show itself were put into question.

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