From the category archives:

Reviews

The Whitney Biennial: Visual Screen Burn Courtesy of America’s Finest

by Paddy Johnson on March 16, 2017
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Out of the ten Whitney Biennials I’ve seen, this is the first one that could have used a vomit warning. But here we are, in Trump’s America, a future many of us never wanted to imagine, let alone live through. What is the purpose of art in this New America? This year’s Biennial bears no answers. Art doesn’t exist to defend its purpose and even if it did this exhibition was organized prior to the election. Nevertheless, it does bring then-simmering themes to a boil. So, while almost none of the work is Trump themed, as a whole the exhibition reads as a responsive to the challenges the country faces—increasing income inequality across the board, failing institutions, and the rise of hate-fueled violence. If art is a mirror, then this year’s Biennial should scare the shit out of you.

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Reimagining Dance For The Disabled Body In “Our Configurations” At Gibney Dance

by Emily Colucci on March 10, 2017
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Two audience members lick the pant leg and cane of performer Marissa Perel. While this happens she recalls awkward and downright insulting moments related to her disability. In one particularly horrifying story she tells the audience about a subway rider who called her a “bitch” after she refused to answer why she had a cane.

This, at once, funny and cringe-inducing moment was a part of Perel’s performance (do not) despair solo, one of the four performances featured in Our Configurations at Gibney Dance. In a short post-show discussion with the performers and NYU professor Hentyle Yapp, Perel defined her work as “an act of resistance against normativity.” This could be said of all of the performers in the show, including Marc Brew, AXIS Dance Company and Kinetic Light. Despite attempts at increased inclusivity at most arts organizations, abled-bodied performers are still largely the norm. And that’s a shame.

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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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