From the category archives:

Reviews

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

by Michael Anthony Farley on January 13, 2017
Thumbnail image for The Timelessness of Sex, Violence, and Portraiture: Otto Dix at MUNAL

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.

Read the full article →

Ni’Ja Whitson’s “A Meditation On Tongues” Conjures The Dead At Abrons

by Emily Colucci on January 11, 2017
Thumbnail image for Ni’Ja Whitson’s “A Meditation On Tongues” Conjures The Dead At Abrons

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.

Read the full article →

Ligia Lewis at American Realness: Forceful Celebrations

by Paddy Johnson on January 10, 2017
Thumbnail image for Ligia Lewis at American Realness: Forceful Celebrations

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.

Read the full article →

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
Thumbnail image for Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe Straddle NYC’s Past, Present and Future in ‘Paranoia Man In A Rat Fink Room’

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.

Read the full article →

Cate Blanchett Is Possessed By 20th Century Artists In Julian Rosefeldt’s ‘Manifesto’

by Emily Colucci on January 5, 2017
Thumbnail image for Cate Blanchett Is Possessed By 20th Century Artists In Julian Rosefeldt’s ‘Manifesto’

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.

Read the full article →

No Fear: Macon Reed at ICA Baltimore

by Michael Anthony Farley on December 15, 2016
Thumbnail image for No Fear: Macon Reed at ICA Baltimore

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.

Read the full article →

Rob Pruitt Measures Obama’s Legacy In Paintings At Gavin Brown’s Enterprise

by Emily Colucci on December 14, 2016
Thumbnail image for Rob Pruitt Measures Obama’s Legacy In Paintings At Gavin Brown’s Enterprise

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.

Read the full article →

Pipilotti Rist at The New Museum: Feel-Good Feminism

by Paddy Johnson on December 9, 2016
Thumbnail image for Pipilotti Rist at The New Museum: Feel-Good Feminism

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.

Read the full article →

Do The Divisions Between Artist, Writer and Activist Matter Post-Election?

by Emily Colucci on December 9, 2016
Thumbnail image for Do The Divisions Between Artist, Writer and Activist Matter Post-Election?

What is an artist’s role in activism? A panel at e-flux on Tuesday night explored the question many in the arts community have been wondering since Trump’s election a month ago.

The panel What Now: The Artist-Writer As Activist-Critic not only considered artist writing as a form of sociopolitical and institutional critique, but it also took a more expansive look at the intersection of art and activism. And this focus struck a nerve. Even on a rainy and miserable evening, the event space at e-flux was filled to capacity with over 70 people searching for a way forward in the forthcoming Trump administration.

Read the full article →

I Went To The Jewish Museum’s “Take Me (I’m Yours)” And All I Got Was This Stupid T-Shirt

by Emily Colucci on December 7, 2016
Thumbnail image for I Went To The Jewish Museum’s “Take Me (I’m Yours)” And All I Got Was This Stupid T-Shirt

A loud, tacky sign emblazoned with “Everything Must Go” would not feel out of place in the Jewish Museum’s current exhibition Take Me (I’m Yours). A rack of plastic goodie bags branded with the exhibition’s title hang in the show’s entrance, encouraging viewers to fill up on artist-made pins, T-shirts, used clothing, candy and a 25-cent ball of air from Yoko Ono. With this free-for-all curatorial style, the exhibit looks more like a display of samples than a contemporary art show.

That’s a bad thing. The whole show feels like a gimmick designed to lure people in the door by offering them free swag. Meanwhile, the Museum is presenting the idea that they are challenging the traditional relationship between art and its viewers, which not only isn’t true (it’s been done to death), it distracts from the sociopolitical critiques made by many of the artists in the show. Simply put, the show is a disaster.

Read the full article →