From the category archives:

Reviews

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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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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