From the category archives:

Reviews

The Topless Cellist Finally Gets Her Due At The Grey Art Gallery

by Emily Colucci on September 14, 2016
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Resurrecting the forgotten careers of women artists can make for bittersweet exhibitions. On one hand, it’s exciting when a visionary woman finally gets the attention she deserves. On the other hand, the institutionalized sexism that erased her creative input is thoroughly enraging.

Nowhere is this felt more intensely than in A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde 1960s-1980s, currently at the Grey Art Gallery. Organized by a curatorial team largely connected to Northwestern University (the show first premiered at their Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art), the expansive exhibition firmly establishes Charlotte Moorman as a performance art force alongside seminal Fluxus artists like Nam June Paik, John Cage and Yoko Ono. In a response to art historical misogyny, the show essentially returns her artistic agency 25 years after her death in 1991.

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High Anxiety and Escapism at Rashid Johnson’s “Fly Away”

by Emily Colucci on September 12, 2016
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Sometimes an exhibition articulates our current sociopolitical state so precisely that the advancement of the artist’s work barely matters. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Rashid Johnson’s recently opened solo exhibition Fly Away at Hauser & Wirth.

Fly Away comes at just the right moment with the ever-growing list of names of victims of police violence, reports of mass shootings and ongoing election news. Titled for the frequently covered hymn “I’ll Fly Away,” the show reflects anxiety and fantasy for escape in an era where these feelings seem not only relatable, but unavoidable. It’s so timely it’s haunting.

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We Went to Aneta Grzeszykowska: NO/BODY

by Paddy Johnson and Michael Anthony Farley on September 9, 2016
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Paddy: There’s an idea in art that because it’s supposed to be timeless it should be immune to trends. In reality we all know that’s not true and this smart show by Grzeszkowska is a good example of that. If this exhibition took place even five years ago, I could imagine myself being dismissive of its goth flavor.

Michael: The first piece one sees walking into Lyles & King is an enormous video projection of the artist (who is caucasian) painting herself jet black…

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Back To Nature In Loren Nosan’s “The World Was Good Once”

by Emily Colucci on September 8, 2016
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It’s not everyday that you have to sign a waiver before entering an art installation. However, that’s exactly how my trip to Loren Nosan’s The World Was Good Once began.

Turning off a main road, straight into a grassy field outside Wassaic, it became obvious why the waiver and my emergency contact information were necessary. Nosan’s installation is located in a looming, desolate and derelict barn that looks like it went through hell–or at least, a meth lab explosion. Before allowing viewers to look around the show, Nosan pointed out unsound areas of the barn’s floor, which were scattered with holes where the building’s property manager had previously fallen through. Yikes…

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A Melancholic Stroll through the Sony Photography Awards

by RM Vaughan on September 7, 2016
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Only a terribly mean person could find fault with the traveling edition of the annual Sony Photography Awards. As both a showcase of a specific kind of photographic venture (more on that in a moment) and, likely more to the point, a brand-enhancing exercise in “excellence” promotion, the exhibition does exactly what it promises and is devised to do.

The competition specializes in the subset of photography most of us identify with National Geographic Magazine and its world-of-wonders aesthetic.

I know that sounds snarky but I do not mean it that way. Everybody loves this kind of photography, me included, for a reason – it is lovely and provocative, a moment of otherness, of not us/not here viewed from a safe distance. I buy a lot of postcards, and I have no shame when it comes to finely focused close ups of adorable mammals with pink ears.

What prompted my unease after wandering around this exhibition was a strong feeling that in a half-generation or less, shows like the Sony Photography Awards will be, at best, retro-cute, or at worst antique and irrelevant.

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Taking A Curatorial Gamble At The Mattress Factory’s “Factory Installed”

by Emily Colucci on September 6, 2016
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PITTSBURGH–What do you get when a curatorial vision is so generic, there’s almost nothing for an artist to work with? The Mattress Factory rolled these dice with their current show Factory Installed and came out ahead. Or at least 50/50, which for a show with no organizational principle, is pretty good.

According to the exhibition’s website, the organization started with a selection of artists who “demonstrate a uniquely different approach to the creative process.” You can’t get more generic than that.

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Finding John Riegert at Pittsburgh’s SPACE

by Emily Colucci on September 1, 2016
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PITTSBURGH–Who is John Riegert? And why are there 243 portraits of him in a current exhibition at SPACE, one of Pittsburgh’s main downtown galleries?

Organized by Brett Yasko, the exhibition, John Riegert, centers around 252 Pittsburgh artists’ interpretations of Riegert, a local artist and writer who acts as a singular subject to showcase the range of Pittsburgh’s creative community. Even with a staggering amount portraits scattered around SPACE, the exhibition somehow becomes less about Riegert as an individual. Instead, the show is more about presenting a democratic snapshot of Pittsburgh’s vibrant arts scene–one that exists outside the main American art world poles of New York and Los Angeles.

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Post-Pickle Surprise: Tracing the Influence of Tom Rubnitz at Anthology Film Archives

by Emily Colucci on August 22, 2016
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Even if you don’t know the name of the director or the glitter-covered club kid stars, you’re probably familiar with Tom Rubnitz’s viral video “Pickle Surprise.” With over two million views and counting, the Internet granted the East Village filmmaker a prolonged afterlife. (He died in 1992 due to complications from AIDS.) After inadvertently connecting with a new generation of YouTube viewers, what is the legacy of Rubnitz’s fast-paced, TV-drenched brand of cinematic camp on today’s filmmakers and artists?

This question was explored on Sunday, August 14 in a whirlwind of videos and films at the Anthology Film Archives, courtesy of a screening organized by Dirty Looks’ Bradford Nordeen. The videos ran the gamut from literal reinterpretations to subtle references to Rubnitz’s films. Barry Morse’s “Ookie Cookie” combined tropes from “Pickle Surprise” and its sequel “Strawberry Shortcut” into an obsessively direct tribute to Rubnitz’s queer psychedelic vision while Brice Dellsperger’s “Body Double 34” featured transgender models on magazine covers maddeningly lip-synching dialogue from My Own Private Idaho. Overall, Rubnitz’s lineage appeared in the form of copious drag queens, shocks of color, media-soaked imagery and an over-the-top hallucinatory style.

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Black Is and Black Ain’t in Pace Gallery’s “Blackness in Abstraction”

by Emily Colucci on August 18, 2016
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“Black is and black ain’t.” Walking through Pace Gallery’s current exhibition Blackness in Abstraction, I began to think about that title line from Marlon Riggs’s final film—taken from the prologue of Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man. Even more than the pervasive “Black is beautiful,” this curiously ambiguous phrase hints at the multitude of meanings, voices, and questions surrounding blackness in the exhibition.

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You Say You Want “A Static Revolution” At One Art Space

by Emily Colucci on August 15, 2016
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Is digital art alone a complex and multifaceted enough curatorial theme for a group exhibition in 2016?

The medium has undergone a lot of changes in the last few years. The employment of digital methods is now so widespread that it’s almost unavoidable in the contemporary art field. Perhaps because of this, an exhibition based solely on the use of digital manipulations seems redundant.

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