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Reviews

Virginia Heffernan Thinks The Internet Is Art

by Emily Colucci on November 8, 2016
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Virginia Heffernan joined the Internet in 1979 at 9. Growing up near Dartmouth, the cultural critic learned the computer language BASIC from the college’s president John Kemeny with a group of her classmates. I learned this random factoid about Heffernan’s online life at her lecture on Tuesday night at School of Visual Art’s Design Research, Writing and Criticism Department, where she discussed her new book Magic and Loss: The Internet As Art.

Heffernan’s bizarre, meandering lecture was full of tidbits about her own web usage including her high score in Angry Birds, her meetings with Google or her chat room experiences on early live chat feature Conference XYZ. Her over-the-top adoration of her own online history might explain why she thinks the Internet is art.

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With A Little Help From My Friends: Ellen Cantor’s ‘Pinochet Porn’ At MoMA

by Emily Colucci on November 3, 2016
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It’s quite a surprise that a film titled Pinochet Porn depicts a tender portrait of friendship. Granted, Ellen Cantor’s final film buries that theme under a shocking mélange of spank-heavy sex scenes, depressed clowns, descriptions of rape and torture over vintage Pepsi ads and disturbing archival footage of the Pinochet dictatorship, Hitler and September 11th. But looking beyond its violent and erotic imagery, the film is a celebration of a close-knit avant-garde community.

This became clear at the film’s premiere at MoMA on Monday night, part of the museum’s Modern Mondays film program. Playing to a sold-out theater, the screening also featured a post-film discussion between the Museum’s Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art Stuart Comer, Participant Inc.’s founding director Lia Gangitano, who appears in the film, and filmmaker John Brattin, who acted as Director of Photography. While this is common with MoMA’s screenings, it seemed particularly important on Monday. Firsthand accounts of the film’s production and posthumous completion, provided here by Gangitano and Brattin, seem irrevocably intertwined with any analysis or enjoyment of the film itself.

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Struggling ‘To Organize Delirium’ at the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Hélio Oiticica Retrospective

by Emily Colucci on October 28, 2016
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Geometric abstractions, makeshift shacks and a copious amount of sand transforms Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art into a hippie playground for Hélio Oiticica’s retrospective To Organize Delirium (which comes to the Whitney next year). The exhibition presents a chronological look at the Brazilian artist’s short but feverishly prolific career. (He died suddenly in 1980 at 43-years old). In one gallery, a cluster of orange boards hangs from the ceiling while a cage of live parrots sits in a corner. Colorful macramé hammocks and projected images of Jimi Hendrix covered in cocaine fills another room. And the Museum’s grand Hall of Sculpture looks like a tent city on a beach.

While well-regarded in his native country, the artist remains relatively overlooked in the United States. But past the institutional visibility, To Organize Delirium doesn’t do much to rectify this. The show’s curators provide such little context for the work, which didn’t seem to age well in the first place, that I felt uncertain as to why his art had any currency at the time.

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The Hellion is a Lonely Hunter (with apologies to Carson McCullers)

by RM Vaughan on October 27, 2016
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After wandering through “Golem”, the Jewish Museum Berlin’s occasionally insightful but too often flat meditation on the fabled creature of medieval European-Jewish folklore, I was left with a curiously empty feeling. Hardly what one expects from an exhibition depicting a monster of such long-standing and resonant legend; a homunculus whose story has influenced all things horrific from Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein to Disney/Marvel’s evil robot Ultron to those adorably gangly “grey aliens”.

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Bathing In The Purple Rain At Sam McKinniss’ “Egyptian Violet”

by Emily Colucci on October 21, 2016
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Some exhibitions raise more questions than they answer. Take Sam McKinniss’ current show Egyptian Violet at team (gallery, inc.), which presents a sense of unease and potential for violence in his fan boy paintings of celebrities and movie characters. The subject matter is thoughtfully curated and carefully painted and yet, it is still difficult to pin down McKinniss’ exact critique. Is it a general representation of our anxiety-ridden era in 2016? A statement, à la A.L. Steiner’s 30 Days of Mo:)rning, about how everything is going wrong at once? A critique of the vacuity of pop culture? A death obsession? Or is there no real social critique at all? I left the show with no clear answer.

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Julie Mehretu at Marian Goodman Gallery: Can Social Abstraction Succeed?

by Paddy Johnson on October 20, 2016
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How valuable are first impressions? In art, this seems to be a perennially important question. A work should, aesthetically, stand on its own. Except, of course, when it doesn’t matter because the concept determines the formal choices.  Or when aesthetics kinda sorta matter but so does the context.

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Worst Case Scenario: A.L. Steiner’s Apocalyptic “30 Days of Mo:)rning”

by Emily Colucci on October 14, 2016
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What a difference two weeks make. I was ready to write-off A. L. Steiner’s current exhibition 30 Days of Mo:)rning at Koenig & Clinton as an overly ambitious mess after my initial visit. But on second viewing, the show, which Steiner adds to daily, presents an effective elegy to our seemingly doomed contemporary society.

Much of the success of Steiner’s exhibition has to do with its thematic relevancy. With the looming presidential election, existential dread seems quite timely. But what feels so refreshing about her engagement with the copious issues facing us in 2016, is that she does so without once referencing Donald Trump. The problems she takes aim–capitalism, climate change or the patriarchy–are larger than a singular election or even, one country.

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Stripping Down Self-Exposure With Karen Finley And Narcissister In “Baring It”

by Emily Colucci on October 12, 2016
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What is it like for a woman artist to self-expose? A roundtable at New York University’s Performance Studies Department last week gave some insider insight into the bravery and vulnerability that explicit feminist performance art requires.

Moderated by Performance Studies Professor Barbara Browning, Baring It: Self-Exposure In Feminist Performance brought together two performance artists of different generations–outspoken stalwart Karen Finley and mannequin-masked Narcissister. The panel was organized in conjunction with the Grey Art Gallery’s exhibition A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s. No stranger to public nudity herself, Moorman acted as a historical foremother for the two performers as they delved into their own use of the body.

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Being Dieter Meier

by RM Vaughan on September 30, 2016
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What becomes a near-legend best? A fresh new mantle of re-invention. Plus a few bitter truths held up to the baldest light.

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From Botswana with Love*: The Gaze in Meleko Mokgosi’s Marxist Oil Paintings

by Michael Anthony Farley on September 29, 2016
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Meleko Mokgosi’s two exhibitions at Jack Shainman are a politically-charged invitation to spectatorship in oil on canvas. Gorgeously rendered scenes from southern Africa invite the viewer to consider colonialism, class, and domestic life from a Marxist, yet utterly subjective viewpoint.

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