Currently featured as part of the New Museum’s First Look: New Art Online series, Miao Ying’s “Chinternet Plus” takes on Chinese web censorship, corporate aesthetics, and propaganda with the power of .net art.
I arrived late to the opening reception of Love Me and Delete Me. The gallery is located on a community college campus in a not-very-convenient suburb outside Baltimore. By the time I found it, performance artists and noise musicians had finished their sets and were smoking outside on the otherwise deserted brutalist campus. The scene looked as if it had been plucked from a low-budget post-apocalyptic sci fi film from the 80s. It was an appropriately dystopian prelude to an exhibition about technology and isolation.
“Register to vote here,” reads a sign board in front of Smack Mellon. This sign is an unexpected sight, even for a Brooklyn non-profit art space known for its provocative shows. While art and politics frequently meet theoretically in the contemporary art world, they don’t often merge in such a blatantly practical way.
The connection between electoral politics and art drives Smack Mellon’s current exhibition Of the people. Curated by Erin Donnelly, Of the people arrives just in time for both the Democratic and Republican national conventions this month. The timing was not lost on Donnelly who brings together a multidisciplinary group of artists from around the United States to investigate, as the press release describes, “the of-the-moment political opinions shaping the 2016 presidential race.”
For a prime example of ambitious curating standing in the way of excellent artwork, look no further than the convoluted mess of a show at the International Center for Photography’s brand new Bowery location. While I’m always up for seeing art that takes advantage of technology and addresses our weird wired world, this show is filled with wrong-headed assertions, painful hanging choices, and eyeball-straining design.
One of the first works you see in Martha Rosler’s exhibition If you can’t afford to live here, mo-o-ve!! is a dark and ominous portrait of Donald Trump. Leaning against a wall, the Trump tableau sits behind three glass bottles filled with urine. Is the piece a biting comment on Trump’s pissant Republican presidential campaign? Is it a playful but terrifying foreshadowing of his future official White House portrait?
Andrew Castrucci’s Untitled (Donald Trump) is neither. A quick glance at a nearby wall label confirms Castrucci’s Trump was painted in 1986. Created well before Trump’s presidential ambitions, Castrucci’s work instead critiques Trump as a reckless developer gobbling up large swaths of New York and Atlantic City real estate. As relevant then as it is now, Untitled (Donald Trump) reveals the uncanny confusion between the past and present that runs rampant throughout Rosler’s overstuffed exhibition at Mitchell-Innes & Nash.
Since the last Berlin Biennale, Europe has undergone a currency and debt crisis, watched far right political entities grow from obscure clusters of nutjobs into massive populist movements, dealt, badly, with the millions of people fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, and been subjected to terrifying and brutal acts of terrorism by all manner of extremists.
In all of these crises, Berlin, the capital of the EU’s richest and most politically powerful country has played a central and keynote-determining role.
I can thus think of no better way, given the circumstances, to reinforce the popular perception that contemporary art has nothing to say about the world that surrounds it than by hiring the NYC-based fashion bloggers DIS to curate the ninth edition of the Berlin Biennale. I have rarely seen such a profound case of not giving the people what they want, of so many heads so far up so many assholes.
Just walk away, Berlin. Go have a strong drink. Read a good mystery novel. Take too much MDMA and pee your slacks. Sit in an empty room and cry. Do anything but waste 26 Euros on the Berlin Biennale.
In the contemporary Lower East Side–a neighborhood of unlimited brunch spots, luxury condos and pristine white-walled galleries, artist-run punk haven ABC No Rio stands defiant as a welcome anachronism. Whether interpreted as a graffiti-covered blight or a monument to the heavily romanticized culture spawned downtown in the late 20th century, ABC No Rio has acted as a hub for a community of artists for over three decades. The space remains inexorably tied to the last gasps of the neighborhood’s gritty essence, which is why the plans for its sleek renovation seem almost shocking.
With the demolition and reconstruction finally on the horizon after years of delays due to bureaucratic red tape (AFC even published a series of interviews on ABC No Rio in 2012 in anticipation of its forthcoming closure), the nagging question remains: will the experience of ABC No Rio be the same without the fear of falling through their stairs or tumbling into some industrial waste in the backyard?
The Yorkville neighborhood is to Toronto what the Upper East Side’s Park Avenue is to New York. In a word: bougie. Back in the 1960s, it looked considerably different; as Canada’s equivalent to Greenwich Village, it was known for its waify bohemians, coffee house folk scene and a gallery district anchored by influential commercial gallerists like Walter Moos and Mira Godard. But offices and hotels were eventually built, followed by high-priced condo developments amongst the still remaining Victorian rowhouses now listed for over a million each. Yorkville’s biggest attraction is now it’s “Mink Mile”, a high-end luxury shopping strip that caters to the affluent residents of Rosedale and Forest Hill.
Given all this, perhaps it’s not surprising that at first glance, one could mistake the group exhibition Chroma Lives for an interior design showroom. Located in the presentation center for the Yorkville Plaza condo development on Avenue Road, curators Erin Alexa Freeman and artist Lili Huston-Herterich have filled the space with household items like walnut furniture, succulents planted in unglazed ceramic pots, and clothing hung on a rack. Not much distinguishes this simulacrum of affluence from present-day realities, especially at a time when luxury real estate has been engineered to include art walls and humidity systems to attract art-centric buyers.