2015 was great for art. For all the bitching that went on about art fairs, the dominance of the market, and sub-par museum shows (cough, cough Björk), I saw more great shows than I have in my ten years working as a critic in New York. Rather than try to whittle our picks down to a few select shows, we wrote up every show we thought was truly exemplary.
How has technology impacted art? Whitechapel Gallery will be addressing this question in a landmark exhibition launching in January 2016. Entitled Electronic Superhighway (2016-1966), the show will bring together over 100 multimedia artworks from the past 50 years. Over 70 artists will be involved, including Nam June Paik, Cory Arcangel, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Hito Steyerl, Jeremy Bailey, Amalia Ulman, Douglas Coupland and Judith Barry.
The show is clearly a major coup for its curator, Omar Kholeif, whose rise in the artworld has garnered comparisons with Hans Ulrich Obrist. It’s an ambitious survey that is much needed in a genre still struggling for institutional validation. So, it’s concerning that a majority of the internet art represented in the show will come via the archives of new media non-profit, Rhizome. While Rhizome has substantially impacted collecting and preserving digital art works, they still only represent the perspective of one organization.
At the press openings for Art Berlin Contemporary (abc) and Positions Berlin, one could sense a change is the in the air. The currents are changing. We’ve arrived at a new moment.
No, I’m not talking about the art — I’m talking about the art world uniform. If you don’t mind, I’m going to indulge in the following bit of Kay-Thompson-as-Diana-Vreeland trend forecasting, with a dash of Bill Cunningham street style sass thrown in.
New Yorkers, you may live and die by your all-black outfit. It’s what takes you from your studio visit to your reading group to your opening to the hush-hush post-vernissage dinner. But the Germans are heading in a different direction: they’re wearing blue.
This Spring, Artists Space presented an exhibition by Hito Steyerl. Complimentary to the gallery show, they also hosted this nifty archive of the German artist/writer/filmmaker’s writings and illustrative GIFs. The above GIF accompanies an excerpt from the essay Culture and Crime:
“In the global North, this sphere of privacy offers a whole range of different life styles. They suggest the complete freedom to design one’s own living conditions – provided that they remain private and remain restricted to the recognition of individually culturalized identities. Difference is tolerated within the system of cultural domestication – but not as opposition to the system itself. Opposition is thus replaced by cultural difference.”
First appeared in Transversal 01/01: Cultura Migrans, 2001
Published by eipcp – European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies [PDF]
Just look at that surveillance camera go! Whooshing around a panopticon-like geometry of institutional space, security culture never looked so much like a fun motion-simulator ride.
A pretty great collection of artist portraits with their cats. The pictures are drawn from Alison Nastasi’s new book “Artists and their Cats”, which means it far exceeds your typical blog listicle. [This is Colossal]
After watching (and transcribing) no less than 4 hours of video at Artists Space Hito Steyerl show, I drew a few conclusions. Great show, but sometimes the metaphors don’t quite work. [Artnet News]
The Walker Art Center’s “International Pop” exhibition uncovers pop art that you won’t find in any art history book. It surveys artists from all over the world who turned away from abstraction in the fifties and sixties, featuring work by German, Japanese, and Icelandic artists left out of the British and American-dominated Pop Art market. Oh, and let’s not forget women. “I was always accepted in the circles of male Pop artists back in the day,” says arist Rosalyn Drexler, “but it never occurred to them that I was the only one in the circle not getting paid.” *Sigh* [New York Times]
“How much is that painting?” I asked [of a Blinky Palermo]. “That’s on loan from a private gallery,” the [Zwirner] gallery assistant on my right answered (there are always two guarding the front), with machine-like efficiency. “Are there any available for sale?” “Most of them aren’t.” “Which ones are?” “Not very many.” Very entertaining. [Artnews]
Political campaign merch is big business. Why buy a Hillary Clinton button when you could show your support with $15 napkins or a onesie? And who wouldn’t want a $75 woven blanket with a picture of Paul Rand? [The Guardian]
The most remote human settlement on earth–Edinburgh of the Seven Seas–is holding an architectural competition to make life on the South Atlantic isle more self-sufficient and sustainable. Competition hopefuls are staring down some steep challenges. The island is actually an active volcano. It last erupted in 1961, wiping out the community’s crayfish factory. Renewable energy is a problem, too. Wind turbines can’t withstand the beating the island takes from strong winds. So why would anyone want to live there? It’s totally beautiful. And with very limited internet and no airport, you pretty much get to ignore the rest of the world. [Hyperallergic]
“It’s Official: The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave,” the Times Magazine confirmed in 2014.. Of course the kids stay home because they can’t get jobs that pay rent. But the function of millennial-speak is to disguise structural causes (the lack of jobs) as human desires (the kids want to stay home), and to justify further measures (make hiring and firing easier) in terms of those desires.” [n+1]
The number of black Americans killed by police in 2014 outsrips the number of people killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. While this alone is a sobering thought, the data comes from a website called killedbypolice.net. That’s right. Things have gotten so out of hand, someone started a website in 2013 to keep track. [Raw Story via Killed by Police]
Jimmy Van Bramer, one of New York City’s most active council members, is due to submit a bill that will allow for community feedback on public art commissions. Van Bramer envisions town-hall-style meetings early on in the design process—this is necessary. Re: Public outcry against the Jeff Koons statue in California and here, in Long Island City, Ohad Meromi’s pink-man sculpture. [New York Times]
In Bangladesh, a blogger was knifed to death on a busy street in Dhaka. According to local sources, he had been targeted before because of “anti-Islamic writing.” This incident marks the second writer-related killing in Bangladesh this month. [BBC News]
“To brutally summarize a lot of scholarly texts: contemporary art is made possible by neoliberal capital plus the internet, biennials, art fairs, parallel pop-up histories, growing income inequality. Let’s add asymmetric warfare—as one of the reasons for the vast redistribution of wealth—real estate speculation, tax evasion, money laundering, and deregulated financial markets to this list.” [e-flux Journal]
Either selfies are evil, or people are. Over the weekend, Instagram was filled with people smiling for selfies against the backdrop of the East Village fire. [New York Post]
In related news, both Coachella and Lollapalooza are banning selfie sticks this year. (Coachella reps calls them “narcissistics,” lol.) [Stereogum]
Best read of the week, and possibly the month: “The Rise of the Cryptopticon.” Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media studies and law professor at the University of Virginia, tracks the legal history of privacy and surveillance in the United States, from the 20th century to our digital age. [The Hedgehog Review via Alexis Madrigal]
Finally! Macaroni salad and plain Jello are cool again. Drop that kale and get yourself to a Denny’s because normcore food is a thing now. Supposedly. [The Awl]
Yep, art by famous artists = still really expensive. Roy Lichtenstein’s “The Ring (Engagement)” is expected to fetch around $50 million at auction at the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale on May 12. [Huffington Post]
You too can get laid like a Lannister. British sex toy company Bondera released their “Game of Bones” product line, a Game of Thrones-themed lineup of dildos and bondage gear for sci-fi/fantasy and cheesy innuendo lovers everywhere. God, their copywriters are so lucky. [Flavorwire via Mashable]
Chicago jack-of-all-art-trades Shannon Stratton named the new chief curator of the Museum of Arts and Design. You’re welcome, New York. [The Observer]
Meet Jon Stewart’s replacement, South-African comedian and guy who seems way young—but hey, we’re rooting for you—Trevor Noah. [New York Daily News]
Luxury communism means robots who’ll take care of everything we need so that we can all just chill out because, you know, “the only utopian demand can be for the full automation of everything and common ownership of that which is automated.” [The Guardian]
Christian Viveros-Fauné, the critic of the people, points out why Klaus Biesenbach’s days as a “free-floating” curator at MoMA are numbered. Board members are angry, and there’s no bureaucratic—or academic—oversight to his celebrity-ridden shows. [artnet News]
On that note, it’s #MuseumWeek. Celebrate your fave museum moments on Twitter! [Deutsche Welle]
The kids still love Robin Williams so much. Here’s a pic of “The Genie” from a high-school art competition. [Imgur]
Contemporary photography could be having a “capitalist realism” moment—you know, like “social realism,” but more about money. Or, IMO, it’s just a single photographer who’s charmed by sleek, shiny architecture, and not really a powerful trend. For instance: Seidel brings up the woman with her back to the camera, a moment in Capitalist-Realist-Romanticism. Carrie Mae Weems has been doing the same thing for years, but to an entirely different, critical effect. [Hyperallergic]
Angelina Jolie offers a follow up on her preventive double mastectomy and ovary removal. Her family history of the disease was strong, and after her ovary removal last week, at age 39, they found a benign tumor. [New York Times]
A thorough review of Hito Steyerl’s films and PowerPoint lectures anchored to Walter Benjamin’s quote “There’s no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” [ArtInfo]
On indecisive chickens and the Dharavi Food Project. [Frieze]
Only the New Yorker editorial staff could get away with the line “It feels good to live like the one per cent.” Yes, after reviewing the bacon cheeseburger, chicken paillard, and the fudgy brownie, that’s exactly the emotion I would have, too. [The New Yorker]
Kids love that song from the Frozen soundtrack. One adult agrees with their passion, to the chagrin of every other parent in the world: “Whoa,” say my friends with small kids. “If ‘Let It Go’ were on an endless loop in your home, and your car, you would actually hate the song with a teeth-gnashing passion as we do.” [The Weeklings]
“When you and the squad are smashing karaoke.” There’s a meme-worthy medieval painting for everyone on Medieval Reactions [Twitter @MedievalReacts]
In light of the Hito Steyerl show at Artists Space, her essay “In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective” is worth a look. The thesis here is that the diminished importance of the horizon line in art has created a feeling of groundlessness and disorientation, but also freedom. [e-flux Journal]
As if you needed another reason love belting out the chorus to “Dancing On My Own” from the middle of the dance floor (you know it’s drunk o’clock when Robyn enters the rotation), the avant-pop star just announced her intent to launch a festival promoting women in technology. [Pitchfork]
Do you love mall kiosks? Candy Crush invites? Comic Sans? Republican governor and all-around terrible human Scott Walker? We didn’t think so. That’s the assumption driving the Scott Walker Loves Tumblr. It’s an aggregate for things you hate, and things so subtly annoying, you never knew you hated them until now. [Scott Walker Loves]
Here’s a looping video narrative by Jeremy Couillard in which two alien art handlers fold up a virtual painting. No idea what to make of this. [The Art Handlers]