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Stephanie Cristello

20151020123056-scenes_from The Only One Who Knows Desire   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Ragnar Kjartansson at Palais de Tokyo October 21st - January 10th, 2016
Posted 10/20/15

I last felt this way when reading Ada by Nabokov. The pitch of amorous Baroque satire is about the same. Nabokov’s delicious novel traces a lifelong affair between a brother and sister (beginning with him aged fourteen, her eleven), under the pretense that they mistakenly think themselves cousins. It is set in the late nineteenth century, at their families’ summer home, in a place resembling the South of France. Opening in time for FIAC in Paris, Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson&rsquo... [more]

20151019150652-kavi_gupta_stockholder-85 Chicago's Concept-Based Group Exhibitions Show Strength in Numbers   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 10/19/15

There are forms we know and forms we strive for. This is Plato’s theory—that the ideal is an immovable image, an untouched idea, and that what we know is constantly subject to change and transformation as it goes. For artists and viewers alike, the form of a group exhibition is not always the ideal. The feel of these shows sets up a certain expectation from viewers, often a feeling of decentralization—that the variety of voices is favored over a singular approach, assemblage over ins... [more]

20151009132236-063857_tomharris_005 In the Bank: Carlos Bunga Resists Market Complicities in Theaster Gates' Newest Venture   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 10/9/15

By now, many will have read Ben Davis’ piece on artnet news, a piece of social and market criticism that takes on Chicago artist Theaster Gates’ newest endeavor: the opening of the Stony Island Arts Bank, a part of the Rebuild Foundation. It is a piece that necessarily traces the social implications of the newly minted space within the larger space of Gates’ practice, and Chicago itself, using Gates’ relationship to Mayor Rahm Emanuel as its central lens through which to lo... [more]

20150619090102-cms-image-004621650 Do Words Have Voices: Talking to Martin Boyce's Installations   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Martin Boyce at Museum für Gegenwartskunst April 25th - August 16th
Posted 6/19/15

Walking to the Museum Für Gegenwartkunst is, unavoidably and of itself, a romantic passage. Located just off the Rhine River, the experience of water is embedded into the ethos of building—both figuratively and practically within the architecture of the space—as viewable from the glass hallways between the museum’s galleries. The river, a fittingly meandering foil to the small path that leads to Martin Boyce’s current exhibition, offers an experience of aesthetisized nature. ... [more]

20150515124918-vern_blosum_late_work_01 Specter of Strategy: Vern Blosum’s Late Work   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Vern Blosum at Essex Street May 10th - June 21st
Posted 5/15/15

It deserves attention that with Frieze Week underway in New York, Essex Street would open an exhibition of an anonymous artist. Late Work by Vern Blosum—a pseudonymous painter associated with the Pop Art movement, though never officially canonized—features the only work produced by the artist since his appearance in exhibitions from 1961–64. This work, which was shown again to the public in 2013 after being rediscovered by gallerist Maxwell Graham, among a few others, is familiar to t... [more]

20150512165257-06ef7km_2011_tyffsh_6 Sizing the Immaterial: S, M, L, XL at MCA   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) May 9th - October 4th
Posted 5/12/15

Stratospheres of experience have been described in art since the early narratives of heaven and earth. Since Biblical cosmology, our understanding of time and place has been oriented according to predetermined concepts of measure—even time is an invented unit. But how do we measure the intangible? In a system where contemporary art is increasingly judged by scale, how do we quantify the poetics of experience? Robert Morris, Portal, 1964. Collection of the MCA Chicago, gift of Mrs. Robert B. Mayer. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago. &co... [more]

20150422085108-27-murillo-1 Darlings: A New Cult of Youth in Art   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 4/22/15

The art world darling. The term’s ties to youth are not surprising, ever more now that youth in the art market doubles as a texture, a feature of desirability—a quality that is not necessarily bound to age, but to attitude. The cult of youth has held strong since the Victorians, and its associations with affection still stand. While the term darling (dear-ling) and its tender definitions may not have evolved over the past few centuries, the idiomatic media darling—the darling t... [more]

20150304142748-juliana_huxtable_nuwaubian Security Breach: A Surveillance Love Affair at the New Museum Triennial   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Nadim Abbas, Niv Acosta, Sophia Al-Maria, Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, Shadi Habib Allah, Ed Atkins, Olga Balema, Frank Benson, Sascha Braunig, Antoine Catala, Aslı Çavuşoğlu, José León Cerrillo, Onejoon Che, Tania Perez Cordova, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Verena Dengler, DIS, Aleksandra Domanovic, Casey Jane ELLISON, Exterritory, Ane Graff, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Eloise Hawser, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Lena Henke, Lisa Holzer, Juliana Huxtable, Geumhyung Jeong, Renaud Jerez, K-HOLE, Shreyas Karle, Josh Kline, Eva Koťátková, Donna Kukama, Firenze LAI, Oliver Laric, Li Liao, Rachel Lord, Basim Magdy, Nicholas Mangan, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Ashland Mines, Shelly Nadashi, Eduardo Navarro, Steve Roggenbuck, Avery K. Singer, Martine Syms, Lisa Tan, Luke Willis Thompson, Peter Wächtler, Guan Xiao at New Museum February 25th - May 24th
Posted 3/4/15

Why do we need agents, the 00 section? Isn't it all rather quaint? Well, I suppose I see a different world than you do, and the truth is that what I see frightens me. I'm frightened because our enemies are no longer known to us. They do not exist on a map, they aren't nations. They are individuals. So before you declare us irrelevant, ask yourselves—how safe do you feel? —M, Skyfall The question: how safe do you feel? How safe do we feel in a world where technology has been absorbed? Wher... [more]

20150121165603-celine-joan-didion-spring-2015-holding Jürgen Teller: To View Women Is to Think Them   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 1/21/15

The Face of Joan Didion. In his 1957 publication, Mythologies, Roland Barthes wrote a chapter entitled “The Face of Garbo” that traced the marked distancing of Hollywood’s representation of the female face from the concept of awe, toward the effect of charm—childish and feline. We have not strayed far from this portrayal of women on screen since. Within Western history, and within our treatment of these images, there is something inexplicably aesthetic within the urge to... [more]

20141231092800-sarah-ortmeyer-kish-kush-2014-dvir-gallery-tel-aviv-18-800x533 Best 2014 Solo Exhibitions: Giving the People What They Think   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 12/31/14

Give the people what they think. Not what they want, but what they think they are seeing. Do this, and fantasies are no longer fiction. Fiction becomes reality, the fake outdoes the familiar—it replaces it. History becomes more real, more believable, more infectious, when it’s done with invention. Fiction lasts longer; it creates its own history, and rewrites existing narratives. As I wrote in another piece from this year, images speak longer than words. The visual has staying power, and these five exhibiti... [more]

20141204145610-front_view_chair Edra Soto: Selling a Fantasy   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Oren Pinhassi, Anastasia Samoylova, Sara Shaoul, Edra Soto, Adam Douglas Thompson at Aqua Art Miami December 3rd, 2014 - December 7th, 2014
Posted 12/4/14

Luxury is so often determined by a price tag. But commerce is rarely how we interact with the phenomena of high-end merchandise—its excessiveness, its indulgence; its extravagance is almost always (and exclusively) experienced visually. We feel the texture of opulent velvets and silks first with our eyes, the metallic gleam of a smooth reflection through its cool touch on our sight, in jewels that refract their prismatic color back onto our gaze. There is something intensely tactile in the i... [more]

20141030175828-hot_spot Artist Profile: Mona Hatoum—State of the Union   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 10/30/14

In this recurring series, ArtSlant will introduce a number of international artists making the best in contemporary art. Picturing the international is no easy task. Mona Hatoum, born in Lebanon 1952, does so with ease—as if manifesting the aesthetics foreign policy out of thin air, using familiar objects to craft sleek, suggestive environments that appear governmental in their use. The UN aesthetic turned sexy. The clinical yet open quality of the work (policy, of course caters to ev... [more]

20141020183155-1280px-jean_auguste_dominique_ingres__la_grande_odalisque__1814 Malala's Nobel Peace Prize: Images Speak Longer Than Words   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 10/20/14

"This is a story of a native girl being saved by the white man. Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation. It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalized." – Assed Baig, quoted in Middle East Revisited Reception to Malala Yousafzai’s selection as a Nobel Peace Prize winner (shared with Kailash Satyarthi) earlier this month was met with mixed sentiments: from contemptuousness to confidence, a... [more]

20141014140315-2 The Art Fair Card: Can Replication Be a Form of Criticism?   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 10/14/14

It’s been played. The recent onslaught of exhibitions quoting and using the art fair as a form is well established—and some artists use it better than others. While the market is undeniable, and the phenomenon of the art fair is internationally far-reaching, what are the implications of its criticism through replica? As case studies, two recent exhibitions come to mind: José Lerma's La Bella Crisis at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), which took place over the summer of this year... [more]

20140905123142-strau_installation-2-3001 Required Viewing – Chicago: Pictures for a Generation   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 9/5/14

Of the multitude of exhibitions opening this September in Chicago, one stands—or falls—singularly into view. A complete series of work by Maccarone artist Sarah Charlesworth that helped to define the Pictures Generation will be shown for the first time at the Art Institute of Chicago. The series, entitled Stills, features figures falling from great heights, suspended in front of buildings that function more as a frame than as a backdrop—static yet tense. Teasing the weight and re... [more]

A Space for Dreamers: An Interview with Duncan Alexander Cameron Stewart  

Toronto, Aug. 2014: “The daydream transports the dreamer outside the immediate world to a world that bears the mark of infinity.” –Gaston Bachelard The tipping point between the limitless and the limited is well traversed. A common steadiness has been found in speaking of the two types of spaces at once, though they are indeed opposed to one another with regards to the dream: the two exist synonymously for the dreamer. But in using the metaphor of immense space to describe int... [more]

20140814143331-alicja_kwade1 Ruin Value: Sammlung Boros (The Boros Collection) in Berlin   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
at Sammlung Boros September 17th, 2012 - September 17th
Posted 8/14/14

“Time turns metaphors into things” – Robert Smithson Ruins are often untouchable spaces. The ruin embodies architecture as memory; the site is a host to ghosts, standing half-formed and half-alive as specters from the past, "unregulated" and with "no present function,"[1]—an artifact, as some would say, that transforms the symbolic into the concrete. The influence of the past invades potential futures of the space, so much so that the ruin is trapped in time, a cycle th... [more]

Unsettled Landscapes: An Interview with Andrea Bowers  

Santa Fe, Jul. 2014: Landscapes are solid, material, and stable masses. They are both a format of image and a type of content within an image that we register with familiarity, easily recognizable by the divisible line that categorizes land from sea, and terrain from sky. One part is always more ethereal than the other. The distinctive, and more concrete elements are part of our tangible purview, things we interact with, can touch. The formula of a landscape is a binary that depends on a complex... [more]

20140530151013-spills-exhibition-3-300 Phantom Sense: Tony Tasset’s Spill Paintings   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Tony Tasset at Kavi Gupta Gallery May 24th, 2014 - July 27th, 2014
Posted 5/30/14

What Tony Tasset’s Spill Paintings lack in their pictorial realization they make up for in engaging other senses. It is impossible to talk about these paintings solely through optics, since they depend so much on their synaesthetic effects. Viewing the works elicits a phantom experience—you see their scent, visualize their sticky texture, picture the taste of their innumerous drips and pools, all the while imagining the faint echo of the catastrophic incident that could have brought t... [more]

20140411141708-kminstall1 Speak Your Plural: Chapter One of Slow Frequency   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Kyla Mallett at Paris London Hong Kong March 14th, 2014 - April 19th, 2014
Posted 4/11/14

Affirmation, fulfillment, declaration; these are all terms used to describe motivational speaking. This form of address is designed for the masses. Though they prey on the singular, all these words refer to an inherent plurality: which is to say, yourself in others. Affirmation is mirrored through encounters, fulfillment is only expressed to a counterpart when it is lacking, and declaration depends on an audience of listeners. Yet, while these definitions point towards self-help culture –... [more]

20140320233626-ren_0235 Our Love is a Cage Match   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Kathryn Andrews, Ed Atkins, Chris Bradley, Roe Ethridge, Anna Gray, Guyton\Walker, Anna K.E., Jack Lavender, Ryan Wilson Paulsen at Renaissance Society March 9th, 2014 - April 13th, 2014
Posted 3/20/14

If you walk through the stacks of Barnes & Noble, you might find yourself in the aisles of young adult fiction, which despite its implied age bracket is one of the largest and most profitable sectors in the commercial publishing industry. If you are like Hamza Walker, you may have discovered this aisle through your preteen daughter. But you do not have to know a preteen girl in order to have insight as to what this fiction is about, or to understand its contents. You know the melodrama this gen... [more]

20140207141917-williams_bouquet_1991_2 The Death of Conceptualism: Christopher Williams and The Great Sorting   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Christopher Williams at The Art Institute of Chicago January 24th, 2014 - May 18th, 2014
Posted 2/7/14

A single image in an empty room. The signature contrast of seventeenth-century Dutch-still life permeates the pictorial field, Easter lilies occupying a significant quotient of the bouquet, delicate white crespias folded between the rich green of the leaves laid flat against the soft, white tablecloth, patterned only by the table visible through the opacity of the thinly woven fabric. The background in the distance is a pitch black, the kind that could only exist in a photo studio; the image is... [more]

Secondary Perspective: An Interview with Ingo Mittelstaedt  

Berlin, Jan. 2014: If you venture up to the second floor of the Bode Museum in Berlin, tucked behind in a small exhibition space in one of the back rooms, you will see an unlikely product of history. The piece is relatively simple – a marble bust of the same scale you often find in museums, but it is clear that the statue has withstood a state of catastrophe. It is a damaged relic that was important enough to preserve, but is also far from the quality of the other pristinely conserved pieces... [more]

20131227131038-screenshot_2013-12-25_03 Required Reading, Required Viewing: Best of Chicago Exhibitions, 2013   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 12/27/13

Stephanie Cristello takes a look back at 2013 to survey the most groundbreaking exhibitions that presented themselves this past year. Amalia Pica | Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Was there anything more visually and conceptually stimulating than Amalia Pica’s solo exhibition at the MCA in 2013? This was truly an impressive survey by the Argentinian-born, London-based artist, whose aesthetics fly under the radar in such an amazing way. Whereas the theme and subject of color is often a... [more]

20131110182205-breitz Broken Mirror Narcissus   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Candice Breitz, James Coupe, Marcel Dzama, Jeremy Shaw, Jamie Shovlin, Laurel Woodcock at Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) September 5th, 2013 - December 29th, 2013
Posted 11/10/13

Perhaps the best place to begin is with a simple metaphor. Imagine you are looking into a broken mirror, not in any dramatic or troubled way, but such that your reflection takes on multiple vantage points: the nape of your neck matched against your ear, a singular eye inset against the cheekbone, the edge of your mouth framed without either a smile or a frown – disembodied, disassociated with the idea of a “whole,” and ultimately transformed by the very nature of fragmentation. This pro... [more]

20131004081318-lexier_3 Heads and Tails   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Micah Lexier at The Power Plant September 21st, 2013 - January 5th, 2014
Posted 10/4/13

The overlap between artist and curator has a long history in Toronto – perhaps because of a lack of regional support, a need for more established art institutions, schools, and non-profits that hold curatorial positions, or the subsequent absence of a collector base for young artists – and this can sometimes sometimes prove problematic. A current exhibition by Micah Lexier, One, and Two, and More Than One, at The Power Plant comes the closest to what I have seen as striking a working balance between the two p... [more]

20130906121017-mana_chicago_v1 Writing on the Image of Mana Contemporary   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 9/6/13

What defines a space if not its imagined intentions? Or, more literally, when does the projected image of a site’s ideal function supersede its realization, and become the very thing it projects? Such is the case with Mana Contemporary, an elaborate multi-use art center currently being renovated in Pilsen’s industrial Cermak corridor, which if a shorthand history of shared art spaces were any indicator, would belong to the 19th century Salon in Paris as much as it does to a sleek, ateli... [more]

20130809073909-happyshow1_1800_1114_75 Less Than Kind   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Stefan Sagmeister at Chicago Cultural Center July 13th, 2013 - September 23rd, 2013
Posted 8/9/13

Commercials set to an uplifting loop of an indie song – the violins, the slow crescendo of choir voices, a gratifying and persistent drumbeat – this sound is reified, a ubiquitous, and entirely digestible image of faux-celebration used to market a feeling of happiness. This over-heartened and insufferably “inspirational” attitude strikes an irritating nerve in some, but the trope of the live-for-today individual is often hard to criticize, or even notice, in its calculated... [more]

20130726102622-0de0fbrooks013 Tête-à-Tête   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Amanda Ross-Ho at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) July 23rd, 2013 - November 1st, 2013
Posted 7/26/13

In his 1973 text,The Anxiety of Influence, Harold Bloom cited a term called poetic misprision. What he was referring to was a process that artists, in his case literary authors, adopted in order to further themselves from their sources and avoid being derivative. As an artistic process, it’s a brilliant explanation of how to deal with appropriation and context in contemporary art – to consciously and deliberately misread your source in order to create new meaning. For The Character and Shap... [more]

20130713184222-2ofakind73-600x366 Making an Impression   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Mike Andrews, Joseph Belknap, Sarah Belknap, Katy Cowan, Chelsea Culp, Alan Fleming, Michael Fleming, Jacob Goudreault, Wyatt Grant, Michael Hunter, Andy Jordan, Sofia Leiby, Matt Nichols, Rachel Niffenegger, Mike Paro, Josue Pellot at LVL3 Gallery June 29th, 2013 - July 21st, 2013
Posted 7/13/13

What does it mean to visibly leave an impression on someone else? 2 of a Kind, currently on view at LVL3, begs the question with an exhibition that focuses on the collaborations of sixteen artists, each paired with another, to realize a piece. The concept of the show is not all that radical – loose, and arbitrary at best – but despite itself, the eight pieces within the exhibition present certain relationships within the works that would otherwise go unnoticed in such a large group set... [more]

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