New York City, June 2015: I remember despising the revamped, restyled strip malls that proliferated in the late 1990s, replacing dilapidated 1960s-era kitsch elegance with chunky stucco postmodern monotony in various shades of taupe, terracotta, and teal. These non-places had names conjured from corporate boardrooms—“The Shoppes at Villa Terraces,” “Sycamore Plaza Town Centre” and the like—a nomenclature almost offensive in its disavowal of history and specificity... [more]
Oberhausen, May 2015: The world of experimental and avant-garde film and video is relatively intimate, its natives comparatively few. A visit to Oberhausen Kurzfilmtage, Europe’s premiere short and experimental film platform, is a step into that world; it's a place populated once a year by an international cadre with a passion for moving image's oldest and most cutting edge format. Where else can you can you drink in a late night bar confident in the knowledge that any of the other 100+ pa... [more]
Over a cappuccino in the lobby of Hotel Savoia Jolanda in Venice, Frances Stark sat in a flower-print sun dress with spaghetti straps. It was the preview week of the 56th Venice Biennale and familiar faces came in and out of the hotel. She greeted friends with a warm smile, while showing pictures of her 12-year-old son on her iPhone. Upon first glance, L.A.-based Stark could pass for any other suburban mom—but sit down with her for a coffee and you’ll believe the opposite. As the winner o... [more]
Samara Golden draws you in and shuts you out. Sewing, stuffing, and cutting materials of personal industriousness—fabrics, pantyhose, found thriftwares, cosmetology heads—the props in her motley sets splay out against all manner of reflective surfaces, situating some version of you inside her bendy armatures of time, place, and movie-inflected memory. M.C. Escher meets Miami Vice, the campy slickness melting into your own face as seen in a broken mirror, a slab of reflective polystyrene... [more]
Venice is a city of many hidden stories: the labors of conquests buried in damp passageways, the dreams of crusaders and merchants obscured behind masks, forgotten stories in moldering letters, in dark-browed statues guarding doorways, and treasures of spice and silk sunk deep in the Venetian Lagoon. But there are hidden stories everywhere on God’s good green earth, not just in cities steeped in literature and teeming with ghosts.
Sean Lynch finds such stories, researching rumors and urb... [more]
Amsterdam, April 2015: “If you want to know what art looks like in 2014, go and see Hito Steyerl’s satirical video installations,” Ben Luke of the Evening Standard wrote last year when reviewing Steyerl’s show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. And right he is. Few artists have the Zeitgeist by the balls the way the German artist does. Her video works deal with technological evolution, the production and reproduction of images, and the power relations invol... [more]
March 2015, Brooklyn, NY: Lesley Dill works in sculpture, photography, and performance, using a range of media and methods to explore themes of language, the body, and what it means to be transformed by an experience. She recently participated in Beautiful Beast at the New York Academy of Art, an exhibition that explored the intersection of beauty and abjection through sculpture, often depicting our humanity through distortion. I am always interested in work that defies disciplinary boundaries a... [more]
Tania Mouraud’s retrospective at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, curated by Hélène Guenin and Elodie Stroecken, spans features over 70 works of art dating from the late 1960s to today. In June, the show spreads beyond the walls of the museum when nine surrounding locations will host additional works of Mouraud, engaging the entire city as an interlocking exhibition site. Mouraud began working in the 60s as a painter, shifting tacks in the 70s to create a series of immersive medita... [more]
“What the fuck am I looking at?”
This is what Beatrix Ruf thought when she first encountered a work by Ed Atkins. The new Stedelijk Museum Director is not one to get caught up in diplomatic niceties—and at the press preview of Recent Ouija she didn’t mind repeating the question. Her confusion has turned out to be inspirational, though: last year she curated a show with the British artist at the Zurich Kunsthalle, and now she has landed him his first solo show in the Neth... [more]
For its 2015 edition, contemporary art fair ARCOmadrid invited Colombia as its guest "focus" nation. Included among the 20 young artists selected by curator Juan Andrés Gaitán for the "Arco Colombia" special exhibition sector is the talented Bogotá-based Angélica María Zorrilla. Represented by Galería Sextante, Bogotá, Zorrilla presents two series of drawings for one of the Focus Colombia exhibitions titled Frente al Otro: Dibujos en Posconflicto (“In Front o... [more]
Feb. 2015, Birmingham, UK: “Fuck Africa.” It’s rough on the ears when you first hear it. Jolting even. The Angolan artist smiles cunningly as he pronounces the words, a cool rhythm playing over his performance, overlaid with a collage of moving images, from the calculatedly appealing to the terrifying. He then describes in detail the manner by which he wants to sodomize the continent. Europe is his. He “bought it.” So is America. But Africa? Fuck Africa.
As a teenager Joep van Lieshout diligently saved all the money he earned from his first job as a waiter in a diner, until he had enough to buy himself an electric drill. Next was a proper set of angle grinders, followed by a welding machine. Van Lieshout has always been a lover of tools; the workshop is his natural biotope, the place where he thinks with his hands and molds a world all his own. His studio at the Keileweg, a frayed part of Rotterdam formerly known for its street prostitution, ref... [more]
Hazem Harb and his sketches; Courtesy of Salsali Private Museum
Hazem Harb drew the roman shades in his home studio to block out the shockingly bright desert views and force himself to concentrate. He was finishing the plans for Invisible Landscapes and Concrete Futures, his upcoming solo show at Salsali Private Museum in Dubai. The show’s press release had come out that day and ours was the first interview he would give of many. As a result, he projected a kind of calm intensity.
When London-based sound artists Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver first arrived in Dubai for an 11-month residency at Tashkeel, all they could hear was the white noise of air conditioning units. Slowly, their ears adjusted and natural sounds began to break through. While we spoke on the terrace outside the gallery, Fari draped herself on a settee, a droll setup that made me feel like a Freudian psychologist, particularly when our interview took a turn to the theoretical. Our bodies absorbed the muff... [more]
A while back during Berlin’s Indian summer, when the weather was more hospitable to a trio of tropics-born expats, I met up with the Doha-based artist duo Christto Sanz and Andrew Weir at a sleepy kietz café in Prenzlauer Berg.
Sanz, from Puerto Rico, and Weir of South Africa, have made waves lately with their vibrant and somewhat in-your-face surreal photographs that weigh in on power structures of culture in locations like their current home Qatar. Their artwork is almost camp,... [more]
Joanne Greenbaum is not one of those theoretical types—she is frank, funny, and bleeds New York in everything she does. Over the past couple decades this abstract painter has established herself for covering canvases in bright line work with magic marker, acrylic and oil. Her trademark has been treating the white canvas as map, filled with patterns that resemble city grids. It’s as if Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian were painted freehand and with more layered graphic composi... [more]