Bigindicator

Stephanie Cristello

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The affliction of horror is an experience both embodied and detached. White washes over your face, the blood rushes from your cheeks toward more essential functions. Capillaries constrict, drawing what they can spare. Your body hollows. Fear is rooted in uncertainty, but its sensation is a bodily affliction as much as a mental one. Entire markets have been built on its replication, assimilation, and distribution. To feel horror is unbearable, but to experience its aesthetized and familiar... [more]
In the initial stages of writing this piece, I penned a question: It was the morning of November 9, 2016. The question concerned the boundary of public memory. The limit of how this memory is transformed into action. It was a question posed on a precipice, in both popular definitions of the term—between falling off the brink of one territory, and the inception of a new space. That was on November 9. A question about temporary suspension, the moment before one thing becomes the next. I think... [more]
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The Sublime Delinquency of Barbara Rossi’s Poor Traits   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Barbara Rossi at DePaul Art Museum May 12th, 2016 - August 21st, 2016
Posted 5/24/16
There is nothing reductive or insignificant about Barbara Rossi’s , a collection of paintings under the homophonic title that refers to the artist’s portrait-like compositions, currently on view in the DePaul Art Museum’s second floor galleries. In a series of graphite drawings from the late 1960s and reverse Plexiglas paintings from the early 1970s, Rossi’s works are some of the more enigmatic examples of the Chicago Imagists. As this exhibition makes clear, Rossi’s twentieth century... [more]
Magic and language share a few essential qualities: they are both transformative in nature, and in the experience of each, information is lost along the way. They are mutually systems of artifice. Words make ideas out of things, an approach to understanding the world around us that often goes unnoticed, just as an unexplained phenomenon creates a distortion, precisely causing it to go noticed, to resonate. Though there is potential to reach each result on similar grounds through different... [more]
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Behind the Grin: Unmasking the Political Aesthetic in Kathryn Andrews' Run for President   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Kathryn Andrews at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) November 21st, 2015 - May 8th, 2016
Posted 1/18/16
Few things could be as topical. The image-culture created out of broadcast television’s commoditized framing of electoral coverage is precise, yet entirely ubiquitous. Kathryn Andrews’ currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, pictures the hamster wheel of these aesthetic politics. Under the premise of a fictive presidential campaign, Andrews uses Bozo the Clown as the central figure within her electoral landscape. The personas born from Bozo represent either the Left or... [more]
       –Michel Foucault While the invention of the garden was a product of the Orient, its form is now widely replicated, adapted, and distributed across cultures. The forms it takes can be beautiful, or benign—from Japanese karesansui and perfectly manicured English courts to sterile pre-fabricated suburban lots, with conventional evergreens growing against cement paths. The first carpet was invented in an attempt to recreate the garden. In its earliest iterations, the rug transposed the... [more]
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The Only One Who Knows Desire   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Ragnar Kjartansson at Palais de Tokyo October 21st, 2015 - January 10th, 2016
Posted 10/20/15
I last felt this way when reading 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’s exhibition at... [more]
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... [more]
By now, many will have read Ben Davis’ piece on , 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 look at the implications of the... [more]
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Do Words Have Voices: Talking to Martin Boyce's Installations   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Martin Boyce at Museum für Gegenwartskunst April 25th, 2015 - August 16th, 2015
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. Few contexts or... [more]
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Specter of Strategy: Vern Blosum’s Late Work   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Vern Blosum at Essex Street May 10th, 2015 - June 21st, 2015
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. 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 those who know his... [more]
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Sizing the Immaterial: S, M, L, XL at MCA   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) May 9th, 2015 - October 4th, 2015
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, , 1964. Collection of the MCA Chicago, gift of Mrs. Robert B. Mayer.... [more]
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 (dear-ling) and its tender definitions may not have evolved over the past few centuries, the idiomatic media darling—the darling that belongs to the... [more]
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Security Breach: A Surveillance Love Affair at the New Museum Triennial   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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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, 2015 - May 24th, 2015
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—? —M, Skyfall   The question: how safe do you feel? How safe do we feel in a world where technology has been absorbed? Where the impression... [more]
The Face of Joan Didion. In his 1957 publication, 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 evaluate the surface of a woman’s... [more]
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 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... [more]
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Edra Soto: Selling a Fantasy   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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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... [more]
  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 everyone, though its image is guided by the Westen world) takes the inoffensive, calculated symbols of global... [more]
"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... [more]
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  at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), which took place over the summer of this year, and William... [more]
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 , 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 reserve of “the fall”... [more]
“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 intimate experience, now the exact... [more]
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Ruin Value: Sammlung Boros (The Boros Collection) in Berlin   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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at Sammlung Boros September 17th, 2012 - September 17th, 2015
Posted 8/13/14
“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 that Robert Smithson... [more]
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 foreground against... [more]
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Phantom Sense: Tony Tasset’s Spill Paintings   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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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 the... [more]
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Speak Your Plural: Chapter One of Slow Frequency   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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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]
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Our Love is a Cage Match   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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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... [more]
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The Death of Conceptualism: Christopher Williams and The Great Sorting   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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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]
: 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 that fill the rest... [more]
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]