Nadja Sayej

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Since the Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art opened in Berlin this fall, it has already seen thousands of visitors. Placed inside of a pre-war apartment building in the sleepy neighborhood of Schöneberg, the museum is easy to spot—it’s painted from top to bottom in colorful murals with the words “UNique, UNited, UNstoppable” wrapping around the front of the building. The museum currently hosts new artworks on canvas by some 100 artists, as well as digital prints and sculptures,... [more]
President Donald Trump’s travel ban on refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries caused international uproar and chaos over the past week. With Islamophobia on the rise and demonstrably influencing U.S. domestic and foreign policy, a widely-circulated image by Los Angeles artist Shepard Fairey and a related conversation about the representation of Muslim women take on additional urgency.  “We the people are greater than fear” is the slogan one of the artist’s latest posters,... [more]
At a Berlin Juice Bar, Squeezing Social Commentary into a Luxury Beverage   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Debora Delmar Corp. at Akademie der Künste - Pariser Platz June 4th, 2016 - September 18th, 2016
Posted 6/16/16
Walking into the Akademie der Künste, a key venue of the 9th Berlin Biennale, the café you encounter is more than just a café—but you wouldn’t know it at first glance. On one side there is a green juice bar serving up pricey smoothies and snacks; the seating area is furnished with fake plants and “upcycled” wooden tables made from shipping pallets. MINT, as the café is called, is an art project by Mexico City-based artist Débora Delmar, who created her own artist-run corporation in 2009:... [more]
At Frieze Projects, a Corporeal Rumination on the Art Fair's Nervous System   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Alex Da Corte, Anthea Hamilton, David Horvitz, Eduardo Navarro, Heather Phillipson at Frieze New York May 5th, 2016 - May 8th, 2016
Posted 5/2/16
At Frieze New York, look out for livestock this year—Maurizio Cattelan is putting a donkey in a room with a chandelier, while Nick Bastis is doing an installation with snails. If you smell dog food, it just means you’ve reached the artwork of British artist and poet Heather Phillipson, who has created a giant “spinal cord,” as she calls it, which connects throughout various outposts throughout the fair. Opening May 4, Frieze Projects, curated by Cecilia Alemani, features Phillipson’s, a piece... [more]
Usually, art world press conferences avoid politics, but for the opening of the 6th Marrakech Biennale, events like the Syrian refugee crisis were used as a starting point to introduce the exhibition, which kicked off February 23 featuring 50 artists across several venues of the ancient city. “Art brings together people, not tears them apart,” said the Palestinian curator Reem Fadda, who is the Associate Curator of Middle Eastern Art for the Abu Dhabi Guggenheim. In her selection of artists... [more]
'Tis the season for stocking stuffers: So instead of facing the crush at the malls at this time of year, make shopping an art by ordering an artist-made Christmas gift. From skull-printed toilet paper to Playmobil self-portraits, there are some clever artist multiples, which are great for ironic gifting this year. Besides, it is the season of goodwill, and the proceeds will (probably) go towards supporting an artist. Here are some of the best festive buys on our art gift guide... [more]
As the glitterati descend upon Florida’s art capital, we'd love to think Art Basel Miami Beach is more than just exclusive parties for rich people in fancy hotels, but the happenings around the fair don't always dissuade this interpretation. This epic art world extravaganza has seen Miley Cyrus decked out in butterfly wings, Amanda Lepore blowing puffy red kisses, and Jay-Z casually perusing the fair's booths. This is where artists swim in the pool drunk with curators who, in turn, run around... [more]
It has been 11 years since the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens has been planning to open, but its doors remain shut. The museum’s director, Katerina Koskina—a former art critic—is the only one who really knows why. So we asked her: What’s going on? The National Museum's new building—a 12 acre site which looks like a wafer bar—was finished in 2013 with a budget of 33.7 million euro, co-financed by Greece and the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund. The space boasts... [more]
Ai Weiwei is now a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts. So when you stop him for a selfie on the streets of the German capital—or when you spot him somewhere collecting Lego—be sure to holler “” The Chinese artist spoke at a press conference this week confirming his guest teaching position, which starts November 1 and will run until 2018. He kicks off his Einstein Visiting Professorship with a public lecture which is open to the public and will be streamed live—even faculty work on... [more]
Almost immediately after British sculptor Anish Kapoor's solidarity walk for refugees with Ai Weiwei through London, he flew to Moscow to open a solo exhibition at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center. Entitled , he shows four artworks from 1993-2007 in a museum which typically focuses on Jewish history with multimedia presentations. Just recently have they decided to start showing temporary exhibitions with contemporary artists—and Kapoor is the first. The show is strange for two reasons:... [more]
As the 6th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art opened last week, there was everything but controversy. Last time around, there were photos from Pussy Riot rallies by Tom Molloy. This time there was barely a peep about Vladimir Putin or Edward J. Snowden (who lives in Moscow) nor mention of the anti-gay propaganda law in Russia—or even Elton John. Instead, artists traveled to Russian industrial towns to take pictures of placid landscapes, while Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis spoke at a... [more]
Are sculpture parks a thing of the past? Just like Disneyland for the art world, sculpture parks are popular tourist attractions often funded by billionaire art collectors (in the case of more than a few, they are couples with their own foundations). Have these types of elitist locations faded in recent years? And in the broader spectrum, what is their function as art spaces? While Europe has some of the coolest sculpture gardens (find a great list of international sculpture gardens here),... [more]
Mathieu K. Abonnenc has a complicated relationship with his past. For his solo presentation in the Statements section of Art Basel, which kicks off this week, Abonnenc, an artist born in French Guiana who now lives in Paris, digs into the history and effects of colonialism and its representations within society. You might have seen Abonnenc's work in the Belgian Pavilion as part of Vincent Meessen’s project at the Venice Biennale. His most recent works, such as  (2015) or Forever, Without... [more]
While all eyes are on Basel, there’s a different crowd who are skipping the annual summer commercial art fair route altogether. Some of them might have been at the opening of the Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art this weekend, Momentum. The 8th edition opened its doors with live video of a performance from a Kurdish-Swedish pop songstress, Oculus Goggles, and an installation made of synthetic hair. Shoplifter's hair sculpture, Installation View. Photo: Nadja Sayej   Such things are... [more]
For the first time, Amnesty International awarded their annual Ambassador of Conscience Award to a visual artist. Ai Weiwei received the international honor, which was presented at an award ceremony Thursday night at the Berliner Festspiele in Berlin, in absentia. The artist can’t leave China, being under government surveillance and having his passport revoked. In place, he designated London’s Tate Modern curator Chris Dercon to accept the award on his behalf. The award is devoted to human... [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 of this... [more]
Frieze Frolic: 4 Hours in a Giant Turtle Shell Listening to Hip Hop   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Mathis Altmann, Martha Araújo, Anna-Sophie Berger, Than Hussein Clark, Lital Lev Cohen, Liu Ding, Cécile B. Evans, Zachary Leener, Kris Lemsalu, Dashiell Manley, Alexandra Navratil, Georgie Nettell, Walter Pfeiffer, Philomene Pirecki, Charlotte Prodger, Eric Sidner, Lucy Stein, Ken Tisa, Sergio Zevallos at Frieze New York May 14th, 2015 - May 17th, 2015
Posted 5/12/15
Estonian artist Kris Lemsalu is no stranger to the art of keeping things weird—which is exactly what Frieze NY needs this week. Lemsalu, who is based in Berlin, has created everything from phantom sleeping bags to skirts made of playing cards (fit for the Queen of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland”). But her secret talent is actually ceramics, an overlooked material in contemporary art pratice. Rather than inhabiting a world, Lemsalu's gives her sculptures her own fantastical, David Altmejd-esque... [more]
eading up to our "Brand" themed second issue of Editions, our new inbox magazine—which will be sent to ArtSlant subscribers this Thursday. Here, Nadja Sayej considers the world's best-branded artists. In a recent essay published by Berlin-based artist Constant Dullaart, the artist who shelled out 2.5 million free Instagram followers to art world accounts writes, “Audience is a commodity.” He continues: “Building a signature presence where the branding of the artist’s name is more important... [more]
Curators are stealing the spotlight in the art world—mostly, for a good reason. This year brings an international showcase from a growing cohort of curators who, from Miami to Tel Aviv, have organized exhibitions we can look forward to—including public art and analogue photography. Ask a curator how they feel about curating and you might get mundane answers about the day-to-day tediums of mothering artists and battles with the internet, but the big picture is ever more exciting. The following... [more]
Art bars are legendary. They’re the place where ideas are born, scenes are formed and historical photos are taken and fondly remembered. Paris Bar in Berlin was the hotspot of Martin Kippenberger and friends, while NYC's Cedar Tavern frequented guests like Willem de Kooning. Some art bars have closed; other have become historical landmarks in upscale neighborhoods. Today there are new art bars that draws artists either for their location, concept, cheap drinks, or their warm vibes. The "world’s... [more]
Transmediale Festival's 2015 Exhibitions Bring Artist Labor and Bodies into Focus   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
at Haus der Kulturen der Welt January 28th, 2015 - February 1st, 2015
Posted 2/2/15
“There is a lot of freedom to being a freelancer,” once said journalist Don Gibb. “You get to work any 13 hours of the day you like.” The same can be said for any self-employed entrepreneur—including artists. Much is to be learned from this year’s “Capture All" edition of Transmediale, the annual digital art festival famous for its screenings, performances, exhibitions, and conference that hash out media art every year in Berlin. This year the festival's main exhibitions, held over the past... [more]
The French Fluxus artist Robert Filliou was the first to proclaim “Art’s Birthday” as a public holiday on January 17. Coincidentally, Art shares the same birthday as Filliou, who came up with the idea in 1963. The myth is that 1,000,000 years ago, someone threw a dry sponge into a bucket of water and voilà: Art was born. It was first publicly celebrated in Aachen, Germany, and Paris simultaneously in 1973, and the phenomenon has grown every year with celebrations now taking place across the US... [more]
As beloved Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson once said: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Despite 2014's many challenges, many in the art world and beyond carried on putting their best foot forward: when the going gets tough, the resilient pull through. While Kembra Pfahler performed with a cross in her ying-yang in Miami, ceramics and glass art saw some of the best new artists of the year. Airport art stays strong for those of us in WiFi-less layovers, and Russia sees new... [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  by Piet Mondrian were painted freehand and with more layered graphic compositions, cramming in a ton of... [more]
Frank Bowling is a Guyana-born, London-based abstract painter who was one of the first black artists to have a solo show in America. Even still, he’s kind of an overlooked art star. His colleagues at the Royal Academy of Art include David Hockney, and Lucian Freud was his mentor. Bowling, who is known for dreamy abstract expressionist paintings, was championed by Clement Greenberg alongside artists like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Barnett Newmann. Bowling has a slice of art history... [more]
 When South Korea won the Golden Lion at the 2014 Venice Biennale of Architecture, architect Minsuk Cho said the award could help “trigger the reality of a unified Korea.” While North Korea is making art at the Mansudae Art Studio, South Korea is building the next generation of art stars—in New York. With Korean art increasingly in the spotlight, “The Lineage of Vision: Progress through Persistence,” which opened Wednesday at the Korean Cultural Service of New York, shows the top 15 Korean... [more]
Taking a Museum of African Art to the Bank   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Meschac Gaba at KunstHall - Deutsche Bank September 20th, 2014 - November 16th, 2014
Posted 10/30/14
When the world thinks of Africa at the moment, the conversation seems to stop on the deadly West African virus, Ebola. For a less alarmist and fear-stoked impression of a massive continent, Meschac Gaba’s (1997-2002), on view at Berlin’s Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle until November 16, is currently offering insights through the eyes of one money-minded artist from Benin. Funny coincidence this show is hosted by a Deutsche Bank-sponsored gallery, as Germany has been slipping lately in business... [more]
 Rashaad Newsome’s heart pulses to the beat of hip hop. But how can one replace chamber music with old school black vernacular? New York-based Newsome, who is originally from New Orleans, travels the world finding the attitude-drenched insider lingo of each city, weaving it into his compositions for an unforgettable performance piece called Shade Compositions. Newsome came into the spotlight in 2010 in collaboration with Alexander Wang at MoMA PS1 and is known for using the language of power... [more]
For an industry whose only products have no objective use, function or value, the art-world takes itself pretty seriously. Thankfully Nadja Sayej, the creator and headliner of ArtStars* is here to sniff out bullshit, puncture pretension, deflate egos and delight lovers of lively criticism. ArtStars* is a vlog in the tradition of lost Gonzo-journalist public-access treasures such as Paul H-O and Walter Robinson in the Manhattan-based 1990s "GalleryBeat" public-access show.  Sayej pops up at... [more]
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