Bean Gilsdorf

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Rituals of Rented Island at the Whitney Museum of American Art

Peggy Phelan said it best: “Performance’s only life is in the present.”[1] Slippery in designation and impermanent by nature, a performance is not the same as the video of a performance. The viewer must be present for not only the sights and sounds of the performer, but also the smell, the temperature, the crowd, the fidgeting in a folding chair, or standing on a concrete floor—in other words, part of what differentiates a performance from its documentation is not just the body and actions of the performer, but also the body and unmediated perceptions of the viewer. J... [more]
Posted by Bean Gilsdorf on 12/18/13

British British Polish Polish at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle

Now on view at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, British British Polish Polish is a comprehensive—nearly overwhelming—exhibition with works by more than 60 artists occupying two floors. Though the individual pieces of the show are often thrilling, their overall placement leaves much to be desired. According to curators Marek Go┼║dziewski and Tom Morton, the exhibition is meant to reflect “the extraordinary parallel flowering of contemporary art in Britain and Poland […] conventionally identified with two much-contested ‘groups’: the Y... [more]
Posted by Bean Gilsdorf on 11/14/13

Rejecting a Binary Argument: Interview with Toyin Odutola

Back in early March 2012, I reviewed Mark Bradford’s solo show at SFMOMA and learned shortly thereafter that the oft-repeated narrative about the circumstances of his early work—that he grew up in poverty in a depressed African-American neighborhood of Los Angeles—was simply not true (he was raised in Santa Monica, an affluent suburb). Given that I’ve heard this myth repeated even by knowledgeable curators, I shared my concerns with artist Toyin Odutola and was surprised to learn that even though she is in the early stages of her career, she is already encountering simi... [more]
Posted by Bean Gilsdorf on 8/14/13

James Turrell: A Retrospective at LACMA

There’s no doubt that you’ll hear much about the work of James Turrell in the coming months. With three major exhibitions—at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), and the Guggenheim in New York—the art world seems primed to talk about nothing else. Given their geographical spread and the fact that all three exhibitions will be open to the public simultaneously from now until late September 2013, one could compare this to the “one city one book” community reading programs that exhort everyone to read and discuss th... [more]
Posted by Bean Gilsdorf on 6/26/13

Enrique Chagoya: Freedom of Expression

Code-switching is the linguist’s term for substituting one language for another in the course of a single conversation. “Oye, Teacher Bean,” a student once told me, “I couldn’t do mi tarea because mi tia was late and I had to watch mi sobrino hasta medianoche.” Notice that even though the sentence ping-pongs between Spanish and English, it’s still grammatically correct. To code switch, you need to have an intuition for how each language works and how they might work together. Using languages and symbols, Enrique Chagoya is a master code-switcher. His drawings, etch... [more]
Posted by Bean Gilsdorf on 6/12/13

Speaking Directly: Interview with Tony Discenza

Tony Discenza’s text-based work is concise yet absurd: the tone is often matter-of-fact while the content is speculative and fanciful. The appropriated formats of a street sign or a book’s teaser page provide an internal logic that holds the tension of this paradox quite neatly; obviously, I’m a fan, so I asked him to chat with me about his recent projects. Discenza’s solo and collaborative work has been shown at numerous national and international venues, including The New York Video Festival, the Museum of Modern Art (NY), Whitney Biennial (2000), and the San Francisco... [more]
Posted by Bean Gilsdorf on 2/7/13