For the Best of 2013 In Print, see the December Issue of Artforum.

Kito Nedo

12.15.13

Katja Novitskova, Approximation V, 2013, digital print on aluminum, cutout display, 47 x 55 x 8".


“Speculations on Anonymous Materials” at Kunsthalle Fridericianum (September 29–January 26, 2013) Newly appointed curator Susanne Pfeffer has created an exhibition that gives a collective and pointed voice to some of the most influential young artists working today. This timely international group show presents some thirty makers (Yngve Holen, Josh Kline, Pamela Rosenkranz, Oliver Laric, and Aleksandra Domanović, among others) who produce artworks that are currently traded under the precarious label “post-Internet art.” Samsung flat screens, 3-D printing, Tumblrism, fragile USB-cable sculptures, jelly-Plexiglas and color-gradient aesthetics pervade the exhibition, creating a psychologically charged image of an increasingly digital world—but one via coherent aesthetic objects and not streams of ephemeral cyberspace. Pfeffer’s selection of artists is cohesive and percipient, proving the curator a master of exhibitions that skid the surface of our zeitgeist: If blunt retromania ran rampant throughout 2013—think the remounting of “When Attitudes Become Form” in Venice and the 2014 roster of Whitney Biennial artists—“Speculations” is both a smart and essential look forward.

“The Whole Earth. California and the Disappearance of the Outside” at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (April 26–July 7, 2013) Curated by Diedrich Diederichsen and Anselm Franke, this expansive exhibition might be seen as an educational, almost didactic endeavor plumbing the roots of the seminal 1968 catalogue The Whole Earth, which is described by both curators as the analog predecessor of both Google and Steve Jobs. During its run, the exhibition hall surged with informational boards, tiny screens, and listening booths among works by a range of artists including Eleanor Antin, Raymond Pettibon, Andrea Bulloch, Pierre Manzoni, Adrian Piper, and the Otolith Group. In its entirety, the show felt like a living encyclopedia, one that invited visitors to wander through its pages. God knows Berlin is in need of such idea-driven exhibitions—ones that ruthlessly scavenge history to make sense of our today. The accompanying catalogue, published by Sternberg Press, is very fine indeed.

Gunter Reski at Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen (March 3–May 26, 2013) This deftly curated exhibition showcased some of the most vital paintings I saw in 2013. Reski’s works bring together text and image in an almost postpsychedelic manner. His output lacks the well-oiled heaviness and bloated aesthetic that is at once relegating contemporary painting more and more to the circus of the market while causing the medium to be increasingly irrelevant to critical discourse. Reski’s modus operandi counters these trends by celebrating the ephemeral, the unstable, and the agitatorial. He leaves his works unframed, which makes them all the less precious and allows each to drift through the space as wall paintings and cutouts. Happily, 2014 will bring the long-overdue publication of the well-named catalogue The Happy Fainting of Painting, edited by Reski himself and Kunstverein Düsseldorf’s Hans-Jürgen Hafner—a highly anticipated gift of the New Year.

Kito Nedo lives in Berlin and is a regular contributor to frieze d/e, Leap, and Süddeutsche Zeitung.