Abraham Adams

  • View of “So You Want to See,” 2015.
    picks May 22, 2015

    “So You Want to See”

    “Some clients ask us to piss on them, but I'd be happy to shit on them on behalf of all women.” So opens this group exhibition—including works by Sanja Iveković, Rajkamal Kahlon, Victoria Lomasko, OKO, Cecilia Vicuña, and Carla Zaccagnini—with the words of one woman in Lomasko’s Girls, 2012, a collection of impromptu sketches of Russian sex workers whom the artist interviewed. It’s not the only sentence in the exhibition that rings with the easily recognizable sound of necessity. “They are willing to bury us alive,” reports Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in Lomasko’s Pretrial Tagansky Hearing Pussy Riot

  • Elizabeth Orr, Applied Marketing Topic: Loss Leader, 2015, video.
    picks April 17, 2015

    Elizabeth Orr

    The sun sets on a passive-solar conference room, on ergonomic pleather rolling chairs around a glossy table with a conference phone. Everyone’s excited in this video (Elizabeth Orr’s Applied Marketing Topic: Loss Leader [all works 2015]) to talk about a pricing strategy for which the piece and exhibition, Orr’s first solo, take their names. (A loss lead, like a nascent art practice, is something offered at a profit loss in hope of future gain.) Swiveling toward the camera, a corporately assertive acolyte played by the artist Mariana Valencia vaguely declares: “My understanding of loss lead is

  • Trenton Doyle Hancock, Self-Portrait with Tongue, 2010, acrylic and mixed media on paper, 11 × 8 1/4".
    picks April 03, 2015

    Trenton Doyle Hancock

    Trenton Doyle Hancock works in a baroque grotesque, from portraits whose emetic intricacy recalls George Grosz to centerless, Boschian tableaux. This retrospective starts with drawings from the artist’s childhood and maps his career’s uncanny continuity up to the present season. Already in the heavy graphite wobble of a ten-year-old, Hancock had chosen Torpedoboy as his avatar, a caped and hero-diapered character who would appear throughout the decades and here adorns a site-specific installation of his 2002 series “Studio Floor.”

    This drawing series is the exhibition’s garish centerpiece, with

  • View of “Unmanned Lander,” 2015.
    picks March 20, 2015

    Hayley Silverman

    Noah’s ark, that proto–postapocalyptic time capsule, has manifested as a yellow wheelbarrow of varicolored resin sand dollars at the entrance to New York–based Hayley Silverman’s “Unmanned Lander”: Each transclucent cast inside contains a pair of coins or other mated monies (berries, pollen) for the times to come (Crude Currency, 2015). Meanwhile, the sculpture’s weathered frame appears to say this has been tried and has failed before. Throughout the show, utopia is in the shadow of the retrofuture: Witness Is terraforming reincarnation?, 2015 (with Emily Shinada), an octagon of inward-facing

  • Erica Baum, Strap (Purse), 1996-2015, archival pigment print, 10 x 15".
    picks March 12, 2015

    Erica Baum and Barb Choit

    Have you experienced inanimate surveillance—a shoe, a handbag sitting on a table, staring at you with a vaguely smug, unanswerable formalism? I have. Erica Baum and Barb Choit have, and with this exhibition they venture to reciprocate the gaze, in photographs whose deadpan reaches the under-sung, confident beauty that is true blandness.

    Refreshingly, the premise of the show (part of a series by the gallery) is to display material that inspires the artists’ current output proper. (Both Vancouver-based Choit and New York’s Baum are better known for work adapting the sensibilities of Concrete poetry

  • Tomaž Šalamun. Photo: Roman Šipić/Delo.
    passages March 03, 2015

    Tomaž Šalamun (1941–2014)

    TOMAŽ ŠALAMUN IS DEAD. On the other hand, as he put it:

    The worst imaginable kind of fascism would be
    if the soul belonged only to the living
    and not to the dust and stones!

    On the subject of soul, he also wrote:

    The drunk sells his coat.
    The thief sells his mother.
    Only the poet sells his soul to separate it
    from the body that he loves.

    And around the subject of stones:

    Red flowers grow in the sky, there’s a shadow in the garden.
    The light penetrates, there’s no light to be seen.
    How then can the shadow be seen, there’s a shadow in the garden,
    all around big white stones lie scattered, we can sit

  • Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Pray, Bless Us with Rice and Curry Our Great Moon, 2012, HD video, color, sound, 19 minutes.
    picks February 20, 2015

    Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

    Dogs and the dead populate the videos, sculptures, and print works in Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s first US retrospective, a show that summons questions about what companion species are beyond human companionship, what cadavers are other than former humans.

    “A person who dies had the ability to die,” the Thailand-based artist gently proposes in the film The Class I, 2005, addressing a room of deceased “students” on trays, bodies borrowed from a hospital in Turin. The line echoes Maurice Blanchot’s insight that death is horrifying to us because it promises to take away the mortality that makes us

  • Mary Walling Blackburn, “David Meet Paul (David Hamilton Ballet Images Reconfigured),” 2013-15, print; pastel, walnut oil, tape, cardboard, 11 x 17".
    picks February 09, 2015

    Mary Walling Blackburn

    During the reading of Mary Walling Blackburn’s pro-choice children’s book released in fall 2014 at e-flux (Sister Apple, Sister Pig), a child in the audience shouted, “This is b-o-r-n-g [sic]: boring!” It’s true: The book was not really written for children. It is a provocation for adults, concept performing form in what the artist has referred to as a kind of drag. So it is as well for the titular work in Walling Blackburn’s current show, “♂ Anti-Fertility Garden,” described in its précis as a planted installation of vegetables that cause sterility in men. But this is not a garden in the yard;

  • Moriah Evans, Social Dance 1-8: Index, 2015. Performance view, Issue Project Room, Brooklyn, NY.
    picks January 28, 2015

    Moriah Evans

    Moriah Evans’s much-anticipated debut at Issue Project Room begins before you enter, and you are let in one by one. This feels oddly both intimate and distancing, as if the dance is being privately disclosed to you but taking place for its own sake. You sit and are instructed not to transgress the orange line in the marble floor just past your feet, past which it is already visible that a very demanding piece of choreography is being executed. Executed: You will be aware throughout of the distinction between dance and dancers. It feels heroic, their achievement of this baroque, athletic repetition

  • View of  “Peter Wächtler: Help Me Buddy,” 2014.
    picks January 16, 2015

    Peter Wächtler

    Something is wrong with the centurions. They’re struggling beneath the royal box seating’s canopy. So why are the attendants still fanning the throne with peacock feathers? And have none of them seen the giant wheel the rest of the coliseum’s audience is fleeing—belonging, it seems, to a divine chariot crashing the mortals’ race? There are no explanations here for this or any of the other narratives implied in Peter Wächtler’s watercolors on display at Reena Spaulings. Neither for the row of plaster busts depicting unnamed people at the rear wall of the gallery (all works untitled, 2014). The

  • Lukas Geronimas, Custom Tub (detail), 2014, plaster, wood, primer, ink, graphite powder, mesh tape, adhesives, fasteners, Plexi, 59 x 24 x 18".
    picks December 16, 2014

    “Three Cups Fragrance”

    “Three Cups Fragrance” takes its name from tea consumed in three successive brews of the same leaves. The précis offers tasting notes about this tea without a hint of further commentary. Routine, privately comforting, to recycle drink while savoring its transformations is not the action of one struggling to impress a visitor. But to watch the quiet concept of this show divide along a group of formally distinctive works is mesmerizing in its humorous light touch.

    Oto Gillen’s portrait of a helicopter (Untitled, 2014), overdressed in double matting and a frame of sculpted corrugated cardboard, is

  • Bohumila Grögerová with the 2009 Magnesia Litera Prize at the Prague Estates Theater, 2009. Photo by René Volfík.
    passages October 29, 2014

    Bohumila Grögerová (1921–2014)

    1967 WAS A YEAR that poetry as a visual art briefly saw recognition in book publishing on a scale that reflected its long influence on writers and artists, with one major anthology of Concrete poetry released in North America and another in Europe. Bohumila Grögerová, the poet responsible for the latter, Czech publication (and with it, European access to the decade in graphic writing), died this August in Prague, leaving behind a body of poems, memoirs, children’s stories, radio plays, and nearly two hundred books collaboratively translated with her companion, Josef Hiršal. Though she continued