Adam Jasper

  • Melanie Smith

    In 2014, Melanie Smith made a video work called Fordlandia, a study of the eponymous abandoned town in the Brazilian rain forest where Henry Ford had attempted to establish a vast rubber plantation in the 1920s. In spite of the enormous resources at Ford’s disposal and the best possible techniques of scientific management, the plantation proved a catastrophic failure and the rain forest slowly engulfed its ruins. Fordlandia was inevitably read as a parable about hubris, but it was as concerned with how to convey an atmosphere of heat, humidity, and lethargy as it was with colonial economics.

  • Emil Michael Klein

    Emil Michael Klein’s paintings are as boring as the novels of Bret Easton Ellis or Karl Ove Knausgaard. Klein’s paintings, like Ellis’s descriptions of sexual violence or Knausgaard’s of his breakfast, are painstaking, methodical, and indifferent to the audience. And like both writers’ prose, the results are repetitive, inhumane, and strangely compelling. Asking if Klein is a good painter seems as beside the point as asking if Knausgaard writes well—for their works have as much of the character and motivation of scientific experiments as they do of artworks. What these works present is a

  • James Bishop

    When John Ashbery died last year, the New York press reacted as if an epoch had come to a close. The poet is gone, but some witnesses of his generation are still with us. James Bishop is now ninety years old, and still working in the countryside outside Paris. Back in the 1960s, Ashbery succinctly nailed Bishop’s work when he described it as “Post-Painterly Quattrocentro”—“Quattrocentro” because of Bishop’s fierce loyalty to oil paint and to the paradoxical possibilities of the painting as window, and “Post-Painterly” because of his immediate struggle with the work of Robert Motherwell,

  • Shirana Shahbazi

    At first sight, this latest exhibition of Shirana Shahbazi’s photography seemed to present merely a highly polished version of the eclectic screen aesthetic that characterizes a lot of contemporary photography. Her work might appear to allude to 1960s Op art, psychedelia, found photography, and documentary, all laid out in a manner so clean as to seem forensic. But a second, slower take showed that there is no system of reference at the center of her work. Not only is the subject matter of her photography somehow incidental, but so are any apparent historical citations. For Shahbazi, photography

  • Nora Turato

    At her best, Nora Turato is absolutely bewildering. The first performance of hers that I saw, in Venice in 2015, was in a darkened courtyard in the middle of the Biennale’s opening week, when nerves are frayed from the constant expectation of novelty. In the midst of a crowd of young people who looked like they were lining up for cheap drinks, there was a sudden shout, as if a fight had broken out, and a circle formed around, or rather backed away from, a young woman who was clearly very angry about something. She had a hell of a voice: insistent, querulous, and gaining in self-assurance with

  • Marvin Gaye Chetwynd

    Even when a performance has not yet taken place, when Marvin Gaye Chetwynd has not conducted some Walpurgisnacht in the gallery, when no one has been chained to a latex double of Jabba the Hutt or done a banshee dance half-naked or otherwise worked themselves up into a transformative, ecstatic frenzy—even when the surfaces are innocent of blood or sperm or body paint—her artworks still reverberate with arcane energy. In “The Stagnant Pool,” in which she converted a single room into a stage set for a potential performance, Chetwynd showed off her ability to animate her work through her

  • Harun Farocki’s final project

    Where does the wind come from? From the trees.

    How did the wind begin? Because the branches move.

    Do the branches make the wind? Yes.

    But how do the branches move? Because of the wind.

    —Jean Piaget, The Child’s Conception of Physical Causality (1930)

    SOME TWO YEARS before he died, Harun Farocki released the first installment of Parallel I–IV, 2012–14, the four-part film cycle that was to become his last major work. Whereas many of Farocki’s films explored polemical images of technology and violence—from the flying smart bombs that repeatedly appear in Eye/Machine I–III, 2000–2003, to

  • Phyllida Barlow

    Phyllida Barlow’s 2014 Tate Britain Commission dock inevitably evoked the history of the Port of London. With its motley sacks and tangles of cranes, the piece recalled the waterfront as it appeared before the arrival of the shipping container redefined global trade in terms of anonymous, neatly stackable metric boxes that could just as easily contain weapons as toys. A carnival of open sculptural forms, dock was a raucous response to the stern Neoclassicism of the Duveen Galleries, and was well received by press and public alike.

    Barlow’s successor installation, demo, 2016, had a slightly more

  • Bertrand Lavier

    In the Mickey Mouse adventure “Traits très abstraits,” from Le journal de Mickey, no. 1279 (January 2, 1977), Mickey gets embroiled in a criminal drama in a setting loosely modeled on the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The tale—a Disney foreign-market story originally drawn by Sergio Asteriti for an Italian release called “Topolino e il ladro artistico”—introduces the famous mouse striding through the gallery with his hands in his pockets, both proactive and detached, insouciant. The artworks, playful misinterpretations of Miró, Picasso, and Henry Moore, are not the main object of

  • Vittorio Brodmann

    In an article published in 2015, Hans Ulrich Obrist declared that “at the beginning of the year I could have been convinced that really everywhere in the American art scene, people were talking about the Swiss painter Vittorio Brodmann.” This statement could almost be a line from one of Brodmann’s own jokes. The subtle undercutting of the statement with the modal verb could suggests the possibility that Brodmann wasn’t really famous: It was all a setup, an elaborate prank. It would be poetic justice if Obrist’s caution turned out to be well founded—if Brodmann’s fame were the product of an

  • Joachim Bandau

    Theodor Adorno, your illustrator is here.

    Walking into this recent show of Joachim Bandau’s work, one could not help but recall how Adorno’s thinking, and that of some of his Frankfurt School colleagues, was characterized by axioms of exuberant pessimism: Humanity is deformed by a military-industrial cage; sexuality has been harnessed by the culture industries; our senses have been dulled by the media machine; our consumer society is nothing other than a cultural mausoleum, richly decked out with grave goods. Adorno dispensed his inexhaustible despair in aphorisms; he defined modern music—one

  • Manifesta 11: “What People Do for Money—Some Joint Venture”

    The title of this year’s Manifesta describes the curator’s scheme bluntly enough. Over the past two years, Jankowski has embedded artists in thirty businesses and workplaces around Zurich—ranging from a dentist’s office to a Michelin-starred restaurant to a police station—where they’ve developed site-specific works. The main exhibition, a survey of modern and contemporary art on the theme of labor, will be presented in the Löwenbräu art complex and at the Helmhaus. The biennial will also include a “Pavilion of Reflections”—a

  • Adrian Paci

    Adrian Paci’s timing has been, unfortunately, good. Long concerned with migration, exile, and nostalgia, his works touch the raw nerves of our day. No one who’s seen it is likely to forget, for instance, his video Centro di permanenza temporanea (Temporary Shelter Center), 2007, which depicts scores of people stranded on a movable staircase on an airport runway, hoodwinked into waiting for a promised plane that never comes.

    Paci’s new video installation Sue proprie mani (Open by Addressee Only), 2015, a collaboration with Roland Sejko, is based on a chance discovery in the Albanian National

  • Claudia Comte

    Back in art school, Claudia Comte’s classmates called her la tronçonneuse, Miss Chainsaw. She hates the nickname, but there’s no question that she’s a virtuoso of the rip and call of the saw. There’s a tension between this more or less brutal tool and the extraordinary craft demonstrated in her work. For her most recent solo show, “Sonic Geometry,” she installed nine sculptures from the series “Giant Bones,” 2015: animal bones scaled up to dinosaur scope in polished olive wood, sitting on (or in) black wooden cubes. All had been cut freehand with chain saws before being sanded down, revealing

  • Emil Michael Klein

    A problem faced by painters—and also by writers—is how to begin. As Emil Michael Klein has pointed out, there’s something transgressive, even repellent, about the first step: brushing pigmented fat onto a pristine white canvas. But once the first act has been committed, it brings other decisions in its wake. Elaborations, deviations, and corrections can be brought into play. A process can be begun that results in a finished painting. It’s perhaps not coincidental that the word process, so popular in art pedagogy, can also refer to a trial by law, as if the original act were a crime

  • Josephsohn

    On the wall, what appeared to be a section of a heavily weathered archaic frieze. Before it, four monolithic gray forms, reverentially displayed on plinths: Anamorphs, they at first faintly recall Chinese philosopher’s stones or Easter Island heads wind-blasted beyond recognition. They appear formed from an ur-material that recalls iron, stone, and butter all at once. Over time, the viewer is able to discern identifiably human features, and the works on the plinths are revealed to be unmistakably human busts, with expressions ranging from the mournful to the puckish. The atmosphere these works

  • Ugo Rondinone

    When Ugo Rondinone reluctantly gave his first public lecture in New York at the New School in 2013, it consisted of an extraordinarily literal walk-through of a retrospective exhibition that had been held at the Aargauer Kunsthaus in Switzerland three years before: “I pass the ten bistro tables of the cafeteria and go to the ticket counter that is on the far left of the lobby. To the right of the ticket counter is the entrance to the first of seven rooms of the ground floor. . . . The first room has three sculptures. A tree, an oversize lightbulb, and a low relief of my right hand. In the middle

  • Dani Gal

    In 2012, Dani Gal made a two-channel HD video installation called Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. It was a re-creation of an oft-overlooked detail of the Black September attack on the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. As the terrorist operation (named after two abandoned Palestinian villages, Iqrit and Biram) played out over the course of a single day, the captors forced their Israeli captives to swap clothes with them in order to confuse those observing the building where the athletes were quartered. In his video, Gal had eleven actors dressing and undressing

  • Robert Kinmont

    After dropping out of the art world for thirty years, Robert Kinmont has returned to a mostly cordial welcome as a missing member of the generation of John Baldessari, Bruce Nauman, and Ed Ruscha, but he may be even better than this sympathetic “school of” reception suggests. His work tends to attract such adjectives as post-Minimal and Conceptual, but it is warmer, more modest, and more playful than those words imply.

    Take the relationship between Glider, 1973, a Super 8 film, and a companion piece, Trying to Understand, 2015, a digitally restored and shortened version of this original, presented

  • “Theatre of the World”

    Alternately described as a Bond villain’s lair or a subversive Disneyland for adults, MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, has been serving up an anachronist’s menu of dismembered culture since opening in 2011. The museum was founded in Hobart, the southernmost city in Australia, by the gambling millionaire David Walsh as a home for his collection of antiquities, artifacts, and contemporary art. Cut directly into a promontory on the Derwent River, the complex resembles a network of bunkers, a museum for the end of the world in every sense. “Theatre of the World,” MONA’s current show, features