Adam Jasper

  • Marco Fusinato DESASTRES, 2022. Performance view, Australian pavilion, Venice. From the fifty-ninth Venice Biennale. Photo: Andrea Rossetti.
    performance June 01, 2022

    Live Wire

    CUTTING THROUGH THE CENTER of the Australian pavilion is an enormous video screen, almost as big as the walls. Beside it sits a giant stack of amps, like a punctuation mark to a particularly emphatic billboard. Six in all, they are arranged in a grid-like ziggurat, the kind that might inspire a roadie’s ultimate (now archaic) words of praise: “sick stack.”Draped and coiled cables link them to an oversized computer hidden out of sight beneath the stage, where the number-crunching for the synchronization of images and sound takes place. On screen, the pictures appear in grayscale. The austerity

  • View of “Vanessa Billy,” 2021. From left: Vertebrae, 2021; Ouroboros, 2020; Centipedes, 2020. Villa Bernasconi. Photo: Dylan Perrenoud.

    Vanessa Billy

    Vanessa Billy’s increasing prominence in the Swiss art scene was corroborated by two concurrent solo shows. “We Become,” at the Kunsthaus Pasquart in Biel/Bienne, dealt thematically with questions of material transformation and energy but also delivered a survey ranging from early pieces of the mid-2000s to recent large-scale installations. A smaller, more intimate exhibition, “Redevenir” (Re-become), was housed in Geneva’s Villa Bernasconi and was concerned with questions of ecology and social reproduction.

    Such basic coordinates—some timely keywords regarding themes and general comments about

  • Emanuele Marcuccio, Portrait of a Young Man in Brussels, 2021, digital C-Print (photograph by Marc Asekhame), 2021, 23 x 16 1/2."
    picks October 18, 2021

    Emanuele Marcuccio

    The exhibition “SEP 2021” centers on “Portrait of a Young Man in Brussels,” (all works 2021), a series of eight modest photographs taken by Marc Asekhame for the artist Emanuele Marcuccio. The titular protagonist wears a bored expression. He’s good looking in that listless way that makes the old want to slap the young. He lingers in a small, boxlike room containing a bed, a few mirrors, and some desultory furniture. The deliberately shoddy construction of the model’s surroundings are illuminated with arc lights, and tripods and single-lens reflex cameras feature prominently within the images,

  • Nick Bastis, Real traps, 2021, grocery dividers, aluminum tubing, aggregate filling, dimensions variable.
    picks October 04, 2021

    Nick Bastis

    The gallery attendant waved me into Nick Bastis’s exhibition “Real traps,” barely able to restrain his mirth: “You’ll find it very . . . repetitive.” And it was. Along the walls were what appeared to be spirit levels: long, brightly colored prisms studded with small perforations. On closer examination, they weren’t tools at all, but rather the plastic dividers that supermarkets offer to separate my shopping from yours on the checkout conveyer belt. (In French, these are called “barres de caisse.”)

    How does one acquire these things? They are not for sale. We just use them to neurotically cordon

  • Olafur Eliasson, Life (detail), 2021, water, uranine, UV lights, wood, plastic sheet, cameras, kaleidoscopes, common duckweed, dwarf water lilies, European frogbit, European water clover, floating fern, red root floater, shellflower, South American frogbit, water caltrop. Installation view, Fondation Beyeler, Basel. Photo: Pati Grabowicz.

    THE LIFE AQUATIC

    THIS YEAR, to much publicity, Olafur Eliasson flooded part of Basel’s Fondation Beyeler, arguably the most significant private museum in Switzerland. The south-facing glass wall was removed so that the installation could be accessed from the lawn by humans, bats, ducks, insects, or whatever other life-forms happened to be passing by. Gangways were installed just above the water’s surface so that bipedal visitors could walk through the southern gallery. The paths constituted a kind of labyrinth, leading through the rooms and back out to the grounds. The water was dyed with uranine, a bright-green

  • View of Zilla Leutenegger, 2021. Left: Torkel, 2020. Right: Drehtüre (Revolving Door), 2021.
    picks July 21, 2021

    Zilla Leutenegger

    Oulipian writer Georges Perec’s 1974 essay cycle Espèces d’espaces (Species of Spaces) provided the title for this Zilla Leutenegger exhibition in Eastern Switzerland. The comparison does some work: Leutenegger’s installation is as evocative and precise as Perec’s prose, but while the author begins with the blank page and via a spiraling series of associations surveys the space of the bed, the city, and the planet, Leutenegger, who is well known for her drawings and paintings, has constructed a kind of memory apartment within the museum.

    In the subterranean galleries, the viewer enters on a

  • Karam Natour, Nothing Personal, 2017, two-channel HD video, color, sound, 21 minutes 8 seconds.

    Karam Natour

    In Karam Natour’s twenty-one-minute two-channel video Nothing Personal, 2017, the artist calls emergency services and then waits for them to come feature in his movie. At first, it seems like the kind of thing a bored teenager might cook up. And there’s the rub: Sometimes it’s only through idiocy that you pose the right questions.

    The piece begins with a black screen. We hear a ringtone and Natour’s plaintive voice. We see him lying in a white room on a bed with vermilion sheets, wearing only a T-shirt and underpants. He can’t move, he says. Having established his address, in Tel Aviv, the operator

  • Ana Prata, A and B, 2020, acrylic and oil on canvas, 59 x 47 1/4''.
    picks April 16, 2021

    Ana Prata

    Ana Prata is one of the most significant young Brazilian painters. As if any further consecration were necessary, next year she will have a solo show in Lina Bo Bardi’s legendary SESC Pompeìa. Her works are generous, and create that afterglow of pleasure that is disarming, especially perhaps for critics. She paints canvases rather than things, or, as Gabriel Perez-Barreiro phrased it, she is “perhaps not so interested in the thing itself, [but] in how that thing becomes an image on a canvas.”

    Her current show, luxuriously arrayed at Tobias Mueller Modern Art, takes the still life as a point of

  • Florian Germann, Untitled, 2020, bio resin dyed with fuel pigments, ferrite magnets, steel, 66 1/8 × 44 7/8 × 18 1/2".

    Florian Germann

    In a series of 1930s studies of how people behave in museums, Arthur Melton discovered what has since been called “right-turn bias.” When entering a gallery, a large majority of visitors turn right and keep turning right until they find themselves trapped in a corner that obliges them to turn left. (This description is not intended as a political metaphor; it is strictly an empirical observation.) Turning right at the opening of Florian Germann’s “raised by dogs,” I saw two large sculptures, sheets of resin billowing from the wall, pinned down with prominent screws (all works Untitled, 2020).

  • Pedro Wirz, Soil’s Memory, 2020, beeswax, textile debris, concrete cast, bronze cast, plaster cast, iron cast, toys, and acrylic on wood, 78 3/4 x 139 3/4 x 6 3/4".
    picks January 05, 2021

    Pedro Wirz

    Last year at Marc Selwyn Fine Art in Los Angeles, in the show “Termite Terminators,” Pedro Wirz exhibited grids of toy automobiles drowned in beeswax, a kind of apian gridlock. Cars give the illusion of individuation to human eyes, but seen from an alien’s point of view they are largely identical. And their offer of individuality is premised on a shared infrastructure of oil and roads that is bringing us, as all well know, to perdition.

    This exhibition shares the earlier’s catastrophic orientation, but “Tooth of a Giant” brings the viewer further into Wirz’s post-apocalyptic world. The eponymous

  • Marcin Dudek, Slash & Burn, 2020, acrylic paint, steel powder, image transfer, medical tape, UV varnish on wood, aluminum, and steel, 100 3/4 × 99 1/4".

    Marcin Dudek

    The entrance to Harlan Levey Projects is an anonymous doorway on the ground floor of an apartment building on a mostly residential street outside the center of Brussels. It would be easy to overlook. From the entrance of the gallery, what could be seen of Marcin Dudek’s “Slash & Burn I” was a wall with a densely packed grid of abstractions, each so small and understated that the one thing that could be immediately determined from the gallery door was that they eschewed heroics. (A sequel, “Slash & Burn II,” is scheduled for 2021.)

    Very original work induces a particular kind of hesitation, a

  • Sue Williams, Purple Choke, 1995, oil on canvas, 15 × 18".

    Sue Williams

    In the 1970s Sue Williams studied at CalArts, where Conceptualism ruled, but, as the story has it, she refused all its temptations in order to paint. Her paintings began as potent examinations of sexual politics and slowly evolved until they culminated in magnificent large-format abstractions. This show, encompassing small paintings—some on bits of found fabric—from 1995 and 1996, as well as collages and large paintings made between 2014 and the present, served to remind viewers of just how radically the strategies of critical art have changed, as has Williams’s painting, in ways that often