Agnieszka Gratza

  • picks December 11, 2018

    Donna Huanca

    Spread over eight rooms in the Baroque former summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663–1736), Donna Huanca’s current exhibition has an opulence all its own. Bright and dim spaces alternate throughout the Lower Belvedere, evoking an initiatic journey into a brave new world. Nude models—sixteen at the opening and two for the duration of the exhibition—with bodies painted in canary-like greens, oranges, and blues starkly contrast with their life-size marble and plaster counterparts, culled from local sculpture collections and arranged in a circle in the penultimate gallery. Huanca calls

  • picks July 09, 2018

    “Garden of Memory”

    Weaving together poetry, sound, and sculpture, “Garden of Memory” styles itself as a conversation à trois between artists who are bound by friendship and love. Poet and painter Etel Adnan serves as the link among her longtime collaborators Robert Wilson and Simone Fattal, both of whom she met for the first time in the summer of 1972 in Beirut. Her poem Conversations with my soul (III), 2018—here read aloud by Wilson over speakers and heard by Fattal’s sculpted angels—folds into another dialogue, this time between the poet’s different selves.

    Fitted with a gray carpet that dulls the sound of

  • picks March 05, 2018

    Sean Scully

    Displayed in stable stalls and outdoors at Cuadra San Cristóbal, on the outskirts of Mexico City, Sean Scully’s paintings and sculptures gain a lot from their unusual setting. The Luis Barragán–designed private residence and equestrian center is all vibrant color and clean lines. Although his palette is much wider than Barragán’s own and his bands of color are fuzzier around the edges, the artist’s works resonate with and meld into their semi-rural surroundings. Take Landline That Pink, 2017, for instance, whose very title pays homage to the architect’s signature hue.

    The juxtaposition of Scully’s

  • picks November 14, 2017

    Kasper Akhøj

    When Eileen Gray’s ill-fated 1929 architectural gem E-1027—a beautifully proportioned white modernist villa overlooking the sea at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, near Monaco—opened to the public in 2015, the controversial restoration project that started in 2006 and saw successive teams of architects and administrators undoing and redoing each other’s work was far from over. Taken on five separate visits to the site between 2009 and 2017, Kasper Akhøj’s black-and-white photographs chart the progress of such work at the house. Variously displayed individually, as pairs, and in constellations, the set of

  • diary August 19, 2016

    Third Time’s a Charm

    WHAT HAPPENS WHEN Brazil and the Middle East meet in Japan? Artistic director Chihiro Minato conceived “Homo Faber: A Rainbow Caravan,” the third edition of the Aichi Triennale, as a journey, inviting curators Daniela Castro and Zeynep Öz—based respectively in São Paulo and Istanbul—along for the ride.

    The trip was designed to take visitors, curators, and artists across the Aichi prefecture in central Japan from the bustling capital of Nagoya to the smaller, equidistant cities of Okazaki and Toyohashi—all located on the same train line. A new satellite venue, Toyohashi has a sizable Brazilian

  • picks August 11, 2016

    “Finnish Landscape”

    This open-air museum, like all others, is an elaborate fiction. Confined to an island and only accessible by a footbridge, the place—with its traditional wooden buildings, original furnishings, and costumed interpreters—appears to be caught in a time warp. Commissioned by the nonprofit Checkpoint Helsinki and curated by Joanna Warsza, “Finnish Landscape” features ten local and international artists subjecting this bucolic yet artificial landscape to critical scrutiny. An outline of Seurasaari looks like an elongated leaf in Erik Bruun’s arresting graphic design created for the poster of the

  • diary August 01, 2016

    Beach and Teach

    CAN EDUCATION BE SEXY? I didn’t used to think so. Twelve days in the company of twelve near-strangers on the volcanic Dodecanese island of Nisyros made me reconsider.

    What brought us there—from Athens, Stockholm, Berlin, Brussels, Kassel, Hamburg, and Vancouver—was the Experimental Education Protocol, admittedly not the sexiest of banners. Drafted by artist Angelo Plessas, EEP or #exedupro—in its snappier, Instagrammable version—proposes “an alternative educational model” based on “experiential and communal learning.” For Plessas, whose Eternal Internet Brotherhood has been meeting every year

  • picks March 09, 2016

    Alice Theobald and Atomik Architecture

    A collaborative project by Alice Theobald and Atomik Architecture, It’s not who you are, it’s how you are, 2015, operates on different levels—quite literally. Mixing sound, video, and performance, the temporary edifice they conceived together is composed of a sinuous black platform abutting four cylindrical, timber-framed towers lined with duvets. This immersive site-specific installation occupies a single, lofty gallery, and its hypnotic recorded sound track permeates everything.

    Visitors are channeled along a circular route as they walk in and out of the towers at ground level, which are

  • interviews January 18, 2016

    Aura Satz

    Spanning film, sound, performance, and sculpture, Aura Satz’s historically anchored projects often celebrate the achievements and inventions of women. “Her Marks, a Measure,” Satz’s solo exhibition at Dallas Contemporary, presents two recent works—the dual slide projector installation Her Luminous Distance, 2014, and the film Between the Bullet and the Hole, 2015—which focus on women who compiled data as so-called human computers, enabling advances in astronomy and ballistics, respectively. The show is on view from January 17 through March 20, 2016.

    ALL MY WORKS explore diagrams and traces;

  • picks January 14, 2016

    “Qwaypurlake”

    The mix of science fiction, archaeology, and magic in this varied group show makes for a lethal cocktail, bound to leave visitors feeling somewhat queasy. At the outset, David Wojtowycz’s looping video installation The Lake, 2012—the only moving-image work on view—presents a pier stretching out toward the horizon, a lurid pink at both ends, as if lit up by twin setting suns. The unnaturally still and ruffled aspect of the water adds to the sense of the uncanny, compounded by a disquieting sound track that permeates the adjacent rooms.

    Bringing together mostly British artists with some connection

  • diary November 16, 2015

    The Curator Cure

    “SOME OF THE OTHER FAIRS need to step it up,” artist Hugo McCloud declared as we stood outside of the brightly lit Lingotto Oval on the opening night of the twenty-second Artissima. Formerly a skating ring built for the 2006 Winter Olympics, the pavilion is nowadays oval in name alone. Artissima director Sarah Cosulich Canarutto, whom I had run into earlier at the plush VIP Lounge styling itself as an “Opium Den,” took me up to a suspended observatory kitted with design furniture, where the jury members for the different prizes convened. (Rumor has it that it was designed for the director to

  • picks October 02, 2015

    Jasmina Cibic

    A conference room has never looked this good. Immaculately dressed and made-up, the four female speakers seated at the round table beneath a vast, elegant glass dome could be characters from Sex and the City were it not for their posh British accents and the fact that they appear to be debating the merits and demerits of an unspecified building slated for demolition. Culled from speeches by public figures, state officials, dictators, and architects spanning the last century, theirs is no ordinary dialogue. Each woman embodies a certain position—nation builder, pragmatist, conservationist, and