Agnieszka Gratza

  • Left: LUMA Foundation founder Maja Hoffmann with architects Annabelle Selldorf and Frank Gehry. Right: At the “Solaris Chronicles” event. (All photos: Herve Hote)
    diary July 13, 2014

    Here Comes the Sun

    THE TWENTY-ACRE PARC DES ATELIERS, a defunct SNCF railway yard on the outer edge of Arles, might only be a fifteen-minute walk from the train station. But as I stood in midday heat last Sunday, with no taxis in sight, Maja Hoffmann’s proposal to build a station closer to the Ateliers made perfect sense to me.

    Not so to my French travel companions, who saw it as a sign of how out of touch with (local) reality the Swiss-born arts patron is. A new railway station is, after all, “an affair of national concern.” Though Hoffmann, who recently purchased the Ateliers to transform them into a Frank

  • Mary Beth Edelson, Proposals for: Memorials to 9,000,000 Women Burned as Witches in the Christian Era, 1977, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view.
    picks May 03, 2014

    “L’Heure des sorcières”

    Spread throughout four rooms, this thematic group exhibition takes as its starting point Breton myths and legends as portrayed by nineteenth-century French artists in works borrowed from the local Musée des Beaux Arts. Drawing on traditional basket-weaving techniques, ethnographic approaches, and oral histories, Paris-based artist Marie Preston’s sculpture piece Barque sorcière (Witch Boat), 2014, and accompanying fictional dialogue involving four characters—a druidess, a painter, a widow, and a washerwoman—specifically address the lore of female seaweed harvesters on the nearby Île de Sein and

  • Tristan Bera and Dominique Gonzales-Foerster, Dîner noire, 2014. Catherine Robbe-Grillet. Photo: Protocinema.
    performance April 19, 2014

    Black Ties

    “AT 7:30 be ready to go across the street to that building there,” a man standing by the open window whispered as he placed a square wooden object in the palm of my hand. I followed the direction of his gaze to a tall opulent building—the Vault Karaköy, which used to house the Credit General Ottoman, recently converted into a luxury hotel—on the other side of Bankalar Caddesi, just a few doors down from SALT in Istanbul’s Galata quarter.

    For the time-being we found ourselves in a shabby room bathed in an eerie blue light, as Charles Arsène-Henry initiated some of the black-clad dinner guests into

  • Richard Hawkins, Ankoku 9 (Index World Flower), 2012, mixed media, 19 3/4 x 13 1/2".
    picks March 25, 2014

    Richard Hawkins

    Not a contorted martial arts move or sex position, “Hijikata Twist,” the subtitle of Richard Hawkins’s debut UK museum exhibition, refers to the uses and abuses to which the Japanese artist and choreographer Tatsumi Hijikata subjected works by Western painters in his Butoh-fu scrapbooks of the 1960s and ’70s. These reveal the often overlooked Western influences, literary and artistic, behind butoh—a species of dance and performance art with dark, erotic overtones that Hijikata was elaborating at the time. Collaged with densely annotated reproductions of figurative abstract paintings, which

  • Eric Baudelaire, The Abkhazian Anembassy, 2014. Performance view, Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen, Norway, 2014. Photo: Thor Brødreskift.
    performance March 20, 2014

    You’ve Got Mail

    I’M RUNNING LATE for my appointment with the Anembassador of Abkhazia. The fact that it’s only a mock-embassy hosted by an art institution and that I’m meeting the anembassador of a country that does not even figure on some maps is no excuse. Maxim Gvinjia, Abkhazia’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, doesn’t seem to mind. I thank him for granting me an audience. The rules of the game have not been spelled out at any point yet I find myself playing along, unable to decide whether to take this exercise seriously or in jest.

    While he goes out to fetch some milk for my coffee (the anembassy appears

  • Latifa Echakhch, Resolutions (In Progress), 2009. Installation view.
    picks January 25, 2014

    “Schizophonia”

    The synagogue turned contemporary art center in sleepy Delme, near Metz, could not be further removed from a white cube, despite its milky-white interior and perfectly square proportions. Modeled after Berlin’s Neue Synagoge, the repurposed building has accommodated an impressive range of group and solo exhibitions over the last two decades. As number symbolism is integral to sacred Jewish architecture, it seems at once fitting and discordant that Latifa Echakhch’s Resolutions (In Progress), 2009, should greet the visitor on the threshold of this well-orchestrated and elegant show guest-curated

  • Rashaun Mitchell & Silas Riener, Way In, 2013. Performance view, Danspace Project, New York, November 2013. Davison Scandrett, Rashaun Mitchell, Silas Riener, and Claudia La Rocco. Photo: Ian Douglas.
    performance December 06, 2013

    Every Which Way

    IN A FOUR-WAY “conversation” with his collaborator Silas Riener, dance critic Claudia La Rocco, and lighting designer Davison Scandrett, posted on Bomblog on the eve of Way In’s premiere, choreographer and dancer Rashaun Mitchell said: “I’m always thinking about what’s the way into this and out of this.” What follows are four ways into the piece I went to see at Danspace Project during its brief run, offered up as my way of making sense of it (with a little help from my friends).

    The Way of Taste

    In a prior incarnation, a site-specific performance and installation at the BFI Gallery in Miami, Way

  • View of “The Butcher,” 2013.
    picks October 31, 2013

    Atelier Van Lieshout

    “The Butcher” is the first installment in the New Tribal Labyrinth trilogy, the latest Gesamtkunstwerk by the Rotterdam-based collective Atelier Van Lieshout in the greatly expanded exhibition space at Marseille’s La Friche de la Belle de Mai, which has been spruced up like the rest of the city to mark its term as the 2013 European Capital of Culture. The work comprises large-scale sculptural installations inspired by the built environment the Industrial Revolution left behind; agriculture, industry, and ritual are the three pillars upon which the imaginary society of the New Tribal Labyrinth

  • BNNT’s Konrad Smoleński and Daniel Szwed.
    performance October 14, 2013

    Oto Didacts

    “IS IT JUST ME? Lightning Bolt’s been doing it for, like, ten years,” a stranger sidles up, sensing a fellow-skeptic. I nod. “The shirtless thing, the masks,” he adds. My response is drowned out by waves of sonic interference. Out there in the spotlight, a balaclava-clad man stripped down to his waist is pounding away at some homemade drumlike instrument, while his bare-chested companion, a shaggy black wig covering up his face, is strumming on something resembling an elongated rocket. We’re being treated to sonic warfare by Poland’s noise rock band BNNT. Derivative or not, the act has got raw

  • Joanna Rajkowska, Forcing a Miracle, 2012, at the Contexts 2013 Festival in Sokolovsko, Poland. Photo: Marcin Polak.
    performance August 19, 2013

    Up in the Air

    THE AIR, this year’s chosen theme for Contexts 2013, the third Sokolovsko Festival of Ephemeral Art, could not be more appropriate. Set amid the wooded hills of the Stone Mountains, close to the Polish-Czech border, the health resort of Sokolovsko boasts a microclimate uniquely suited for the treatment of lung diseases. Consumptive patients have been employed over the years to carve out the unusual, childlike motifs adorning the concrete grey facades of local buildings. In Situ, the contemporary art foundation that runs the festival, has set out to restore these buildings, along with the ruined

  • Moyra Davey, Copperheads 101–200, 2013, C-print adhesive tape, stamps, ink, 20 x 12”.
    picks July 26, 2013

    Moyra Davey

    The outcome of a reconnaissance-cum-research trip to Liverpool and Manchester earlier this year, this exhibition takes its somewhat macabre title, “Hangmen of England,” from a scholarly volume Moyra Davey discovered while taking photographs at the Liverpool Central Library. Focused on small-scale photographic works, which are pinned to the walls and showcased in two antique walnut-framed vitrines (the only adornment in an otherwise bare room), this beautifully spare solo show styles itself as an archival display.

    The exhibition’s centerpiece is a new iteration of the artist’s ongoing “Copperhead”

  • Joanna Malinowska and Christian Tomaszewski, Mother Earth Sister Moon, 2009. Performance view, Zachęta Gallery, Warsaw, April 5, 2013.
    performance April 30, 2013

    Project Runway

    THE LAST TIME I saw New York–based Polish artists Joanna Malinowska and Christian Tomaszewski was at a party in Brooklyn. The guests were asked to set their inhibitions aside and howl together like a pack of wolves (or was it coyotes?) in preparation for a participatory group performance Malinowska was staging as part of her contribution to the 2012 Whitney Biennial.

    Nothing quite so taxing, or invigorating, was required of the elegant crowd gathered around the giant Tyvek spacesuit for the opening earlier this month of Mother Earth Sister Moon at the Zachęta Gallery in Warsaw. The spacesuit was