Ali Pechman

  • picks June 09, 2014

    “LANDSEASKY”

    This exhibition of video artwork by seventeen international artists takes the horizon line as its subject, using Jan Dibbets’s included filmic series of sea and sky, “Horizon – Sea,” 1971, as cue. Shanghai might be an ideal setting in which to contemplate the concept: The exhibition title’s elision could also refer to the city’s dissolving horizon line, where buildings across the Huangpu River still appear faint in the distance.

    In Kimsooja’s reflection of Nigeria, titled Bottari-Alfa Beach, 2000, for example, the sea has been flipped above the sky much in the same way Dibbets’s work tilts

  • diary May 25, 2014

    Plus Size

    It seemed that half of the art world in Hong Kong for Art Basel hightailed it to Shanghai for the opening of the Yuz Museum the weekend after the fair, but one important guest didn’t make it: “I AM ON MY WAY,” read the note on a printout of Anselm Kiefer’s Les Reines de France, which was stuck in transit in HK.

    “Yeah, that’s a problem,” Yuz Museum founder Budi Tek said of the holdup, a few hours before hundreds of guests arrived to see his new, nearly one-hundred-thousand-square-foot private museum. The Kiefer was to be a centerpiece of “Myth/History,” the inaugural exhibition of contemporary

  • picks May 09, 2014

    “Walls and Words”

    Ten artworks that seek to decode language—by Tony Lewis, Kon Trubkovich, and Wallace Berman—now appear in the synagogue of the Eldridge Street Museum, one of the first American temples built by European Jews, in 1887 on the Lower East Side. The sparkling interior, with its gilded chandeliers, intricate stained-glass windows, and skyward mural of gold stars against a blue sky, has been offset by at once more primitive and technological mark-making: collage, rubbing, glass powdered on paper, and drawing. Curated by Joel Mesler of Untitled, the pieces in exhibition consist of a palette

  • picks April 24, 2014

    Ellie Ga

    One of the four works in Ellie Ga’s potent exhibition relays the story of Thoth, an Egyptian deity credited with the invention of dice, math, and also language. Letterpressed on a small piece of paper is the king of Egypt’s response: WHAT YOU HAVE DISCOVERED IS . . . THE DRUG OF REMINDING. WITH YOUR INVENTION THEY WILL BE TAUGHT, BUT THEY WILL NOT BE WISE. The statement, though barely legible in its presentation, serves as a guiding theme for Ga’s show, which takes up histories that swirl around the island of Pharos and its ancient, now destroyed, lighthouse. The structure becomes a portal

  • picks April 15, 2014

    Hiroshi Sugimoto

    The thirty photographs in this show by Hiroshi Sugimoto fall into three categories: “Dioramas,” “Portraits,” and “Photogenic Drawings.” For the latter, a selection of eleven recent works, Sugimoto drew from William Henry Fox Talbot’s archives at the Getty, which he visited in 2009. The works’ inclusion in the show, among photographs that reconsider the preciousness of museum displays, makes for an apt kind of homecoming. By copying and distorting museum archives of prephotography, then presenting them in that same museum, Sugimoto achieves a cunning short circuit in which the record, not the

  • picks March 25, 2014

    Michel Majerus

    The most recent presentation of the late Michel Majerus’s work takes over all three of Matthew Marks’s New York spaces. The smallest gallery presents his 1999 “Tron” series, in which monochrome wall paintings have been overlaid with identical silk screens from the titular movie’s poster. Majerus understood the power of repetition of commercial images, but in a far less sardonic way than his Pop forbears. He would have reveled in memes, blogs, and social media: that is, the non-ironic appreciation for vociferously sharing and putting one’s mark on what everyone else is looking at.

    Majerus produced

  • diary March 13, 2014

    Super Eight

    IN CHINA, perhaps even more than elsewhere, art-world power is often evinced in terms of numbers: One thinks of the country’s $14 billion art market, upward of four hundred museums built a year. On a more symbolic register, one might consider Christie’s rumored swap last fall, when the auction house changed the lot number for Francis Bacon’s $142 million triptych to China’s lucky number, eight.

    Art fairs continue to give numbers the upper hand. So it was something of a relief last weekend to encounter the Armory Show’s China Symposium, eight ambitious discussions on the role of contemporary art

  • picks March 12, 2014

    Justin Lieberman

    Here’s what the frenetic pace of a price-tagged art world has wrought: Justin Lieberman’s “Squeezed Reliefs” recycle unsold­ sculptures tacked onto canvases, topped off with paint that recounts the artist’s financial ruin. The artist makes clear in a statement that the black-and-white chicness of these eight works (all 2014) is meant to be a capitulation to what’s in style. One wonders if to enjoy these paintings is to also take part in the unforgiving cycles that led the artist here.

    Pieces of sculptures drown under the paint, their original meaning has been co-opted by their worthlessness—at

  • picks February 24, 2014

    Sean Micka

    In this small show, titled “Condition Report: Deregulation,” Sean Micka’s dense, cerebral paintings depict complex changes in three landscapes: the Antarctic Ocean, the Amazon River Basin, and a Saudi Arabian desert. Micka based his work on images from Landsat, a NASA spacecraft program that since 1972 has obtained millions of highly detailed satellite images of Earth. Launched just as government deregulation initiatives were gaining momentum, Landsat has historically alerted scientists to changes in natural resources, demographics, and landscapes through specific visualizations of landmasses.

  • picks January 18, 2014

    “Between the Lines”

    The most arresting tableau in “Between the Lines,” a group show devoted to text-based work of seventeen artists, sets Mark Dion’s installation Slide Spill, 2014, against Haim Steinbach’s wall text Hello. Again., 2013. In Dion’s piece, slides of Picassos, Klees, and ancient pottery from the collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts pour out from a large canister; the images—barely visible on the slides—can only be identified by their titles. Inversely, Steinbach’s graphic wall work blows text up into image. But the more time one spends with it, the more Hello. Again. feels like a stasis

  • picks January 03, 2014

    Yangjiang Group

    Halfway through this retrospective of the Guangdong-based Yanjiang Group, one of the nine installations poses a dare: Are You Going to Enjoy Calligraphy or Measure Your Blood Pressure?, 2002, the title taunts. Positioned in a room of Pollock-like drip paintings that sloppily gesture at Chinese characters is a small table with a logbook in which viewers are invited to record their blood pressure with a working monitor “before viewing” and “after viewing.” Their intention is explicit: to attack calligraphy and “pedantry in all the fields of cultural privileges,” declares a text at the beginning

  • picks November 27, 2013

    Jaime Davidovich

    Cable first came to SoHo in 1976—by 1979 Jaime Davidovich had created The Live! Show as its avant-garde antidote, or “the television of the future” as the artist describes it. “Yeah I’d like to see art on television,” says a woman in one of his on-the-street interviews. “I have a color TV set, so I can see the color.” At first glance, Davidovich’s mix of cheeky art lessons, artist interviews, and news reports did pioneer art on television, but the body of work as presented in this exhibition foreshadows a deeper, more permanent meshing of art and audience.

    The title bills this historic institutional

  • picks November 01, 2013

    “A Scanner, Darkly”

    For Aubrey Mayer’s 213A (with Jacqueline Humphries, “Land of Giants”), 2013, a large wool-felt book has been filled with thousands of photographs of Jacqueline Humphries aggressively painting a black-and-white pattern. Laid flat on the floor, the book includes twelve pages, nine with 190 images on each side. Throughout, Mayer has zoomed in close to Humphries’s face, then out at the painting; some images focus on minutiae like the artist’s limp ponytail. The linear narrative of how the painting came to be takes a backseat to the darting, exhaustive rhythm of the photographer’s realizations and

  • picks October 03, 2013

    “ ‘Pataphysics: A Theoretical Exhibition”

    The nineteenth-century French poet and playwright Alfred Jarry defined ‘pataphysics as the philosophy of the indefinable—he once called it “the science of imaginary solutions.” One wonders what Jarry would have made of Hennessy Youngman, whose at times annoyingly metasatiric “Art Thoughtz” YouTube videos define artmaking as “Make a question, not an answer. Don’t say it’s solvin’ anything.” Two of Youngman’s videos appear as part of a reading shelf for this exhibition, which includes work by twenty-seven artists and collectives alongside first editions of Jarry’s book as well as related biographies