Allese Thomson

  • interviews July 09, 2015

    Jimmie Durham

    Jimmie Durham is an American sculptor, essayist, and poet based in Europe, where he has lived since 1994. Durham spent most of the 1970s as a political organizer with the American Indian Movement, serving as director of the International Indian Treaty Council. “Here at the Center,” his latest solo exhibition, is on view at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (NBK) in Berlin through August 2, 2015. Additionally, his work can be seen in the Fifty-Sixth Venice Biennale through November 22, 2015.

    IN 1963, I was just out of the military and started my real adult life doing art and politics together. I’ve never

  • diary June 22, 2015

    Dirty Dancing

    “IT’S IMPORTANT that people keep the world dirty,” said dealer Olivier Babin last Thursday as he scanned a dark dance floor covered in broken glass. Many were soaked in sweat. A group of men stripped off their shirts. Lean bodies pressed against each other. There had been just one invitation to this party, a red-and-black animated GIF that eight galleries (Isabella Bortolozzi, Greene Naftali, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, Mathew, Real Fine Art, dépendance, 47 Canal, High Art) had e-mailed to a select group. Galcher Lustwerk, Bianca Heuser, and Spencer Sweeney were set to DJ, though Sweeney, wearing

  • diary May 16, 2015

    Maze Runner

    “THEY SUGGESTED CHAMPAGNE—and I said forget about it! So pedestrian, this isn’t Woolworths, you know.” Alex Katz is laughing big and talking about the opening party for his collaboration with Art Production Fund and Barneys, for which he designed an extensive set of limited-edition housewares. “I wanted martinis and corned beef—New York, New York!” I ask if he’s planning to go to Frieze, which opened its fourth edition earlier in the day. He shakes his head. “Depressing—it’s not art there, it’s interior design.”

    “But all this?” I respond, gesturing at the linens, sheets, candles, blankets, towels,

  • diary May 03, 2015

    Weekend Update

    UPDATE FROM BERLIN: Klara Liden is still making punk art, developing a practice that began with smashing bicycles and evolved into architectural interventions. Laura Owens has incorporated text into her polite paintings—in the form of an apocalyptic death note. Cyprien Gaillard debuted a 3-D film that’s like Bill Viola gone major motion picture. Merlin Carpenter has begun a polemic about why the readymade really has nothing to do with fetishistic consumer value. (Take that, Koons!) The essay is due out next month. For now, see his show, which includes several identical objects—a pram, a fridge,

  • picks April 03, 2015

    “Margret: Chronicle of an Affair – May 1969 to December 1970”

    How do you document an affair? Receipts, maps, menus, locks of hair, ticket stubs, empty contraception packages, fingernail clippings, letters explicitly recounting sexual positions, and photographs—hundreds and hundreds of photographs, which in this affair were taken by Cologne businessman Gunter F. of his young secretary, Margret. The couple spent a year together, and all of the above material was meticulously collected by Gunter and packed into a briefcase, which was later found in an abandoned German apartment. This archive is currently receiving its US debut, “Margret: Chronicle of an Affair

  • picks March 06, 2015

    Danny McDonald

    Robert Stone once intuited that comedy amounts to “I was there”—an illustrative insight for Danny McDonald’s output. The American artist makes sculptures out of cartoonish characters—action figures; dolls from myths, fables, and movies; ghoulish masks—yet his works feel less comical than urgent. In Mechanical Bank, 2015, a villainous Uncle Sam is positioned upside-down—his eyes smolder in black and red, a fat gold coin is clenched in his teeth, and a cackling brown goblin is perched atop the neck of his severed head, an American dream gone dark and Rocky Horror Picture Show. If reality—by which

  • picks January 23, 2015

    Calvin Marcus

    In 1684, a hall of mirrors was erected in Versailles as an immersive stage that would send countless reflections of a single expression into the world. If today the screen fulfills the function of the mirror, we’re left with a troubling question: Is the digital image more complete than a reflection? It’s an anxious proposition and one occupying Calvin Marcus, though the Los Angeles–based artist doesn’t make digital images. He favors clay and sticks of oil, tempered hardboard and corrugated cardboard, creating small sculptures—a sleeping ceramic shark, a crib-like wooden cage, doll-sized houses

  • interviews January 16, 2015

    Helmut Lang

    Helmut Lang’s stealth apparel upended fashion, violating basic principles of design and reshaping the silhouette of the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2005, Lang retired from fashion entirely, retreating to his property on Long Island where for the past decade he has created artwork that have been shown in exhibitions worldwide. Here, Lang talks about his New York solo debut at Sperone Westwater, which is on view through February 21, 2015.

    I NEVER WANTED TO BE A DESIGNER. I wanted to be an artist but happened to land in fashion. Most of my friends in Vienna, where I spent the majority of my twenties,

  • picks January 12, 2015

    Takashi Murakami

    In his latest exhibition, Takashi Murakami turns from the shellacked consumerism that has marked his recent output toward psychologically conflicted (if still shellacked) terrain. He continues to luxuriate in the outlandish—golden lions made of tinted high-chromium stainless steel tower at nearly nine feet (The Birth Cry of a Universe, 2014); a fifty-six ton replica of a sanmon, a sacred gate to a Japanese Zen Buddhist temple, eats up an entire gallery (Bakuramon, 2014). But complexity and strangeness dwell amid these impassive surfaces. The canvas-on-wood panel painting Isle of the Dead, 2014,

  • picks December 22, 2014

    Tai Ogawa

    In a 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College, David Foster Wallace noted our present culture lends the “freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms,” which is also say, the liberty to be very alone. This is certainly the case for the figures depicted in the work of Tai Ogawa: The Tokyo-based artist paints people in watercolors and then cuts each of their bodies out of the page like paper dolls. He adheres them to sheets of paper that he has sprayed with DayGlo hues; eight of these works are on view in his US debut, along with over a dozen watercolors. Some have houses and

  • diary October 15, 2014

    Happily Ever After

    ALL THE PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS were there: the Madonna and Metallic Venus, Michael Jackson and Bubbles, the Fall ’91 career woman, Frau mit Hund, the boy with his toy car, the resourceful Young Man, a spectacularly pert red Balloon Dog. And then there were portents: an apple, a tractor, a ghost with a pool of blood, a herd of Hoovers. There was one elephant in the room, and it was green.

    And then a family of mortals: Moderna Museet director Daniel Birnbaum and Stedelijk director Beatrix Ruf; curators Jack Bankowsky and Scott Rothkopf; dealers Matthew Marks and Jeffrey Deitch; Anne Wagner, Helen

  • diary October 04, 2014

    Birds of a Feather

    DIS IS NAMED CURATOR OF THE 2016 BERLIN BIENNALE. It’s the first time an art collective will curate the event. I find out in Berlin. The city’s annual fair—Art Berlin Contemporary, now in its seventh edition—is set to open in two days. Its premise is the booth as solo show: Privilege the art by giving it ample space. This makes sense in a city known less for its market than its mayor’s mantra: “Poor but sexy.”

    Or does it? That night, Phillips’s Martin Klosterfelde hosts a dinner at Paris Bar, Martin Kippenberger’s fabled watering hole. Old legends die hard. Phillips has a special stake in the

  • interviews August 18, 2014

    Ed Atkins

    As Ed Atkins sees it, high-definition video is nightmarish if not deathlike because of the way its technology inherently privileges representation and image over character, narrative, and human emotion. His three-channel video Ribbons, 2014, which is currently on view at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery until August 25, 2014, as well as at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris until September 7, 2014, presents a premonitory picture of a late-capitalist society—part horror, part musical, and part melodrama—via the story of a CGI avatar called Dave. Here, on the occasion of Artforum’s summer issue

  • diary July 22, 2014

    Swan’s Way

    IN AUGUST 1991, during the last days of the Soviet Union, a three-day coup placed then president Mikhail Gorbachev under house arrest in the Crimea. Citizens turning on their TVs looking for news were met with a broadcast of Swan Lake, played on loop for hours on end. Since that moment, Tchaikovsky’s ballet, a cautionary tale of love and mistaken identity steeped in a Europe-facing Imperial Romanticism, has been coupled with political turmoil in the Russian cultural imagination.

    When the Moscow-based Bolshoi Ballet descended on New York’s Lincoln Center last week, kicking off its program with

  • diary June 24, 2014

    Shark Tale

    IT’S BEEN AT LEAST A DECADE since the term “art fair art” gained critical currency. So perhaps it’s forgivable that, as we hit the ground running at the forty-fifth edition of Art Basel, the peculiar “perform the fair” attitude that once characterized the genre’s golden era seemed largely sublimated, buried in the psyche of the mostly passive-aggressive merch artists churn out to keep up with fair life.

    There was a hint of return of the repressed, though, in the repurposed iteration of Tino Sehgal’s 2004 work This Is Competition in Hans Ulrich Obrist and Klaus Biesenbach’s idealistic “14 Rooms,”

  • interviews June 16, 2014

    Christina Mackie

    Christina Mackie is best known for her layered sculptural installations that evoke the natural world, often probing the relationship between the empirical and ephemeral. Her current exhibition at the Renaissance Society in Chicago, which runs through June 29, takes color and light as its central subject. On June 16, the London-based artist will present a installation at Basel Unlimited. A solo exhibition at the Tate Britain is slated for the spring of 2014.

    WHEN MY LAST PROJECT CULMINATED in objects derived from ancient pestles and mortars for grinding pigments, I began to think about paint and

  • interviews June 02, 2014

    Darren Bader

    Darren Bader’s multivalent practice includes writing, artist books, videos, and sculptures of found objects that have ranged from live kittens (to be adopted), to fruit and vegetables on pedestals (to be replaced as soon as they go bad), to people modeling their own body parts with objects (a breast with a camera), among other configurations. The New York–based artist speaks here about his latest exhibition, on view at Andrew Kreps Gallery from May 15 to June 21, 2014, which comprises a show on the wall, “Photographs I Like,” a show on the floor, “To Have and to Hold,” and a show on a piece of

  • interviews May 17, 2014

    Mark Handforth

    Miami-based artist Mark Handforth is widely recognized for his large-scale public sculptures. For his latest project, he has created four new works on Governors Island in New York. Along with artist Susan Phillipsz, he is an inaugural artist of the island’s new public art program, which is curated by Tom Eccles. Handforth’s project, “Sidewalk Island,” opens to the public on May 24, 2014, and will be on view until 2016.

    GOVERNORS ISLAND IS a strange, unlikely, and wild chunk of nature floating in Upper New York Bay; it is both mannered and totally abandoned. Parts of the island have beautiful

  • diary May 08, 2014

    In Plane Sight

    THE CLOSING GALA for the tenth anniversary of Gallery Weekend Berlin was held last Saturday at the Flughafen Tempelhof, an airport designed in 1923 that was later renovated by Albert Speer as part of his reconstruction of Berlin as a symbol of Hitler’s “Germania.” Sir Norman Foster called it “the mother of all airports,” and during the Cold War, it acted as a lifeline to West Berlin and a hub for American military aircraft. When it finally closed to air traffic in 2008, Ronald Lauder proposed having Richard Meier turn it into a luxury clinic and plastic surgery compound, where patients could

  • Anna-Sophie Berger

    Ruins can be preserved, or they can offer debris from which to build. It is with such wreckage that Vienna-based artist and fashion designer Anna-Sophie Berger creates work: Her practice is not fashion or art but a bricolage built upon collisions of the two—a product of a time when these industries seek to establish market-driven “synergy” but remain discrete. Bringing fashion and art together may be problematic, but Berger’s vision is guided by unique optimism: She is less interested in critique than in infiltration, in finding ways in which to invade and occupy her two adopted disciplines,