Allison Young

  • diary May 05, 2017

    Fair Exchange

    “ART HAS ALWAYS BEEN A SITE OF RESISTANCE, A SITE OF REFUGE IN HARD TIMES,” Dakar-based curator Koyo Kouoh mused while we were discussing the impressive lineup she had organized for this weekend’s discursive and artistic program throughout the third iteration of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. During the morning preview at Brooklyn’s Pioneer Works, we stood in front of Nú Barreto’s monumental Disunited States of Africa, 2010, an American flag reconceived as pan-African icon. Black stars representing African nations cascade down the composition, crossing gold and red stripes, which are adorned

  • interviews April 28, 2017

    Susan Hiller

    London-based artist Susan Hiller is known for her innovative media works, many of which incorporate elements of anthropology and psychoanalysis. One recent strain of her practice involves artworks that pay tribute to other artists whose works reveal an influence of occult or paranormal ideas, such as her ongoing Homage to Marcel Duchamp: Auras, 2008–, a collection of aura photographs, sourced online and digitally modified; the work is inspired by Duchamp’s Portrait of Dr. Dumouchel, 1910, which shows the sitter surrounded by colorful emanations. Here, she speaks about the aura works included

  • picks February 17, 2017

    Pieter Hugo

    The “born free” generation of South Africans—those born after the fall of apartheid in 1994—has recently come into the limelight as protest movements such as #FeesMustFall or #RhodesMustFall have swept university campuses and city streets. The country’s youth have rallied against the intensification of economic disparity and the lingering effects of historical traumas. As time passes, the Mandela-era dream of the “rainbow nation” seems to slide further away.

    South African photographer Pieter Hugo offers a more enigmatic vision of this generation with his series “1994,” 2014–16, employing portraiture

  • picks September 16, 2016

    Meleko Mokgosi

    In two concurrent solo exhibitions at the gallery’s Twentieth and Twenty-Fourth Street spaces, Meleko Mokgosi presents the latest “chapters” in an ongoing series titled “Democratic Intuition,” 2014–. His monumental paintings give us African subjects in compositions derived from vernacular photography, film, and European history paintings, but the project is far more complex than a mere blending of African and Western influences. Mokgosi examines the construction of historical narratives and questions of representation—both visual and political—through a process of continuous becoming: Precise,

  • picks June 13, 2016

    Dawit L. Petros

    In many of Dawit L. Petros’s large-scale color photographs, fragmented or partially obscured figures stand in vast desert landscapes, flanked by swathes of sea, sand, and sky. The effect is enigmatic—like de Chirico’s abandoned city plazas—but might be more appropriately characterized as opaque in the sense described by the late Martinican writer Édouard Glissant, whose words grace Petros’s film, The Shop, (all works cited, 2016). Glissant writes: “There is an opacity now at the bottom of the mirror, a whole alluvium deposited by populations, silt that is fertile but, in actual fact, indistinct

  • picks May 09, 2016

    Bosco Sodi

    The Japanese art of kintsugi—the treatment of cracked or broken pottery with gold lacquer—stems from a philosophical embrace of imperfection. Seams of precious metal trace the jagged fault lines of an object; gold can elevate, but does not mask, these traces of the vessel’s history. Bosco Sodi’s art is forged in a similar spirit of deference for raw materials and natural processes. If you look closely enough at one of his ceramic-glazed volcanic rock sculptures (all works cited Untitled, 2016), a subtle line of gold-on-gold pigment might catch the light, revealing its meandering path across the

  • picks July 15, 2015

    Kim Gordon

    While the full title of Kim Gordon’s current solo exhibition—“Design Office: Noise Name Paintings and Sculptures of Rock Bands that are Broken Up”—makes direct allusion to the concept of noise, the show itself might just as easily be characterized by the dramatic effect of silence that it invokes on both visual and thematic levels. The main walls of the long gallery space are lined with black-and-white paintings that memorialize and canonize current noise bands as well as groups that are now defunct. Distinctly nonfigurative, the paintings still bear some affinity to icons; they contain only

  • picks June 22, 2015

    El Anatsui

    The spacious, light-drenched galleries of the School in Kinderhook, New York, provide an ideal setting for El Anatsui’s current retrospective surveying his prolific fifty-year-long career. One senses an increasing self-reflexivity in his latest output, which is perhaps most apparent in works such as Generation Mix, 2014, wherein the shimmering metal fragments used in his most celebrated series of the last decade are affixed to wooden assemblages that recall his “Old Cloth” series of the 1990s, examples of which are also on view.

    Anatsui’s “Broken Pots” series, first shown in 1979 at the University

  • picks November 14, 2014

    Wangechi Mutu

    Luscious pools of rose and cyan might lure viewers close to the surfaces of Wangechi Mutu’s latest collages, but once there, they would confront the gaping, fanged mouths and scaly skins of the figures inhabiting each piece. These works are inspired by the nguvas of East African coastal folklore—siren-like creatures who tempt and threaten fishermen—and by the erotic and sinister connotations of snakes in biblical mythology. In addition, a new sculpture and video signal the artist’s interest in the rich symbolism of the ocean as a mysterious and life-giving environment, whose currents also

  • picks June 24, 2014

    “With Hidden Noise”

    “With Hidden Noise,” a sound installation curated by artist Stephen Vitiello and organized by Independent Curators International, benefits greatly from its location just outside Manhattan, nestled in a quiet public garden in the Bronx. The exhibition consists of just a few speakers in an otherwise empty space, looping a selection of work by some of today’s leading sonic artists, such as Michael J. Schumacher and Pauline Oliveros. Yet the installation also encompasses the surrounding architecture, the shifting levels of natural light, and the competing white noise. The wall text asks visitors to

  • picks May 19, 2014

    Dinh Q. Lê

    Dinh Q. Lê’s latest exhibition is both formally elegant and critically incisive, probing how technology shapes perception of collective memory and global politics. In his four-channel video, WTC in Four Moments, 2014, still images of 9/11 are digitally stretched to the point of abstraction and reanimated against a sound track of ambient noise. Color bars in ochre and steel run vertically along each screen, resulting in images that are opaque yet eerily indexical to the event.

    The “woven” compositions for which Lê is known, composed of gridded strips of distinct and anachronous images, offer an

  • picks April 19, 2014

    Malick Sidibé

    Malick Sidibé’s current exhibition of photographs offers a glimpse into the dynamic youth culture that emerged in Bamako during Mali’s post-Independence era. Though trained as a studio photographer, Sidibé was lured into the city’s streets and dance clubs, where his clients wanted to be seen participating in Bamako’s thriving nightlife. There, Malian youths forged a uniquely diasporic aesthetic, finding inspiration in American Black Power icons and musicians, including James Brown and Angela Davis. As his subjects began to imitate the styles and gestures found in magazines and album covers,