Arielle Bier

  • diary July 06, 2017

    Under Pressure

    THIS TRADE–CUM–BANKING MEGALOPOLIS just hasn’t been the same since the Brexit blowtorch caught aflame last year. Boiling blisters of social unrest last burst in the 2011 London riots, and had been temporarily covered by courtly Band-Aids. How surprised should we really be to find that the wounds wrought by inequality, racism, isolationism, and xenophobia still fester? The slate and chalk hills feel like all that’s left holding this country together as the continuous surge of violent attacks and gut-wrenching tragedies like Grenfell Tower make it hard to believe in a society based on faith and

  • picks November 14, 2016

    Christa Joo Hyun D’Angelo

    One-percenters, auction flux, freelance precarity, champagne hangovers, gender imbalances, personal well-being sacrificed for fleeting moments of international fame, life guided by passion and aesthetics over stability—sounds a lot like the art world. But these are also defining factors in the world of thoroughbred horse racing, explored in the exhibition “Winner Takes All,” by artist Christa Joo Hyun D’Angelo. Intersections between competitive horse racing and contemporary art markets with neoliberalism unfold as a bittersweet elegy to these parallel high-stakes systems of labor and the struggles

  • picks October 06, 2016

    Liz Larner

    Beyond the turgid layers of human construction and waste, the pristine white mountain peaks and deep, dark ocean floors are the tectonic plates that rumble, roil, and buckle on a geologic timescale. The idea of these terrestrial bodies enfolding, slipping over, and sliding beneath one another, their caresses lubricated by bubbling magma, and coming to rest in a mighty embrace, is a romantic’s wet dream.

    Inspired by the poetic language used to describe earth’s formative movements, Los Angeles–based sculptor Liz Larner reverses the process, turning dust into solid form on a human scale. Her dense

  • picks September 29, 2016

    David Douard

    “At the center of my ironic faith, my blasphemy, is the image of the cyborg,” writes Donna J. Haraway in the opening paragraph of A Cyborg Manifesto (1991), which might as well serve as a tagline for David Douard’s current exhibition. Industrial meets biomorphic design, with rooms sectioned off with steel beams, glass panels, and grids of aluminum studs, around and through which his sculptures have been placed. The cool, sterile architecture suggests a bespoke spaceship, and the main activity inside is sex between humans and machines.

    The jellyfish-like sculpture all like peacemeal, 2016, hangs

  • picks September 12, 2016

    Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys

    When it comes to the soul and ethics, on what foundation should we base our measurements? Developing their ongoing interest in psychopathologies and social value systems, Belgian artist duo Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys present selections from a new sculptural series, “White Elements,” 2013–16, which they posit as a baseline for such judgment.

    Solid steel plates welded together and painted white mimic elemental shapes and human forms. Loosely pinned where the heads should be are lightweight sheets of paper with pencil drawings of mug shots found on the internet, each chosen for their striking

  • picks July 25, 2016

    Amy Sillman

    Crackerjack painter Amy Sillman kicks the bucket (of paint, that is) in her current exhibition, conjuring AbEx ghosts so she can slay them with her spirited, calligraphic line work. Her version of abstract painting is more than alive—it is animated.

    A humorous digital video, Kick the Bucket (loop for Portikus), 2016, echoes from the entryway. Recordings of vigorous, sharp scratching sound out the act of drawing in front of her studio windowsill to a background chorus of chirping birds. The illustrations, initially made on an iPad, depict dogs, hogs, and humans in a continuous string of transformative

  • picks July 25, 2016

    Andrey Bogush

    Data to computer scientists is as concrete as atoms to nuclear physicists or DNA to biologists. Although generally considered in abstract terms, these elements function as the foundational building blocks of our perceptible world. Take digital images for example: What we see on screen are not apparitions but tangible visual information. From this standpoint, artist Andrey Bogush dissects digital photography as material that can be calculated, coded, and manipulated. For his exhibition “When Everything Is Over So We Can Discuss,” Bogush renders quotidian photographs—shot while working at home or

  • diary July 12, 2016

    Young and the Restless

    LEAVE/REMAIN. TERROR/PEACE. As I boarded my plane to Moscow from Berlin a fortnight ago, these and other divisions echoed from flat-screens in the departure halls as post-Brexit fallout and ISIS bombings in Istanbul hit the news circuits. I checked my phone: Social media was aflame. Six degrees of separation become more like one, and the intimacy of personal experience more fragile.

    Conjuring Gogol’s animate nose as a protective angel, I decided to embrace the melodrama, keep calm, and carry on. Fresh perspective was on the horizon as I stepped offline and into a new city to visit the Fifth Moscow

  • picks June 24, 2016

    Débora Delmar Corp.

    Liquids and liquidity are the targets for Mexican artist Débora Delmar, self-branded as Débora Delmar Corp., in this exhibition—an addendum to her commercial juice-bar project at the Akademie der Künste for the Ninth Berlin Biennale. Riffing on the “Silicon Allee” start-up culture permeating the city, Delmar turns the gallery into fictitious corporate marketing offices for her lifestyle drink, Mint, by installing designer worktables where digital test prints for advertising images of the green juice are strewn about, while walls are decorated with three series of tie-dye paintings titled “Matcha,”

  • picks June 23, 2016

    Claire Fontaine

    Reflecting on complicity with the status quo and the necessary role of political art, the artist collective Claire Fontaine takes on the refugee crisis in Europe, economic exploitation, and environmental collapse for the current exhibition here.

    Symbolic gestures in painting and sculpture are presented as counterpoints to the general mood of resignation about these calamities, illustrating quotes in the press release by Nietzsche, Kafka, Deleuze and a reference to the El Khomri labor-reform laws that sparked violent protests in Paris this spring. At the entrance of the gallery, a snowman made

  • picks May 02, 2016

    Viktor Pivovarov

    Despite the suffocating grip on culture imposed by the Soviet state, a rich literary scene continued to thrive underground. This fecundity was the starting point for artists such as Viktor Pivovarov, whose long-awaited retrospective “The Snail’s Trail” includes paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and installations. Pivovarov was a founding member of the Moscow Conceptualists, along with artists Ilya Kabakov, Dmitri Prigov, and Erik Bulatov—many of whom illustrated children’s novels, using the format to disseminate subversive thought. While the government sponsored Social Realist portraiture,

  • picks April 28, 2016

    Erwin Wurm

    Erwin Wurm has a knack for finding eureka moments in the most mundane circumstances. Domestic objects as activated by everyday people define his current exhibition, bringing together three bodies of work ranging from the early 1990s—including printed instructions on paper outlining fattening recipes—to the present, with oversize bronze and polyester sculptures that look like they’ve been bashed or clawed.

    Turning spectators into participants, Wurm invites audiences to complete his works by literally stepping into them and accepting his play on conventions at face value. Narrow House, 2010, for