Ashton Cooper

  • picks March 11, 2019

    Mariah Garnett

    Mariah Garnett’s eighty-three-minute film Trouble, 2019, opens with clips from a 1971 BBC documentary about interfaith relationships in conflict-ridden Northern Ireland that features Garnett’s Protestant father, David (whom she didn’t meet until she was twenty-seven), and his Catholic then-girlfriend, Maura. As we come to discover, the program’s airing in Belfast at the height of the Troubles ultimately led to David’s departure from his country, never to return. Trouble is a heartbreaking account of the minute and massive consequences of human identifications—Catholic and Protestant, self and

  • Devin Troy Strother

    Inside the witch’s lair, the walls were black and the windows darkened. A small stream of light glowed from the bulbs lining the edge of her vanity mirror, the shelf of which was littered with burnt-down candles and talismans of Baphomet, a writhing snake, and an ankh. Opposite stood a black-tiled portal. Strewn elsewhere were less sorcerous decorations, including family photos and houseplants. This installation was not just the theatricalized den of a witch, the interior of her home, but was what the artist Devin Troy Strother conceptualized as the metaphoric space of her inner psyche—a privileged

  • picks December 21, 2018

    Rosa Loy

    In Leipzig-based painter Rosa Loy’s phantasmagoric compositions, the industrious, rosy-cheeked women of socialist realism are recast in Kafkaesque mise-en-scènes, in which they farm human-faced heads of lettuce, feed lollipops to Harpies wearing headbands, and recline on couches in poses of analysands more than odalisques. Loy imbues her scenes with the hazy sense of half-remembered dreams by using the water-based paint casein, which allows layers of underpainting to show through the thin washes on top, keeping colors and figures from being fully resolved. Often appearing in groups of two or

  • picks November 01, 2018

    “Positioner”

    This five-person group show, spread across two gallery locations, has its most cogent moment in the pairing of sculptor Julia Phillips and photographer Paul Mpagi Sepuya, both of whom create disorienting objects with unsettling relationships to the body. Phillips’s Intruder Study IV, 2017, is a phantasmal pseudo-tool that performs the titular action (intrusion) via a twenty-five-inch-long spiraling shaft, resembling an outsize drill bit, that at first glance appears to be made of metal. The clue to its actual composition is the jackhammer-type handle from which it hangs, an eleven-inch-wide

  • picks October 09, 2018

    “My most striking Feature is my Fist”

    Thick waxy stripes of red paint intersect to form a gingham pattern in Linda Stark’s thirteen-by-fourteen-inch painting Burr Weave, 2012. The cheery design is disrupted at the bottom of the canvas as the pigment overruns the lower edge, the way a candy apple’s sticky coating pools around its base. This hanging sanguine excess reads as body matter, the stretched lining of an organ. Underneath the viscous skin, dozens of little burrs adhered to the canvas appear to be strange sharp-toothed bodies trapped in amber.

    Stark’s painting, along with the other works in this titillating and quick-witted