Brian Karl

  • View of “Beverly Buchanan: Northern Walls and Southern Yards,” 2023.
    picks April 25, 2023

    Beverly Buchanan

    The latest posthumous exhibition of Beverly Buchanan’s sculptures, paintings, and drawings calls attention not only to surfaces themselves—their distinct materialities coalescing into larger forms—but to immanent meanings contained within. Best known for her maquette-like structures made of found wood emulating vernacular shacks in the rural American South, Buchanan’s greater range here is a startling reminder of the artist’s fluid and thoughtful capacities. Working across an expansive matrix of media and genres, the ensemble of Buchanan’s output presents multiple facets of what “making things”

  • Kudzanai Chiurai, We Live in Silence, 2017, video, color, sound, 37 minutes.
    picks May 21, 2019

    “Inheritance: Recent Video Art from Africa”

    You can’t understand a whole continent from a handful of stories, but the thoughtful and smartly installed exhibition “Inheritance: Recent Video Art from Africa” offers several sustained meditations on how certain histories of Africa might be viewed through a postcolonial lens.

    In Mikhael Subotzky’s WYE, 2016, a trio of unreliable narrators delivers a cluster of stories set in an isolated coastal site in South Africa at three distinct moments in time: an early colonial past, the present, and a slightly speculative future. Each narrative pivots on the questionable use of a specific technology—a

  • Sonja Gerdes, Talisman for Oxygenenergizer (Left), 2018, bronze, sheep’s wool, 15 x 11 x 6 1/2".

    Sonja Gerdes

    Cloaca Projects is situated in a small, garage-like space on the old industrial edge of San Francisco, a rapidly changing city dedicated more and more to new technical systems of hyperefficiency. Sonja Gerdes’s recent project for Cloaca portrayed uncertain states of relation with such technologies as human beings lurch into the future. Her suite of sculptures represented living creatures as they become augmented, undermined, or superseded by built extensions. Individually and as an ensemble, they functioned as signs of dystopian outcomes amid a scientistic culture of optimism.

    Two mismatched,

  • Liam Everett, Untitled (Limnos), 2015, acrylic, enamel, alcohol, and salt on oil-primed linen, 77 × 60". From “Nacht und Traüme.”

    “Nacht und Träume”

    The way in which creative expression is achieved in an era of often extreme ironic self-positioning was an implicit subtext of this summer group show, albeit one uncertainly realized. Zarouhie Abdalian’s a caveat, a decoy, 2014, a site-specific installation whose sound track looped Schubert’s “Nacht und Träume”—a lied celebrating the (irrational) unconscious and mourning the loss of dreams that comes with waking—lent the exhibition its title and set its tone. Significantly, a caveat’s sound element was forced to compete with the cacophonic street noise blaring through one (pointedly)