Brian Sholis

  • Joel Sternfeld

    In a passage in his journal dated February 5, 1855, Henry David Thoreau asserted, “In a journal it is important in a few words to describe the weather, or characters of the day, as it affects our feelings. That which was so important at the time cannot be unimportant to remember.” The thirteen large-scale color photographs in this exhibition chronicle the weather and the characters of the day in and around a single meadow in Northampton, Massachusetts, from July 29, 2005, to April 20, 2007. The site, famously depicted in a heroic Thomas Cole landscape that was painted in 1836 and is now in the

  • interviews October 13, 2008

    Adel Abdessemed

    For nearly a decade, the Algerian artist Adel Abdessemed has produced provocative artworks in numerous media, many of which take the form of actions on the street outside his home in Paris’s seventeenth arrondissement. “Situation and Practice,” an exhibition of new and recent work, opens on October 11 at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    ONE OF THE NEW WORKS for this exhibition involves David Moss, the Berlin-based singer with whom I worked on my earlier video Trust Me [2006]. For the new piece, called Hot Blood, I asked him to sing a simple sentence of my devising: “

  • film October 08, 2008

    Six in the City

    Six in Paris (1965) is a collection of vignettes filmed by the era’s leading French directors and produced by Barbet Schroeder, who, with Eric Rohmer, had formed the production company Les Films du Losange three years earlier. Rohmer’s own comic contribution to the anthology portrays the fastidious Jean-Marc, a former runner now working in a clothing shop near the Place d’Etoile, who thinks he may have accidentally murdered a drunk in a mild street tussle. It’s the anomaly in a collection otherwise dedicated to love’s squabbles.

    The temporal compression heightens the melodrama. Claude Chabrol,

  • Jamisen Ogg

    The installation of Jamisen Ogg’s New York solo debut, titled “Conscientious Objectifier,” was not exactly bilaterally symmetrical, but each object installed on one side of the gallery had its corollary on the other. A quick glance suggested that the objects perfectly mirrored each other; a closer inspection revealed the tension between division and reconciliation that gave the show what conceptual force it possessed.

    The reconciliation on offer was between two historically distinct utopian visions: on one hand, the sanitary spaces and clean lines of modernist architecture and design and, on the

  • interviews September 20, 2008

    Gary Webb

    For the past decade, the London-based artist Gary Webb has developed a sculptural language conversant with the medium’s modern history and playfully experimental with its intrinsic characteristics: form, mass, color, and the relationship between constituent parts. His new exhibition, “Euro Bobber,” opens at Pilar Parra & Romero in Madrid on September 18 and runs through October 25.

    Unlike my exhibition earlier this year at the Approach in London, this show comprises mainly freestanding individual sculptures; there are no wall-size “split” mirrors that visually knit together the space. What I have

  • interviews September 14, 2008

    Sara VanDerBeek

    Artist Sara VanDerBeek, who, with her brother, Johannes VanDerBeek, and Anya Kielar, owns Guild & Greyshkul gallery, is the daughter of experimental filmmaker and animator Stan VanDerBeek, who died in 1984. Guild & Greyshkul presents an exhibition of Stan VanDerBeek’s work from September 13 to October 18.

    THE PROCESS OF ORGANIZING our father’s estate and putting together this exhibition has been intensely emotional and very exciting for both Johannes and me. When he passed away in 1984, only a few months after an initial diagnosis of cancer, there were no instructions regarding how his artworks

  • interviews September 06, 2008

    Nicole Eisenman

    During the past fifteen years, New York–based artist Nicole Eisenman has created a self-aware and psychologically probing body of work that includes installations, animations, drawings, and, with increasing focus, paintings. “Coping,” an exhibition of new paintings and monoprints, opens today at Galerie Barbara Weiss in Berlin and will remain on view until October 18.

    I made the paintings in this exhibition throughout the past year, gravitating, as I often do, to particular images (both found and imagined). I put them in drawings and then on canvas, initially working on one at a time and then on

  • Tara Donovan

    Donovan's first major museum show, accompanied by a comprehensive monograph documenting nearly all her projects to date, presents a dozen sculptures and five major installations from the past twelve years.

    Tara Donovan makes I-can-do-that sculptures by taking a household item—a Styrofoam cup, straight pin, drinking straw, or toothpick—and positioning it among thousands of its ilk. You could do it, but you wouldn't. You wouldn't log hundreds of hours meticulously assembling, arranging, affixing, or otherwise conjoining countless identical consumer goods. The results, when seen from afar, offer gestalt experiences that, paradoxically, often conjure natural associations, with, for example, waves, clouds, and mountains. Donovan's first major museum show,

  • SITE Santa Fe Biennial

    In lieu of a single theme, curator Lance M. Fung laid out several structuring principles for the seventh SITE Santa Fe Biennial, titled “Lucky Number Seven”: The participating artists would be winnowed from recommendations made by widely dispersed art-world professionals; they would visit Santa Fe well before the exhibition and respond to the environs with newly commissioned work; and all materials, where possible, would be recycled after the exhibition had closed. (Additionally, the artists could exhibit anywhere in the city, but those who opted to show in SITE’s warehouselike space would have

  • interviews August 28, 2008

    Roger Hiorns

    British artist Roger Hiorns is known for deploying salt, industrial-strength disinfectants, and, most consistently, copper sulfate crystals in his sculptures. A solo exhibition of new work opens next week at Corvi-Mora in London. It is timed to coincide with Seizure, a new, large-scale installation commissioned by Artangel and presented at 151–189 Harper Road, London, September 3–November 2.

    WE DIDN'T HAVE ANY expectations for the site of Seizure when we began looking, and in fact we traversed every single borough of London in search of a suitable building to host the installation. It’s quite

  • film August 20, 2008

    Reels of Steel

    FOR THOSE OF US who only know artist Richard Serra from images of him at work in the 1960s and '70s—dour, focused, workmanlike—the positively talky figure who emerges from Maria Anna Tappeiner’s feature-length documentary Richard Serra: Thinking on Your Feet (2005) comes as a surprise. The film is structured around the fabrication and installation of “The Matter of Time,” Serra’s monumental long-term exhibition at the Guggenheim Bilbao. We glimpse the artist overseeing steel-mill workers in Germany and working with riggers in the museum’s outsize galleries, and this footage is interspersed with

  • picks August 12, 2008

    Tacita Dean

    Much of Tacita Dean’s recent work in film has been portraiture, and her scrupulous attention has brought forth a range of engrossing characters, many of them older men. Poet and translator Michael Hamburger gave Dean a chatty tour of his apple orchard and storerooms in a film exhibited in London last year. In this exhibition, dancer-choreographer Merce Cunningham is seated, and silent, in his nearly empty studio. Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4'33" with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films), 2008, the

  • interviews August 09, 2008

    Lawrence English

    For over a decade, Lawrence English—a Brisbane, Australia–based musician, record-label owner, installation artist, and festival organizer—has served as a nodal point in the international network of experimental musicians and sound artists. His label, Room 40, has released more than fifty records by musicians from four continents, and he is increasingly busy as a record producer. Kiri No Oto, a new album of solo material that blends field and studio recordings, is available from Touch Music.

    THE IDEA FOR Kiri No Oto gestated for about three years and finally came together last winter on a train

  • interviews July 29, 2008

    Eleanor Antin

    For nearly four decades, San Diego–based artist Eleanor Antin has provocatively engaged histories real and imagined through photographs, performances, films, videos, writings, and drawings. Since 2001, she has completed three series of allegorical photographs based on Roman life: “The Last Days of Pompeii,” “Roman Allegories,” and “Helen’s Odyssey.” A survey that focuses on these works, titled “Historical Takes,” is on view through November 2 at the San Diego Museum of Art.

    ALL MY LIFE I have had a passion for ancient Greece, since reading Bulfinch’s Mythology as a kid. At the time I first read

  • interviews July 25, 2008

    Robert Pogue Harrison

    Robert Pogue Harrison, chair of the Department of French and Italian at Stanford University, is a literary scholar and translator whose interests include the Italian lyric, Dante, Renaissance humanism, and phenomenology. The University of Chicago Press has just published Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition. Here he discusses that book.

    SEVERAL YEARS AGO, when I was invited to write a catalogue essay for an exhibition of photographs of gardens by contemporary artists, I had no intention to embark on a book on the garden. After writing a twenty- or twenty-five-page essay, though, I realized

  • film July 23, 2008

    Suspense Story

    EARLY ON IN Man on Wire (2008), an entertaining documentary about high-wire walker Philippe Petit’s quest to “dance” between the World Trade Center’s twin towers in 1974, not long after they were built, his then girlfriend, Annie Allix, reflects on their time together and concludes that Petit was a “megalomaniac.” We quickly learn how grand Petit’s delusions of grandeur really are: He describes his 1970s-era exploits—walking on wires strung up, for example, at Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sydney Harbour Bridge—as “conquering beautiful stages.” But the cloying theatricality of Petit’s talking-head

  • interviews July 20, 2008

    Anya Gallaccio

    Anya Gallaccio often works with and transforms organic materials, and in her new exhibition at London’s Camden Arts Centre, titled “that open space within,” the artist presents the reconstructed fragments of a large chestnut tree. Here she discusses the undertaking.

    WHEN I WAS INVITED to exhibit at Camden, I knew almost immediately I wanted to bring some aspect of the garden inside, to develop a relationship between the gallery’s interior and exterior. Eventually, I settled on the idea of finding a tree roughly the height of the building and bringing the middle section into the gallery. I contacted

  • interviews July 01, 2008

    Victoria Morton

    The painter Victoria Morton, who lives and works in Glasgow and in Fossombrone, Italy, opens her third solo exhibition at Sadie Coles HQ in London on July 2. Here she discusses dividing her time between Scotland and Italy and the work included in the show.

    I SPEND ABOUT a third of my year in Italy and have done so for about four years. In Italy, obviously, I have access to a vast amount of historical painting: For example, I work in the area in which Piero della Francesca painted, and it’s fascinating to drive through the landscape that appears in the background of his works. Working here is very

  • interviews June 21, 2008

    Joan Jonas

    As part of the 2008 Biennale of Sydney, organized by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and titled “Revolutions—Forms that Turn,” artist Joan Jonas will present Reading Dante, 2008. A performance will take place at 11 AM and 6 PM on June 22 at the National Art School’s Cell Block Theatre. Here she discusses the work.

    I'VE KNOWN ABOUT Dante’s Divine Comedy for what seems like all my life, but I never read it before last summer. A few years ago, an artist described to me Dante’s own life, and it made me think about how fascinating it might be to work with his magnificent text. I began with the Inferno last

  • interviews June 18, 2008

    William Cordova

    Earlier this year, William Cordova, whose artwork frequently references human rights struggles, organized two exhibitions for Ingalls & Associates in Miami. One, titled “Casa de Carton,” features an intergenerational range of contemporary artists, and the other, “Up Against the Wall,” the photographs of journalist Ilka Hartmann. Both exhibitions will open at Branch Gallery in Durham, North Carolina, on Friday, June 20. Here Cordova discusses Hartmann’s work.

    TWO YEARS AGO, while doing research into commonalities across various radical groups of the late 1960s and early ’70s, I gradually realized