Caroline A. Jones


    BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, few of us had a visceral relationship to the abstract mathematical concept of the exponential.1 Now we can feel it in our gut. Tauba Auerbach’s uncompromisingly abstract art has likewise always been premised on inducing a visceral reaction to abstruse ideas—from chirality to rotational symmetry to tetrachromacy and quantum states. The artist’s tacit, muscular ways of knowing and mark-making are what initially draw us in, but then we have to confront the strange signals on the surface. These signs seem to perform in equipoise, juggling evidently spontaneous flows of matter

  • Photo: Brian Green

    Gene Youngblood's Expanded Cinema

    Stan VanDerBeek coined the phrase “expanded cinema.” But it was Gene Youngblood who put it on the cover of a book, filled it with rocket fuel, and sent it buzzing through the late-1960s art world like a heat-seeking missile. For its fiftieth anniversary, Expanded Cinema has been lovingly reissued by Fordham University Press with a substantial new memoir-ish introduction by the author. The volume reminds us to locate the techno-anarchic edge of what became “new media” on the left coast, where filmmakers, psychedelic engineers, and intermedia practitioners wrested cybernetics from its military

  • Robert Wise, The Andromeda Strain, 1971, 835 mm, color, sound, 131 minutes. Dr. Mark Hall (James Olson) and Jackson (George Mitchell).


    HUMANS WAGE THEIR POLITICS WITH LANGUAGE: “Wuhan virus,” “Kung Flu,” “the Chinese virus.” And then come the material actions, such as a scapegoating racist who loads a thousand nanoscale virions—bits of RNA in their sovereignty-shaped protein capsids—into an actual gob of spit for hurling onto anyone Asian-looking in Trump’s America. Yet the toxic politics (language and action) operate at the wrong scale. But let’s start there, since narcissistic humanity lives out its affects at the scale of the individual person, the only representative we can imagine of a herd identity.

    Of course you are

  • Naeem Mohaiemen, Tripoli Cancelled, 2017, digital video, color, sound, 95 minutes.
    interviews March 05, 2019

    Naeem Mohaiemen

    Redoing histories—through essays, fiction films, and documentary forms—is a primary motivator for artist and writer Naeem Mohaiemen. He restlessly interrogates the peripheral narratives he finds in the “non-aligned” and “socialist” movements during the Cold War. United Red Army (2011) revisits the surreal moment when Japanese left-wing terrorists hijacked a plane in support of Palestinian liberation in 1977; Tripoli Cancelled (2017) fictionalizes the condition of being stranded in stateless limbo; and Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017) follows the dramatic architectures in which third-world

  • Helen Mayer Harrison. Image from the The Time of The Force Majeure, After 45 Years Counterforce is on the Horizon, Prestel (2015).
    passages April 07, 2018

    Helen Mayer Harrison (1927–2018)

    HELEN MAYER AND NEWTON HARRISON, often referred to simply as “the Harrisons,” became known for their ecological systems art, which first emerged in the early ’70s. Helen is no more on this earth she loved, but we can imagine her serenity at contributing to its energies on another level. In her own words in a recent catalogue, she relates how her art career began: “I, Helen, began to invest myself in the earth that Newton had made.” But we are not obliged to take such a modest statement literally; we can leverage it by listening to the sharp wit and lively voice in scores of online interviews

  • Marina Abramović, Clouds in the Shadow, 1969, charcoal on paper mounted on oil on canvas, 69 3/4 × 57 1/2".

    “Marina Abramović : The Cleaner”

    Will polyglot Europe (Eastern, Western, Mittel) fragment into a thousand shards, or will it be dreamed anew as a collective hallucination of syncretic secularity? This question may seem removed from a Marina Abramović retrospective, but one could argue that the grandiose, anything-goes performances from this visionary/celebrity artist propose such issues as personal, mystical choices. This exhibition, which includes sketches, archival materials, and some ninety-five works made between 1960 and 2017, places renewed focus on Abramović’s

  • Shigeko Kubota, 1983. Photo: Video Data Bank,
    passages October 15, 2015

    Shigeko Kubota (1937–2015)

    One of Shigeko Kubota’s best-known works may have happened only because George Maciunas and Nam June Paik “begged her” to do it, but it still took a lot of guts. Arriving in New York from an art community in Tokyo that seemed determined to ignore her, she recalled being met at the airport by Maciunas, who scripted her into his summer Perpetual Fluxus Festival in 1965. It was here that she attached a brush to her underwear and squatted down to produce Vagina Painting, immortalized in Maciunas’s photograph of the one-time event.

    Vagina Painting, perhaps not surprisingly, echoed Paik’s Zen for Head

  • View of “ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s,” 2014–15, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. From left: Otto Piene, Light Ballet (Light Drum), 1969; Otto Piene, Light Ballet (Light Satellite), 1969. Photo: David Heald. All Otto Piene works © Otto Piene/Artists Rights Society   (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Germany.

    “ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s”

    RATHER THAN ARTWORKS, visitors entering the ambitious “ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s” exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York were immediately confronted by a large glowing screen. Mesmerically cycling (and visible from either side), the projection showed a celebratory crowd of mostly young people standing on a nighttime street—cute girls in strange outfits stamped with the number 0, a man swabbing the same 0 onto the pavement with white paint, a group launching an oddly shaped hot-air balloon into the sky. Made for the Hier und heute (Here and Today) television

  • Site-specific commission of Sadamasa Motonaga, Work (Water), 1956/2011, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2013. Photo: David Heald.

    the Year in “Re-”

    A reckoning is in order. Given the extraordinary number of returns, revisits, and repetitions of all kinds this past year, including the extensive refabrications of postwar art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s exhibition “Gutai: Splendid Playground” and the astonishing reboot in Venice of Harald Szeemann’s 1969 show “Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form”—not to mention the steadily increasing interest in repeating historic works of performance art over the last decade—we offer here a provisional taxonomy of contemporary art-world keywords dangling from the prefix re. The

  • Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Killing Machine, 2007, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

    This survey of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s collaborations brings together eight installation works made between 1995 and 2010.

    This survey of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s collaborations brings together eight installation works made between 1995 and 2010. Viewers will encounter a series of environments, including a miniature diorama (the 1999 Muriel Lake Incident, for which you put on earphones and poke your head into the eerily accurate model), some rooms you can’t enter (as in the cabin-size construction Opera for a Small Room, 2005, seemingly possessed by poltergeists), and newer works you can huddle in with a good friend (such as the abandoned dentist’s office of

  • Otto Piene, Fleurs du Mal, 1969, mixed media. Installation view, Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, 2012.

    “Otto Piene: Energy Fields”

    Legend has it that when the seventeen-year-old Otto Piene was discharged from his post as a gunner at the end of World War II, after extricating himself from some POW situations, he walked across Europe to get home. And that during that long, hungry pilgrimage, he saw a way to turn the fire and cacophony of combat into art—starting with the tabula rasa he would, in 1957, dub Group Zero. Now, the ZKM presents a special selection of works in celebration of the German-born artist’s eighty-fifth birthday, ranging from a 1959–60 raster painting to his 1969 inflatable

  • Page from Artforum 7, no. 1  (September 1968). Jack Burnham, “Systems Esthetics.” Pictured: Dan Flavin, Pink and Gold, 1967. 
 Click here for Jack Burnham, “Systems Esthetics,” September 1968

    Caroline A. Jones on Jack Burnham’s “Systems Esthetics”

    A BRIEF METEOR, Jack Burnham blazed forth in September 1968 declaring “Systems Esthetics” to be the preeminent mode of contemporary artmaking. How could this sculpture teacher from the Midwest have gotten it so right? In the ensuing decades, what Burnham called “systems” came to define some of the most significant cultural developments of our time, even if this genealogy has been obscured. Undeclared as such, systems thinking now suffuses the art world as we know it. Consider: The work of such different artists as Olafur Eliasson, Andrea Fraser, Damien Hirst, Seth Price, and Tino Sehgal, as well