Cathryn Drake

  • Left: Artist Magne Furuholmen, curator Milovan Farronato, and artist Olav Christopher Jenssen. Right: Curator Adam Kleinman. (All photos: Cathryn Drake)
    diary June 28, 2016

    Over the Edge

    MORE THAN ONE HUNDRED artists, designers, academics, and scientists migrated north to Spitsbergen Island the second weekend of June for “Thinking at the Edge of the World,” a three-day cross-disciplinary conference organized by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) and the Northern Norway Art Museum that considered changes in the Arctic as a flashpoint for things to come farther south. Touching down at the northern outpost of civilization, the view out of the plane engulfed by the Norwegian territory’s austere black mountains veined with snow and topped by a misty halo, we were greeted

  • Marina Abramović leads the crowd in a moment of silence. (All photos: Cathryn Drake)
    diary April 01, 2016

    Drama Club

    CRISIS DRAWS GAWKERS AS WELL AS REVOLUTIONARIES, but more than anything it really rallies the gurus. To wit, the reigning diva of performance art, Marina Abramović, recently arrived in the birthplace of drama to apply her “method” to its madness.

    The exhibition “As One,” a coproduction of the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI) and NEON, a nonprofit founded by collector Dimitris Daskalopoulos, is occupying Athens’s Benaki Museum for seven weeks, taking the form of a scientific performance clinic featuring durational performances by young Greek artists. Yes, the artist is here to discipline the

  • Left: Documenta director Adam Szymczyk and Athens Biennale director Massimiliano Mollona. Right: Athens vice mayor Amalia Zepou, artist Georgia Sagri, and curator Emily Pethick. (All photos: Cathryn Drake)
    diary December 11, 2015

    Search and Destroy

    THE OPENING DAY OF “OMONOIA,” the fifth Athens Biennale, was typical for the ancient city: Traffic was disrupted by the latest in a series of anti-austerity demonstrations at Syntagma Square—this time the pharmacists, followed the next day by the farmers. It was an auspicious backdrop for the inaugural forum, “Synapse 1: A Laboratory for Production Post-2011,” a series of panels organized by anthropologist Massimiliano Mollona debating alternative solutions to capitalist problems like “precarious work.” This edition of the biennial builds off the last, titled “Agora,” where a series of performances,

  • Georg Baselitz, BDM Group, 2012, patinated bronze, 12 x 8 x 5'.
    picks July 31, 2015

    Paul McCarthy and Georg Baselitz

    This exhibition is a strangely sympathetic dialogue between a pair of perennial rebels whose work transgresses and lampoons popular norms through approaches that surf seamlessly between mediums to critique and contaminate artistic conventions. Paul McCarthy and Georg Baselitz have both long been occupied with exorcising their devils in various stylistic expressions—the American a hysterical clown acting out the hypocrisy of a capitalist society, the German an angry antihero expressing the guilt of history.

    The Sturm und Drang is introduced immediately by two monumental sculptures: McCarthy’s

  • Left: Artists Panos Tsagaris and Vassilis H. with Dio Horia director Marina Vranopoulou. Right: Dio Horia terrace.
    diary July 04, 2015

    For Love or Money

    THE ISLAND OF MYKONOS has absolutely everything for the discerning bon vivant and has managed, in spite of its popularity with twenty-four-hour party people, to remain largely unspoiled and, well, absolutely fabulous. Marina Vranopoulou, who manages the Deste Foundation’s slaughterhouse project space in Hydra, upped the ante last weekend with the opening of the new residency and exhibition space Dio Horia (Greek for “two places”). After a devastatingly early five-hour ferry voyage from Athens, I arrived bleary-eyed with a group of curators, artists, and writers for the inaugural event, the

  • Left: Dealer Gió Marconi, curator Francesco Bonami, and dealer Alma Luxembourg. Right: Art Basel director Marc Spiegler with MiArt director Vincenzo De Bellis. (All photos: Cathryn Drake)
    diary April 17, 2015

    Chill Factor

    MILAN IS THE FASHION and design center of Italy and yet until recently its fair, MiArt, had been a poor stepchild to the grandfather Artefiera Bologna and elegant Artissima. Since director Vincenzo De Bellis took it under his wing in 2013 MiArt has matured into a cosmopolite with a fresh viewpoint. Previously a truly Italian affair, it has grown to include nearly 50 percent foreign galleries, largely American and British—just big enough to be confident and not yet full of itself.

    The relaxed tempo of the preview last week was the calm before the coming storm, as the fair was a warm-up for the

  • Left: Artist Olav Christopher Jenssen and Jan Martin Berg, director of Galleri Svalbard. Right: The Svalbard museum and university complex. (Except where noted, all photos: Cathryn Drake)
    diary February 21, 2015

    Ice Age

    LONGYEARBYEN IS THE ULTIMATE FRONTIER TOWN, the northernmost settlement in the world and jumping-off point for the North Pole, complete with coal miners, extreme filmmakers, polar scientists, a seed vault for the apocalypse, a newspaper called Ice People, and even former Berlin art dealer Elda Oreto. And now there is a contemporary art museum: Kunsthall Svalbard chose to make its debut in the coldest of winter, just days after Solfestuka, the festival celebrating the return of the sun and the end of the polar night, with “Glacier,” an exhibition of works by Joan Jonas.

    “The Arctic is the new

  • Helidon Gjergji, e-mages, 2009, video projection on broken mirror, 4 minutes 15 seconds. Installation view.

    Helidon Gjergji

    The titular centerpiece of Helidon Gjergji’s show “e-mages,” at the National Gallery of Arts, is a slide show in which fragmented photos of Joseph Stalin’s family and friends are projected onto a shattered mirror lying on the floor in front of the projector and, in turn, reflected onto the wall. According to Gjergji’s fictional narrative, Stalin’s mother, Ketevan Geladze, has chosen the pictures for a Facebook album—a wink at social media as a form of personal propaganda. The intimate nature of the black-and-white snapshots only enhances the disconcerting effect of seeing a tyrant dandling

  • Left: Dak’Art curators Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi and Abdelkader Damani with curator Nilva Luz. Right: Dak’Art curator Elise Atangana with artists Simone Leigh and David Lawson. (All photos: Cathryn Drake)
    diary June 04, 2014

    Creative Representation

    GETTING FROM GENEVA to the eleventh edition of Dak’Art, the oldest biennial in Africa, was like an endurance rally of yore. From a confusing new visa policy to organizational tumult, the required skill was sheer determination, which would serve well on the ground too.

    The central exhibition at the Village de la Biennale, former television studios in an industrial area north of the city center, was inaugurated a day late, the venue made available to the curators and artists only four days before the scheduled opening date, early last month. “I have never seen curators work so hard for any exhibition

  • Gal Weinstein, Fire Tire, 2010/2013, wax, natural and polyester wool, styrofoam, graphite, 14' 9“ x 19' 8 1/4” x 9' 10". From the 4th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art. Geni Tzami Mosque.

    the 4th Thessaloniki Biennale

    Conveying the complex movement, conquest, persecution, and integration of people, the Fourth Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art is centered on the trope of the Mediterranean itself—a nexus of flux, trade, and conflict linking peoples of different religious and cultural traditions—and installed in historic spaces around the city. The central exhibition of the show, “Everywhere but Now,” curated by Adelina von Fürstenberg, speaks of widespread diasporas and the binding myth of the fatherland through stories of populations that have been dispossessed and victimized.

    Nigol Bezjian’s

  • Left: Artist duo Fyta. Right: Athens Biennale codirector Poka Yio. (All photos: Cathryn Drake)
    diary October 11, 2013

    Occupational Hazards

    “THIS IS NOT A BIENNIAL,” said Athens Biennale codirector Poka Yio as he introduced its fourth iteration, “Agora.” “It is not an exhibition.”

    This nonbiennial nonexhibition is the result of a collective experiment carried out by a “nameless and ephemeral group of artists, curators, theorists, and practitioners,” and seeks creative alternatives to a state of bankruptcy. Starting months before with weekly meetings of three teams, it ended with the occupation, fittingly, of the former Athens Stock Exchange building. The whole thing is a sort of ongoing performance: The point is, you have to be here.