Cecilia Alemani

  • View of Peggy Guggenheim’s collection, Greek pavilion, Venice, 1948. From the 24th Venice Biennale. Photo: Studio Ferruzzi.

    WHAT DREAMS MAY COME

    On April 23, the Fifty-Ninth Venice Biennale will open to the public, curated by Cecilia Alemani—a veteran of the show, having organized the Italian pavilion in 2017. Titled “The Milk of Dreams,” after a series of drawings the artist Leonora Carrington made during her time in Mexico in the 1950s, this edition arrives a year later than planned, its opening postponed due to the worldwide Covid-19 crisis. Artforum editor David Velasco spoke with Alemani over Zoom in February, then revisited the conversation over email in early March to address the Biennale’s role in light of Russia’s extraordinary

  • Paula Rego, Untitled No. 6, 1998–99, pastel on paper on aluminum, 43 × 39 3⁄8".

    TOP TEN

    An Italian curator based in New York, Cecilia Alemani is the curator of the upcoming 59th Venice Biennale. Since 2011, she has been the director and chief curator of High Line Art, the public art program presented by the High Line in New York. In 2017, she curated the Venice Biennale’s Italian Pavilion.

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    PAULA REGO (TATE BRITAIN, LONDON; CURATED BY ELENA CRIPPA WITH ZUZANA FLASKOVÁ)

    This uncompromising survey was a reminder of art’s power to confront humanity’s darkest impulses. Rego, who grew up in fascist Portugal in the 1930s and ’40s before relocating to London in 1951, depicts subjects

  • View of “Naama Tsabar,” 2008. From left: Night Falls-Tired Shelf, 2008, and Night Falls-Tired Shelf (Wide), 2008.
    picks November 28, 2008

    Naama Tsabar

    This exhibition is twenty-six-year-old Israeli-born, New York–based artist Naama Tsabar’s Italian debut. On entering the gallery, one encounters Night Falls-Gaffer (all works 2008), a large sheet of white fabric, hanging from the ceiling, that nearly obstructs the entire exhibition space. The cloth has been treated with such products as glue and resin, which impart to it a strange sculptural stiffness and a painterly evanescence. One side of the cloth seems soaked in a milky substance, while the other is painted black and has an asphaltlike texture. Part barrier, part theater curtain, it also

  • Uncertainty Principle, 2008, mixed media. Installation view.
    picks June 09, 2008

    Sirra Sigrún Sigurðardóttir

    One of the most active artist-run spaces in Reykjavik, Kling & Bang, is hosting, on the occasion of the Reykjavik Arts Festival, an exhibition by one of the gallery's founders, Sirra Sigrún Sigurðardóttir. Titled “Uncertainty Principle,” it is an elaborate installation that occupies the vast space and integrates sculpture, video projections, and a photograph. A large construction made of colorful Plexiglas cubes stands atop a black-and-white chessboard drawn on the floor. The cubes rise from the ground, sketching the surreal skyline of a psychedelic town. In their stunning elegance and sensual

  • Monica Bonvicini, Never Again, 2005. Installation view.
    picks June 09, 2008

    “Art Against Architecture”

    Should art fill space or actively construct it? This seems to be the premise of “Art Against Architecture,” a group show held in this challenging space. (The museum, built according to a 1980s-era postmodern style, is the antithesis of the white cube.) Monica Bonvicini has been interested in architecture for some time, especially its relationship to issues of sex and gender. Her installation, Never Again, 2005, consists of a series of leather and chain hammocks suspended from metal scaffolding; viewers are invited to sit on them, filling the space with the sound of jangling metal. At the

  • Untitled (Angel), 2008, mixed media, 115 x 25 x 8".
    picks April 15, 2008

    Mirjam Thomann and Jan Timme

    This spare exhibition presents three works, one by each artist and a third made collaboratively, by Berlin-based artists Mirjam Thomann and Jan Timme. By leaving the gallery nearly empty, the artists give the works room to question more forcefully the architectural and conceptual implications of their exhibition space. Thomann’s Untitled (Couple) (all works 2008) consists of two plywood screens suspended halfway to the ceiling and installed in the gallery’s corners. Painted in black and white, they seem constructed to hide certain architectural features or to offer refuge to visitors. Their

  • Folklore II, 2007, still from a color video, 13 minutes 30 seconds.
    picks February 05, 2008

    Patricia Esquivias

    For her New York solo debut, Caracas-born, New York–based Patricia Esquivias presents a video duet at two locations. In White Columns’ White Room is a selection from her ongoing series “Reads like the Paper,” 2005–, a cut-and-paste video collage of short episodes that appear in seemingly random order. Esquivias often uses her laptop’s screen as an experimental stage: The artist films her own computer, overlapping unusual characters with short videos—a sort of virtual theater of the absurd. Merging low-tech devices with an intimate, humorous approach, Esquivias’s shorts chronicle quotidian events,

  • Alex Bag, Remix: Harriet Craig, 1998, still from a black-and-white video with sound, 12 minutes.
    picks January 07, 2008

    “Television Delivers People”

    Richard Serra’s legendary video Television Delivers People, 1973, which consists of a text scrolling down the screen accompanied by a cheesy Muzak sound track, was one of the first artworks to investigate the relationship between the mass media and their audience. The statements depicted, like THE PRODUCT OF TELEVISION, COMMERCIAL TELEVISION, IS THE AUDIENCE and YOU ARE THE PRODUCT OF TV, resound as premonitory warnings that the media are equipped with the power to control society. Borrowing Serra’s title, this well-conceived exhibition, organized by curatorial assistant Gary Carrion-Murayari,

  • Rosso Plastica LA, 1966, plastic, acrylic, and Celotex, 11 3/8 x 14 1/2".
    picks December 27, 2007

    Alberto Burri

    Bringing together nineteen paintings, this exhibition is a rare occasion to see many of Alberto Burri’s masterpieces, and it charts a course from his early work, at the beginning of the 1950s, to that from a few years before his death, in 1995. When they were first shown, Burri’s “cut” compositions, which are covered with slashes as though they are wounded bodies, were read as references to the scars left behind by World War II. However, in their raw bareness, and in Burri’s exceptional talent for breathing new life into discarded materials, his works—like those whose burlap or plastic surface

  • Keren Cytter, Repulsion, 2006, still from a three-channel color video with sound, 5 minutes.
    picks December 13, 2007

    “Cut”

    Drawing inspiration from the multiple meanings of the word cut—a cinematographic transition, a graphic caesura, a mental hiatus—this exhibition brings together four artists who experiment with fractures and interruptions. Meredyth Sparks’s black-and-white digital scans of a photograph of Annie Beatrice Henry, the second woman electrocuted in Louisiana, in 1942, are abruptly crossed with geometric shapes and a few glittery red lines, which slash through the composition. Jonathan Hartshorn’s wall installation blends photography, drawing, and text to create an intimate atlas that merges biographical

  • Allen Ginsberg, Harry Smith Hermetic Philosopher and Alchemist Transforming Milk into Milk NY January 12, 1985, gelatin silver print, 15 3/4 x 11 3/4".
    picks October 04, 2007

    “How to Endure”

    As a satellite project of “Destroy Athens,” the first biennial in that city, Tom Morton has organized “How to Endure.” The title reads not only as a reaction to the theme of the biennial but also as a commentary on the peculiar location where most of the group show takes place—a deteriorating, abandoned hotel called Serenity, located in a similarly decrepit neighborhood. The crumbling rooms, with flaking paint and the residue of filthy wallpaper, are the perfect setting for the works on view, which all have something to do with ritualistic gestures and alchemical transformations. Matthew Day

  • Replace the Irreplaceable, 2006, pear wood and brass, 7' 6 9/16“ x 10' 9 15/16” x 2' 11 7/16".
    picks August 01, 2007

    Bojan Šarcevic

    While the systematic appropriation of modernist forms by contemporary artists is by now a familiar exercise, exhibitions like this one prove that by mining our aesthetic past, artists can still reveal new fields of meaning and beauty. Such exploration has even more momentum in a city like Vienna, rich as it is with memories of its avant-garde past. In the foundation’s elongated space, Belgrade-born artist Bojan Šarcevic has installed 1954, 2004, a series of black-and-white collages depicting modernist interiors taken from Baumeister, an architectural magazine of the ’50s. Šarcevic has cut out