Cecilia Alemani

  • picks July 26, 2006

    “Subcontingent”

    Unlike many geographically oriented shows, “Subcontingent”—curated by Ilaria Bonacossa and Francesco Manacorda—is a stimulating and innovative survey, exploring the Indian subcontinent through the work of twenty-six artists, most of whom are based in the region. The show’s success lies in the curatorial approach: Rather than playing to Western stereotypes of Indian aesthetics, with the usual excesses of Bollywood irony, sparkling glitter, incense, and yoga, the curators selected a brilliant group of works that favor humanistic and existentialist meditations over spectacle. Political works

  • picks July 18, 2006

    “Deutsche Wandstücke”

    Practiced by Giotto, Raphael, and Michelangelo but not many artists since, fresco painting is brought to a new life in this exhibition through the interventions of seven German artists invited to work on-site. The show offers a fascinating opportunity to watch a group of fairly popular European painters integrate an outdated medium with their own visual language and balance tradition and innovation. Furthermore, the town of Bolzano is home to a significant German-speaking population and rich with exemplary frescos throughout its churches and streets. In Feuchtraum (Humid Room; all works 2006),

  • picks July 06, 2006

    Sterling Ruby

    For “Recombines,” his first solo show in Italy, German-born, LA-based artist Sterling Ruby presents photographs and sculptures that investigate the human body, its matter, and its unconscious desires. The series “Physicalism the Recombine” includes six large black-and-white photographic collages portraying bodybuilders, both male and female, whose robust figures occupy almost the entirety of each image. Faces—probably graced with winning smiles—are never shown; they're either cropped out of the shot or hidden by black-and-white images of burning candles. Almost indistinguishable in

  • picks May 31, 2006

    “Invisible Might: Works From 1965–1971”

    This exhibition features works made between 1965 and 1971 by six artists (primarily Californian) who used sophisticated equipment and industrial materials to investigate the potential of pure light. The main room hosts an excellent selection of works by Robert Irwin. Light Column, 1970, a transparent, three-pointed, star-shaped column, reflects iridescent shadows along its interior sections; on the wall, Untitled, 1966–67, a wide aluminum circle sprayed with acrylic lacquer, emanates nacreous vibrations, projecting four circular shadows behind itself, as perfect as if they were painted on the

  • picks May 30, 2006

    “Mystic River”

    Stephen Shore’s 1979 photograph Merced River inspires “Mystic River,” an exhibition of works attentive to the everyday and the American landscape. Noah Sheldon, who curated the show, presents Merced River (adapted from Stephen Shore), 2006, which serves as a starting point. A small monitor displays a video literally made of fragments of Shore’s picture of Yosemite National Park: Panning over the initial image, the camera inspects detail after detail, outlining a unique territory made of hundreds of distinct images. This analytic approach turns the original landscape into a series of microcosms

  • picks May 17, 2006

    Marco Boggio Sella

    Marco Boggio Sella’s second solo show in New York presents a bazaarlike installation of batiks, sculptures, artifacts, paintings, and videos that the artist gathered throughout a few months spent isolated from the Western world in Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the African outback. In a postmodern, anthropological attempt to merge indigenous traditions with Western mores, Boggio Sella, using astronomy books, astonished the local populations with unthinkable images of the moon landing, rockets, and astronauts. He then collaborated with them to make a large body of artworks (all

  • picks May 02, 2006

    Guy Ben-Ner

    A modern, domestic Robinson Crusoe, Guy Ben-Ner transforms his kitchen into a tragicomic setting redolent of a homemade episode of Lost. Berkeley’s Island, 1999, focuses on a small pile of sand with a palm tree occupying the middle of a kitchen floor, upon which the survivor of a shipwreck—played by the artist himself—conducts a remote, solitary life. The video’s narrative unfolds as a daily diary, relaying the artist’s adventures as he faces a storm, explores the island from one end to the other, deals with an unidentified footprint in the sand, and restrains his daughter Elia’s destructive

  • picks May 02, 2006

    Nathalie Djurberg

    Nathalie Djurberg’s imaginary world is made of innocent princesses, naughty girls, and wild animals moving among everyday backdrops and dreamlike landscapes. The characters of her digital videos are handmade plasticine puppets, shot with the old-fashion stop-motion technique. This exhibition, the young, Berlin-based Swedish artist’s first US solo, presents nine works on monitors. But what might look like after-school television specials are for anyone but kids. These works speak about exploitation and evil fantasies: Violence, abuses, perverted sexual behaviors, and cruel impulses are depicted

  • picks April 11, 2006

    Ian Kiaer

    With a Zen-like devotion to detail, composition, and space, Ian Kiaer assembles delicate landscapes that balance aesthetic organization and narrative. Often alluding to the history of utopian architecture, Kiaer employs fragile materials—paper, plastic, cardboard, and found objects—in his construction of elegant miniature still lifes. For this show, Kiaer has arranged three sculptural installations inspired by the work of the architect Bruno Taut and the writer Paul Scheerbart. The focal point is Untitled (large plastic ball) (all works 2006), made of thin clear plastic sheets precariously

  • picks April 05, 2006

    Olafur Eliasson

    Upon passing through the heavy, clear plastic curtains—like the kind used to enclose walk-in refrigerators—at the entrance to Olafur Eliasson’s latest exhibition, one encounters a wondrously strange update of a desolate Romantic landscape. With disarming simplicity, Eliasson lets nature take over the gallery space, turning the exhibition into the frozen image of a remote glacial era. Eight enormous, utterly blue ice blocks—their purity only sporadically spotted with traces of dirt that hint at their natural origin—fill the space and give off a little bit of steam. Placed on

  • picks March 24, 2006

    Joëlle Tuerlinckx

    It’s a surprise to encounter the overwhelming maze of vitrines, tables, wall drawings, slide and video projections, and an endless number of objects all over the Drawing Center’s often-pristine gallery. The agglomeration comprises the first New York solo show of Belgian artist Joëlle Tuerlinckx, a cult figure in Europe who seems underestimated in the US. Following in Michael Asher’s footsteps, and working on site during the course of the exhibition, Tuerlinckx questions the formal features of the exhibition space, deconstructing the Drawing Center’s gallery into the basic geometric forms that

  • picks March 16, 2006

    “Fluxus: To George with Love”

    Artists are often the best collectors, assembling a wide variety of objects that transmute, seemingly alchemically, into a greater whole. Think of Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules. A similar compulsion for archival accumulation affected Lithuanian avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas, whose twenty-seven-year-long friendship with his compatriot George Maciunas resulted in a private collection of more than three hundred Fluxus items—objects, artworks, multiples, games, ephemera from festivals, films—on view, and on sale, here. Highlights of the exhibition include Maciunas’s meticulous chronicles

  • picks March 14, 2006

    Carol Bove

    For the latest installation at REC, a tiny exhibition space barely visible behind a glass door in the building housing Esther Schipper’s gallery, Carol Bove has assembled The sky over Berlin March 2, 2006 at 19.00, a landscape of isolated objects adorning a bare, claustrophobic enclosure. A handful of meticulously placed everyday elements—Plexiglas cubes, wooden fragments, a peacock feather, small cement solids, a sponge—are spread on a wooden shelf that cuts the space horizontally at eye level. The sparse, fragile constellation of objects lies underneath a thick rain of narrow brass

  • picks March 03, 2006

    Rosa Barba and David Maljkovic

    An elegant, slightly decadent, bow window room with a polished parquet floor is the setting for Rosa Barba and David Maljkovic’s latest joint installation. For the fourth show at this young Prenzlauerberg exhibition space, located in the living room of artist Oliver Croy and critic Henrikke Nielsen’s second-floor apartment, Croatian artist Maljkovic has crafted a site-specific intervention, Again for Tomorrow, 2006, covering the window’s aperture and the surrounding walls with numerous panels of Sheetrock. Playing with the white and brown surfaces of his material, Maljkovic composes a giant

  • picks February 22, 2006

    “Everything Beautiful and Noble Is the Result of Reason and Calculation”

    Hovering between and adding an ironic twist to the two notions that for centuries have determined artistic and philosophic quarrels—form and content—this exhibition features works by ten New York–based emerging artists concerned with the unresolved relationship between visible appearance and invisible essence. Curators Howie Chen and Gabrielle Giattino adopt the famous quote from Baudelaire’s 1863 “The Painter of Modern Life” to highlight visual manifestation instead of interpretation; the works in the exhibition employ deceptive strategies such as transparency, ambiguity, repetition,

  • picks February 15, 2006

    Amy Granat

    “Stars Way Out” is the name of a closed-down diner that New York-based artist Amy Granat encountered while shooting her latest 16-mm film in the California desert. Although the title and the press release of her first solo show at this gallery refer to specific geographic locations such as Joshua Tree or 29 Palms, the four projections installed in a black room only show an abstract dance of white lines vertically bisecting the black background and circles of light popping up from time to time. While shooting Scratch Films / Stars Way Out (For O.K.), 2006, Granat intentionally overexposed the