Charles Green

  • The Biennale of Sydney 2000

    THIS YEAR'S SYDNEY BIENNALE was a poignant exhibition. Though mostly a disorganized and unthematized review of the 1990s, featuring such stars as Matthew Barney, Tracey Moffatt, and Jeff Wall, it was also a Noah's ark of gorgeous, visionary works from the decade's grandfather figures (among them Bruce Nauman, Ilya Kabakov, and Gerhard Richter). Sprawled out among two major museums and a few of the city's experimental art spaces, with more than 150 works by 48 artists or artist-groups, the event was aggressively passive in refusing to assume its own agency, even though it presented a lexicon of

  • Callum Morton

    Callum Morton is a young artist based in Melbourne, where he attracted considerable attention in the mid-’90s by grafting prefabricated windows and balconies onto gallery walls. Like Christo’s Storefronts of 1964–65, these were almost two-dimensional: melancholic Minimalist facades. Over the last couple of years, a historicist trajectory has become more apparent in his work. He now makes doll’s-house settings for reconstructed art-historical or cultural moments, similar in spirit to the ones in German artist Thomas Demand’s recent photographs. In one recent work, Accademia, 1998, he made a 3:4

  • “Signs of Life”

    Every biennial, from Istanbul and Johannesburg to the Whitney, is scrutinized for answers to the question “Where is art going?” or “Where is art at?” Many curators prefer to dodge these questions. The artistic director of the first Melbourne Biennial, Juliana Engberg, comes with a reputation as the most ambitious maverick curator working in Australia, and she’s enormously popular among artists. Her previous exhibitions, such as “Persona Cognita” at Melbourne’s Museum of Modern Art in 1994, have interwoven unexpected juxtapositions of the present and the recently rediscovered past. Engberg has

  • Superflex

    Superflex is a collaboration among three Danish artists (Jakob Fenger, Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, and Rasmus Nielsen) working on the front lines of ecological activism. They investigate global energy needs, propose solutions, and, like a mini-Peace Corps, collaborate with Western and African engineers to create new, earth-friendly technologies. In 1997, they constructed and patented a simple, portable biogas plant that effectively produces cooking gas and lighting from human and animal waste. (In conjunction with a small African organization called SURUDE, they have installed pilot units in

  • Bill Henson

    Bill Henson’s large new photographs are landscapes of urban and suburban peripheries under the stress of overwhelming social and cultural forces. Although they appear to be dark documentary records—nighttime views of industrial and suburban sprawl near Melbourne—they are as contrived and manipulated as their lush, exaggerated chemical tones and the gimmicky, nearly blacked-out gallery installation. Henson’s earlier black-and-white photographs of figures standing in crowds were seen at the Guggenheim in 1984; they were a catalogue of urban resignation. His highly sensational polyptychs

  • Kathy Temin

    Kathy Temin uses fake fur, felt, plastic, and polystyrene to make trashy, handcrafted objects and assemblages. In her most recent show, an image of a cat was splayed like a crazy logo across a huge mat made of artificial fur. The pile was so thick and the design so attenuated that, in this warehouse-size gallery with its polished concrete floor, Cat Mat, 1997, seemed at first to be merely a slightly soiled-looking dust magnet. Temin’s throwaway logic was further played out in the clumsily sculpted, awkwardly placed polystyrene screens she used to partition the otherwise elegant exhibition space.

  • the Biennale of Sydney

    In mounting the eleventh BIENNALE OF SYDNEY, subtitled “Every Day,” curator Jonathan Watkins will take advantage of the city’s harbor views, installing the exhibition at several waterfront locales, ranging from the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales to a handful of derelict warehouses reclaimed for the occasion.

    Watkins, who was born in the UK and educated in Australia, was formerly curator at London’s Serpentine Gallery. For the Sydney show, he has selected about one hundred artists from around the world—mostly emerging or regionally known figures (with the exception

  • “Ada or Ardor”

    The seven Indian and American artists (all women) whose work was included in “Ada or Ardor” tend to organize relics of family, love, and travel into large, systems-based works composed of small units. Each artist displaces or fetishizes humble or hidden objects, which range from train timetables and household cookie-cutters to soft-core porn. What links Jennifer Bolande’s psychedelic, digitized Iris prints of votive forest shrines, Chrysanne Stathacos’ daguerreotype erotica transferred onto rose petals, Judy Blum’s 108 names of the Ganges (e.g., “melodious or noisy” or “white as milk”) entered

  • Louise Weaver

    Louise Weaver uses thread to knit and crochet coverings for antlers, cups, branches, and lightbulbs. The humble objects this young artist creates are delicately and intensely erotic, resonating with great poignancy. The art in her recent exhibition was intensely iconic, like a late-’90s reworking of Beuys, without the earlier artist’s belief but with the affect. The domestic impact and size of I am transforming an antler into a piece of coral by crocheting its entire surface, 1995, is that of an item in a miniature curiosity cabinet: works like these are transformations of quotidian things

  • Shane Cotton

    Shane Cotton’s paintings replay the perpetual collision between Maori and Pakeha (white) cultures. A New Zealander who aggressively asserts his Maori ancestry, Cotton creates wild, at times biblical images in which the signs—icons, words, maps, and numbers—of indigenous and immigrant cultures coexist, dominate, and interact, as each is forced to adapt in order to survive.

    Criss-crossed with diagrams and notations, Cotton’s pictures resemble worn road maps of a border zone that is clearly difficult to negotiate. They include overlays and borders in which innumerable collisions take place, typically

  • “Digital Gardens”

    “Digital Gardens” was based on the misconception that technology is obliterating the distinction between nature and culture. Completely lacking in irony or self-critique, it couldn’t quite decide whether the changing nature it attempted to chart was the one we like to oppose to culture, or the affective, impersonal force that sends storms in winter and warm weather in summer.

    The exhibition’s curator, Louise Dompierre, would have liked to reduce the tongue-in-cheek, nature/culture hybrids of the six artists in the show to well-meaning messages and turgid exposés. But photographer Gregory Crewdson,

  • Tony Clark

    In the past, Tony Clark created schematic versions of seventeenth-century landscape painting, reminiscent in particular of the work of Claude Lorrain. These panoramas in cheap oil paint on small canvas boards suggested an intellectualized classicism that seemed calculated to offend. During the early ’80s, when he posed wrapped in a Roman toga to accompany an interview in which he rhapsodized about Italian Fascist architecture, Clark even encouraged critics to mistake him for a second-generation Carlo Maria Mariani.

    The landscapes announced themes Clark has since continued to pursue. At once