Christian Rattemeyer

  • passages April 24, 2018

    Josip Vaništa (1924–2018)

    IN 1959, a group of artists, critics, curators, and historians founded the group Gorgona, a clandestine association of like-minded creators who began sending transmissions into the world—most famously in the form of an antimagazine of the same name—until 1966, when the group formally disbanded. The driving force and intellectual motor of Gorgona was the artist Josip Vaništa, who had studied and taught architectural drawing since the early 1950s, though he never practiced the discipline himself.

    If Gorgona was, in essence, an attitude, a rumor, and an invocation, Vaništa was the keeper of the

  • Cengiz Çekil, Diary, 1976, seal print on diary and cardboard box, 8 1/2 x 6 3/10”.
    passages January 21, 2016

    Cengiz Çekil (1945–2015)

    A SMALL NOTEBOOK in a vitrine at the 2009 Istanbul Biennial caught my attention. It looked innocent enough: a light blue cover with an image of the Pink Panther on its front. At first sight, it resembled the diary of an eleven-year-old girl, not a conceptual artwork. But when opened, the all-caps rubber-stamped text reveals that this book registers not the private thoughts of an adolescent but the stark reality of a country in turmoil.

    BU GÜN DE YAŞIYORUM (I am still alive today), ran the text across each page, accompanied only by the date, stamped on top. The diary marks a watershed moment in

  • Alberto Baraya, Expedition Berlín, Herbarium of Artificial Plants (detail), 2013–, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    the 8th Berlin Biennale

    EVER SINCE ITS FIRST EDITION in 1998, which took as its theme the colonization of abandoned or unoccupied real estate in East Berlin by artists, galleries, and other creative industries, the Berlin Biennale has made the use of vacant, unusual, or historically important spaces its hallmark. Indeed, this is what makes the biennial unique: It has always hinged not on the selection of specific artists or works, but on the particular and idiosyncratic venues it inhabits.

    The eighth edition of the biennial, curated by Juan A. Gaitán, is no exception. Together, the sites it occupies make a statement

  • Dušan Vukotić, Surogat (The Substitute), 1961, still from a color film in 35 mm, 9 minutes 36 seconds. From “Surogat stvarnosti—pola stoljeća hrvatske animacije (Surrogate of Reality—Half a Century of Croatian Animation).

    “Surogat stvarnosti”

    When Yugoslavia emerged culturally from the rubble of World War II, one of the ways it differed from the Eastern bloc was in its embrace of abstraction as its official artistic vocabulary. But around the time Yugoslav abstraction was gaining prominence through groups such as Exat 51 in the early 1950s, the film production studio Zagreb Film began to develop a new narrative tradition in features and animations, commonly called the Zagreb School of Animation. These works often started from abstract impulses, and involved many of the same artists, including Exat 51 members Vlado Kristl and Aleksandar

  • Mai-Thu Perret, Little Planetary Harmony, 2006, aluminum, wood, drywall, latex wall paint, fluorescent light fixure, acrylic, gouache, 11' 7“ x 21' 9 3/4” x 11' 11 3/4".

    Mai-Thu Perret

    Swiss artist Mai-Thu Perret has developed a rich backstory for her oeuvre in “The Crystal Frontier,” a fictional narrative involving an all-female commune circa 1900, set in the American Southwest. This context serves as the source for her range of multidisciplinary works—posters for bake sales, suggesting alternative economies; costumes for dance performances; a monumental constructivist teapot that doubles as a freestanding gallery within the exhibition space; even a rich trove of diaristic literature—all of which detail the toils and trepidations of New

  • Caio Reisewitz, Santuario San Pedro Claver III, 2007, c-print, 221 x 180 cm.

    “The Tropics: Views from the Middle of the Globe”

    Curator Alfons Hug presents the work of twenty-one living artists from around the world alongside a hundred “premodern” pieces from the collection of the Ethnological Museum in Berlin.

    Taking as his inspiration “Magiciens de la terre,” the Centre Pompidou’s groundbreaking 1989 exhibition of African art, curator Alfons Hug presents the work of twenty-one living artists from around the world alongside a hundred “premodern” pieces from the collection of the Ethnological Museum in Berlin. Since many of the contemporary artists work in documentary formats and several are not native to the tropics, the tension between “hosts” and “guests,” as well as that between old and new, should make for dynamic viewing.

    Travels to the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio

  • the 27th São Paulo Bienal

    FOR THIS INCARNATION of the São Paulo Bienal, chief curator Lisette Lagnado—along with Adriano Pedrosa, Cristina Freire, José Roca, Rosa Martínez, and guest curator Jochen Volz—decided to do away with the exhibition’s long-standing separation by nationality. Instead, the organizers framed the exhibition around the theme stated in the biennial’s title, “Como Viver Junto” (How to Live Together), taken from a series of lectures Roland Barthes delivered at the Collège de France in Paris in 1976–77. This subject was approached from two angles, dubbed “programs for life” and “constructive projects,”

  • Mark Dion, Les Nécrophores—L'Enterrement (Hommage à Jean-Henri Fabre), 1997, synthetic mole, rope, cast resin insects, 98 7/16 x 49 3/16 x 55 1/8".

    Mark Dion

    Working at the intersection of natural science, history, and museology for more than twenty years, Mark Dion has applied systems of taxonomy to everything from marine animals in Manhattan’s Chinatown to objects found buried on the site of the extension to the New York Museum of Modern Art.

    Working at the intersection of natural science, history, and museology for more than twenty years, Mark Dion has applied systems of taxonomy to everything from marine animals in Manhattan’s Chinatown to objects found buried on the site of the extension to the New York Museum of Modern Art. This exhibition—curated by Françoise Cohen—organizes 120 of Dion’s works from the past fifteen years—including installations, drawings, and videos—into the five categories instituted by natural-history museums in the nineteenth century: earth science, entomology, archaeology, ornithology,

  • “Make Your Own Life”

    FOCUSING ON ARTISTIC productions and provocations in Cologne from roughly the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, “Make Your Own Life” is an introduction to an important and fertile moment in (mainly) German contemporary art, and it is not an easy show. In attempting to track the connections within and among the overlapping circles of artists, gallerists, musicians, and writers of that near-mythical time and place, curator Bennett Simpson has mounted an exhibition that exemplifies the difficulties of framing the complex social relations central to many crucial art-historical developments. Simpson

  • Lisa Tan

    TERMS OFTEN USED to describe interactions between lovers—tenderness, flirtatiousness, intimacy, longing, desire, even ecstasy—may also be aptly applied to the bonds between Lisa Tan and the subjects (and objects) of her artistic affections. Relationships are at the heart of this New York–based artist’s practice. Some of Tan’s works originate in encounters with other people, while others engage the artist’s emotional connection to an idea or experience; all are conceptual, and many are aesthetically spare, even minimal, but they possess considerable elegance and style nonetheless. They encompass

  • Marc-Olivier Wahler

    After five years at the helm of the Swiss Institute in New York, Marc-Olivier Wahler will become the new director of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris next month. During his tenure at the Swiss Institute, Wahler emerged as one of the most distinctive curatorial voices in New York. Through his vision we learned about the minute but irreconcilable differences between the world and its artistic representation in exhibitions that could not be easily reduced to a single theme or topic. His group shows, often bearing such open-ended titles as “Untitled (Mayday, Mayday)” (2001), “Extra” (2003), “Five Billion

  • “Who If Not We Should At Least Try to Imagine the Future of All This?”

    When the Netherlands took over the presidency of the European Union last July, it was the first full term to include the ten new member states. To celebrate this occasion, Holland implemented a vast range of cultural programs called “Thinking Forward.” The visual-art component, a series of seven exhibitions instigated by Maria Hlavajova and collectively titled “Who If Not We Should At Least Try to Imagine the Future of All This? 7 episodes on (ex)changing Europe,” comprised three different exhibitions in the Netherlands, as well as shows in Budapest, Ljubljana, Vilnius, and Warsaw.

    At Witte de