Christine Macel

  • the 57th Venice Biennale

    OPENING ON MAY 13, the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale will take place amid roiling geopolitical waters—and massive shifts regarding the production of objects, ideas, and selves. Curator Christine Macel talked with Artforum editor Michelle Kuo about artistic process and the trajectory of the world’s biggest exhibition.

    MICHELLE KUO: Your title for the Biennale, “Viva Arte Viva,” literally places art at the center of life.

    CHRISTINE MACEL: The exhibition puts art and the artist first. Everything in the show has been deduced from this starting point.

    By contrast, most Biennales begin with a theme,

  • Christine Macel

    1 MIRIAM CAHN (JOCELYN WOLFF AND MEYER RIEGGER, FIAC, PARIS) Cahn was present at these two gallery booths at FIAC last year, following a remarkable solo show at Wolff in Paris. Cahn’s personality is as intense and sharp as her painting: One never tires of it. Take the fascinating Verhüllt (Covered), 2007, in which an enigmatic female figure, veiled in black, emerges from a purple background.

    2 PHILIPPE PARRENO (HANGARBICOCCA, MILAN; CURATED BY ANDREA LISSONI) HangarBicocca offered Parreno the ideal conditions for his way of working from a script and on a grand scale. His restaged pieces formed

  • Christine Macel

    1 BRAZILIAN MODERNISM Two thousand fourteen was the year of the great modernist Brazilian trio of Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, and Mira Schendel, each granted his or her own retrospective. The Oiticica exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (curated by César Oiticica Filho and Rachael Thomas), had the advantage of being conceived with Oiticica Filho, who visibly transmitted the spirit of his uncle into a joyful exhibition design that encouraged direct access to, and manipulation of, the artist’s colorful objects and environments. This interactive element was also central to the

  • Christine Macel

    1 Adrián Villar Rojas Born in 1980 in Argentina, Villar Rojas burst onto the scene this summer at the Argentinean pavilion in Venice with Ahora estaré con mi hijo, el asesino de tu herencia (Now I Will Be with My Son, the Murderer of Your Heritage), 2011, a large clay forest inspired by the hypothesis of multiverses. Later in the year, his Poemas para terrestres (Poems for Earthlings), 2011, a large horizontal obelisk made mostly of clay and cement, occupied a gravel path in the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. Despite their size, Villar Rojas’s sculptures tend toward the ephemeral, situated

  • Christine Macel

    1 Petrit Halilaj (Berlin Biennale; curated by Kathrin Rhomberg) Halilaj’s 2009 solo exhibition at the Chert gallery in Berlin, which documented plans to build a chicken coop with family and friends in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, was further developed in the Biennale. At the heart of the Kunst-Werke, viewers found a discreetly political installation: an oversize replica of a house the artist had tried to build for relatives in Pristina, only to be stymied by lack of a permit. Chickens clucked nearby, as if in disapproval of Kosovar bureaucrats.

    2 Simon Fujiwara (Art Statements, Art Basel) Since

  • Christine Macel

    CHRISTINE MACEL

    1 Roman Ondák, Loop, 2009 (Czech Republic and Slovak Republic pavilion, Venice Biennale) The best pavilion at the Biennale was also the most discreet. Indeed, one hardly noticed it, since Ondák paradoxically distinguished himself via the technique of camouflage: He perfectly replicated the pavilion garden in minute detail inside the pavilion itself and thus cloaked the art space with a verdant layer of reality. In this manner, Ondák (and his curator, Kathrin Rhomberg) brilliantly short-circuited everyone trying too hard to stand out. No name, no text labels, no printed information:

  • Christine Macel

    CHRISTINE MACEL

    1 Monika Sosnowska (Schaulager, Basel) This thirty-six-year-old Polish artist mounted the most compelling exhibition I saw this year (curated by Theodora Vischer). For the first time in her career, Sosnowska brought together old work and some new—nine sculptures, both tiny and huge, each engaging the problem of scale. I’ll never forget her enormous hanging/dropped ceiling, with pieces of its center having fallen onto the floor; her human-size sculpture on “legs”; her mini-city in a paper bag.

    2 Anri Sala (Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris) As a reflection on the notion of site,