Colby Chamberlain

  • CRITICAL CARE

    THEORY ON TUESDAYS, guests on Thursdays. So goes the weekly rhythm of the Whitney Independent Study Program: seminars led by the program’s legendary founding director, Ron Clark, followed by sessions with visiting artists, curators, and scholars. The year I attended, during the 2011–12 academic term, a break in this pattern occurred in February, when it was announced that a fellow member of my cohort, Park McArthur, would lead a seminar on Rosemarie Garland-Thomson’s “Integrating Disability, Transforming Feminist Theory.”1 The week before, McArthur had emailed the group an entry on disability

  • Julian Schnabel

    Art-historical accounts of the 1980s are dominated by the tale of two postmodernisms, which pits the critical rigor of Pictures artists against the fast-and-loose pluralism of neo-expressionists. In this morality play, Julian Schnabel has reliably borne the epithets of the archvillain. He is by turns the preening heel, the masculinist brute, or the avaricious avatar of the Reagan zeitgeist. There are stakes, then, in not allowing Schnabel’s persona—the pajamas, the real estate, even the films—to distract from taking a hard look at the paintings themselves, including those in his show “The Patch

  • Rochelle Goldberg

    Let us remember the Chia Pet. This brand of terra-cotta animal and human figurines contained chia seeds that, with regular watering, would sprout to resemble fur or hair. Its advertising jingle, “Ch-ch-ch-chia!,” played during 1980s cartoons such as The Transformers and M.A.S.K., which were themselves little more than extended commercials for toys that also catered to a fascination with change. To my knowledge, the artist Rochelle Goldberg has never cited the Chia Pet as an influence, but the fact remains that the work for which she first came to prominence appropriated the novelty item’s key

  • Teresa Margolles

    In their book Mengele’s Skull (2012), Eyal Weizman and Thomas Keenan argue that the history of international criminal justice has two stages: the era of testimony, inaugurated by the capture of Adolf Eichmann in 1961; and the era of forensics, which arose from the discovery (and subsequent need to positively identify) the remains of Josef Mengele in 1985. In the former, witnesses spoke; now, in the latter, things are made to speak, through an activation of scientific, legal, and aesthetic strategies. Curiously, the cited dates sync almost perfectly with two key moments in the history of Minimalist

  • Jennifer and Kevin McCoy

    When the textbook history of contemporary art at the turn of the twenty-first century is eventually written, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy will likely appear under the heading “From Critique to Creative Disruption.” Citing the magazine Adbusters, Naomi Klein’s No Logo (1999), and Nato Thompson’s The Interventionists: Users’ Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life (2004), the chapter will explain how the critical postmodernism of the 1980s morphed into a neo-Situationism that advocated culture jamming and off-kilter annexations of public space. In part, this change flagged a reshuffling

  • Nicole Cherubini

    No single word suffices. To describe Nicole Cherubini’s sculptures as “urns” connotes antiquity’s lost grandeur, archaeological recovery, or the ashes of the departed. To call them “pots” implies decorative home wares, Sunday ceramic workshops, and that scene from Ghost. “Vase” is too elegant, “vessel” too vague. “Specific object” has the benefit of stressing a phenomenological dimension but is otherwise useless. In any case, volumes assuming the shape and material histories of clay containers have been the central motif of Cherubini’s work for more than twenty years. Here, the artist included

  • Howardena Pindell

    In the catalogue for “Autobiography,” her first solo exhibition since her 2018 retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Howardena Pindell tells the story of how, in 1979, a car accident on Long Island left her with a long-term concussion that impaired her memory. She turned to painting as a means of recovery, incorporating more of her personal experiences into her professional practice in order to close the gaps in her recollection. (Though not included in the present show, Pindell’s video Free, White and 21, 1980, sprang from the same impulse.) To inaugurate what came to be

  • “Christo et Jeanne-Claude: Paris!”

    Curated by Sophie Duplaix

    In 1958, the Bulgarian emigré Christo Javacheff met Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon (1935–2009), the daughter of a French military general. Their improbable union led to a succession of logistically sublime outdoor installations that have been alternately reviled as media spectacles and celebrated as imaginative civic acts. This April, Christo is likely to stir up a debate over nationalism and its symbols when he swaddles the Arc de Triomphe in the red and blue of the tricolor. In parallel, this thematic retrospective of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work will help to

  • Elaine Cameron-Weir

    Let’s get these out of the way: A BDSM dungeon for alchemist Bitcoin investors. A druid hideaway in the abandoned Palo Alto headquarters of the corporation Theranos. A crossover between Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, where Walter White cooks meth for White Walkers. I could go on. This is the kind of prose that the art of Elaine Cameron-Weir inspires. Her assemblage sculptures and their lengthy, loopy titles—e.g., at the end of the line an echo sliding downtown the mercurial reflective pool of a familiar voice and me a person it never made real in the mirrors of my own halls (all works

  • “HITO STEYERL: THIS IS THE FUTURE”

    Curated by Adelina Vlas

    The Dziga Vertov of finance capital? The Robert Smithson of JPEGS? Cyborg Agnès Varda? Harun Farocki, but funny? Hito Steyerl may be difficult to describe, but it is undeniable that her films, essays, and installations have supplied an off-kilter and incisive running commentary on the technological paroxysms and geopolitical crises of the past fifteen years. Steyerl’s first Canadian retrospective will occupy the entire fifth floor of the museum’s contemporary tower and feature eleven works, ranging from the elegiac November, 2004, to the algorithmically psychedelic This

  • “DAWN KASPER: THE WOLF AND THE HEAD ON FIRE”

    Curated by Christina Lehnert

    If you have ever met Dawn Kasper over the course of her decadelong couch-surfing occupation of major exhibitions, known officially as the Nomadic Studio Practice, 2008–, chances are you remember the encounter but can’t quite recall the particulars. Like the loquacious houseguest who keeps you up until 4 am, Kasper speaks in a hypnotic, wildly associative stream of consciousness that’s half comic, half cosmic. Her antic energy also permeates her bric-a-brac installations, whose maximalism borders on that of works by her former employer Jason Rhoades. At Portikus, Kasper

  • Dora Budor

    New York University opened 80WSE in 1974, initially as a showcase for student work and later as a venue for practicing artists. Currently under the direction of curator Nicola Lees, the gallery’s programming is heady, multifaceted and experimental, oftentimes incorporating the expertise of NYU’s diverse faculty. 80WSE is also—sorry to say—a challenging place to mount an exhibition. Its physical dimensions are awkwardly scaled, and its floor plan faintly resembles a coiled python digesting a family of antelope.

    Most artists commissioned by 80WSE learn to cope with this space; Dora Budor wanted to