Colby Chamberlain

  • “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

  • Robert Morris

    In her autobiography Feelings Are Facts (2006), Yvonne Rainer recalls visiting Robert Morris’s installation Passageway, 1961, at Yoko Ono’s Chambers Street loft in New York. “I traipsed downtown and up the five flights expecting some kind of performance, only to be met, on opening the door, by a three-foot wide curving corridor with [a] seven-foot high ceiling that ended in a pointed cul-de-sac,” writes Rainer. “I was so outraged that I wrote on the wall ‘Fuck you too, Bob Morris.’” Notice the “too.” For those familiar with the indignities of Rainer’s subsequent relationship with Morris, this

  • Lorraine O’Grady

    Frames within frames: For a lecture in 1969, Jacques Derrida distributed copies of “Mimique,” a prose poem written by Stéphane Mallarmé in 1897 describing a theatrical scene involving the pantomime character Pierrot, whom Mallarmé had read about in a pamphlet purportedly authored by the mime himself. In the scene, Pierrot learns that his wife, Columbine, has betrayed him, and he resolves to murder her—by tickling her to death. Pierrot performs this fanciful deed onstage, playing the parts of both tickler and tickled, alternately wriggling his hands ferociously and giggling with helpless delight.

  • BROUGHT TO JUSTICE

    IF THE AUTONOMY of art was ever actually a thing, it ended with smartphones. The whole time I was visiting “Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the Justice System” at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston on October 6 of last year, I was painfully aware that if I pulled out the screen in my pocket, I might have to confront that inevitable, disheartening headline: SENATE CONFIRMS KAVANAUGH. The white cube was no antidote to the nausea of the present. If aestheticism’s belief in art’s distance from social and political concerns still endures, it does so only in the negative, as a sense of

  • Jes Fan

    At Recess, a roomful of strangers seated themselves around folding tables and sliced open dead squid. They sifted through viscera to locate the cephalopods’ ink sacs, which they then extracted, pierced, and squeezed, draining the organs’ viscous contents into jars. Artist Jes Fan led the autopsy. He circled the tables to lend each group hands-on help, and he distributed a DIY pamphlet with a diagram of squid innards and several pages of fun facts on melanin, the biomolecule that gives squid ink its dark hue. Melanin absorbs gamma radiation, which is why melanized fungal microorganisms can survive

  • Analia Saban

    Why did Analytic Cubism have to be so drab? All that black, ocher, and gray. Something about Picasso and Braque’s joint effort to pry apart the conventions of naturalist painting—linear perspective, chiaroscuro, modeling—drove them toward the dullest of hues. Analia Saban’s exhibition “Punched Card” betrayed a similar impulse. Her work waged a campaign to disarticulate painting in a muted palette of matte black and linen beige. But whereas Cubism targeted painting’s signs, Saban’s post-centennial update took aim at painting’s techniques.

    The exhibition centered on two principal bodies

  • Jack Smith

    In Artists Space’s final exhibition at 55 Walker Street, a hulking television monitor screened mottled, mid-1970s footage of Jack Smith standing outside the Cologne Zoological Garden, resplendent in a feathered turban. “The Museum is filled with a lot of stuff chosen from artists who represent the artist as the playmate of the rich,” he intones. “These artists suck art out of everyday life and transfer it to paintings and other kinds of crusts and sell it to galleries—who in turn sell it to museums and the rich so that the art eventually ends up in penthouses and storage warehouses of

  • QUEENS INTERNATIONAL 2018: “VOLUMES”

    In 2013, the Queens Museum completed a new wing that doubled the institution’s size and created a skylit interior plaza for public gatherings. A second phase of construction will incorporate a branch of the Queens Library. To consider what forms of community engagement might arise from the merger of museum and library, the eighth Queens International will explore alternative modes of reading, information storage, and archival research, with work by Gabriela Salazar, Milford Graves, Camel Collective, and other borough-based artists. Concurrently,

  • ADELITA HUSNI-BEY

    “REPEAT DARKLY,” said Adelita Husni-Bey: “‘There is no such thing as society, there are men and women.’” During an interview with Clara Schulmann in 2015, Husni-Bey uttered Margaret Thatcher’s famous words as if they were a sinister spell—in J. L. Austin’s terms, not a constative (“There is no society”), but a performative (“I, Thatcher, hereby abolish society”). Husni-Bey is hardly alone in ascribing a malevolent power to the Iron Lady. Across Britain, downloads of “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead” shot up when Thatcher passed away in 2013. And while the Munchkin effervescence was doubtless

  • Bogosi Sekhukhuni

    So much for small talk. For his solo debut in North America, Bogosi Sekhukhuni positioned the exhibition’s unwieldiest artwork at the gallery’s entrance. The video by NTU (Bogosi Sekhukhuni with Nolan Oswald Dennis and Tabita Rezaire) Thus Saith the Lord (Overunity), 2015, opens with a narrator arguing in voice-over that science’s rationalist paradigm fails to account for the multiple historical figures who have attributed their major discoveries to visions or dreams. Blurry jpeg portraits of Dmitri Mendeleev, Srinivasa Ramanujan, and Albert Einstein flash across the screen, leading finally to

  • Sean Raspet

    While researching Soviet Constructivism for her book The Artist as Producer (2005), Maria Gough uncovered one of history’s great ironies: After the Russian Revolution, the avant-garde agreed on the common goal of integrating art with mass production. The artist who came closest to succeeding, Karl Ioganson, is now the least well known of his peers. Ioganson so dedicated himself to improving factory-floor efficiency that his records were not housed alongside those of Aleksandr Rodchenko or Lyubov Popova but were instead located in the Soviet Union’s archives of industry and labor.

    I sometimes

  • Hannah Levy

    “Full fathom five thy father lies / Of his bones are coral made / Those are pearls that were his eyes / Nothing of him that doth fade / But doth suffer a sea-change / Into something rich and strange.” This passage from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1610–11), describing a human body undergoing an underwater metamorphosis, has particular significance for twentieth-century art. In 1947, Jackson Pollock made Full Fathom Five the title of one his most materially dense drip paintings, suggesting a kind of transubstantiation. The nails, tacks, and cigarette butts embedded in the canvas had been raised up

  • Jessica Vaughn

    In his book 1971: A Year in the Life of Color, 2016, Darby English adopts the term representationalism to critique the tendency among scholars to analyze the abstract paintings of black artists by seeking out coded affirmations of racial identity—relating, for instance, the layered compositions of Joe Overstreet to the hair weaves at his mother’s beauty salon, or characterizing Ed Clark’s use of a broom to spread acrylic over his canvases as an homage to janitors. This tendency, English contends, foists onto abstraction precisely the sort of static definitions it aims to elude. This past

  • Sam Moyer

    Sam Moyer’s first solo show in New York, “Night Moves,” took place in 2008 at Cleopatra’s, the independent storefront space in Greenpoint founded that year by Bridget Donahue, Bridget Finn, Kate McNamara, and Erin Somerville. There, Moyer presented five “paintings” made of stretcher bars wrapped in moving blankets. Appropriately enough, Moyer had first become interested in the formal qualities of moving blankets—their off-kilter color combinations, the patterns of their stitching—while assisting the artist Mika Tajima, who at the time had taken to displaying paintings in the kind of

  • “Stories of Almost Everyone”

    Thanks to Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and Clement Greenberg, the Greek statue of Laocoön is indelibly associated with modernism’s strict separation of narrative and plastic arts. Now that medium-specific studio artists have ceded ground to project-based multitaskers experimenting with documentary, ethnographic, and archival research, however, perhaps we need to revisit the story behind the statue. After all, who is Laocoön if not the first critic to caution against accepting an artwork at face value? This survey of art from the past twenty years,

  • Jordan Casteel

    The initial response to Jordan Casteel’s “Nights in Harlem” is a case study in how an exhibition’s reception can be overdetermined by an immediately preceding exhibition. By dint of their subject matter, her larger-than-life paintings of black men she met on the streets of Harlem inevitably recall the recent survey of portraits by Alice Neel of her neighbors in Spanish Harlem and on the Upper West Side, organized by Hilton Als at David Zwirner gallery. This has prompted critics to equate Casteel with Neel, more out of reflex than reflection. Most prominently, Jerry Saltz proclaimed Casteel “

  • Trevor Paglen

    Back to school: Trevor Paglen produced his important early work on military black sites and extraordinary rendition while pursuing a doctorate in geography at the University of California, Berkeley. Having already received his MFA, he drew on geography’s analytic tools to develop an artistic practice premised on the hunch that, however “secret,” clandestine government programs would always leave material traces—facilities, flight records, post office boxes—that could be located, documented, and made visible to a broader public. This year, Paglen spent several months as an artist-in-residence

  • Devon Dikeou

    Before David H. Koch affixed his name to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exterior plaza; before the Rockefellers funded the Museum of Modern Art’s international program during the Cold War; before Solomon R. Guggenheim, J. P. Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie marshaled their fortunes toward “refining” American culture; before several centuries’ worth of upstanding burghers, upstart aristocrats, and absolutist royals who amassed collections and awarded commissions, there were popes. How different the history of Western art would be without Julius II, who commissioned Raphael’s Stanza della Segnatura

  • Anne Neukamp

    Friedrich Kittler launched his lifelong investigation into how “media determine our situation” with a simple insight: that Michel Foucault, for all his brilliance, never reckoned with data storage systems other than the written word. The whole rich field of “German media theory” has emerged out of this blind spot. Kittler’s methods not only have transformed our understanding of analog and digital technologies, but also have alerted us to the technicity of writing itself. Typographic “operators,” like commas, quotation marks, and footnotes, all have their own complicated histories that Foucault