Colby Chamberlain

  • View of “Kevin Jerome Everson,” 2021. From left: Opel, 2021; Signal Thirty, 2021.

    Kevin Jerome Everson

    In North America, the formal rigor of avant-garde cinema has fostered the impression that its foremost practitioners disdain emotional expression. Yet this cannot be said of the movement’s nominal godfather, the late Jonas Mekas, whose films are saturated with plaintive meditations on his childhood in rural Lithuania, his years in DP camps following World War II, and his provisional reconstitution of a home in New York. This story of rupture and dislocation, critic David E. James has observed, follows the thematic arc of modernity itself, wherein the comforting rhythms of agrarian life are

  • THE STRANGER

    “I KNOW YOU ARE DAVE, but who is Dave?” Sixteen years ago, in these pages, the artist Glenn Ligon recounted how a stranger once posed this question to Dave McKenzie’s face. Or rather, she posed it to a papier-mâché approximation of his face, which McKenzie wore while he handed out bobblehead figurines of himself during an opening at SculptureCenter in New York. Ligon floated a few possible rejoinders: Dave was a dancing machine; Dave felt your pain; Dave wanted to be like Mike; Dave believed he could fly; Dave was a dime-store Jesus, for whom made-in-China tchotchkes were the bread and wine of

  • Mira Schor, The Painter’s Studio, 2020, ink, acrylic, and gesso on tracing paper, 9' 11" × 19'.

    Mira Schor

    Perhaps you know of Mira Schor as an alumna of the legendary “Womanhouse” exhibition of 1972, a coeditor of the journal M/E/A/N/I/N/G (1986–96, 2002–16), and the author of Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture (1997) and A Decade of Negative Thinking: Essays on Art, Politics, and Daily Life (2009). Or perhaps you recognize her from Twitter, where she regularly weighs in on current events and retweets various left-leaning blue-check accounts. “Tipping Point,” a selection of works Schor made over the course of the Trump presidency, reflected the difficulty in reconciling the discrepant

  • Craig Kalpakjian, Silent Running, 2019–20, dual moving head spotlight, DMX controller, houseplant, lighting truss and base, security mirror, counterbalance weight, watering can. Installation view.

    Craig Kalpakjian

    An increasingly common trope in big-budget science-fiction films has been mankind’s departure from an overcrowded or ecologically devastated Earth. Such films include WALL-E (2008), Elysium (2013), Interstellar (2014), Passengers (2016), and The Midnight Sky (2020). An early example of this premise is Silent Running (1972), directed by Douglas Trumbull and starring Bruce Dern as Freeman Lowell, a botanist on board a space freighter transporting bio-domes filled with specimens of otherwise extinct flora and fauna. When the freighter receives orders to destroy the samples, Lowell attempts to save

  • Rick Lowe, Untitled, 2018, paint marker on collaged paper, 6 × 12'. From “Storage_.”

    “Storage_”

    When the social-practice conference Open Engagement came to New York in 2014, I remember being struck by how much vital work in reimagining art’s capacity for community involvement was happening elsewhere in the United States, and by how comparatively little of it was reflected in the city’s vaunted museums, venerable nonprofits, or myriad commercial galleries. That may now be changing. Two of the most influential figures in the field of social practice, Theaster Gates and Rick Lowe—the founders of the Rebuild Foundation in Chicago and Project Row Houses in Houston’s Third Ward, respectively—both

  • Park McArthur, Ramps, 2010-2014, 20 access ramps from various art institutions, 5 aluminum signs, vinyl wall text, dimensions variable, detail [An artwork in the form of a web address rendered in black adhesive vinyl lettering adhered to a white wall spelling out: h t t p s colon forward slash forward slash e n dot wikipedia dot org forward slash wiki forward slash capital m marta underscore capital r russell.]

    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, Lagunillas II, 2018, oil on found fabric, 11' 8“ × 14' 8”.

    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, Corpse Kitty: towards a friendly fatality, 2020, bronze, eye shadow, 19 3⁄4 × 40 1⁄8 × 12 5⁄8".

    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, Dos bancos (Two Benches), 2020, cement and mixed media, each 19 3⁄4 × 17 3⁄4 × 55 1⁄8".

    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, CLEANER, 2019, 4K video, color, sound, 27 minutes 10 seconds.

    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

  • View of “Nicole Cherubini,” 2019. Foreground from left: Red One, Athena, 2019; Chair 1—blue VW bus, 2019. Background from left: Chair 5—turquoise with shard, 2019; Deep Blue Sea, 2019; Chair 4, 2019.

    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, Autobiography: Fire (Suttee), 1986–87, mixed media on canvas, 90 × 56".

    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