Colby Chamberlain

  • Josh Kline

    I first visited Josh Kline’s studio in the fall of 2008, and I still haven’t recovered from the shock. At the time, Kline was filling bankers boxes with Bic pens, then slathering them in beige paint. Drawings of Tylenol bottles lay crumpled together in a pile. Everything seemed half-finished or badly neglected, yet Kline spoke of the work with animated conviction. Even in his studio, Kline harped on his day job, deeply bothered by how the protocols, postures, and products of his office had come to saturate his body.

    Kline no longer reports to an office, but he is nevertheless preoccupied with

  • Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin

    From his undergraduate days onward, Ryan Trecartin has displayed the sort of raw talent that inspires recourse to German: Wunderkind, Gesamtkunstwerk, Zeitgeist. In this respect, and several others, the most salient point of comparison to Trecartin’s career is Matthew Barney’s ascension in the 1990s. Call it the Clark Kent Effect: The art world keeps coronating fresh-faced male phenoms from the heartland. Like Barney, Trecartin combines cinematic video suites with baroque sculptural installations, maintains from project to project the same close-knit cadre of collaborators (chief among them

  • Andrea Bowers

    When Hillary Clinton recently described the barriers to racial equality as “intersectional,” the leftist journal Jacobin tweeted a wry salute to whichever Ph.D. student had joined her campaign as a speechwriter. The editors were calling out Clinton’s nod to legal theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw’s influential argument that discriminatory practices structured by differences in race, gender, or class “intersect” and compound one another. More subtly, the tweet posited an intersection of a different sort: an imagined Ph.D.-politico coupling academic jargon with campaign rhetoric. These two valences of

  • Julia Weist

    Parbunkells: two ropes bound together, with a loop on both ends. In June 2015, Julia Weist placed this single word on a billboard above a busy thoroughfare in Forest Hills, Queens. Any curious onlooker who plugged it into Google—and there were many—would have discovered just a single result, Weist’s own web page. Prior to her plucking it from a seventeenth-century sailor’s manual, parbunkells appeared nowhere on the Internet. That changed quickly. Parbunkells became a thread on Reddit; someone started a parbunkells Instagram account; on eBay, the domain name parbunkells.org went on

  • “Ocean of Images”

    “Photography is a system of visual editing,” wrote John Szarkowski, MoMA’s long-presiding chief curator of photography. “At bottom, it is a matter of surrounding with a frame a portion of one’s cone of vision, while standing in the right place at the right time.” The belief that photography comes down to finding a spot in the landscape guided Szarkowki’s selections for “New Photography,” the annual showcase he inaugurated in 1985, and it continued to hold sway in the installments organized under his successor, Peter Galassi. Quentin Bajac, the department’s latest chief curator, broke with the

  • Ajay Kurian

    At the recent exhibition of Mike Kelley’s “Kandor” series at Hauser & Wirth in New York, it was easy to forget that these seductive glass-enclosed resin cityscapes—essentially overwrought snow globes—were emblems of trauma. In comic-book lore, Kandor is the last remnant of Superman’s destroyed planet, Krypton, shrunk down and preserved beneath a bell jar. “Kandor now sits, frozen in time,” wrote Kelley, “a perpetual reminder of [Superman’s] inability to escape that past, and his alienated relationship to his present world.” The influence of Kelley’s Kandors is evident throughout the

  • Martine Syms

    Martine Syms has lectured in venues as varied as the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, and, this past September, in a field on the outskirts of Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, New York. There, seated at a table with a makeshift AV setup, she played a recording of James Taylor’s 1968 ballad “Something in the Way She Moves.” The wistful vocals momentarily heightened the easy romance of a countryside evening, but then Syms began speaking of how she grew up studying her aunt—in effect transposing Taylor’s admiration of a nameless lover onto a

  • Keltie Ferris

    In 2012, Keltie Ferris tried to throw her body into painting—and it wasn’t working out. Gamely, she smeared her torso in paint and pressed herself against canvas, but she found the results embarrassingly direct and, at the same time, discomfitingly haunted by Yves Klein. Then, on a visit to “Now Dig This!,” curator Kellie Jones’s survey of postwar black art in Los Angeles at MoMA PS1, she encountered David Hammons’s body prints of the late 1960s and early ’70s. Hammons had coated himself in margarine or grease and then lay atop paper sheets, leaving a gluey residue that could be used to

  • “Under the Clouds: From Paranoia to the Digital Sublime”

    “No more vapor theory anymore,” wrote media theorist Geert Lovink in 2002. Already, tech-giddy journalists were portraying information networks as fuzzy, weightless, ethereal. Now, of course, “the cloud” is the strategically innocuous marketing term favored by companies eager to store (and harvest) consumer data. Curator João Ribas seeks to strengthen the cloud’s political valence by connecting it back to the mushroom cloud of Cold War paranoia. For the atomic age and the information age alike, the cloud has served as a condensation of technology and affect that conjures

  • diary March 04, 2015

    Barely Legal

    INTERDISCIPLINARY CONFERENCES require extra signage. I’ve been to symposia at Yale before, but last Saturday’s was my first at the law school, so it was only by grace of several fluorescent red posters that I found the auditorium and the gratis coffee. An enormous freestanding placard marked the check-in desk: “The Legal Medium: New Encounters of Art and Law.” There, four graduate students sat in a row tending to stacks of name tags, each of them, jarringly enough, dressed in red—a swatch-book’s worth of clashing hues. When I opened the program they handed me, I half expected to find a Valentine’s

  • R. H. Quaytman

    In Tristes Tropiques, Claude Lévi-Strauss recalls how little he knew of Brazil before he moved there. “In my imagination,” he writes, “I associated Brazil with clumps of twisted palm trees concealing bizarrely designed kiosks and pavilions.” Oddly enough, a painting in R. H. Quaytman’s exhibition “O Tópico, Chapter 27” included a silk screen of just such an image, a Polaroid she took of Hélio Oiticica’s Penetravel Magic Square no. 5 De Luxe, 1977. The work’s stark geometry cuts through the foliage at Inhotim, the vast art park in Minas Gerais. The contents of Quaytman’s show were headed there

  • James Hoff

    Clement Greenberg, 1960: “The first mark made on a canvas destroys its literal and utter flatness, and the result of the marks made on it by an artist like Mondrian is still a kind of illusion that suggests a kind of third dimension. Only now it is a strictly pictorial, strictly optical third dimension.” Here Greenberg fastidiously refined his earlier pronouncements on painting’s intrinsic qualities. The picture plane’s “heightened sensitivity,” he explained, was such that even the taut weaves of Mondrian’s last compositions still induced the pleasant vertigo of illusory depth—albeit a “

  • Mel Bochner

    CONCISELY, SUCCINCTLY, PITHILY, “Mel Bochner: Strong Language” opened with two works, both titled Self/Portrait—the first, from 1966, ink on graph paper; the second, from 2013, oil on canvas. In each, the words SELF and PORTRAIT sat atop parallel columns of synonyms, with EGO beside PORTRAYAL, ONESELF beside HEAD, and so on, a sequence that yielded nonsensical yet evocative phrases such as ONENESS DELINEATION and SPIRIT MIRROR. The painting’s proportions were somewhat longer and its word lists a tad shorter, but the works’ correspondence was unmistakable, as was the curatorial conceit. “

  • GCC

    It seems like a joke, doesn’t it, for GCC to claim that it was founded in the VIP lounge of Art Dubai 2013? That nine young artists with roots in the Middle East formed a partnership while sporting art-fair badges? The scene comes off as satire, a wry comment on high culture’s role in rebranding the emirates as teetotaling Xanadus. Certainly in New York, where GCC made its US debut with the exhibition “Achievements in Retrospective,” there’s precedent for concocted origin stories (e.g., the Bruce High Quality Foundation notoriously backdates its beginnings to 9/11). Yet the facts check out. Art

  • Mark Leckey

    The white cube. The black box. The green screen. Mark Leckey’s “A Month of Making” heralded the latest of these color-coded exhibition conventions. First the modern museum delimited the contemplation of painting and sculpture to supposedly neutral, blank-slate conditions; then it folded the filmic apparatus into darkened, immersive environments; now it furnishes backdrops for rehearsal and other modes of cultural labor once sequestered from public view. At Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, a green screen and a blue screen stood side by side, populated by assorted objects, such as a plaster cast of

  • Ellie Ga

    What to call it? A preface? A primer? An afterimage? In the corridor leading into, or out of, Ellie Ga’s three-channel video installation Four Thousand Blocks, 2013–14, hung a single white sheet bearing the impress of a text, faintly legible in raking light. It told the story of Thoth, the ibis-headed god who offers an Egyptian king the technology of writing, which, he promises, “will make humans wiser and improve their memories.” The king quickly corrects him. “What you have discovered is not the recipe for memory, but the drug of reminding,” he pronounces. “With your invention, they will be

  • Margaret Lee

    No need to walk in. You could see everything through the window from the street. Atop a platform, before a freestanding wall, several items: a Rietveld chair, a Vitra stool, nesting tables by Superstudio. Hanging from the wall, a painting. Standing to the right, Brancusi’s Endless Column. Also, a dog—or rather, a cutout silhouette of a dog, its two-dimensional head tilted upward. Everything was painted white, with scattered dots. Black, grapefruit-size dots.

    Such was Margaret Lee’s “closer to right than wrong / closer to wrong than right,” an ensemble of facsimiles fabricated out of MDF and

  • Los Angeles Poverty Department

    In 1984, performance artist John Malpede relocated from New York to Los Angeles and took a job as an outreach paralegal at Inner City Law Center. Out of the ICLC’s offices on Skid Row, Malpede held theater workshops for the area’s homeless population, assembling a core of performers now known as the Los Angeles Poverty Department. For nearly thirty years, LAPD has remained a neighborhood fixture while also conducting residencies across the country. The collective has now received its first museum retrospective, “Do you want the cosmetic version, or do you want the real deal? Los Angeles Poverty

  • Jill Magid

    “I roamed the lobbies of hotels in the city looking for a man in an expensive vintage suit,” writes Jill Magid in her book Failed States (2012), “a discreet, older, subtle man who knew things, who was looking for me too.” Magid keeps searching for the right partner. Those who have followed her career over the past decade have met security-camera operators in Liverpool, UK, agents of the Dutch secret service, and an officer of the NYPD. With these (mostly male) members of government authorities, Magid has cultivated chaste but intimate relationships, and then turned the ensuing rapport into raw

  • Jon Rafman

    Someone should have told Jon Rafman to restrain himself. His inaugural exhibition at Zach Feuer was packed, and unevenly so: Upon entering, you encountered racks of plastic video-game cases with labels showing Thomas Cole’s early-nineteenth-century Course of Empire landscapes; a granite floor plaque engraved with the names and closing dates of defunct New York State malls; stacks of a newsprint giveaway featuring an essay, oral histories, and a back-page comic strip; two Alienware laptops, one wrapped in fake reptilian skin, the other in fleshy epoxy; three featureless and fluidly warped urethane