Colby Chamberlain

  • 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

  • Aldo Tambellini

    Let’s get the usual encomiums out of the way: “pioneering,” “little known but influential,” “long overdue recognition.” The language accompanying the revival of interest in Aldo Tambellini is familiar enough, as are the rites. Since 2012, Tambellini’s work has screened at the Centre Pompidou, the Tate Modern, and the Museum of Modern Art; the Harvard Film Archive has assembled a collection of restored prints; and, most recently, the artist was the subject of this retrospective, “Aldo Tambellini: We Are the Primitives of a New Era,” curated by Joseph Ketner.

    Known for the swirling black vortexes

  • picks November 04, 2013

    Paul Ramírez Jonas

    In case you find yourself curious, here are the identities of Paul Ramírez Jonas’s five “Ventriloquists,” 2013, the cork facsimiles of classical busts on pedestals at the center of his exhibition “Aggregate”: Sophocles, Freud, Lenin, Obama, Darwin. With time, you’d probably recognize them yourself—certain beards, and ears, stick out—but not easily. These famous visages are here deliberately blurred, and literally effaced. Ramírez Jonas is interested less in public figures than in publics—not audiences, crowds, masses, or populations, not the reader or the viewer, but publics. Publics, argues

  • Mary Mattingly

    Flock, 2012, the first of fifteen photographs in Mary Mattingly’s exhibition “House and Universe,” shows two geodesic domes set atop a raft adrift in the ocean. Like Mattingly’s Waterpod Project, 2009, and her current Triple Island, 2013, these domes, part of Flock House Project, 2012, have functioned as temporary, self-sufficient shelters in New York’s parks and plazas. Variously outfitted with hydroponic gardens, water-filtration systems, and buoys, they are public-art prototypes for the small-scale floating communities that Mattingly predicts will become our collective dystopian norm should

  • Maria Petschnig

    Is voyeurism ever nostalgic? Do Peeping Toms yearn for simpler times?Vasistas (all works 2013), the first of two videos in Maria Petschnig’s solo exhibition “Petschnigs’,” certainly raises the possibility. Not so long ago, the privileged text for pop-Lacanian analysis of voyeurism was Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954). Recall Jimmy Stewart, his leg in a cast, dodging the “proper” sexual advances of Grace Kelly by spying on his neighbors, consumed with the suspicion—or the fantasy—that a husband has killed his wife. There, voyeurism’s instruments are no more sophisticated than binoculars.

  • Justin Matherly

    The centerpiece of Justin Matherly’s exhibition “All industrious people” was a twenty-five-foot-long concrete sculpture modeled after several ancient stelae discovered in Turkey. Archival photographs of the rock-strewn site, thought to be the tomb of the Hellenistic king Antiochus I, appeared in large monoprints that lined the surrounding walls. It’s hardly surprising to find Matherly directly referencing archaeological digs, since for several years he has been excavating a singular ruin: sculpture itself.

    The same argument runs through each of Matherly’s pieces: Painting is periodically eulogized,

  • Sergei Tcherepnin

    In his exhibition “Ear Tone Box,” a seven-minute video showed Sergei Tcherepnin idling beneath a crumbling aqueduct at the edge of a sparsely populated plaza in Rio de Janeiro. Dressed in ripped fishnets and a blue cocktail dress, barefoot and sporting an orange bandanna, he appeared to be a lost extra straying from the set of a Pasolini film, or, given his lanky frame, Francis Alÿs in drag. He crouched and paced, occasionally catching a wary glance from a passerby while leaning against the aqueduct’s arches. It all seemed so out of place—not Tcherepnin in his louche getup, but the video

  • Ignacio Uriarte

    Ignacio Uriarte never got the memo explaining that artists often keep two résumés: one listing the exhibitions, degrees, reviews, and awards that comprise an artist’s career, and a second cataloging the stints—as bartender, computer programmer, proofreader, paralegal—that contribute to an artist’s livelihood. Pushing against this unwritten convention, Uriarte prefaces his CV with an overview of his past positions at such corporations as the German electronics conglomerate Siemens, and he underscores his administrative background by rooting his art in materials ubiquitous to cubicles.

  • Letha Wilson

    How does an artist become both modish and quaint? Both timely and anachronistic? Such is the predicament of Letha Wilson. In photography circles, the conversation seesaws between ontology and social function—that is, between a modernist concern with medium specificity and a contextualist inquiry into photography’s various “discursive spaces.” Of late, a generation of young American photographers has tipped the scales toward the former topic, insisting on photography’s status as an artistic medium by lavishing attention on its material support. Following the lead of Liz Deschenes, artists

  • picks February 14, 2013

    “The Book Lovers”

    In her essay “Two Paths for the Novel,” the author Zadie Smith argues that, despite some dalliances, the novel has remained faithful to the conventions of nineteenth-century realism. “The received wisdom of literary history,” writes Smith, “is that Finnegans Wake did not fundamentally disturb realism’s course as Duchamp’s urinal disturbed realism in the visual arts.” For artists, the readymade cast doubt on all the old assumptions—the authenticity of the individual, the fixity of meaning, humanism’s whole song-and-dance—yet somehow the authors of novels have carried on unperturbed.

    But what if

  • Gina Beavers

    The paintings in Gina Beavers’s solo exhibition “Palate,” we are told, were based on images of food found online, mostly through social media. Sounds ho-hum, no? Why must a painter so strenuously declare the jpeg provenance of her reference points? What gave rise to the trending sentiment that Google Image Search serves up a more convincing representation of the world than anything encountered en plein air? What genre—if that term even applies—of online photography could be more gratingly anodyne than the compulsively shared cataloging of last night’s dinner? Is this some flailing

  • picks January 11, 2013

    George Maciunas

    In Fluxmanifesto on Fluxamusement, 1965, George Maciunas writes, “To establish [the] artist[’]s nonprofessional, nonparasitic, nonelite status in society, he must demonstrate [his] own dispensability . . . he must demonstrate that anything can substitute art and anyone can do it.” To rephrase, the role of the artist is, paradoxically enough, to eliminate the role of the artist. Maciunas’s ambivalence, if not outright hostility, toward art as a profession accounts for his reluctance to identify as an artist; he preferred to introduce himself as an architect, a graphic designer, or as the chairman

  • Haroon Mirza

    For his first New York solo exhibition, curated by Gary Carrion-Murayari and Jenny Moore, British artist Haroon Mirza stocked the New Museum’s next-door storefront space with signal emitters. Studio speakers issue modemlike trills, junk-shop televisions flash syncopated bursts of white noise, and strips of LED lights intermittently douse the room in red, blue, or green. It is an installation that doubles as a concert, a pulsing electric fugue.

    Surprisingly, the installation also supplies an inadvertent comment on the legacy of Matisse, specifically the painter’s characterization of his art as “