Colby Chamberlain

  • 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

  • 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.