Colby Chamberlain

  • picks August 02, 2007

    “1950s–1960s Kinetic Abstraction”

    At a distance, Hartmut Böhm’s HF 10, 1965, would pass for an oil painting were it not for the power cord emerging from its frame. The cord is twisted and yellowed, with an on/off switch typical to lamps bought at swap meets, and it tethers the work to that moment in the late 1950s and early 1960s when Kinetic Abstraction gained traction as an international (albeit mostly European) art movement. Like Op art, the movement was briefly a media darling and is now deserving of critical reappraisal, the groundwork for which may be this commendable exhibition. Organized in consultation with German

  • picks July 12, 2007

    Jill Magid

    Wrapped in a red trench coat, eyes closed shut amid a milling crowd, Jill Magid might be the ingenue lead of a New Wave film, only the city is not Paris but Liverpool, the jerky cinematography not that of Raoul Coutard but the video-surveillance program Citywatch, and the offhand narrator an officer stationed at a closed-circuit television who directs her safely through the streets by means of a radio nestled in her ear. Whether it be this trust exercise mediated by a security camera or, as in another piece, a consent form redrafted as a love letter, Jill Magid’s beguiling work plays along the

  • picks July 11, 2007

    “New Economy”

    A ceiling fan, sewing machines, Spanish-language radio, middle-aged women who smile cordially as you come to grips with your sudden and unexpected entry into a sweatshop: Kader Attia’s installation at Artists Space is both provocation and production facility, the barbed anchor of an intelligent group exhibition concerned with the strategies of critique available to artists in a “New Economy” of immaterial labor, information exchange, and commodified social relations. The artists selected by curator João Ribas engage with this political economy not just for material support but for subject matter,

  • picks June 20, 2007

    “Thoreau Revisited” and “Three for Society”

    Henry David Thoreau's best-remembered writing emerges from two rooms: the Concord prison cell where an overnight incarceration inspired “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” and the ten-by-fifteen cabin he built for himself at Walden Pond. The enclosure and enforced solitude of these spaces shaped his singular contribution to literature, precise and practical observations crafted into a convincing (if sometimes contradictory) social conscience. Two exhibitions taking cues from Thoreau’s work rehearse his practice of deep introspection that reverberates outward. At 303 Gallery, “Three for Society,”

  • picks May 10, 2007

    “Come One, Come All”

    “Come One, Come All” is a variegated reminder that joining the circus once served the current function of BFA programs and that art shows themselves share considerable common ground with the state fairs, rodeos, and big-top spectaculars that persist as the United States’ predominant forms of exhibition. Organized by Summer Guthery and Sophie Landres, the exhibition first celebrates the circus’s tattered edges, with Lisa Kereszi’s photograph of a harlequin tent’s faded cloth and Meredith Allen’s Popsicle portraits, which grant a certain dignity to candied eyes (even as they melt). The show hits

  • picks May 09, 2007

    Adam Putnam

    Prior to bankrolling a Gothic Revival masterpiece, Fonthill Abbey, William Beckford penned Vathek (1782), the tale of a caliph dabbling in the supernatural. Vathek’s holdings include the expected panoply of Orientalist pleasures: the Eternal or Unsatiating Banquet, the Palace of Perfumes, and the Delight of the Eyes, where “a well-managed perspective attracted the sight . . . [and] the magic of optics agreeably deceived it.” This collision of the Gothic, the erotic, and the optic is central to Adam Putnam’s current solo show. Like one of its preoccupying motifs, corners, the exhibition is the