Colby Chamberlain

  • Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Cunt, 2016, phosphorescent pigment and acrylic on paper, 8 1/2 × 11". Installation view. Photo: Kirsten Kilponen.

    Natascha Sadr Haghighian

    “Reason . . . always homogenizes and reduces, represses and unifies phenomena or actuality into what can be perceived and so controlled,” observes Abhor, the “part robot,” “part black” protagonist of Kathy Acker’s 1988 novel Empire of the Senseless. “The subjects, us, are now stable and socializable.” Along with her co-narrator and partner Thivai, Abhor navigates an alternate-reality Paris where Algerians have staged an anticolonial revolt. Here she reflects on how patriarchal violence begins with the assignment of identities. “Literature,” she argues, “is that which denounces and slashes apart

  • Jill Magid, The Proposal, 2016, 2.02-carat blue uncut diamond with microlaser inscription, silver ring setting designed by Anndra Neen, ring box, documents. Installation view, Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, Switzerland. Photo: Stefan Jaeggi.


    A DIAMOND is the outcome of compression. Once considered unique to the earth’s mantle, the extreme heat and pressure that push carbon atoms into a crystal lattice can now be artificially replicated to manufacture diamonds on a mass scale. Most serve industrial needs, as abrasives for drill bits or semiconductors for LEDs, but a handful of companies have modified the process to unnervingly sentimental ends: converting the cremated ashes of loved ones into “memorial diamonds.” In 2005, Jill Magid commissioned LifeGem to turn her future remains into a one-carat diamond, to be incorporated into her

  • Josh Kline, Aspirational Foreclosure (Matthew/ Mortgage Loan Officer), 2016, 3-D-printed plaster, ink-jet ink, cyanoacrylate, foam, polyethylene bag, 21 × 28 × 44".

    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

  • Ryan Trecartin, Mark Trade, 2016, HD video, color, sound, 73 minutes 30 seconds. Mark Trade (Murphy Maxwell).

    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

  • Billboard by Julia Weist, Queens, New York, 2015.

    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 went on

  • Indrė Šerpytytė, 27 Vilniaus Street, Alytus, 2014, gelatin silver print, 19 3/8 × 24 1/8". From the series “(1944–1991) Former NKVD-MVD-MGB-KGB Buildings,” 2009–15. From “Ocean of Images,” 2015–16.

    “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, Prep, 2015, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    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, Notes on Gesture, 2015, video, color, sound, 10 minutes 33 seconds.

    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, Facade, 2015, oil and powdered pigment on paper, 40 × 26".

    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

  • Horst Ademeit, 4535, 2001, ballpoint pen on Polaroid print, 4 3/8 × 3 1/2". From “Under the Clouds: From Paranoia to the Digital Sublime.”

    “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

  • Amar C. Bakshi, lead organizer of “The Legal Medium: New Encounters of Art and Law,” with artist Mary Ellen Carroll. (Photo: Elizabeth Bick)
    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, O Tópico, Chapter 27, 2014, encaustic, gouache, oil, silk-screen ink, and gesso on panel, 24 3/4 × 40".

    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