David Velasco

  • diary July 23, 2010

    Wild West

    Los Angeles

    SHARON STONE, Eva Longoria, Jeffrey Deitch: check. No James Franco, Salma Hayek Pinault, John Baldessari. But yes: Joaquin Phoenix, Rose McGowan, Michael Govan, Michel Auder, Ruben Ochoa, Yoshua Okon, Shaun Caley Regen, Liz Goldwyn . . .

    “Location, location, location! This is a hit!” says a roaming dandy. It’s a good Wednesday LA crowd, someone tells me. And it’s a good setting: Eugenio López’s soigné ranch-style pad in Trousdale, a particularly choice part of Beverly Hills, I’m also told. (“Love the mix of the French-y Trous with the Scottish-Gaelic Dale—don’t you?”) It’s also, apparently, a

  • diary June 17, 2010

    Tony Basel


    FOR ALL ITS undeniable charm, Aarau is not an obvious destination on the art-world map. But there many of us were early on a sunny Sunday morning, hovering over a very orderly Swiss buffet brunch of käse and brot and kaffee. It’s possible that the art intelligentsia needed somewhere pleasant to cool their heels in between Zurich and Basel, and that Olten (poor Olten) just wasn’t cutting it. But pleasant’s not enough to draw Eva Presenhuber and Barbara Gladstone and Beatrix Ruf to your township. For that you need a kunst-something of some renown—here the Aargauer Kunsthaus—and you need a formidable

  • diary June 14, 2010

    Manhattan Transfer


    MADRID NUNCA DUERME, they’ve said. Of course, New York never sleeps either. (No rest for the wicked.) So it wasn’t so strange, perhaps, that the two cities became bedfellows last Wednesday during the opening of Douglas Crimp and Lynne Cooke’s revelatory and expansive “Mixed Use, Manhattan” at the Reina Sofía. That day brought not just New York art but also New York weather as the sun was supplanted by a cranky gray, though rain didn’t stop a crowd of festive Madrileños from gathering to toast the occasion.

    “I was daunted by the idea of the exhibition at first,” Crimp admitted during Wednesday’s

  • Catherine Opie

    Catherine Opie began her “public” artistic career in 1991 with a series of thirteen photographs titled “Being and Having.” The title was a seeming allusion to Jacques Lacan’s contentious psychoanalytic system that posits women as “being” the phallus, and men as “having” it. Rejecting outright such heterosexist structuralism, Opie’s staged “documentary” portraits depicted (and thereby demarcated) a community organized around its members’ identifications with butch-dyke, queer, trans, and s/m politics. But the photos never seemed to represent “identity politics” proper, which, at least in its most

  • diary May 14, 2010

    American Idols

    New York

    “LADIES!—TEN TO FIFTEEN,” said a woman in gray sweatpants eyeing Lot 45, Warhol’s Silver Liz, 1963. She meant the estimate: ten to fifteen million.

    “Not very well stretched,” sniffed another, wearing a quilted Burberry jacket. She meant the canvas.

    “Trixie’s husband has a self-portrait Warhol did on a napkin in a restaurant,” boasted a third.

    Christie’s last public “viewing,” as the house calls it, of works in Tuesday’s Post-War and Contemporary evening auction did have some of the character of a funeral visitation, with long-lost relatives gathering to size up the competition. Determined-looking

  • diary May 02, 2010

    Late Show


    BY THE TIME I reached Art Cologne, Eyjafjallajökull had pretty much stopped its hysterics.

    But this didn’t mean everything was back to normal. To arrive on day three of an international art fair at the tail end of the largest airspace lockdown since World War II is to experience the peculiar ennui of showing up late to the wrong party—a party, indeed, where everyone is perhaps a bit too surprised to see you.

    At the fair that Thursday, everything was civilized and groomed but also difficult to gauge according to the usual methods. “Deals” were to be found everywhere, and even on good new work, some

  • Matthew Barney: Prayer Sheet with the Wound and Nail

    Holbein, Dürer, Cranach, Schongauer, Baldung Grien . . . Matthew Barney: an unorthodox lineup, to be sure, but not necessarily an unnatural one (think perfervid narratives of suffering flesh and transubstantiation).

    Holbein, Dürer, Cranach, Schongauer, Baldung Grien . . . Matthew Barney: an unorthodox lineup, to be sure, but not necessarily an unnatural one (think perfervid narratives of suffering flesh and transubstantiation). Occasioned by the Laurenz Foundation’s acquisition of a number of works from Barney’s series “Drawing Restraint,” 1987–, this show marshals religious paintings, woodcuts, and engravings by the unimpeachable greats of the Northern Renaissance, bringing into “dialogue” iconography from the fourteen Stations of the Cross and elements of the (thus far) sixteen

  • Jamie Isenstein

    “Live” art is for the living; by extension, it can die. Narratives around performance art have begun to adopt the language of endangered-species programs, with words like re-creation and preservation becoming switch points for whole epistemological struggles. For Jamie Isenstein, whose signature style features sculptures that use parts of her own living body as material, mortality itself is the linchpin. Some of her is always already gone: In Magic Fingers, 2003, for instance, Isenstein sits hidden behind a wall and displays only her hand, shown in a gilded frame, as it assumes various poses

  • interviews April 02, 2010

    Faye Driscoll

    In 2008 the choreographer Faye Driscoll’s 837 Venice Boulevard was hailed as one of the top five dances of the year by the New York Times, and in 2009, her video Loneliness was featured in “Younger than Jesus,” the first edition of the New Museum triennial. Her latest dance piece, There is so much mad in me, has its world premiere through April 3 at Dance Theater Workshop in New York.

    THERE IS SO MUCH MAD IN ME grew out of a commission last summer for American Dance Festival at Duke University. My starting point was the idea of ecstatic physical states, which then led me to consider extreme states

  • Gelitin

    “Blind Sculpture,” Gelitin’s first solo exhibition at Greene Naftali Gallery, began as a diurnal “happening”: Over the course of eight days, the collective’s four artists—along with two full-time helpers and between four and nine “friends,” who functioned variously as interlocutors, assistants, and window dressing—gathered in the center of a makeshift amphitheater cordoned off by wooden bleachers surrounding the central gallery space and constructed a sprawling sculpture. The artists who compose Gelitin were blindfolded for the duration of its creation, becoming the mad, groping masters of an


    IT ALL BEGAN WITH A HURRICANE NAMED FLOYD; where it will end is anyone’s guess. What happens in between is Los Angeles–based artist Kelly Nipper’s Floyd on the Floor. Ongoing since 2005, Floyd on the Floor is a sprawling metaproject to which Nipper continually adds components, the most recent being the video Weather Center, which went on view at the end of February in the Whitney Biennial, and a performance and a video, both titled Shifting Shapes, that will be exhibited this month at Zurich’s Migros Museum für Gegenwartkunst. Nipper’s nominal interest is the weather—weather, of course,

  • Christian Holstad

    An OPEN sign Scotch-taped to Daniel Reich Gallery’s front door was hardly an idle signifer. With all its low-rent connotations, its purpose was evidently to inform passersby that the gallery was taking customers (and to implicate the casual visitor as customer)—even if this intention was undermined by the blunter, contradictory statement implied by the mesh roll-down gate obscuring the gallery’s storefront window.

    Insofar as the gate has always been there, it wasn’t part of the installation per se, though that’s not to say the gesture wasn’t intentional; in fact, the artist, Christian Holstad,

  • White Columns Annual

    For the opening only, a video made in conjunction with this past summer’s exhibition “Mirror Me” at Dispatch in New York’s Chinatown was the lodestar of the fourth iteration of “Looking Back: The White Columns Annual,” curated by James Hoff and Miriam Katzeff of the publishing collective Primary Information. The fugacious video, which selectively documented a night of performances organized by Kai Althoff and Brandon Stosuy on July 30, 2009, offered a compact metaphor for the analeptic angle that constitutes the exhibition’s premise: Works for the annual are chosen by guest curators based on


    RENÉ RIVERA IS A SLIGHT, CASUALLY COMPOSED seventy-four-year-old Nuyorican in thick glasses. He’s so inconspicuous as to stand out: It took three days of encountering Rivera in plain clothes during the “LIVE FILM! JACK SMITH! Five Flaming Days in a Rented World!” conference in Berlin this past fall before I realized he was also Mario Montez—the enchanting icon who had already appeared multiple times onstage in performance, strikingly refurbished in brunette wig and soigné gloves, shrugs, and gowns. Montez, star of Jack Smith’s two most significant films, Flaming Creatures (1962–63) and

  • The Talent Show

    With “The Talent Show,” curator Peter Eleey continues to forge his unique brand of piquant apperception.

    With “The Talent Show,” curator Peter Eleey continues to forge his unique brand of piquant apperception. Reflecting on authorship, surveillance, and the ambivalent status of the participant, he assembles some twenty-five performance based works—classics by artists such as Stanley Brouwn, Adrian Piper, and Gillian Wearing, as well as newer creations by the likes of Phil Collins. Title aside, “talent” has nothing to do with it. The success of the work here, more often than not, is contingent on context. A case in point is Graciela Carnevale’s 1968 action in Rosario,

  • diary December 03, 2009

    Santigold Standard


    IS THIS THE NEW “MATURE” MIAMI? The story this year, after the success of the New York auctions, was supposed to be one of recrudescent decadence and sybaritic splendor: big sales and Sex Pistols on the beach. Instead, the first two days were an (arguably more enchanting) mix of “low-key” dinners and “intimate” soirees. UBS decided not to go forward with its annual ecumenical extravaganza on the shore; the Sex Pistols gig turned out to be a flighty rumor hawked by the press. Christie’s Amy Cappellazzo, herself a onetime Floridian, took a moment at an opening to wryly reminisce about a time when


    THE SKY WAS GLEAMING one day and gray the next. Over two consecutive afternoons, a small crowd gathered, waiting patiently, in Rockefeller Park in New York. Each day, a strange horn sounded, eleven dancers dressed like superheroes cut across the grass toward two platforms, and the performance commenced: intelligent, rigorous, ebullient.

    Merce Cunningham’s last self-arranged “Event” (as he called it) took place in early August, a mere week after his death. His passing, at age ninety, left a hole not only in his company—which is radically slated for dissolution following a two-year world

  • Tris Vonna-Michell

    If I were Tris Vonna-Michell, I might be tempted to use this occasion to embark upon an abridged, extemporaneous ramble about the convoluted path to my first New York solo exhibition, at X Initiative, with sashays through the New Museum’s “Younger Than Jesus,” the Third Yokohama Triennale, and the Fifth Berlin Biennial. (I’d probably go a little over word count.) I might write it all down and, in a Burroughsian frenzy, rip it up and reassemble the bits into a collagist narrative. This is not an entirely unappealing proposition for a review, and in fact the ambling, backward-looking, and partial

  • Matthew Barney and Elizabeth Peyton

    A makeshift tarpaulin body bag left on the road’s shoulder signaled something nefarious, something noir. In the crepuscular light, a scrawny orange cat—a common sight on Hydra—fished under the tarp and apparently found something it liked. Soon a woman ran over to shoo the cat away, like some PA on a movie set. As dawn broke over Mandraki Bay, guests began to gather along a squat stone wall to peer into the water below, waiting for the commencement of Matthew Barney and Elizabeth Peyton’s Blood of Two, 2009, the artists’ first collaboration.

    In that bag, it turned out, was a dead shark, though

  • interviews October 29, 2009

    Tacita Dean

    In April 2007, the Berlin-based English artist Tacita Dean filmed Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS . . . (six performances, six films), a series of 16-mm portraits of the legendary choreographer performing to John Cage’s 4'33". In November 2008, Dean worked with Cunningham again to film the making of one of his Events—this one in the craneway of a former Ford Motor factory in Richmond, California. Cunningham passed away in July. The public premiere of Dean’s Craneway Event will be presented November 5–7 by Performa and Danspace Project at Saint Mark’s Church in New York.