David Velasco

  • 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

  • 1000 WORDS: KELLY NIPPER

    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

  • “LIVE FILM! JACK SMITH!”

    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

    Miami

    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 BEST DANCE OF 2009

    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.

    SOME TIME AFTER we

  • interviews September 15, 2009

    Miguel Gutierrez

    In 2002, the choreographer Miguel Gutierrez received his first Bessie Award, as a performer in John Jasperse’s company; by 2006, Gutierrez had won a Bessie in the category of choreography for his works Retrospective Exhibitionist and Difficult Bodies. His latest piece, Last Meadow, which Gutierrez refers to as a “noir opera,” had its world premiere earlier this month at the TBA festival in Portland, Oregon; its New York debut continues this week, September 15–19, at Dance Theater Workshop. Here Gutierrez talks about the gestation of this work.

    LAST YEAR, MY DAD HAD A STROKE—or what seemed to be

  • Performa 09

    RoseLee Goldberg likens Performa, the sprawling live-art biennial she founded and directs, to a “museum without walls.”

    RoseLee Goldberg likens Performa, the sprawling live-art biennial she founded and directs, to a “museum without walls.” The phrase is André Malraux’s, but the sentiment seems closer to F. T. Marinetti, whose succinct, scornful analogy “Museums: cemeteries!” announced an anti-institutional desire for art sans mediation. Marinetti is an especially germane figure this year, given that a significant portion of the biennial’s third edition will be dedicated to the centennial of his Futurist Manifesto. (One program, for instance, features a “Futurist Film Funeral.”) With

  • Patty Chang

    Would Walter Benjamin be repulsed to find his corpulence represented on-screen? Would he be put off by the portrayal of his flaccid penis, of his own emasculation, as an actor playing him is directed to gingerly delight in a woman’s supple foot? Would the man who penned “The Task of the Translator” be giddy or contemptuous over his depiction, in a work ostensibly about translation, as an Orientalist horndog? Such questions, which venture the most crude psychologism, are surely irrelevant, but they are ones you know Patty Chang herself entertained while making her latest video, the forty-two-minute

  • diary August 03, 2009

    Dancers and the Dance

    New York

    ON AUGUST 1 AND 2, less than a week after Merce Cunningham’s death, members of his company gathered in Lower Manhattan to perform their first scheduled piece since his passing: the last, presumably, of the legendary site-specific Events to have been overseen by the choreographer. Over the course of those two days, in a small wedge of park between the gleaming postmillennium luxury condominiums (with names like the Solaire, the Riverhouse, and—perhaps appropriately—Tribeca Pointe) and the glistening waters of the Hudson, more than a thousand people sat in the grass around two small stages—one

  • diary June 11, 2009

    Ruby Tuesday

    Basel

    BASEL IS THE KIND OF RELENTLESSLY PLEASANT small city in which, returning late from a party, one might encounter (as I did) a lone police car pausing to allow a pair of injured, wayward ducks to cross the road. There’s a lovely circus, the Knie, on the Messeplatz, and discerning art executives make a special point of reserving rooms in the Ramada that look down into it, so that they can wake up and contemplate the zebras. There are places called Don’t Worry, Be Happy Bar and Friends Bar, the latter decorated with posters from the eponymous television show. Where is the traction for cynicism,

  • diary June 05, 2009

    It’s Reigning Men

    Venice

    I ARRIVED IN VENICE late Monday night for Daniel Birnbaum’s Biennale and boarded what felt like the last vaporetto from Ferrovia. Destination: San Zaccharia and a predictably cramped and overpriced hotel. Leafing through my 2007 tourist guide for directions, I noticed a then-speculative news brief in the “Dorsoduro” chapter titled “Pinault in the Punta?” I briefly considered the tediously lubricious undertones. It seemed a bit tasteless on the book’s part, until I realized I was thinking in Spanish slang, not Italian. Still, François Pinault is indeed “in the Punta” this year, meaning the Punta