David Velasco

  • picks May 29, 2008

    David Altmejd

    Reportedly, American men are on average three inches taller and fifty pounds heavier today than they were one hundred years ago. In roughly the same amount of time, the average Dutchman has grown seven inches. Our anthropometric history might not have been on David Altmejd’s mind when he assembled the nine splendid colossi that make up his second exhibition at this gallery (he was probably thinking Goya and Rodin), but standing amid his forest of giants, one can’t help but imagine them as heirs to our strengths and follies, strange emissaries from a future race raised on steroids.

    Altmejd’s 2004

  • film May 28, 2008

    Bridge to Brooklyn

    PERHAPS YOU'RE a habitué of the Angelika, Sunshine, and Anthology who has grown tired of padding amid the tourists in downtown Manhattan. Maybe you’re a jet-set festival whore who’s already hit Sundance, Tribeca, and Cannes, and you’re yearning for something with a truly independent spirit. Or it could be simply that you live in Brooklyn and want a chance to see a new movie without leaving your hood. No matter the situation, it’s probably worth checking out the eleventh annual Brooklyn International Film Festival, this year boldly themed “Cinergy”—a vulgar portmanteau perhaps, but a nice sentiment

  • diary May 05, 2008

    Space Oddity


    “Are we alone in the universe? Do aliens exist? Or are we, ourselves, the strangers in our own worlds?” Sounding a bit like the promotional spiel for a sci-fi convention, the tagline for the Fifty-fifth Carnegie International—which curator Douglas Fogle blithely titled “Life on Mars,” after David Bowie’s 1971 classic—inspires visions of Roswell, tinfoil hats, and Heaven’s Gate. Not an entirely unappealing set of connotations (for this conspiracy theorist, at least), but a strange one nonetheless for North America’s most venerable periodic exhibition of contemporary art.

    Arriving in Pittsburgh

  • Marc Swanson

    Marc Swanson is not a colorist. Like his contemporary Terence Koh, Swanson prefers the absoluteness of white and black when crafting his sylvan-themed sculptures and strange mixed-media panels. When he does dabble with nonabsolutes, he does so with reticence, employing natural, lower-luminance hues: gold, the sepia of faded celluloid, or the amber blond of shellac. When he wants impact, he uses texture, making his work shimmer, sparkle, or reflect. Like other young artists (David Altmejd, Cristina Lei Rodriguez, and Kristian Kozul, to name a few), Swanson borrows from the tool kit of kitsch,

  • diary March 31, 2008

    Show and Tell

    New York

    Thursday morning, on the elevator ride up to the eleventh floor of midtown’s Merchandise Mart tower for the preview of Volta NY, one prominent art dealer offered her appraisal of Pulse, another of the nine satellite fairs orbiting this year’s Armory Show. “It’s too pretty,” she claimed. “Not enough grit.”

    Fairs can’t get a break these days. Either they’re untamable, Babylonian beasts or pat, familiar beats—cynical snapshots of the market or traveling circus museums. At least they seem to be making money, dire forecasts of a correction appearing, on the surface at least, to be premature. “This is

  • Katy Grannan

    The striking images comprising Katy Grannan’s latest body of photographs—which find her exploring the foggy shores and nondescript interiors of the Bay Area, where she has lived since 2004—constitute her most fully realized work to date. In the past, Grannan has preferred to cast her net wide and survey multiple individuals, but for her current series, she has trained her lens on three specific subjects. The resultant images were divided into series, with two transgendered friends in fusty dresses, Gail and Dale, represented in the show “Lady into Fox” at Salon 94 Freemans, and shots of a

  • picks February 22, 2008

    Nayland Blake

    Nayland Blake makes a virtue of inconsistency. His work is rocky, tumultuous, uneven; it operates according to fitful, perverse logics. Still, some consistencies (or, perhaps, themes) can be found in this, Blake’s eighth solo exhibition at the gallery: an emphasis on routine habits in the face of trauma and uncertainty, and a steady cultivation of deliberate, magpie assemblage over the superficially spectacular. Probably better known for his work in video and performance (such as Gorge, 1998, in which a shirtless Blake is fed continuously for an hour, and Coat, his 2001 collaboration with A. A.

  • Eric Anglès and Matt Sheridan Smith

    By chance, my initial visit to Eric Anglès and Matt Sheridan Smith’s combined solo debuts at Cohan and Leslie was on a Wednesday. Ordinarily, perhaps, this would be an irrelevant detail, but here my timing meant that I was present for the full implementation of the artists’ one collaborative work, Closed on Wednesdays, 2007.

    Not that it would have been difficult to visualize the effect if one were to arrive on, say, a Friday. The work, comprising a red velvet rope that cordoned off the (empty) back gallery, was simply looped back on its hook on other days. On Wednesdays, the closure was largely

  • diary January 31, 2008

    West Side Story

    Los Angeles

    There was something uneasy in the Los Angeles air last Saturday afternoon, some unnatural stillness, some tension. But it was not the Santa Ana conspiring to nettle moods, merely an unusual spell of glumly persistent rain. Despite the weather and the sober occasion, a mob had formed at Bergamot Station for Benjamin H. D. Buchloh’s lecture “Strategies of Voiding the Void,” on Michael Asher’s exhibition at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. The turnout took Buchloh by surprise. “It’s just my East Coast and European prejudices,” he announced, surveying the tightly packed audience, “but I didn’t expect

  • diary December 08, 2007

    Miami Vices


    During the art world’s annual mass hegira to Miami, one’s experience is defined as much by the events he misses as the ones he attends. Among the casualties of my itinerary were parties (for Nylon magazine, for Art Basel codirector Cay Sophie Rabinowitz, and, at the Versace mansion, for Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller), a trip (to the new private luxury island Dellis Cay, in the Turks and Caicos), and dinners—one hosted by Greene Naftali at The Standard, another by Elizabeth Dee in a Miami Beach apartment, yet another by Max Farago, Dicksmith Gallery, and Rivington Arms at Farago’s parents’

  • Larry Clark

    In Larry Clark’s moral universe, subtlety is generally confined to the outer reaches of a minor nebula. In the final pages of his photo book Tulsa (1971), for instance, an image of a young pregnant woman shooting amphetamine is notoriously succeeded by one of a dolled-up infant in a tiny casket; rarely does one see action and (dreadful) consequence presented in such audacious proximity. Given this lineage, it was a bit unnerving that Clark’s latest exhibition of photographs, titled simply “Los Angeles 2003–2006,” opened with a snapshot of a baby in a pink tub, naked, wet, and very much alive.

  • picks November 30, 2007

    Mario Ybarra Jr.

    You can hear the laughter ringing even in the vestibule. At first, it’s easy to mistake it for Gino de Dominici’s eerily boisterous sound installation Risata (Laugh), 1971, currently installed outside his partial retrospective at the Fondazione Merz. But in fact, this infectious cachinnation, titled Smile now; cry later (all works 2007), belongs to Mario Ybarra Jr., whose playful, protean exhibition consumes three rooms in the gallery. Using the space as a makeshift studio, Ybarra spent a week composing seven paintings and several in situ graffiti works for this show, titled “be good . . . if

  • diary November 28, 2007

    Erase Errata

    New York

    If Performa 07 kicked off with Francesco Vezzoli’s well-heeled, celebrity-fueled bang, it went out with a well-bundled flurry of parkas, scarves, and sensible shoes. Last Monday, on the festival’s penultimate evening, I attended the premiere of ERASE, a thoroughly degenerate theatrical collaboration between artist duo Lovett/Codagnone and playwright Tom Cole at Participant Inc.’s new Lower East Side digs.

    Before entering, visitors were asked to sign a daunting waiver: “I understand that my presence in the space may result in physical or emotional injury, paralysis, death or damage to myself, to

  • diary November 18, 2007

    One Good Turin


    Every two years, Venice reluctantly opens the Giardini’s rusty gates and claims its place as the art world’s momentary polestar. But at other times, Turin is the quiet capital for new art in Italy—at least according to the city’s vigorous marketing crew. (To be fair, few I met would dispute this fact.) Indeed, the city has an impressive artistic legacy: It features several internationally significant art spaces (such as the Castello di Rivoli and the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo), it’s the birthplace of arte povera, and it even boasts the world’s most famous photogram (the controversial

  • “Role Exchange”

    “Role Exchange,” a group show exploring the theme of adopted personae in the art of the past three decades, demonstrated that an exhibition is not always greater than, or even equal to, the sum of its parts. If such were the case, this all-star lineup of often inspired works by twenty-seven exceptional artists would have been the hit of the season. Instead, it was largely a lackluster academic exercise that sparkled in spite of, rather than because of, its curatorial ambitions.

    The exhibition’s title was borrowed from Marina Abramović’s performance at Amsterdam’s De Appel in 1975. Abramović found

  • picks September 24, 2007

    Collier Schorr

    Collier Schorr traffics in tender and compelling ambiguities. For “There I Was,” her latest solo show at this gallery, the artist has built a touching, nuanced elegy to Charles “Astoria Chas” Snyder, a young Long Island drag racer and Vietnam War soldier whom she encountered fleetingly in her youth; in the process, she has delivered the most poetic and convincing antiwar statement in Chelsea in recent memory.

    Forty years ago, at age four, Schorr accompanied her father on a photo shoot of Snyder and his car, a classic 1967 “Ko-Motion” Corvette. In one of life’s routine, vicious ironies, by the

  • diary September 18, 2007

    Greece Lightning


    “When we first told people we were doing a biennial, they thought it was one of Poka-Yio’s performances,” cocurator Xenia Kalpaktsoglou noted wearily outside a makeshift café in the quad of Gazi, the dramatic former gasworks playing host to the inaugural Athens Biennial. In her other capacity, Kalpaktsoglou directs Dakis Joannou’s Deste Foundation—currently hosting an impressive exhibition of work from Joannou’s collection, curated by Jeffrey Deitch—and some argued that she was the linchpin for Deutsche Bank’s crucial sponsorship of the $1.8 million biennial. But the Athens Biennial has more

  • Mark Manders

    The architectonics of Manders's self-image are truly bewildering—and it should be enlightening (or, failing that, at least a lot of fun) to see twenty-seven of his works together in this exhibition.

    Since 1986, Dutch artist Mark Manders has been laying bricks for his ongoing Self-Portrait as a Buildling—an ambitious exploration of immanence that has found the artist constructing furniture, cryptic statues of kouroi, a nocturnal garden scene incorporating a bisected cat, and a number of uncanny sculptures of domestic spaces, such as Kitchen (Reduced to 88%), 2002. The architectonics of Manders's self-image are truly bewildering—and it should be enlightening (or, failing that, at least a lot of fun) to see twenty-seven of his works together in this exhibition. The accompanying catalogue

  • Richard Hawkins

    When an artist seeks insight into the nature of obsession via soul-searching missives to serial killer John Wayne Gacy, you know he's willing to beat dark paths to get to the heart of his subject.

    When an artist seeks insight into the nature of obsession via soul-searching missives to serial killer John Wayne Gacy, you know he's willing to beat dark paths to get to the heart of his subject. Los Angeles–based artist Richard Hawkins has spent the past two decades diligently mining the twisted topos of desire—whether through collages of celebrity crushes, Photoshopped prints of pop stars transformed into “disembodied zombies,” or lascivious paintings of young male trade cavorting in clubs with gentlemen of a certain age. Rather than sticking to a staid chronological

  • Eric Baudelaire

    Any number of artists have fetishized the tropes of cinematic fiction. Consider the prestidigitations of, for instance, Gregory Crewdson, Charlie White, or Francesco Vezzoli. The young Eric Baudelaire could be considered another, though his sober political aims place him on a different trajectory. (In this regard, Jeff Wall’s work is perhaps more resonant.) Baudelaire often takes pleasure in Hollywood verity, but he uses the artificial setting of his photographs and videos as a means to explore the production and reception of images in the wake of war and catastrophe. Simulation, both as topic