David Velasco

  • diary September 18, 2007

    Greece Lightning

    Athens

    “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

  • diary August 17, 2007

    Taylor Made

    New York

    If you’ve ever endured Mondo New York, the cult classic 1988 video tour of the city’s vitriolic, sometimes sophomoric, downtown performance-art scene, you know that Gotham’s nether regions were once a Grand Guignol of voodoo magicians and painted bedlamites decrying the wounds of abjection and rocketing rents. Those perfunctorily documented dog days, well before gender-bending torch singer Joey Arias became a ringmaster at Cirque de Soleil and Ann Magnuson an actress of some repute on the television series Anything but Love, drew thousands to New York—and probably drove an equal number away.

  • diary July 31, 2007

    Trash and Vaudeville

    New York

    Ever since Led Zeppelin’s 1969 “Mudshark Incident” at the Edgewater Inn, hotel debauchery has been de rigueur behavior for the belligerent and famous. A consistently popular form of conspicuous destruction, it’s surprising that it’s taken so long for the practice to hit the gallery circuit. (Adam Dade and Sonya Hanney’s “Stacked Hotel Rooms” don’t count.) Enter Nest, Dan Colen and Dash Snow’s tribute to counterculture heroics, an installation at Deitch Projects re-creating their ritual “hamster nests,” in which the artists get a hotel room, tear up phone books, roll around in their mess, and do

  • picks July 12, 2007

    “Equal, That Is, to the Real Itself”

    Hardly a return to the strong-arm objectivism of traditional realism, “Equal, That Is, to the Real Itself,” a summer group exhibition deftly curated by Linda Norden, rightly turns the real proper on its head with a slew of provocative works. Each, Norden claims, locates a congruence between art and lived experience. The title is taken from poet Charles Olson’s declamation of John Keats’s theory of “negative capability,” though its principle stimulus is Bertolt Brecht’s maxim that every exigency deserves its own artistic form. The show opens with the most recent (and politically urgent) work:

  • diary June 21, 2007

    Roger's Neighborhood

    Kassel

    Gossip circulates best in the provinces. So what better place to troll for tattle than at Thursday’s dinner party for two hundred largely European art-world aristocrats, hosted by Kunsthalle Basel president Peter Handschin and LISTE sponsor François Gutzwiller at a chic, vaguely rustic estate in the remote Swiss countryside? Perhaps the talk wasn’t quite juicy (or at least the real dirt was muttered in German asides), but it was certainly plentiful, as was the seemingly limitless supply of couscous and stuffed peppers replenished like clockwork by the conspicuously studly staff. Thanks to advances

  • A. L. Steiner and robbinschilds

    The danger of characterizing a work as “fun” is that, in doing so, one also risks implying that it is inconsequential. This is an especially deadly charge when measuring art of a feminist provenance: It’s still rare enough that such art is considered worthy of serious discourse. (Though perhaps such misogyny will attenuate in the wake of two current surveys: “WACK!” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and “Global Feminisms” at the Brooklyn Museum.) With that in mind, A. L. Steiner’s latest project, C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience), Part 1, 2007, a ten-minute forty-eight-second

  • picks May 08, 2007

    “Beneath the Underdog”

    Right down to the treacherous, Monica Bonvicini–demolished drywall floors, everything about “Beneath the Underdog”—a massive, ambitious group show curated by artists Nate Lowman and Adam McEwen—is uneven. Oddly, this choppiness is also the linchpin to the show’s success. (That is, if success is a good thing for an exhibition protesting mastery and maturity.) The show willfully flaunts its crush on playful, masturbatory juvenilia, and as such the phallus abounds, from Lee Lozano’s fantastic drawing No title, 1963, to Michael Joaquin Grey’s Orange Gravity (California), 1992, a brilliant, fluorescent

  • Matt Stokes

    Matt Stokes’s six-minute forty-five-second Super-16 film Long After Tonight, 2005, may have won him the now-defunct Beck’s Futures Prize last year in Britain, but it doesn’t follow any of the current trends in American contemporary art. There’s no conceptual code to crack, no extreme or particularly innovative formal gestures, no wry political critique. And as if to evince the artist’s own sincere unselfconsciousness, there’s even a shirtless man with a braided ponytail, whirling to music like a dervish.

    All reason enough, perhaps, to like the work, which was shown at Stokes’s recent New York

  • Shirley Tse

    Like a diligent student of The Graduate, Shirley Tse has made her career in plastics, demarcating with uncommon zeal (and amid sporadic references to Martin Heidegger and Gilles Deleuze) an artistic practice defined less by a particular aesthetic agenda and more by consistent exploitation of her materials. The past few years have seen Tse building sculptures carved with cantilevered reliefs and constructing flat vinyl “paintings” à la Lucio Fontana. “Waiting . . . ,” the artist’s recent solo show at Murray Guy—her fourth there—reasserted her allegiance to Robert Smithson and the legacy of his

  • diary March 15, 2007

    Pleasure Principality

    Monte Carlo

    With the DVD release of Dynasty: The Complete Second Season still pending, my life has been sorely lacking in glamour of late. So when Turin’s Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo alerted us that their plans called for a press junket for foreign journalists to Monaco last Saturday for the unveiling of “Glowbowl”—a terse survey of contemporary art drawn from the foundation’s collection by artistic director Francesco Bonami and independent curator Martine Frésia—I dusted off my Nolan Miller evening wear, scored a stash of Ambien, and prepared for a transatlantic redeye.

    Monaco doesn’t have an airport,

  • Brent Green

    Five years ago, armed with a cheap digital camera and a computer equipped with iMovie, Brent Green set out to produce his first short animated video. The result, Susa’s Red Ears, 2002, was a choppily edited, whimsical tale featuring characters drawn on fragments of translucent cels, Scotch-taped together and photographed moving across naively rendered landscapes painted on glass and wood. Green has since upgraded to a superior digital SLR camera and has also begun to integrate stop-motion animation of three-dimensional, carved wooden elements. He continues to draw as well; the figures are more

  • picks February 28, 2007

    “Elephant Cemetery”

    If modernism were truly dead, “Elephant Cemetery” would make a perfect burial ground—a suite of fractured monuments to monumentality, sprawling memos to memory. Ostensibly about “objects and our relationship to them,” curator Christian Rattemeyer’s final exhibition at this venerable SoHo nonprofit is surprisingly less drab—and phenomenology-fixated—than this sentiment suggests. Take, for example, Jamie Shovlin’s obsessive watercolor-and-ink tributes to the cover designs for the fifty-eight Fontana Modern Masters pocketbook primers (including ten that were announced but never published). The

  • diary February 16, 2007

    Royal Academy

    New York

    Observing the long, shivering queue waiting for admission to last Sunday’s winter openings at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, I almost turned back, Scene & Herd be damned. But the line moved swiftly enough, and my perseverance was rewarded with a clutch of excellent shows (eight commenced simultaneously), as well as good people-watching. The schoolhouse was flooded with everyday patrons, art-world aristocrats such as Jonas Mekas and Marina Abramovic, and even some official royalty, namely Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, on hand for the opening of countryman Tom Sandberg’s installation of

  • diary February 07, 2007

    Creative Times

    New York

    William Burroughs’s bed is exactly as you’d imagine it: A modest, low-set full-size draped with a patchwork quilt, a box of Kleenex and a small lamp on a bedside table. If it weren’t for the three bullet-ridden, human-silhouette shooting targets on the facing wall (Burroughs was a killer shot), I’d be tempted to call it monastic. The bed sits in Burroughs’s old boudoir, a perfectly preserved room on the first floor of John Giorno’s storied “bunker” on the Bowery. Though our Buddhist poet host was out of town on the occasion of my visit last Thursday evening, he’d agreed to lend his pad to Ugo

  • Sue de Beer

    Sue de Beer’s latest video, The Quickening, 2006, is a morality tale without a moral, a murder mystery with no solution. It’s set in Puritan New England—though de Beer seems unconcerned with creating the realist mise-en-scène of the conventional period piece. The movie puts incongruity to use as a narrative strategy: When John Denver launches into the second stanza of “The Eagle and the Hawk” following the unceremonious hanging of one of the characters, the music is jarring, but the effect is oddly felicitous.

    The story of The Quickening is fairly simple, beginning and ending with the unexplained

  • picks January 30, 2007

    Mark Esper

    Like other kinetic artists, Mark Esper infuses odd, largely useless mechanical contraptions with mythological resonance, using his practice to meditate upon broad philosophical questions and the limits of sensory experience. He also really likes motion detectors, which makes touring his exhibition at this small Brooklyn gallery something of a treat. Opening with Gathered Voices, 2005, an apparatus comprising twenty-four speakers, swaying pendulums, and “electromagnetic units,” Esper explores the human mind’s phenomenal memory for voices, creating a schizophrenic choir from multiple readings of

  • diary January 22, 2007

    Flattering Light

    New York

    Surely your friends who attended the Whitney’s reception for Terence Koh’s first solo US museum presentation last Thursday night told you that it was a glamorous affair. It brimmed with all the usual suspects and more, from ubiquitous art-world intelligentsia like Thelma Golden (“Is this piece dangerous?”) and Adam Weinberg to icons like Bianca Jagger and twentysomething boys I didn’t even know existed outside their highly tailored Craigslist M4M postings and Manhunt.net profiles. (“Isn’t that LESbtm81?”)

    And it was glamorous—especially if you were one of the sixty or so people standing in the