Dawn Chan


    Curated by Anne Barlow

    Otobong Nkanga prominently features materials in her artwork, and not just for their formal aspects: “The tangible makes it possible for you to believe your memory,” she noted in a 2014 interview. The Nigerian-born, Belgium-based artist uses everything from kola nuts to potted plants to trace the ways colonialism has intertwined the global flow of goods with the many fraught individual journeys that add up to mass displacement. One installation on view this autumn at Tate St. Ives, Tsumeb Fragments, 2015, is an assemblage of relics from Nkanga’s journey to the eponymous

  • Ian Cheng

    There seems to be a long, tongue-in-cheek tradition of giving machines with artificial intelligence monosyllabic names that hover somewhere between the casual sobriquets of garden-party guests and the vanilla acronyms of corporate lingo. Consider HAL 9000, the murderous AI in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Or Tay, Microsoft’s ill-fated chatbot. Playing along, perhaps, Ian Cheng has dubbed his latest simulation Bag of Beliefs (BOB), 2018. A digital-age gargoyle with a catfish-like head and a spindly, segmented body textured like red coral, BOB was set loose in a beige-walled virtual vivarium, left


    YOU CAN NOW PLAY Bill Viola’s languorous first-person video game, The Night Journey, in your living room, from your own sofa, with your own PlayStation controller. Set in a dreamlike, largely black-and-white outdoor world, The Night Journey sends its protagonist on an adventure with no clear objective. Players might find themselves moving through Seussian vegetation or drifting, injury-free, down a cliff; wading into an ocean’s depths or venturing into isolated buildings that mysteriously turn into ruins once they’ve been explored.

    The Night Journey began in 2007 as a collaboration between Viola

  • Kishio Suga

    “I constantly think about how to confuse or distort the typical order of things,” artist Kishio Suga wrote for a 2005 essay anthologized in Kishio Suga’s Work from a Zen Perspective (2008). “Viewers would be rendered speechless before an artwork of this kind. In a matter of seconds or minutes, their thoughts would shift from established orders to new ones.” One might expect such an endeavor to require the use of jarring force or violence—anything other than the sanguine grace that permeated Suga’s latest show at Blum & Poe. But like an expert tour guide, Suga led the way down various side

  • picks April 06, 2018

    Jesse Chun

    “Language is not transparent.” The reality of that dictum (which has appeared in Mel Bochner’s colorful pieces across several decades) is on full view in Jesse Chun’s latest show, here. Indebted to various text-driven Conceptual practices, Chun’s exhibition nonetheless also functions as a reminder: Often, the chosen medium of text art’s most visible pioneers wasn’t just any old language. It was English—a fact that can easily slip past the notice of native speakers.

    Chun’s exhibition includes prints, drawings, sculpture, video, and an audio track of vowel sounds emanating from a waist-high, bulbous

  • Thiago Rocha Pitta

    For those growing fatigued by contemporary art’s ongoing invocations of the Anthropocene and its attendant aesthetics of detritus and scorched-earth urban sprawl, Thiago Rocha Pitta’s show “The First Green” offered something of a reprieve. The sculpture, video, photograph, and series of paintings in this Brazilian artist’s second solo endeavor at Marianne Boesky Gallery together formed an arcadian vision starring an unlikely subject: cyanobacteria.

    Before the Dawn, 2017, a video Rocha Pitta shot at Australia’s Hamelin Pool, features a sea of rock formations known as stromatolites, or layered

  • diary May 03, 2017

    Just Between Friends

    SOME FUND-RAISERS, you can tell, are held together by the type-A wrath of a corporate-events planner. But not the annual Friends of Artists Space dinner, which is sweeter and much more interesting. It is held at the beginning of Frieze Art Week at the Ukrainian National Home in the East Village. There is no assigned seating. Everything unfolds leisurely, under the grand Art Deco¬–esque, mirrored ceiling of a banquet hall above the main restaurant, where old New Yorkers decide if they want their pierogies boiled or fried.

    Last night’s dinner honored, in absentia, the artist, philosopher, and yogi

  • interviews March 13, 2017

    Porpentine Charity Heartscape

    Porpentine Charity Heartscape is a writer, game designer, and self-described dead swamp milf. In addition, she is a 2016 Creative Capital Emerging Fields and 2016 Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Story Lab fellow, a 2017 Prix Net Art awardee, and a 2017 Whitney Biennial participant. Here she speaks about her work on view at the Whitney, and discusses the origins of her hypertext narratives.

    THERE’S SORT OF A MINIRETROSPECTIVE of my Twine stories in the Whitney Biennial. With Those We Love Alive is projected on one wall of a room. People can play it on a computer and they can draw their responses

  • picks January 13, 2017

    Byron Kim

    Mulling over his American contemporaries and their shared reach for the sublime, Barnett Newman once wrote: “Instead of making cathedrals out of Christ, man, or ‘life,’ we are making it out of ourselves, out of our own feelings.” Years later, Byron Kim seems in part to be taking Newman’s sentiment to its next logical, almost literal conclusion: Kim’s latest pieces consecrate our flesh and its sensations, via large-scale abstract renderings inspired by the bloom and flush of bruises on skin. The results will either seem mournful or erotic, depending on who’s looking.

    To those familiar with his

  • “Aki Sasamoto: Delicate Cycle”

    Aki Sasamoto’s performances exist in a realm somewhere between Fluxus events, TED talks, and IKEA hacks. A delight in the physics of cause and effect seemingly propels the artist’s interactions within a landscape of MacGyvered devices. Sasamoto frequently implements repurposed housewares—mops, brooms, impossibly long forks—in her performances, and will continue that trend this fall at SculptureCenter for her first solo show at a US museum. Here, the artist will install washers and dryers as part of a new body of site-specific work centered on notions of cleanliness

  • 11th Gwangju Biennale: “The Eighth Climate (What Does Art Do?)”

    “A place outside all places, outside of where.” This was, according to French philosopher and Islamic scholar Henry Corbin, the eighth climate—a realm first described by Persian theosophist Shahab al-Din al-Suhrawardi in the twelfth century as being accessible only via “psycho-spiritual senses.” Drawing inspiration from Suhrawardi’s antirationalist geography, this year’s Gwangju Biennale features projects by 101 artists, as well as lectures, discussions, and a publication accompanying the show. “The Eighth Climate (What Does Art Do?)” poses a question that has prompted

  • picks July 01, 2016

    Anna and Bernhard Blume

    If Hitchcock could have hired El Lissitzky as a set designer and cast Pee-wee Herman as a lead, the results might have looked a lot like Anna & Bernhard Blume’s oeuvre. In “Scenes from a Photo-Novel”—the couple’s first solo show in New York since 1989—grids of black-and-white photos and drawings storyboard the mounting terror of a priggish German couple, acted out by the Blumes themselves, as sculptural elements and household objects begin to run amok and hurtle through space, seemingly vivified by an unseen, vengeful telekinetic. The hyperbolic physical comedy of a Saturday-morning cartoon

  • diary June 05, 2016

    Land of Plenty

    WHEN IT COMES TO THE ARTS, Iceland has somehow figured out how to consistently punch above its weight. It may only have 323,000 residents. (Manhattan hasn’t been so small since 1820.) But it’s a country that, last year, managed to capture headlines and open international dialogue with its pavilion at the Venice Biennale, where Christoph Büchel set up a temporary mosque that was promptly shut down by Venetian authorities citing security concerns.

    As it turns out, a good many high-profile artists have Icelandic connections hidden in plain sight. Büchel lives in Iceland. Artist Roni Horn has a long

  • Asia-futurism

    IS IT POSSIBLE to be othered across time? For almost a century already, the myth of an Asian-inflected future has infiltrated imaginations worldwide. Vivid tableaux of the continent’s cities in hyperdrive, fueled by tech-enabled consumerism, come to mind with ease: Think of the vertical neon signs, the sleep-deprived gamers, the flesh-meets-machine of conveyor-belt sushi. Meanwhile, recent art history serves up examples of Asian artists (and East Asian artists in particular) whose pieces lay ground for even more fantastic futures to come: narratives populated by cyborg love and virtual-reality

  • John Gerrard

    “I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed,” Garry Winogrand once remarked. What sort of analogy results, and what are its limits, if photography is replaced with 3-D modeling in Winogrand’s oft-repeated dictum? Taking on such questions, John Gerrard chooses infrastructures stationed on far-flung sites as subjects of comprehensive documentation. With the aid of computer modeling and video-game engines, he compiles the results into something between digital time-lapse portraits and virtual tours. His first exhibition in China will

  • interviews March 08, 2016

    Jason Rohrer

    The programmer and designer Jason Rohrer—whose video game Passage, 2007, was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 2012—recently became the subject of the first-ever museum retrospective for a video game creator. The exhibition is on view at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College through June 26, 2016. Here, he talks about the challenges of exhibiting video games in a gallery space, and the metaphorical possibilities of his medium.

    WHEN MICHAEL MAIZELS, the curator at Wellesley, first contacted me, I initially thought he was yet another person who just wants to show Passage in a museum. But

  • diary March 02, 2016

    The Spanish Main

    IT RAINED IN MADRID over the weekend as ARCO—the world’s best-attended art fair—revved its gears for the thirty-fifth time. Further down corridors of the sprawling Feria del Madrid, staid suits gathered for “an annual meeting for insurance sector experts.” But we—less risk-averse, or more aesthetically minded—headed for the convention center’s Pavilions 7 and 9. There, framed by the patchwork pillows and unfinished wood of a rustic VIP lounge, the fair’s director, Carlos Urroz, spoke to reporters. “This ARCO is special,” he said. “Normally we have an invited country; this year we don’t. We’ve

  • Rachel Rossin

    Themes from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass loom large throughout William Gibson’s 2003 novel Pattern Recognition, which characterizes an American protagonist’s trip to the UK as a disorienting encounter with a “mirror-world.” But while Carroll framed his chiral universe as the product of minds and dreams, Gibson found alterity in machines and devices. Both these modes seemed alive in “Lossy,” Rachel Rossin’s recent solo show, whose nine paintings and a piece experienced via an Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset—titled I Came and Went as a Ghost Hand, 2015—bore unmistakeable

  • interviews November 25, 2015

    Christine Sun Kim

    Artist Christine Sun Kim has deployed a range of media, from drawings to electronic devices, to explore sound as a medium, particularly from her perspective as a deaf artist. Her upcoming exhibition at Carroll / Fletcher in London will reprise a work currently on view at “Greater New York” in MoMA PS1, and will also include new pieces, which she discusses below. The show, which runs from November 27, 2015 to January 30, 2016, will also feature a performance, Face Opera: Thumbs Up, on Thursday, November 26, at 7:30 PM.

    OVER TIME, I’ve found myself starting to understand the lingo of sound and

  • diary August 05, 2015

    Sleepless in Seattle

    IF YOU’RE FROM SEATTLE (I am), you’re apt to think that the city is home to people who springboard from abject scrappiness straight to global domination. You can start in a garage, without a major label deal, or without any venture capital, and your two-tailed mermaid can end up on every street corner in the world, and teens in Japan will wear flannel because you did.

    The week reaches highs of nineties as the Seattle Art Fair—the first in many years—gets underway. Mount Rainier looms portside, like a mutant white meringue, as we touch down in SeaTac. The fair’s venue: the WaMu Theater, which sits