Dieter Roelstraete

  • Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys, The Rat Woman, 2019, mixed media. Installation view, Belgian pavilion, Venice. From the 58th Venice Biennale. Photo: Nick Ash.


    AT NO TIME has the ever-widening gap between Art and World been on more dramatic display than in rain-ravaged Venice this past November during the fifty-eighth edition of the Biennale, dubiously titled “May You Live in Interesting Times.” The most poignant and lasting image to have come out of this most recent iteration of the global art world’s favorite tourist attraction may well be that of a helpless vaporetto—emblazoned with Biennale advertising—run aground due to flooding near the Giardini boat stop. A sobering sign of “interesting times” indeed, and a far cry from one of the 2019 event’s


    VISITORS TO DOCUMENTA 14 in Athens and Kassel might have been forgiven for scratching their heads in bemusement at the sight of so much Albanian painting from the 1960s and ’70s. Arben Basha, Llambi Blido, Pandi Mele, Hasan Nallbani, and Zef Shoshi: These were artists of zero renown outside of the secretive Balkan republic. Reviewing the exhibition, which I co-organized as one of six core curators, for the New York Times, Jason Farago wrote that “for every familiar name” in the 2017 edition of the quinquennial, “there are ten you’ve never heard of, often for good reason,” adding parenthetically

  • View of “Andrzej Wróblewski: Recto/Verso,” 2015–16. From left: The Lovers, 1956; Man with Three Heads, Figural Composition no. 1477, ca. 1956; Fan, Abstract Composition no. 1137, n.d.; Mother with Dead Child, 1949. © Andrzej Wróblewski Foundation.

    Andrzej Wróblewski

    THOUGH LITTLE KNOWN to global audiences, the work of painter Andrzej Wróblewski (1927–1957) has long been feted in his native Poland as an important bridge between the Constructivist-dominated prewar avant-gardes and the existentialist and figurative traditions of the 1950s. And there is a lot of work to fete indeed: When he died in a mountaineering accident at age twenty-nine, Wróblewski left behind some two hundred canvases, an oeuvre that is striking for its diversity as well as its size. As the artist’s recent retrospective demonstrated, his brush roamed widely, gregariously. He reflected

  • Yael Bartana, Inferno, 2013, HD video, color, sound, 18 minutes 7 seconds. Production still. Photo: Marlene Bergamo.

    the 31st São Paulo Bienal

    IN THEIR INTRODUCTION to the catalogue for this year’s São Paulo Bienal, the exhibition’s seven-member curatorial collective make a statement that is sure to arouse a measure of ambivalence, to say the least: “Beyond all scientific or economic arguments,” they write, “recognition of the power of faith and ritual to change normative responses runs throughout the 31st Bienal.” In making such an assertion concerning the power of faith, the collective, which consists of Galit Eilat, Nuria Enguita Mayo, Charles Esche, Pablo Lafuente, Luiza Proença, Oren Sagiv, and Benjamin Seroussi, is clearly informed

  • Jan Hoet

    IT IS NO EXAGGERATION to say that I got my start in the art world—look, Ma, I’m in Artforum!—thanks to my incomparable, indefatigable compatriot Jan Hoet. Back in the late 1990s, I was a disoriented philosophy student hanging around Ghent; I enjoyed writing about contemporary art, occasionally managing to get the odd piece published. One such text, about Wim Delvoye’s food-consuming, feces-producing installation Cloaca, 2000, eventually appeared in Kunst Nu, the quarterly magazine of SMAK in Ghent. I am convinced that Hoet, the founding director of the museum, never got around to

  • Michael Rakowitz, May the Arrogant Not Prevail (detail), 2010, found Arabic packaging and newspapers, glue, cardboard, wood, 19' 7 3/4“ x 16' 2 7/8” x 3' 1 3/8".


    Babylon’s ancient Ishtar Gate is reconstructed with contemporary product wrappers; books carved from Afghan stone memorialize a German library destroyed in World War II; Saddam Hussein’s dinnerware turns up at a Park Avenue restaurant. In MICHAEL RAKOWITZ’s projects, cultural fragments are subject to a logic of transformation, replication, and circulation that allows them to telescope across regions and temporalities. If geopolitical conflicts are too often understood in abstract terms—as a “clash of civilizations”—Rakowitz traffics in the particular and the polysemic, prompting social

  • Konrad Klapheck, Die Macht des Vergessens (The Power of Oblivion), 1968, oil on canvas, 61 x 43 1/4".


    KONRAD KLAPHECK was never one to range far afield—he was born in Düsseldorf in 1935 and lives there to this day. From 1954 to 1958, he studied at the city’s famous art academy under Bruno Goller, a little-known Surrealist who also taught Konrad Fischer and Blinky Palermo, and in 1979 became a professor there, a position he held until his retirement in 2002. A man of great constancy and stabilitas loci, as the Benedictines used to say, in more ways than one: It was his localized early experience of Düsseldorf’s postwar devastation that would prove formative, profoundly influencing his

  • Goshka Macuga with Simon Moretti, Element 7: Magic Star, 2006, floor painting, logs, artworks by Mai-Thu Perret and an unknown artist. From Goshka Macuga, Sleep of Ulro, 2006. Installation view, Greenland Street, Liverpool. From the 4th Liverpool Biennial. Foreground, left: Mai-Thu Perret, Le Fée Idéologie (The Fairy Ideology), 2004. Back-ground, right: Artist unknown, Journeyman, n.d. Photo: Andy Stagg.


    ART AS RESEARCH, RESEARCH AS ART: This is a powerful new force in contemporary culture, its development partly driven by a momentous shift in art education, where scholarly methodologies and knowledge production are increasingly emphasized. London-based artist Goshka Macuga is an oft-cited standard-bearer of this approach. The majority of her projects are the result of long years of reading and research, much of which is conducted in close collaboration with other artists (whose work she often features within her installations) and with specialists from adjoining fields, and much of which is