Elizabeth Schambelan


    TRYING TO COME UP with a taxonomy for the burgeoning idioms of contemporary sculpture is probably ill advised. But one can’t help wishing for a bit of handy nomenclature to categorize the abundance of recent work in which rigorously formal propositions achieve an odd, uneasy détente with, well, junk—tchotchkes, cast-offs, discount-bin merchandise. The result of this dynamically unstable alliance—visible in the work of artists as diverse as Jim Lambie, Gedi Sibony, and, perhaps most notably, Rachel Harrison—suggests less a simple rejiggering of old terms, e.g., assemblage, than an evolution of

  • Gareth James

    Despite the rise of computer animation, many of the special effects we see in movies and on television are created using an old technique in which subjects are shot in front of a featureless blue screen that is later replaced by a different background. When used skillfully, blue-screen imaging lends perceptual credence to fantasy; when used poorly (as it frequently is in basic-cable talk shows, corporate motivational videos, and local-news weather reports) it gives rise to a grab bag of optical anomalies—absence of parallax, actors with halos around their bodies—that add up to a uniquely

  • Lucy McKenzie

    The press release for Scottish artist Lucy McKenzie’s New York solo debut curiously asserted that one of the five series of works on paper in the show consisted of “studies of Tintin from life.” Created in 1929 by Belgian artist Hergé, Tintin—preposterously cowlicked journo-adventurer who moved, Zelig-like, through most of the mid-twentieth century’s geopolitical hotspots—is, of course, a cartoon. But there he was in McKenzie’s show, fleshed out with eerie naturalism in a group of colored-pencil portraits that depict him posing rakishly in plus fours and trench coat. In fact, McKenzie’s subject

  • Left and right: Scenes from Pierre Huyghe's A Journey That Wasn't shoot. (Photos: Public Art Fund/Tom Powel Imaging)
    diary October 17, 2005

    Murk of the Penguin

    New York

    It goes without saying that one must suffer for one’s art, but some of us prefer to suffer for other people’s art. And so it was that on Friday night a few hundred hardy, masochistic souls, myself among them, showed up in a downpour at Central Park’s (roofless) Wollman Rink, where a sequence for Pierre Huyghe’s film A Journey That Wasn’t was being shot. The film, which will debut at the 2006 Whitney Biennial (it’s not just for Americans anymore!), centers around a trip that Huyghe and some fellow artists took to Antarctica earlier this year. Having heard stories that the changes wrought by global


    Los Angeles–based artist Matthew Monahan has said that figurative drawing is the “core” of his practice—in graduate school in the mid-’90s, while his fellow students delved into video and installation, Monahan recalls, he wrestled with the question “How do you put a shadow under a cheekbone?”—and he is perhaps best known, especially to New York audiences, for his works on paper, which he exhibited at Anton Kern Gallery in 1997 and 2002. But Monahan is not an ironic neoclassicist blithely reanimating unfashionable forms; rather, his relationship to the depiction of the human figure is dead serious,

  • Aernout Mik

    Aernout Mik’s video installation Refraction, 2005, which tracks the aftermath of a bus accident in the Romanian countryside, comes closer to naturalism than any of the Dutch artist’s earlier moving-image odes to disaster, dislocation, and freakish misadventure. Previously, Mik’s works have featured complex arrangements of screens, dizzying camera movements, ambiguously eschatological scenarios, and an almost Melièsian sense of creepy artifice. But Refraction, projected straightforwardly on a long, low, free-standing wall, at first seems to be merely an extended documentation of the type of

  • Jesper Just, Bliss and Heaven, 2004, still from a color video, 7 minutes 30 seconds.


    “PERFORMANCE IS CRUCIAL TO THE HISTORY of visual art, and yet it’s always been kind of a sideshow,” says art historian, curator, and critic RoseLee Goldberg, who has spent her career making a case for the genre’s rightful place under the art-world big top. This fall, she finally takes on the role of ringmaster, organizing PERFORMA05, the first edition of a new biennial dedicated to performance—or “live art,” as she often refers to it. Taking place in venues around New York this November, the biennial will feature new works, film and video programs, panel discussions, and symposia bringing together

  • Jack Goldstein

    Around the turn of the millennium, as a widespread reappraisal of the art of Jack Goldstein (1945–2003) got underway—perhaps prompted by the 2001 re-creation at New York’s Artists Space of the seminal 1977 show “Pictures,” in which Goldstein appeared alongside Troy Brauntuch, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, and Philip Smith—his work seemed suddenly to be everywhere, but it was rarely all together in one place. For those who didn’t make it to his 2002 retrospective at Le Magasin in Grenoble, a concurrent pair of recent New York shows offered the next best thing—a chance to compare significant

  • Seamus Harahan

    Seamus Harahan’s large-scale, three-channel video projection Holylands, 2004, documents the street life of an urban community that looks as if it’s populated almost entirely by men and boys. By day, they hang out in groups or meander down the block drinking liquor out of bottles concealed in plastic bags; by night they commit petty crimes, such as vandalism, and possibly engage in more nefarious activities, furtively gathering around idling vans in a way that screams, “Drug deal in progress!” They roughhouse, amuse themselves with what’s at hand (which isn’t much—cardboard cartons, water escaping

  • Unica Zürn

    Unica Zürn (1916–1970) is probably best known as Hans Bellmer’s longtime lover and sometime photographic subject, though, as Fassbinder succinctly indicated in the dedication of his 1978 film Despair—“To Antonin Artaud, Vincent van Gogh, Unica Zürn”—her contributions to cultural history go well beyond her role as flesh-and-blood poupée. She was a writer and artist who, like Artaud and van Gogh, operated in the zone in which visionary sensibility fades into mental illness—an easy place to romanticize but a difficult one in which to live.

    The last decade of Zürn’s life was defined by her

  • “Make It Now: New Sculpture in New York”

    Overlapping with the UCLA Hammer’s show on new sculpture in LA, “Make It Now” offers the bicoastal a chance to compare and contrast the state of sculpture, East and West. Those grounded in New York will have plenty to absorb in Queens, where Ceruti, Huberman, and independent curator Sirmans present some fifty works—most made within the last year, almost all specifically for the show—by about thirty up-and-coming object makers, including Ester Partegas, Gedi Sibony, and Nicole Cherubini. Despite the eclectic roster, this is not merely

  • Franz Ackermann

    Despite fifteen straight years of globetrotting, it seems there are still a few locales that the peripatetic psycho-cartographer Franz Ackermann has yet to survey. The Berlin-based artist’s first solo show in Ireland—accompanied by a catalogue with essays by IMMA senior curator Rachael Thomas, director Enrique Juncosa, and Daniel Birnbaum—features about thirty recent works, including his trademark “mental maps,” and five newly commissioned wall paintings and installations. The contradictions of contemporary Ireland—where the “Celtic Tiger” economy continues to grow, even