Elvia Wilk

  • Agnes Denes, Isometric Systems in Isotropic Space - Map Projections: The Snail, 1978, ink on rag paper with printed Mylar overlay, 24 x 30”.
    books January 07, 2021

    All Systems Go

    IN THE FIRST MONTHS OF QUARANTINE, my apartment became my personal ecosystem. The idiosyncrasies of daily life in isolation—the peculiar sleep hours, the midnight meals on the fire escape, the evening Scrabble ritual—felt entirely specific. And yet, with over half of the world’s population instructed to quarantine as well, these intimate idiosyncrasies were twinned with a totally novel feeling-in-common. When we are asked to “flatten the curve” or wear masks outdoors, we are asked to see ourselves as both individuals with agency and a collective whose influence is only made en masse. We are

  • Elvia Wilk

    A Ted Chiang story is easy to recognize and impossible to imitate. Seven of the nine comprising his new collection, Exhalation (Knopf), have been previously published, but taken together they are enlightening. Each piece feels invented from scratch, as Chiang masterfully moves between references to, say, steampunk, classical mythology, and Black Mirror–esque corporate dystopia on a single page. And yet he resists inhabiting any genre, instead retaining his own voice and distinct aesthetic sensibility throughout.

    I’m not the only one obsessed. Chiang has a cult following, due as much to his writing

  • Visitors to Art Basel. (All photos: Elvia Wilk)
    diary June 21, 2018


    MY FLIGHT FROM HEATHROW TO BASEL was delayed. The pilot explained that this was due to the large number of visitors to “some art show” clogging the runway at our destination airport. His tone of voice implied an illness, an arterial disease or cancerous growth. I exchanged glances with the other person in my row, whose only baggage was a bubble-wrapped canvas.

    The idea of infection—and its counterpart, inoculation—accompanied me for the next four days of my art tour. Does an art fair have a symbiotic or parasitic relationship with a place? What ails the body of the art world, and is a fair a

  • View of “Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient,” 2018.
    picks April 20, 2018

    “Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient”

    The poet-philosopher Madeline Gins and the artist known as Arakawa began collaborating in the 1960s and, over the next half century, left virtually no creative discipline untouched. In the 1980s, the duo launched an architecture practice that radically upended pervasive architectural values rooted in modernist principles of efficiency and standardization. Believing that architecture should actively challenge the body rather than reinforce habitual movement, they reimagined the most taken-for-granted building staples, such as flat floors and walls. Their goal was to recondition the body to the

  • Kasia Fudakowski, Identititisch, 2013, wood veneer, mutiplex, steel, linen, sand, 2 5/8 x 9 1/2 x 5 1/8'.
    picks March 06, 2017

    “An Ear, Severed, Listens”

    In the gallery’s first exhibition since the partnering of Jennifer Chert and Florian Lüdde, this poetic and comedic show reflects on the human body. Featuring work by ten artists, “An Ear, Severed, Listens” also smartly takes into account the viewer’s physical experience in an unorthodox space that includes a small attic room and a basement accessed via a steep ladder.

    A standout work on the ground floor is Kasia Fudakowski’s Identititisch, 2013, consisting of two long wooden strips on tall legs with rollers. The surfaces are inlaid with knots and burls from various other wood pieces and arranged

  • Mayo Thompson, Drawing for “Rangoon”, 1970, ink and pencil on paper, ballpoint pen on masking tape, 12 x 9".
    picks November 23, 2016

    Mayo Thompson

    Mayo Thompson has spent more than forty years making music in and around the art world. He’s best known for producing over twenty albums with a panoply of artistic collaborators, usually under the name of his band, Red Krayola (formerly Red Crayola). But through the years, Thompson has purposefully eluded easy categorization as an artist—until very recently, when the art market noticed he has also long made compelling visual art.

    Thompson’s current show, titled “?,” presents an assortment of works on paper, including a series of illustrations, “Drawings for ‘Rangoon’,” which Thompson made for

  • View of “Katharina Marszewski: Unnecessary Warsaw Correspondent,” 2016.
    picks November 03, 2016

    Katharina Marszewski

    Contrary to its title, Katharina Marszewski’s exhibition “Unnecessary Warsaw Correspondent” makes a case for the artist as necessary witness—not only to historic events such as wars but also to everyday life. Born in Warsaw and raised in Düsseldorf, Marszewski attempts to reconcile her memories of the city of her birth with its present state through her ongoing photographic practice. Here, she presents a group of sixteen works from the series “Set of Jaunesse,” 2016, made up of yellow cardboard passe-partouts, each with with two cutouts that frame pairs of seven-by-ten-centimeter photographs,

  • Hiromasa Ogura, Background for Ghost in the Shell (1995), gouache on paper and acrylic on transparent film, 11 x 15".
    picks August 29, 2016

    “Anime Architecture”

    The implicit main character in urban science-fiction narratives is always the city itself—architecture plays an integral and active part in shaping the story. This becomes abundantly clear in an exhibition of original background drawings from three well-known anime films: Patlabor: The Movie (1989), Ghost in the Shell (1995), and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004), all directed by Mamoru Oshii.

    On the first floor, viewers find paintings of cityscapes, ramshackle villages, and postapocalyptic islands, painstakingly rendered with miniature brushstrokes and delicate washes of gouache. These