Emily LaBarge

  • Charles Gaines, Face #16, Naoki Sutter-Shudo (Japanese/French/Swiss German), 2020, acrylic paint, acrylic sheet, ink-jet print, 66 1⁄2 × 55 1⁄4 × 8". From “Numbers and Faces: Multi-Racial/Ethnic Combinations Series 1,” 2019–20.

    Charles Gaines

    Generous is not typically a word associated with Conceptual art, but it’s precisely how I would describe the work of Charles Gaines: critically, provocatively, radically, sometimes paradoxically, but never submissively, generous. “The subjective imagination is an ideology, it’s not a fact,” the artist has said. He has also observed that the categories and universal paradigms, including “the creator,” in which we find ourselves inscribed are both constructed and arbitrary. In Gaines’s work, the challenge to systems and structures is necessarily inward- and outward-looking at once: The eradication

  • Erin O’Keefe, Circle, Circle, 2020, ink-jet print, 32 × 40".

    Erin O’Keefe

    The wrongness of images, or our apperceptions of them: What appears to be a painting is actually a photograph. What appear to be two-dimensional painted lines, curves, rectangles, arabesques, planes of color, or abstract geometries with trompe l’oeil shadows are in fact three-dimensional objects carefully arranged, brightly illuminated, and flattened into a beguiling single plane by the lens of a camera. “I’m interested in finding/discovering/choreographing moments of uncertainty that exist in the image, but not in the ‘real’ spatial condition,” says Erin O’Keefe, erstwhile architecture professor

  • Nancy Holt, Points of View, 1974, four-channel video installation, black-and-white, sound, 44 minutes. Video unit: 78 × 48 × 48".

    Nancy Holt

    STAR EARTH SKY WATER MOON SUN, reads Nancy Holt’s The World Through a Circle, ca. 1970, a sheet of white paper on which these typewritten words—read in either direction and starting in any location—form just that: a circle, one of the artist’s favorite forms. A HOLE THROUGH THE EARTH, EITHER WAY / DRAWING IN A GLANCE / AND THEN A SECOND LOOK / AND MORE, reads a poem beneath. THE WORLD FOCUSES / AND SPINS OUT AGAIN, SEEN.

    Although we know artists’ lives feature no straight lines, no this-therefore-that, no easily charted evolution, we can be tempted to read their early efforts as harbingers of

  • Artemisia Gentileschi, Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy, c. 1620–25, oil on canvas, 31 1/2 × 41 1/2".
    slant December 18, 2020

    The Blazing World

    HEIC ARTEMISIA

    the tombstone of Artemisia Gentileschi is said to have read. Clear and simple, forgoing the usual embellishments, such as names of father, husband, and children, dates of birth and death. HEIC ARTEMISIA, or HERE LIES ARTEMISIA.

    Artemisia: now commonly referred to by her first name only (Madonna! Cher! Beyoncé!), in order to avoid confusion with that other famous Baroque Gentileschi pittore, her father, Orazio. In life, she also went by the surname Lomi, a nod to the traditional artisans of her Tuscan heritage, which she thought might endear her to the powers and patrons of Florence,

  • Helen Cammock, They Call It Idlewild, 2020, HD video, color, sound, 18 minutes, 35 seconds.

    Helen Cammock

    “Attention equals Life, or is its only evidence,” wrote poet Frank O’Hara, and as I watched Helen Cammock’s new film They Call It Idlewild (all works cited, 2020), I believed him—fervently, longingly. Cammock made the film, originally commissioned by Wysing Arts Centre in rural South Cambridgeshire as part of its thirtieth-birthday program, while she was in residence at the institution during the autumn and winter of 2019–20, and it is full of the low, glancing light that characterizes British winters. Cammock’s lens catches this light as it pauses against bright-orange walls, lingers high in

  • Hanne Darboven, Ein Jahrhundert.1b (A Century. 1b) (detail), 1971–74, offset print, typewriter, ink on graph paper, 100 sheets, each 11 3/4 × 8 1/4", in 25 frames.

    Hanne Darboven and Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt

    “I want what I want but what I want I cannot do but what I can, I’m not supposed to,” said Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, who produced an enigmatic body of what she calls “typewritings” between 1979 to 1989, while living in what was then East Berlin.

    “What else to do / but art/ what more to do / what less to do / what else to be / but to do,” Hanne Darboven (1941–2009) wrote gnomically to Sol LeWitt in 1971 from Hamburg and the relative freedom of West Germany. Although Wolf-Rehfeldt and Darboven never met, were unaware of each other’s work, and lived and made art in radically different circumstances, the

  • Alina Szapocznikow, Noga (Leg), 1962, plaster, 7 7⁄8 × 19 5⁄8 × 25".

    Alina Szapocznikow

    I didn’t know it at the time, but the day I went to see “To Exalt the Ephemeral: Alina Szapocznikow, 1962–1972” would be, in light of the Covid-19 lockdown, my last day on the streets of London for a long time. Soon, we would be told to hide our bodies away, sick and healthy alike, until . . . I didn’t know when. At the gallery, I encountered striking evidence of the human body in all manner of states: ailing, productive, joyful, anarchic, in pieces, enduring. The word indexicality well describes the turn Szapocznikow’s works took in the decade leading up to her death in 1973. Their forms not

  • View of “Meriem Bennani: Party on the CAPS,” 2020, Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin. Photo: Alwin Lay.

    OPENINGS: MERIEM BENNANI

    IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY, sometimes known as the here and now, or a version of it, a woman’s tangled blonde updo smokes, bursts into flame, and shatters into hundreds of pixelated pieces. A slick and sexy fly, indigo with glinting green highlights, buzzes through a crowded marketplace, rests on a pile of halvah, reclines on a zucchini (leaving an animated gloop of sticky neon residue behind), flits through traffic singing Rihanna’s 2016 hit “Kiss It Better.” Been waiting on that sunshine boy, I think I need that back. The fly’s reedy, high-pitched voice strains gleefully for the upper registers:

  • Prunella Clough, Disused Land, 1999, oil on canvas, 53 × 49".

    Prunella Clough

    Prunella Clough—Pru to her friends, or sometimes Pruny—liked “paintings that say a small thing rather edgily,” as she told the Picture Post in 1949, when she was interviewed alongside her notable peers of the day, among them Robert Colquhoun, Patrick Heron, and Keith Vaughan. She was just thirty, but her succinct articulation of artistic aims already hinted at what would be a lifelong painterly commitment: “Whatever the theme, it is the nature and structure of an object—that, and seeing it as if it were strange and unfamiliar, which is my chief concern.” So “edgily” as in: wayward, askew,

  • Johanna Unzueta, Related to Myself, 2019–20, felt, thread, recycled wooden spools, burnt wood, dimensions variable.
    interviews March 11, 2020

    Johanna Unzueta

    Johanna Unzueta’s speech, lilting and melodic, is peppered with one of art’s most taboo words: beautiful. And yet it suits to a tee her capacious and interdisciplinary practice, one that transmutes—through delicate material sleights—the ordinary into the surprising, and by turns dazzling. A huge chain, made from thick cuts of gray felt, unfurls from the ceiling, each oversized link fragile yet tough, warped just slightly at the edges; a set of pale ochre and blue-striped uniforms hang mutely on a clothing rack; wall drawings in charcoal and bronze dip in and out of corners, ladder up and down

  • Zineb Sedira, Don’t do to her what you did to me, 1998–2001, video, color, sound, 8 minutes.

    Zineb Sedira

    Zineb Sedira’s film mise-en-scène, 2019, opens with a text reading, “In June 2018, after a visit to the Cinémathèque of Algiers archive, I decided to browse in bric-à-brac shops. . . . I discovered two canisters containing fragments of worn 60s, 70’s and 80’s films. The vendor told me the canisters came from a retired projectionist . . . so I pieced the footage together to create my own film.” The result is roughly nine minutes of enigmatic footage, spliced together and colorfully tinted, that ranges from scenes of daily life in Algeria to abstract rhythmic patterns produced by the decay of the

  • Andrea Büttner, Deutsche Bundesbank Dining Room, 2019, cardboard, book-binding linen, 8 1⁄4 × 29 3⁄4 × 20 7⁄8".

    Andrea Büttner

    High overhead in the blue, barrel-vaulted firmament: potatoes. Painted, not real. Of the versatile tuber, Andrea Büttner has said they are “what maybe Duchamp would have called a ‘prime word.’ Within art there are forms that can be poo, or bread, or a potato, so they are kind of ambiguous primal shapes.”And here they were, on the gallery ceiling, twinkling, transubstantiated spuds in a field of precious ultramarine. “We have,” they seemed to say with a knowing wink, “transcended our earthly stature.” Büttner’s work has long been invested in probing theologically inflected binaries (high and low,