Eva Díaz

  • Trevor Paglen, Singleton/SBW ASS-R1 and Three Unidentified Spacecraft (Space Based Wide Area Surveillance System; USA 32), 2012, C-print, 60 x 48".

    Trevor Paglen

    THE END OF SPACE AGE: So proclaims the cover of a recent issue of The Economist, which Trevor Paglen has photographed and blown up to movie-poster size. If ever there was a moment to reassess the utopian drive to exceed the envelope of Earth, now is that time, for, as Paglen’s exhibition suggests, the era of space exploration as a humanistic program of knowledge acquisition, interspecies communication, and possible intergalactic colonization—in short, the epoch of cosmic optimism—has receded. Instead, embers of dystopian millenarianism, already present during the Cold War period, are

  • Claudia Joskowicz, Sympathy for the Devil, 2011, two-channel HD video projection, color, sound, 8 minutes.

    Claudia Joskowicz

    Feuding with one’s neighbor will undoubtedly pressurize the already delicate politics of apartment life. Now imagine the amplified tensions that would arise if that neighbor were former Nazi Klaus Barbie, the so-called Butcher of Lyon, who is estimated to have been directly responsible for the deaths of approximately 4,000 people during the German occupation of France.

    Claudia Joskowicz’s eight-minute two-channel video Sympathy for the Devil, 2011, re-creates just such a scenario, revealing something of the nature of the ideological jumble that resulted from South America’s post–World War II

  • View of “Goshka Macuga,” 2012. Foreground: Daybed for the Spirit of Polish Culture, 2012. Background: The Letter, 2012.

    Goshka Macuga

    If Poland—“God’s playground,” in historian Norman Davies’s pithy phrase—didn’t invent black comedy, it has surely produced some of the wryest examples of tragic-absurd performance throughout its fraught post–World War II period. Take Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958), one of Roman Polanski’s early films, in which two men emerge from the sea carrying a large wardrobe, only to be beaten with a dead cat by a group of local toughs, or Tadeusz Konwicki’s novel A Minor Apocalypse (1979), which follows the slapstick tribulations of a hungover middle-aged man who wanders the streets of Warsaw,

  • Rey Akdogan, Artikelgruppe (detail), 2012, ceiling fan, PVC-strip curtain, industrial halogen lights, sandblasted glass diffusers, aluminum fan blades, light with Lee 748 and Lee 238 lighting gels, dimensions variable.

    Rey Akdogan

    Who didn’t move to the Big City for the nightlife? Or at least the idea that it’s there for you if you want it? Well, prepare to be happy: Rey Akdogan’s show “night curtain” was open to the public from dusk to midnight. Accordingly, it took full advantage of an often-ignored truth of metropolitan art-viewing, one that the night hours at Palais de Tokyo in Paris have exploited to great effect for years, and that the lines out the door for the occasional late nights at New York museums demonstrate: People love to see art after the sun goes down. Doing so changes the whole texture of the viewing

  • Paul Pfeiffer, Playroom, 2012, steel, glass one-way mirror, wood, MDF, fabric, upholstery, lights, 62 1/4 x 72 x 30".

    Paul Pfeiffer

    To Johan Huizinga, author of the classic 1938 study Homo Ludens, it is the healthy, energetic civilization that is able to constantly engender new forms of play, whereas in decadent societies, highly organized systems of recreation and amusement become mere formal games. With its concise group of works, all from 2012, Paul Pfeiffer’s exhibition “Playroom” explored the spectrum of modernity’s forms of play, from “free,” fun and pleasurable activities to codified competitions in which profit or passive entertainment seem to be the motivating impetus.

    The most mesmerizing of these works is 100 Point

  • Christian Jankowski, The Eye of Dubai (detail), 2012, video, black-and-white, sound, 47 minutes 20 seconds; ink-jet print, 48 1/2 x 48 1/2"

    Christian Jankowski

    As a metaphor for art criticism, “message in a bottle” is, at best, rather anomic. Is that what we as writers do: just chuck it out there and pray some random reader halfway around the world stumbles on the entreaty of our otherwise lonely prose? Review, 2012, part of Christian Jankowski’s exhibition “Discourse News,” consists of approximately one hundred bottles sealed with red wax, which contain handwritten art reviews the artist solicited from critics and were here organized in clusters throughout the gallery space. Not only are the enclosed texts proleptic—Jankowski asked the

  • William Anastasi, Sink, 1963, rusted steel, water, 20 x 20 x 1/2". From “Notations: The Cage Effect Today.”

    “Notations: The Cage Effect Today”

    No study of composer John Cage’s legacy would be complete without acknowledging his own influences and frequent collaborations. In the case of visual-art practices, his work with Robert Rauschenberg looms largest. Indeed, in Hunter College’s exhibition “Notations: The Cage Effect Today,” organized by Joachim Pissarro with the help of an international group of curators (Bibi Calderaro, Julio Grinblatt, and Michelle Yun), Rauschenberg is a silent but dominant partner in the proceedings.

    Cage credited Rauschenberg, whom he met in New York in 1951 and worked with at Black Mountain College and beyond,

  • Per-Oskar Leu, Crisis and Critique (detail), 2012, still from the twenty-seven-minute black-and-white video component of a mixed- media installation.

    Per-Oskar Leu

    If the history of the twentieth-century could be distilled to just a few key episodes, one of them might be Bertolt Brecht’s appearance before a US House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) panel in 1947. Speaking with great deliberation in his thick German accent, Brecht point by point dismantled his interrogators’ claims about the danger of his works and of “political” poetry more generally. Employing Brechtian-inspired Verfremdungseffekte, or distancing effects, Norwegian artist Per-Oskar Leu weaves a fabric of real voices and fictional characters to stage an innovative reimagining of

  • Ross Knight, Part, 2012, steel, plastic, 104 x 114 x 61".

    Ross Knight

    If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to heat-seal a giant sheet of industrial plastic around something other than a dry-docked boat, Ross Knight’s sculpture Part, 2012, is an intriguing case. At over eight feet high, Part is a mysterious object whose armature creates protuberances in the opaque plastic shrink wrap that envelops its upper half. Stemlike metal legs painted an alarming hue of fuchsia protrude from the base and attach to unpainted threaded steel posts, while two rods of red wheeled casters in blue plastic tracks (such as those used to scoot boxes down conveyor belts) project

  • R. Luke DuBois, The Marigny Parade, 2011. Performance view, Eleanor McMain Secondary School, New Orleans, October 22, 2011. Photo: Scott Saltzman.

    Prospect.2 New Orleans

    WHEN CURATOR DAN CAMERON inaugurated Prospect New Orleans in 2008, billed as the largest international biennial in the United States, it was an act not merely of post–Hurricane Katrina revitalization but of civic reinvention. Though it received virtually no funding from depleted state or city coffers, Prospect.1 generated a great deal of curiosity, goodwill, and private patronage and brought contemporary art to the city in an unprecedented way. Due to cost overruns for the first show and reduced corporate funding since the recession, Prospect.2 was postponed one year and was a significantly

  • Antoni Muntadas, On Translation: Celebracions, 2009, still from a color video, 9 minutes 33 seconds.

    Antoni Muntadas

    A few years ago, the New Yorker started a weekly cartoon-caption contest. I can be trusted to draw a complete blank about how to caption each week’s illustration, and yet I am consistently impressed with wits in the general public knocking it out of the park with some seriously funny entries. A work by Antoni Muntadas stages a similar exercise, one whose high stakes reveal themselves only gradually. Part of a showing of seven new and old works organized by guest curator José Roca at the Bronx Museum, this iteration of the piece On Subjectivity, 1978, pre­sents a selection of five historic and

  • Rancourt/Yatsuk, Black Diamond, 2011. Performance view, October 27, 2011. Buddy Budansky (Justin Rancourt).

    Rancourt/Yatsuk

    The commodity promises so very much. It beats a drum of necessity—fulfilling real requirements for food, housing, and clothing—yet it sings a cloying song of desires beyond need, converting ineffable longings into cold, hard cash on the barrelhead. Justin Rancourt and Chuck Yatsuk’s recent performances, including the ninety-minute live action Black Diamond, 2011, explore the commodity’s interpellation of subjects as buyers, probing the gap between its claims of pleasure and contentment and the struggle to find an identity outside of consumption. The show is about a pyramid scheme and