George Baker

  • PISS ELOQUENT: THE ART OF KNUT ÅSDAM

    It is not polite to speak of the crotch of the question.

    —Erik Satie

    YOU ARE PUSHED UP CLOSE AGAINST THIS BODY, a man’s body, held by a camera that clings to its object like a pair of too-small trousers to the skin beneath them. You are staring at a crotch. Fragmented by the camera’s inert pressure, this is a body robbed of any sense of boundary, caught—like the trunk of an upended tree—at one of the sites of its own splitting, displaying the shadowy fold of zipper and seam as displaced echoes of the body’s own rupture. You notice, of course, the penis, cradled in the snug material but also

  • Céleste Boursier-Mougenot

    Little by little, the simple rigor of Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s installation became clear: Distributed evenly throughout the gallery were five inflatable children’s pools, of an intense, almost Mediterranean blue. Each pool, filled with the same small quantity of water, was outfitted with an electric pump that created a mild current. And, finally, in every pool, there appeared a diffuse, floating mass of crockery—an identical number of assorted bowls, Chinese teacups, and stemware.

    And with this the chaos began. Or perhaps I should say cacophony. For as the gentle current shuttled the bowls

  • Rainer Ganahl

    Since 1995, in his “S/L (seminars/lectures)” series, Rainer Ganahl has been producing what are essentially portrait photographs of intellectuals. Far from the contemplative tradition associated with a photographer like Gisèle Freund or the free-floating head shots found on contributors pages in magazines from Vogue to Artforum, Ganahl’s snapshot aesthetic positions intellectual activity as a form of labor. The figures are depicted in the context of their semipublic work: leading a seminar, giving a lecture, attending a conference. For each subject, Ganahl then usually selects two photographs:

  • Gary Simmons

    “Everything,” Michel Foucault once wrote about Magritte’s This Is Not a Pipe, “is solidly anchored within a pedagogic space.” In “The Forest for the Trees,” Gary Simmons’s most recent New York show, the scene was set by four large-scale C-prints installed in the front room of the gallery. A seminar room, a lecture hall, a chemistry auditorium, a large classroom: Each photograph placed the viewer squarely before a typical university space. These classrooms, however, were empty. Moreover, they appeared outmoded—one’s eye settled on the flaking ceiling paint in the seminar room, the missing characters

  • James Welling

    Consider the Rorschach effect typically experienced when looking at James Welling’s photographs. One cannot place these images; even if one knows what they are ostensibly of—aluminum foil, pastry dough, drapery, gelatin—one is unable to stop the spiraling movement that transforms the photograph into a surface of sheer projection. It has been similarly difficult to place Welling as an artist: He refused to embrace the media appropriations of his postmodernist peers, and his photographic investigations seemed to emerge into the art world of the late ’70s without specific precedent.

    One

  • Jason Simon

    To enter the slightly claustrophobic gallery—its windows and doors had been blackened to block out all external light—was to step into a scene of catastrophe. The centerpiece of Jason Simon’s most recent exhibition was a single sculpture, provocatively entitled Public Address: Collapsed, 1998. Two immense, jet-black speaker horns—brute, definitively outmoded mechanisms of the type once found in public arenas or sports stadiums—lay precariously on the gallery floor. Judging by the limp rigging and cracked ceiling tiles strewn around the horns, the work’s conceit was that the

  • Mark di Suvero

    Mark di Suvero has always associated himself with traditional left-wing political culture: according to one of his originary stories, for example, he used to refuse to produce objects for the art market, choosing instead to make toys for children in local housing projects. He claims to have learned from this “what worked and what didn’t.” Then there was his long and evidently painful self-exile from the United States during the Vietnam War—an exile that at least partially endeared him to the French. After settling in France, he was invited in 1975 by Michel Guy, France’s Minister of Culture, to

  • Andrea Robbins & Max Becher

    There can be no doubt about the incisive precision—worthy of the best work of Walker Evans—with which Andrea Robbins & Max Becher edited and sequenced their latest collaboration, a 1994 series of scarcely thirteen photographs of the concentration camp at Dachau. Since 1986, the two have positioned their projects within the vocabulary of documentary and Neue Sachlichkeit photography while critiquing the legacies of both; investigating the tensions between word and image, they continually turn for subject matter to the intersection of global tourism and the increasing desire for an aesthetic of

  • “Narrative Urge”

    Though curator Catsou Roberts’ stated aim in “Narrative Urge” was to present work that compelled the viewer to “assembl[e] the narrative fragments and assign meaning within the structure of the work,” this goal immediately ran into problems with the genealogical anchor for the show, Victor Burgin’s Love Stories #2, 1996. Here, three video monitors on elegant plinths presented what read as surveillance footage of quotidian activities. Each loop eventually faded out to a screen of saturated color, at which point a fragment of audio material from different Hollywood films—a female protagonist’s

  • Niele Toroni

    Since 1966, Niele Toroni’s working method—making imprints with a No. 50 brush, repeated at regular intervals across any given support—has remained constant: no alterations, no deviations, no retrospective development. Like his former collaborator Daniel Buren, Toroni’s degree-zero of painting advances only through repetition. Perpetually rehearsing its limits, painting becomes a tool for exposing the medium’s structural logic, its institutional contextualization, its architectural frame. We may feel that we know this story by now, but Toroni persists in telling it, proving us wrong with each

  • Richard Serra

    No two considerations have influenced—even literally determined—Richard Serra's sculptural career as much as the sheer physical exigencies of material weight and spatial measurement. In the face of the six forged—steel solids (weighing in at over 222 tons) that constitute his recent 58 x 64 x 70, 1996, viewers were unlikely to forget the former imposition; the simple facticity of the work's title would undoubtedly remind them of the latter.

    Each of the six nearly cubic blocks (as the title indicated, length, height, and width differed by only six inches) was literally identical, suggesting

  • Jeff Nelson

    Sculpture in the twentieth century has been perpetually threatened by those rival media that most directly make its claims to simultaneously engage aesthetic visuality and actual space outmoded: film and photography (in the realm of the image), architecture and industrial design (in the construction of space). In light of the general enthusiasm for reclaiming sculpture as the most “relevant” medium of artistic production today (in the work of any number of installation artists), it’s useful to recall the supposed atavism of the medium’s production processes, the bankruptcy of its traditional