Gilda Williams

  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan

    “A kind of superior journalism” is how art historian Kenneth Clark once thought of Francisco Goya’s The Third of May 1808, 1814, a brutally graphic painting of then-recent political executions. Some two centuries later, employing the latest in digital technologies, investigative artists—among them Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Forensic Architecture, and Trevor Paglen—have fashioned themselves heirs to Goya’s repurposing of art: They seek to inform viewers of unjust and sometimes little-known current events.

    Abu Hamdan gained attention last year with the audio work Saydnaya (the missing 19db),

  • Lin May Saeed

    “Animals are the main victims of history,” writes the historian Yuval Noah Harari. That dismal fact was fleshed out in a one-room survey comprising six wall works, a stack of A3 posters, and four animal sculptures by Berlin-based artist and animal rights activist Lin May Saeed. Often working with storytelling, the crafts materials of school projects (Styrofoam, colored paper, string), and the frontal compositions of children’s museum dioramas or didactic imagery, Saeed conflates the deep time of geological history with that of childhood, both tinged with lost innocence.

    Near the entrance was

  • Lee Bul

    In Lee Bul’s glittering London retrospective, “Crashing,” everything seemed to be reaching and pushing insistently outward. The exhibition—covering thirty years of Lee’s practice, 1988–2018, with more than one hundred artworks on display—extended beyond the gallery’s physical limits to include a specially made artwork, Weep into Stones, 2017–18, comprising some fifty thousand crystals hanging off the Hayward Gallery’s Brutalist concrete exterior. At the entrance, the South Korean artist’s sprawling installation of cracked and curving acrylic mirrors, Civitas Solis II, 2014, stretched

  • Leo Fitzmaurice

    Manchester United’s 1995–96 away-game shirt is regularly cited as among the worst-ever Premier League designs. Not only was the mottled gray top hideous, but players complained they could not spot teammates on the field. Down 3–0 at Southampton, the struggling Man U team quickly changed their uniforms at halftime, and their game improved (but they lost anyway). The mud-colored top was never seen again.

    Vibrant solids are generally chosen for team jerseys, and these are embellished in standard, uncomplicated patterns. The sponsor’s name is writ large at the shirt’s center. The team badge is usually

  • Dustin Yellin

    Opening during Amsterdam’s busy annual Art Weekend in November, Dustin Yellin’s marvelous exhibition “10 Parts” seemed to draw the biggest crowd. Swarms of happy viewers spent hours pressing their noses to the glass surfaces of Yellin’s aquarium-like sculptures, reminding me of kids staring dreamily into an Apple-store window. Buried within each massive, light-filled, transparent block––a fat sandwich of thirty-one sheets of half-inch-thick glass––were thousands of tiny pictures extracted from encyclopedias, science manuals, magazines. These cutout images are typically one-half to two inches

  • James Richards

    James Richards’s wall-size film-and-audio work Radio at Night, 2015, shows faces and figures whose identities remain unknown: a pair of staring eyes in a close-up clip from a vintage science film about a nervous condition that makes the eyes rapidly twitch; a trio of surgically masked doctors beneath the glare of operating-room lamps; a group of happy revelers emerging from a masked ball. The many animals we see are similarly anonymous—never beloved, named pets, but rather a flock of birds flying in random formation over a rippling sea, a row of freshly slaughtered pigs hanging bloodlessly

  • Amalia Ulman

    “On the Internet, no one knows you’re an artist.” These words, written in 2010 by critic Ed Halter, expressed the identity crisis suffered by early online artists, swamped by legions of teenage internet virtuosos whose proficiency with cut-and-paste culture often exceeded that of most MFA grads. Argentinean-born, Spanish-raised, UK-educated, Los Angeles–based Amalia Ulman is among those who in subsequent years carved a role for artists operating in the digital youniverse. In her online performance Excellences & Perfections, 2014, Ulman fabricated an idealized social-media avatar by feeding her

  • “Making & Unmaking”

    The opening-night atmosphere at “Making & Unmaking” was exuberant. Visitors—some magnificently dressed in bright, eclectically patterned clothing by the exhibition’s curator, designer Duro Olowu—marveled at the 170 stunning, little-known artworks and objects assembled. These ranged from a one-hundred-year-old Congolese textile, with its nearly twenty-foot-long non-repeating maplike pattern, to an immense drawing by the young Australian artist Donna Huddleston. Her Warriors, 2015, in gouache and colored pencil, depicts a bizarre procession that prompted such disparate associations as

  • Stan Douglas

    “A less amusing set of people never filled the imaginary world of a novelist,” carped a September 1907 review of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, published in Country Life, the stuffy English periodical (still going strong) devoted to racing, golfing, and the horsey set. Conrad’s dark novel, set in 1886, dared to portray the nascent Victorian-era underworld complete with a corruptible police force, foreign-born anarchists, and a sympathetic underclass. These shadowy nineteenth-century figures have been recast as spies, backhanded police commissioners, and dubious embassy officials in Stan

  • Caroline Achaintre

    Suddenly, Caroline Achaintre’s work seems to be everywhere. A stand-out in the current British Art Show, with a recent solo display at Tate Britain, Achaintre is now preparing for a major presentation opening in July at the warehouse-size BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, in Gateshead, UK. The French-German sculptor has lived in London since the late 1990s; her gradual ubiquity might have gone temporarily undetected owing to her staggering variety of artmaking techniques. The sensational, colorful, hairy wall rugs that emerged just over a decade ago suggested a signature style, but there were

  • Katrina Palmer

    The stories told in Katrina Palmer’s audio walk The Loss Adjusters, 2015, are complicated narratives, 150 million years in the making. Sculptor/writer Palmer scripted three eerie ten-minute fictions, which visitors could hear narrated through headphones as they were guided on a walk across this four-mile formation of solid rock off England’s south coast. Basically a giant beached boulder, the Isle of Portland was created in the Jurassic period when trillions of tons’ worth of organic matter compacted here over countless millennia, gradually solidifying into vast deposits of luminous Portland

  • Anna-Bella Papp

    Occasionally I hear a sublime new song with a melody so perfect and infectious, I feel that, surely, this music must have existed before. Impossible for such timeless harmonies to have been invented only now! Anna-Bella Papp’s small, flat sculptures provoke the same sensation. Some artist or other must have previously landed upon the irresistible idea of these tile-like slabs of unglazed clay, laid out on smooth white tables, with unique markings that produce a singular world in low relief. The longest edge of each of the twenty-six works in her recent London exhibition measures about twelve

  • Pierre Huyghe

    The white cube is “a curious piece of real estate,” as Brian O’Doherty once wrote; with Pierre Huyghe, this property just gets curiouser and curiouser. Ordinarily, an art gallery is a clean, bright place, the exclusive domain of Homo sapiens. In Huyghe’s exhibition “In. Border. Deep.,” it became a dark, cavernous home for strange life forms.

    The space was sliced into two oddly shaped halves. The first housed some extraordinary variations on the idea of “living sculpture,” along with a wall work, about which more later. In the second, further subdivided into two irregular black boxes, two short

  • Marvin Gaye Chetwynd

    This past winter, London was noticeably flush with terrific exhibitions by women artists working with collage and montage: Hannah Höch’s tiny cut-up miracles at the Whitechapel Gallery, Hito Steyerl’s spliced videos rocking the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and Trisha Baga’s sprawling 3-D moving-image installations at the Zabludowicz Collection. A further addition to this collage overload came in the form of Marvin Gaye Chetwynd’s room-size installation Canterbury Tales, 2014. The whole ground-floor gallery—every last inch of the four walls, the floor, and a flimsy paper hut erected at

  • Erik van Lieshout

    Downstairs was a dense, labyrinthine sculptural installation: a crowded maze of plywood structures, photographs, collages, sketches, wooden cutouts, and photocopies. This “Private View,” as Erik van Lieshout’s show as a whole was called, was seething with anger (I HATE MY FATHER stenciled on a white ground) and Oedipal details (a cutout face of the artist’s mother roughly glued atop the body of a model from a girlie magazine). Recurring throughout was the haunted image of a young man, flashing a peace sign and bearing an air of distant melancholy.

    None of this quite prepared us for what was

  • Philomene Pirecki

    Dominating the first room in Philomene Pirecki’s exhibition “Image Persistence” was a combination of three overlapping individual artworks, together best described as a mixed-media mural. The background work, White Wall, Artist’s Studio (11:22, 11:22, fluorescent light, 6-8-13), 2013, includes about a dozen twenty-by-sixteen-inch photographic posters, each showing one of two extreme close-ups of the artist’s cinder-block studio wall, upon which is affixed a snapshot of the same studio detail, all fixed atop the partially repainted gallery wall. Hanging upon White Wall were two other artworks:

  • Beatriz Santiago Muñoz

    The Hippomane mancinella, or manchineel tree, indigenous to Puerto Rico, is among the most poisonous plants on earth. One notorious example of its terrible powers was recorded in the nineteenth century, when dozens of German sailors ingested its fruit—also known as the “little apple of death”—and died horribly after enduring excruciating pain from internal bleeding. We are told of this tragedy in Beatriz Santiago Muñoz’s Farmocopea (all works 2013), a willfully amateurish 16-mm film featuring images of Puerto Rico’s lush island landscape accompanied by subtitles about its bizarre flora.

  • Steve Bishop

    The title of Steve Bishop’s exhibition “An Escalator Can Never Break, It Can Only Become Stairs” hints that machines may lead “lives” of their own, which carry on even after the plug has been pulled. And indeed, the works in the show bore out this hypothesis. At the entry, on a temporary L-shaped wall dividing the gallery in two—creating a main exhibition space and a narrow corridor to one side—hung the monochromatic “painting” How Can One Thing in General Be Many Things in Particular?, 2012. This powdered-steel rectangle reproduces with precision the finely textured, nondescript gray

  • Paul Sietsema

    In “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” author David

    Foster Wallace narrates an excruciating, ill-fated voyage: a seven-night Caribbean cruise funded by his editors at Harper’s magazine. Over the course of this dense forty-nine-page essay, Wallace learns to differentiate between “rolling” and “pitching” at sea as he is overfed, tortured by incessant disco drumming, and generally exasperated. Many thousands of words too long for a glossy magazine article, excessively detailed, and structured in free-floating non sequiturs, this amazing text itself seems lost at sea: a novella-length

  • Sarah Lucas

    There’s the briefest phase during early puberty when one’s hapless ignorance of firsthand sex is combined with an obsessive curiosity for all its obscene details, weirdly accompanied by a childish revulsion toward the whole stinking business. This is that awkward age when the frankest of questions (“What is cunnilingus?”) find their way to the dinner table, followed by the inevitable “Do you guys do it?” and the equally inevitable squeals of horror if even the most liberal of parents attempt a response. Terror and hilarity mix in fine proportion, fueling more queries, fits of laughter, and