Gilda Williams

  • Mark Leckey, Dream English Kid, 1964–1999 AD, 2015, video, color, sound, 23 minutes 2 seconds.

    Mark Leckey

    Amazingly, a life-size section of the M53 motorway bridge—complete with massive pillars, a ramp, and an overhead road—has been reconstructed in a darkened, hangar-size gallery at Tate Britain. Beneath such a bridge, located in the hinterlands of Liverpool, Mark Leckey played with his boyhood friends back in the 1970s. And there, he says, one very strange day, he encountered an inexplicable, spritelike magical creature.

    This supernatural encounter lodged indelibly in Leckey’s psyche and has loosely become the subject of Under Under In, 2019, one of three video works that comprise “Mark Leckey: O’

  • Nevine Mahmoud, breast (Rosa Alptraum), 2019, handblown glass, resin, aluminum hardware, 10 × 7 1⁄8 × 7 1⁄2".

    Nevine Mahmoud

    There are breasts, and then there are tits. With their supple glass curves and pointy resin nipples, the pair hanging temptingly on the wall here were definitely tits. The pinky-beige breast (Rosa Alptraum) and her deep-red sister breast (tamarind) (all works 2019) were convincingly smooth and perky, just begging for an illicit feel. Confronted by Nevine Mahmoud’s sculptures of fragmented erogenous zones, I sensed the conflation of two prohibitions: the taboo against touching an artwork in a gallery, and that of touching a stranger’s body. Both can be tempting; both must be resisted. I must not

  • Tracey Emin, You were still There, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 72 1⁄4 × 48".

    Tracey Emin

    Tracey Emin’s first-ever solo exhibition, in White Cube’s tiny original gallery, was titled “My Major Retrospective 1963–1993.” Two years later, still a relative unknown, she opened the Tracey Emin Museum (1995–98) in a south London storefront. Emin has always thought big and scaled up, a tactic abundantly observed in this giant solo exhibition, “A Fortnight of Tears.” Sketchy, nude self-portrait drawings enlarged into some thirty big canvases; intimate handwritten notes magnified into the wall-size neon I Longed for You, 2019; tabletop clay figurines swelled into three room-size bronzes; and

  • Annie Ratti, White Bird’s Hat, 2018, fabric, styrene rubber, metal mesh, wooden block, metal stand, 81 1⁄8 × 29 1⁄8 × 9 7⁄8".

    Annie Ratti

    Wilhelm Reich spent a lifetime dodging persecutors—first the Nazis, then the FBI, then the American Immigration and Naturalization Service—but it was finally the US Food and Drug Administration that managed to capture and imprison him. The discredited German psycho-analyst believed he could heal the world by harnessing “orgone,” the life energy he believed was released in orgasm, whose suppression Reich claimed caused all mental and physical illness. Officially accused mostly of medical fraud—little more than quackery—Reich disproportionately infuriated both the international scientific

  • Beatrice Gibson,  I Hope I’m Loud When I’m Dead, 2018, 16 mm, color, sound, 20 minutes 47 seconds.

    Beatrice Gibson

    If I had to select a favorite scene from the two unforgettable films in Beatrice Gibson’s exhibition “Crone Music,” I’d choose the closing sequence of I Hope I’m Loud When I’m Dead (all works 2018), which shows the artist and her five-year-old son, Obie, dancing wildly to Corona’s 1993 disco anthem “The Rhythm of the Night.” The film takes its title from a poem by CAConrad, who appears in it alongside Eileen Myles. Inspired by the final scene of Claire Denis’s 1999 film Beau Travail, which saw actor Denis Lavant breaking into a frenetic solitary dance to the same song before the mirrored walls

  • View of “Korakrit Arunanondchai,” 2018. On-screen: No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5, 2018. Foreground: untitled stuffed animals.

    Korakrit Arunanondchai

    This was probably the closest you’ll ever come to being trapped in a cave with an androgynous paint-covered performer; multiple Thai demigods; a tribe of silent, dust-covered screen worshippers; a Southeast Asian Christian cult; and military relics from the Cold War. Seemingly populated by a cast of hundreds, Korakrit Arunanondchai’s mesmerizing three-channel film installation No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5, 2018, runs only about thirty-one minutes but feels epic. Accompanied by a haunting soundtrack of words and music designed by Aaron David Ross, and with lush

  • Diane Simpson, Jabot (triplet), 2018, low-density fiberboard, colored pencil, linen, steel, wooden dowels, fabric straps, 43 × 33 × 21". Photo: Andy Keate.

    Diane Simpson

    My favorite art-world tweet last year came from critic Martin Herbert, who proposed a keyboard short-cut to instantly insert today’s oft-needed phrase, “under-recognized female artist.” This time-saving keystroke would have come in mighty handy this autumn in London, which enjoyed survey exhibitions by Amy Sillman and the late Anni Albers alongside this first-ever UK solo presentation by American sculptor Diane Simpson. An admired figure in the Chicago art scene, Simpson had her second solo exhibition in New York in 2013, thirty-three years after the first one. She has barely exhibited in Europe,

  • “HUMA BHABHA: THEY LIVE”

    Organized by Eva Respini

    If, as Einstein predicted, World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones, its warriors may resemble Huma Bhabha’s powerful, tragicomic sculptural survivors. Bronze-cast totemic robots and monstrous humanoids built from discarded packing materials, massive heads held together with chicken wire and chewed-looking clumps of clay: Bhabha’s scavenged figures possess a stately, timeless presence, like statues immortalizing a gigantic future race, concocted from the choicest scraps pulled from that planet-size junkyard, earth. Alongside rarely seen masks, prints, photographs,

  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Earwitness Inventory, 2018, mixed media. Installation view.

    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, Bee, 2018, cardboard, transparent paper, strip lights, 102 × 102 3⁄8 × 19 5⁄8".

    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

  • View of “Lee Bul,” 2018. Photo: Linda Nylind.

    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, CAMEL LIMITED EDITION BLUE, 2009, cigarette packet, 31⁄2 × 37⁄8". From the series “Post Match,” 1996–2017.

    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