Glen Helfand

  • Vincent Fecteau

    Vincent Fecteau’s modest-scale sculptures have always exuded a curiously mixed vibe: They’re inviting because of their arts-and-crafts materials yet repellent because of their open, even defiant expression of creative anxiety. The artist’s first solo museum exhibition, which took place as part of the Berkeley Art Museum’s “Matrix” series before traveling to the Pasadena Museum of California Art, included thirteen of these untitled pieces. As the largest collection of his work assembled by an art institution to date, the show had an unexpected graciousness, but the sculptures still conjured a

  • Christian Marclay

    More than a decade separates Christian Marclay's Tape Fall, 1989, a classic early Marclay fusion of object and sound, from this year's Video Quartet, a sublime meditation on film as an audiovisual medium. But seeing both pieces together in this compact exhibition, titled “Sampling/Christian Marclay,” revealed the artist's consistent ability to transform simple juxtapositions of sound and vision into works that blossom sensually and cerebrally. While the show did not capture the overall arc of Marclay's practice, the two works shown here did mark pinnacle moments.

    Tape Fall is composed of a

  • picks September 30, 2002

    Thomas Struth

    At this moment of international tension, Thomas Struth’s images of international zones have an added poignancy, especially when seen in the constantly remade environs of downtown Los Angeles. This retrospective, including nearly a hundred pictures of cities and forests all over the globe, offers a kind of around-the-world-in-a-day experience, as one industrialized, high-rise-ridden landscape replaces another. Struth’s well-known and truly alluring museum pictures, which introduce the show, explore the multilayered gazes and accidental choreography of the public gathering. You take away a sense

  • picks September 27, 2002

    Paul Sietsema

    Paul Sietsema’s new 16 mm film project employs the kind of entrancing didactics wistfully associated with classrooms of the not-so-distant past. Clocking in at twenty-four minutes, Empire is an opaque, teacherly meditation on the construction of a sensibility. In a series of near-static silent sequences, Sietsema sets his sights on an elusive sourcebook of objects and interiors: a barely perceptible grasshopper, a biomorphic sculpture referencing Jackson Pollock’s rare work in that medium, a splendidly ornate room, and, most notably, the glamorous, modern interior of Clement Greenberg’s New York

  • picks September 16, 2002

    “To Whom It May Concern”

    We all know that e-mail has turned letter writing into a lost art, but Matthew Higgs makes the point with a wistful wit and an abundance of material in his curatorial debut at CCAC. Comprised of works, by multiple generations of artists, that involve or imply a correspondence between artist and other, this literate show reveals a certain humanity and perhaps isolation at the core of creative practice. More often than not, the dynamic is expressed with artists “acting” as fans of celebrities, dealers, or social and political institutions. The distant, bemused snail-mail relationship Jeffrey

  • picks July 08, 2002

    “Y E S Yoko Ono”

    “Y E S Yoko Ono”

    Walking through the elegantly installed “Y E S Yoko Ono” feels like drinking from a tall glass of cool water—an idea that echoes the indelible image on the cover of her 1981 album, Season of Glass. The retrospective, organized by the Japan Society, New York, and curated by Alexandra Munroe, however, barely alludes to the tragic aspects of that picture. Instead, the show presents the artist’s many iconic objects, the conceptual “actions,” “ideas,” and “pieces,” in rooms accented with ethereal blue wall paint and plenty of Plexiglas. It’s all clean, airy, and a bit removed—like the current

  • picks June 14, 2002

    Christian Marclay: Sampling

    Christian Marclay: Sampling

    It’s no surprise that this year’s stock of summer blockbuster movies are drained of soul or even basic narrative pleasure. But who would have expected Christian Marclay to fill in the gaps left by Hollywood’s increasingly cartoonish fare? Marclay’s Video Quartet, 2002, a new four-screen DVD installation, commissioned by the San Francisco MoMA, is a thirteen-minute-long musical epic that’s got more cinematic zest than anything served up recently by the studios. The installation is a Cinemascope-scale, laptop-edited pop composition of sound and image made of thousands of film clips, from Hollywood

  • Jim Campbell

    Jim Campbell was included in two recent Whitney Museum extravaganzas: the digitized “BitStreams” and the spiritualized 2002 Biennial. While these high-profile outings reflect a certain curator’s interest in his work, in combination they also demonstrate how Campbell’s electronic projects have overcome the stigma of his technological tools to elegantly address universal contemporary themes, namely, the now unavoidable intersection of subjective experience and machine. His exhibition at Hosfelt included a group of light-box works and two series of gridded LED displays, by now Campbell’s signature

  • picks May 07, 2002

    Barry McGee

    Barry McGee

    Fresh from mounting a major work at the Fondazione Prada in Milan, Barry McGee returns home to create a rare commercial-gallery installation that bristles with mixed emotions. Amid displays of his signature styles—wall paintings in a glossy crimson; smooth, cartoonish images of male heads; rot-gut liquor bottles painted with stylized images of grizzled street people—McGee pares down. Instead of the wall-to-wall coverage of older works, here there’s plenty of white space, albeit scuffed and battered, punctuated by dramatic outbursts of image and abstraction. A single, dripping burst of fluorescent

  • Sundance Film Festival

    LOW-KEY AND REAL. That was how most people described Sundance 2002. The crowds were smaller, the streets less clogged, the movie and party buzz down to a hum. War and recession set a more sober tone, and post-September 11 Sundance felt less like a Hollywood ski weekend than, of all things, a serious, socially responsible, artistically ambitious film festival. Fittingly, documentaries blossomed in this climate, emerging from the nonfiction-film ghetto to be discussed with as much excitement as the “quirky” indie features of festivals past.

    How to Draw a Bunny, Andrew Moore and John Walter's

  • picks March 04, 2002

    Eva Hesse

    Eva Hesse Retrospective

    Oft-quoted Mel Bochner makes a most salient observation in the catalogue to this most satisfying retrospective of Eva Hesse: “The thing that I don’t think anybody writing about Hesse’s work has picked up on yet is not the pain, not the suffering, not the anxiety, not the absurdity, but the joy of the work—the light that it emits.” Indeed, the real appeal of Hesse’s work may lie in precisely this: It looks radiant. This is not to say, however, that the show, curated by Elizabeth Sussman and Renate Petzinger (of the Museum Wiesbaden in Germany), doesn’t address the dour, genre-blurring, ephemeral

  • picks January 30, 2002

    Sudden Glory

    The Art of Gag

    The title of this ode to humor in art refers back to Thomas Hobbes, but the true muse of Ralph Rugoff’s latest curatorial effort is Buster Keaton. Keaton’s comically blank demeanor in the face of calamity are directly referred to in Steve McQueen’s dour film installation, Deadpan, 1997, in which he recreates a scene from Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr: An A-frame house facade falls over the artist, who is saved only because he’s standing precisely where the window ought to be. Throughout the surprisingly elegant show, artists infuse instances of failure, falling, and futility with wry wit. Rugoff

  • Rebeca Bollinger

    Off-the-shelf electronic devices always seem to have a feature that some engineer gleefully cooked up but few actual users ever figure out quite what to do with. Take the “tile” function on most digital cameras—the button that multiplies an image into a gridded set of sixteen squares, like a sheet of Sanrio photobooth stickers. It’s this type of dubiously useful function that serves as Rebeca Bollinger’s inspiration to explore the found structures of online databases, personal image banks, and sorting programs. The centerpiece of her recent exhibition was a double DVD projection titled

  • picks December 31, 2001

    The Metal Party by Josiah McElheny

    A Notorious Soirée Recreated by Josiah McElheny

    Notorious parties take on looming mythic status, especially ones that we weren’t invited to. So there’s something quite palpable about Josiah McElheny’s fascination with the 1929 “Metal Party” thrown at the Bauhaus, a legendary staff-and-student soirée in which guests had to don reflective wear to enter. A footnote in the art history books, the shiny shindig apparently blossomed in Josiah McElheny’s head: He’s mounted a bicoastal re-creation of the event. The San Francisco portion (the other is at 126A, a space in Brooklyn, through January 13) was activated by an opening night party. A gallery

  • picks October 11, 2001

    The Artist's World

    • Ralph Rugoff's Paean to Artists

    The art world, goes the cliché, with its voguish receptions and insider lingo, is a tiny place. The world of artists, one might say, is possibly even smaller: a stew of creative juices, petty jealousies, aesthetic triumphs, sales coups, and egos. Ralph Rugoff's curatorial ode to this world is packed with endearingly funky, frequently humorous, and often self-deprecating references to all that surrounds the process of making art. Paul McCarthy’s video Painter, 1995, rolls all the issues into one de Kooning–like tantrum-throwing egotist, while Jim Shaw's dream drawings reveal how the art milieu

  • picks September 19, 2001

    Rebeca Bollinger

    • Rebeca Bollinger at Rena Bransten Gallery

    The gorgeously mesmerizing effects Rebeca Bollinger wrings from her off-the-shelf digital imaging devices point to the fact that, as with our brains, we only use a fraction of our consumer electronics’ potential. Known for her trenchant reconfigurations of Web databases and sorting programs, Bollinger here creates images with machine filters. Using a digital still camera jerry-rigged to a digital video camera, Bollinger took snapshots of Bay Area bus stops, telephone poles, and other equally quotidian subjects, then replicated each still photograph sixteen times in grid formation while the video

  • Todd Hido

    The houses in Todd Hido’s new color photographs all exude an eerie stillness. The middle-class homes of a certain fraying age that serve almost exclusively as his subject are shrouded in the atmospheric light of wintry dusk or the motionless darkness of late evening. Sometimes there’s a car parked out front, but there’s never a human figure in sight. There might be a light on in the window, a square that sometimes glows a fluorescent white or a more welcoming golden hue, yet no one invites us in; the dried-out, overgrown lawns and streets seem to serve as suburban moats.

    Relatively long exposures