Gregory Williams

  • THE HAPPY END OF KIPPENBERGER’S AMERIKA

    MARTIN KIPPENBERGER SPAWNED A WEALTH OF ART-WORLD legends in his truncated career. His practice seemed specifically designed to maintain a steady buildup of anecdotes, many of which continue to circulate today, six years after his death. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of Kippenberger’s birth, this month sees the opening of a major retrospective of his entire career at the Museum für Neue Kunst ZKM in Karlsruhe, with additional stops in Vienna and Eindhoven. Though his influence in Europe will be debated and discussed for a long time to come, there is no question that he is one of

  • Isa Genzken

    Fans eager for an overdue Genzken retrospective will have to settle for this survey of her work since 1992, the year the artist took a break from concrete and shifted her material focus to polyurethane (more recently she has also worked in glass). The show takes up where Portikus (Frankfurt) and the Renaissance Society (Chicago) left off a decade ago in their jointly produced look at Genzken’s career. Kunsthalle director Beatrix Ruf has gathered approximately thirty works—and commissioned several installations—that update the artist’s long-term investigation into sculpture’s dialogue with

  • Beat Streuli

    In his photographs of people on the street, Beat Streuli has since the early ’90s straddled the line between portraying anonymity and individuality. More recently, his videos of transient urban life have expanded his repertoire, and the viewer’s patient consideration is rewarded as scenes gradually unfold with rows of people passing through the frame, imparting the sensation of long temporal flows. Streuli’s latest projects explore international city streets in four two-channel videos, which were installed on a rotating basis in projections. In The Pallasades 05-01-01, 2001, shot in Birmingham,

  • Jim Shaw

    Since first exhibiting his Thrift Store Paintings more than a decade ago, Jim Shaw has routinely tapped the abundant resources of Sunday painters in order to undermine the prerogatives of taste and connoisseurship. Continuing his investigation into forgotten or overlooked American culture, Shaw has now invented his own religion, O-ism, and dated its origin to the mid–nineteenth century, around the time of the Mormon westward migration. In The Goodman Image File and Study, 2002, Shaw locates the birth of this denomination in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, keeping it within striking

  • Lara Schnitger

    Across a wide spectrum of artistic practice, craft materials are in vogue, with Sarah Sze, Tom Friedman, and Jim Lambie among the many prominent artists using handworked odds and ends such as drinking straws, sugar cubes, and Q-tips in their sculptures. Lara Schnitger seems to take a similarly obsessive pleasure in manipulating objects in her chosen sphere, the musty world of cheap textiles. Filling up the gallery, the artist installed a forest of awkward forms that jutted out in all directions and had to be carefully navigated, suggesting the abundance and eclecticism of a flea market.

    Schnitger's

  • Sven Påhlsson

    In the more than forty years since the publication of Jane Jacobs's Death and Life of Great American Cities, her groundbreaking critique of postwar urban development, a wide array of voices have joined the writer in lamenting the negative effects of urban sprawl. Thus it comes as no great revelation when Norwegian artist Sven Påhlsson Sprawlville or Life at Highway Exit Ramp, 2002, a digitally animated riff on mass-produced tract housing and strip malls, once again draws our attention to the soulless properties of these land-hungry environments. Yet Påhlsson has utilized the most appropriate

  • Diego Perrone

    From Alberto Burri’s tachiste allusions to blood-soaked bandages to the quasi-alchemical experiments of arte povera, postwar Italy has produced numerous artists captivated by the transformative properties of elemental matter. Diego Perrone’s new series of photographs “I Pensatori di buchi” (The thinkers of holes; all works 2002) depicts solitary figures posed at the edges of yawning pits in the dirt. These pensive loners seem to be pondering their gritty surroundings before merging with the darkness.

    Perrone hails from the Northern Italian town of Asti, not far from Turin, Milan, and Genoa, where

  • picks July 23, 2002

    “Out Of Site”

    “Out of Site”

    Following the common wisdom that the information age has permanently altered our understanding of architecture, Anne Ellegood, the curator of “Out of Site,” has selected sixteen artists who evoke today’s morphing, hybrid spaces. Haluk Akakçe’s Still Life, an animated video projection, offers the viewer a fluid ride through pulsating modernist interiors and a shape-shifting forest. Sven Påhlsson, Craig Kalpakjian, and Patrick Meagher also use digital technology to produce artificial structures in motion. Others, such as Stephen Hendee, Ricci Albenda, and Shirley Tse, mount objects and words on

  • Harun Farocki

    Harun Farocki has made nearly eighty films for both the big and small screen since he was a graduate student at the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin in the mid-’60s. Having emerged during the international student protest movement, he has dedicated his career to unmasking the hidden abuses and blatant hypocrisies of the powers that be. Farocki’s typical format is the film essay: text and narration combined with images lifted from newsreel and industrial footage, a hybrid of political sloganeering and documentary.

    Only recently has Farocki begun to present his films in a gallery and museum

  • picks May 28, 2002

    Eija-Liisa Ahtila

    Eija-Liisa Ahtila

    For her third New York solo show, Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila has filled four gallery rooms with five permutations of the cinematic image, all loosely related to her film Love Is a Treasure, 2002, which has yet to be screened in the US. One major component of the project, Tuuli (The wind), 2002, is shown here in a three-screen format presenting the action from different camera angles, a method Ahtila has favored for nearly a decade. In keeping with the Scandinavian penchant for elaborating themes of anxiety and alienation, the work centers on a woman who bites her hands to make up for her

  • Andrea Fraser

    In 1998 Andrea Fraser announced that she would no longer perform as Jane Castleton, the museum docent whose tours had left unsuspecting audiences scratching their heads over the past decade. While her work as Castleton had been based on a misrepresentation of her true status within cultural institutions. Fraser was now going to operate strictly as an artist. Yet after a five year hiatus from showing solo in New York, these concurrent, related gallery appearances demonstrated that her sense or institutional belonging has only grown more complex and ambiguous.

    Two works at P.H.A.G. examined the

  • Edward Burtynsky

    Gone are the days of big canvases glutting exhibition spaces, now that photography has largely replaced painting as the medium of choice among contemporary artists. The “new painting” often has little to do with painting itself, of course, except perhaps in terms of scale; indeed, the ubiquity of the photograph almost makes one yearn for fleshy oils on canvas. Edward Burtynsky’s photographs, however, seemed geared to satisfy that yearning. In this small survey of work from the past decade, Burtynsky presented a mini-history of postwar art, complete with references to Abstract Expressionism and

  • picks April 15, 2002

    Olav Westphalen

    Olav Westphalen

    Having graced several local sites last year with the presence of E.S.U.S. (Extremely Site-Unspecific Sculpture), his project for the Public Art Fund, Olav Westphalen returns this year with his first New York gallery solo show, consisting of several large-scale drawings, a video installation, and two sculptures. In his native Germany, Westphalen is well known as a comic-book artist, and he translates these drafting skills into humorously critical commentaries on social and artistic phenomena. One of his recent targets is Andreas Gursky, pinnacle of the late Düsseldorf School and producer of highly

  • picks April 15, 2002

    Shirley Tse

    In a move away from her more distinctly three-dimensional output, Shirley Tse’s latest New York show, “Polytocous,” consists of ten works that tightly hug the gallery walls. Single sheets of pastel-colored vinyl (in blue, pink, and yellow) are sliced, twisted, and pinned to take on a plethora of suggestive forms. Tse neither adds nor discards: Her process entails methodically cutting sections of the material and reassembling them to form patterns in varying degrees of relief. Freeways (all works 2002) is the most aesthetically reductive piece, resembling something like a Lucio Fontana slash

  • Albert Oehlen

    More than twenty years after Albert Oehlen's first solo show, in Stuttgart in 1981, these two exhibitions presented works that function as bookends to the painter's career so far. Like his collaborators Martin Kippenberger, Georg Herold, and Werner Büttner, Oehlen came on the German art scene at the peak of neo-expressionism, when Baselitz, Lüpertz, et al. were finally being “discovered” on an international scale after having exhibited in Germany since the ‘60s. From the outset Oehlen and his peers responded satirically to the older artists’ painterly excesses and self-importance, quickly

  • picks March 25, 2002

    The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945–1994

    The Short Century at P. S. 1

    Since reopening in 1997 after extensive renovations, P.S. 1 has gone through a series of changes culminating in its merger with MoMA in 1999. “The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945–1994,” originally organized by Okwui Enwezor for the Villa Stuck in Munich, proves that the Queens art center can still mount fresh, challenging exhibitions and, at the same time, raise its degree of professionalism to enhance the viewing experience. The proof lies first in the way the show integrates the activities of reading text and looking at images, so often at odds in many

  • picks March 08, 2002

    Annika Larsson

    Annika Larsson

    Displaying a penchant for vaguely fascistic scenarios and luxurious, shiny surfaces, Swedish artist Annika Larsson transforms Helmut Newton’s fetish-laden fashion photography into animated vignettes—with all their simmering erotic overtones and creepy intimations of violence left intact. Accompanied by two dirgelike electronic-music scores by Tobias Bernstrup, Larsson’s two recent video installations are presented here in separate rooms as large-scale wall projections. In Dog, 2001, two nattily dressed men are seen in close-up standing next to a large, well-groomed canine on a leash. A three-way

  • picks February 21, 2002

    Wim Delvoye: Cloaca

    The Art of Digestion: Wim Delvoye's Cloaca

    In order to fully appreciate Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca, 2000, one should stop by the museum at 2:30 in the afternoon, when the Belgian artist’s new work, an oversize metal-and-glass mechanical intestine, drops a piece of fecal matter onto a short conveyor belt. A second option is to arrive at 4:30 P.M., when one of its two daily feedings—usually fine cuisine from some of SoHo’s best restaurants—takes place before the public. Otherwise, the visitor will see nothing but a collection of tubes, glass containers, pump, blinking lights, and conveyor belts going quietly about the business of digestion.

  • picks February 18, 2002

    François Bucher

    In the Face of Crisis

    Like a surprising number of artworks that respond to the World Trade Center attacks, François Bucher’s video project White Balance (to think is to forget differences), 2001–2002, was conceived and partially produced before September 11. A fast-moving collage of sight and sound, it focuses broadly on the topic of power and privilege by forcing the collision of disparate forms of public discourse. Snippets of political speech, Hollywood promotional hype, street interviews, radio commentary, and various other sound fragments are sampled and loosely stitched together with both found visual material

  • Rico Gatson

    In the heyday of modernism, numerous theorists of art and architecture considered pattern and ornamentation to be synonymous with an archaic mind-set. For example, the architect Adolf Loos notoriously labeled ornament a crime against the purity of white walls, while the art historian Wilhelm Worringer argued that geometric abstraction helped “primitive” cultures live in denial of the corporeal world's frightening realities. Though not commenting directly on these early-twentieth-century biases, Rico Gatson's recent work seems geared to revive the debate. He turns well-known American films into