Heather Diack

  • picks November 23, 2015

    Shannon Ebner

    One way of thinking about photography is to see it as an art of accumulation, a medium that defies the very notion of autonomy. Any single image depends on others for its logic, and meaning necessarily accrues across series. Shannon Ebner’s syntactical artwork embodies this notion of cumulative consequence and engages the momentum inherent in the photograph’s serial capacity. “A Public Character,” Ebner’s latest museum exhibition, comprises works across a variety of media, including sculpture, installation, and video. The peculiar semantic space of the photograph reveals itself to be the formative

  • picks December 04, 2014

    Egan Frantz

    Even ghosts require a medium in order to take form. This seems to be in part the operative logic of Egan Frantz’s current exhibition. At once liminal and concrete, seven sculptural pieces are installed decisively across the four walls of the gallery. Stark and design influenced in look, these sculptures call to mind enormous razor blades from a distance. Evenly spaced, judicious in presentation, they are intriguing in their deceptive simplicity. At first glance, one gets the impression of looking at monochrome paintings connoting a brooding Gerhard Richter in their grayness. Upon closer inspection,

  • picks October 24, 2014

    “Dispatch: War Photographs in Print, 1854-2008”

    Though the means of documenting conflict have changed dramatically between the Crimean War and present battles in the Middle East, editorial challenges remain remarkably similar. Whether photographers have used collodion-plate photographs or high-res digital images, they consistently still struggle to capture violence, chaos, and tragedy in a manner that is both intelligent and affective. With this in mind, curator Thierry Gervais has expertly assembled “Dispatch: War Photographs in Print, 1854–2008,” an exhibition that studies the formal construction and conventions of war photography, tracing

  • picks May 04, 2014

    Nina Katchadourian

    A widely circulated stand-up routine by the comedian Louis C. K. describes the ways the miracle of flight is regularly taken for granted. The wry, if curmudgeonly, wisdom of this skit sheds an oblique light on Nina Katchadourian’s “Seat Assignment,” 2010–. The artist, whose take is much more optimistic than Louis C. K.’s, cleverly puns on the task implicit in her titular “assignment” by turning the often derided confinements of air travel into an invitation to embrace the curious (and sometimes precarious) miracle of “sitting in a chair in the sky.”

    Curated by Regine Basha, this exhibition of

  • picks January 28, 2014

    Yael Bartana

    Panning over a seductive canopy of tropical trees toward a dense metropolis, a sound track of helicopters provides a seismic calibration for the coming narrative. Focusing first on the gathering of a joyful crowd of intergenerational, multiracial celebrants at an altar, a tone of reverence descends, which before long is ruptured by an apocalyptic rapture. Demonstrating Yael Bartana’s recurrent interest in the concepts of return and belief, the exquisite ritual staged in Inferno, 2013, engages with the strange confluence of Evangelism and neo-Pentecostalism in present day Brazil and their

  • picks October 06, 2013

    “Deferred Archive”

    Addressing the concept of the archive as memory in the making, this exhibition engages the contingency of history and presents models of anteriority that are molded by experiences of the now. All ten works—ranging from sculpture to video—were commissioned under the auspices of the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation and exemplify the institution’s commitment to exhibiting the work of contemporary artists from Latin America.

    An encounter with Ecuadorian artist Manuela Ribadeneira’s The Space Between Doubt and Certainty (all works cited, 2013) immediately poses questions of traversal and negotiation

  • picks August 21, 2013

    Dawoud Bey

    Beyond achieving likeness, the art of portraiture at its best strives to reveal a real sense of an individual’s presence. “Dawoud Bey: Picturing People” traces Bey’s commitment to aesthetic formalism enmeshed with the politics of portrayal, as the artist captures what he has characterized as “the least untrue self.” Bey consistently pays lenticular attention to self-possessed subjects who squarely convey monumentality. Not the result of a candid camera, but rather of the consent of his subjects, Bey’s street photographs resonate with a tradition of studio portraiture in the vein of James Van

  • picks August 07, 2013

    Martin Kippenberger

    The words “excessive life” are repeatedly lavished on the German artist Martin Kippenberger, evoking with nearly fatalistic exuberance the narrative of his road to early death, attributed to alcoholism. The parallel excesses of his art practices guide the exhibition “Sehr Gut | Very Good.” Curators Udo Kittelmann, Miriam Halwani, and Britta Schmitz have orchestrated an affective journey through artworks of nearly every imaginable medium (from lopsided lampposts to bumper stickers) intermixed with other documents (from posters to films), which hint at the total oeuvre of the Kippenberger puzzle.