Heidi Harrington-Johnson

  • picks October 21, 2016

    Valerie Hegarty

    Rotting, wounded, smiling—watermelons, in Valerie Hegarty’s latest exhibition of paintings and sculptures, are depicted as sentient objects: carnal, threatening. Several wedges of the fruit, done in ceramics, rest on a plinth, their pink flesh resembling gums and growing teeth, tongues, ribs, stalagmites, barnacles. They make one think of the chemically modified watermelons that spontaneously exploded across fields in China in 2011—a warning about the perils of mutant capitalism.

    The title of Hegarty’s exhibition, “American Berserk,” comes from Philip Roth’s 1997 novel American Pastoral, where

  • picks May 27, 2016

    Yorgo Alexopoulos

    The most striking piece in Yorgo Alexopoulos’s latest show is Act of Nature: In Eight Chapters, 2015–16. Ten minutes of footage loops infinitely across eight synchronized LCD screens positioned at right angles to one another along the gallery’s back wall. Time-lapse photographs of landscapes merge with images both still and filmed; a blue triangle meets its translucent counterpart as a waterfall fades in and out of a densely populated forest.

    Water undulates on seven screens in the similarly hypnotic Split Swell, 2016. Here, we experience an ocean rendered digitally, and we watch it at eye level,

  • picks February 26, 2016

    Bea Schlingelhoff

    You may think, standing in the empty, bleached space of Bea Schlingelhoff’s latest solo show, that it’s 1984 instead of 2016. From four small black speakers installed in each corner comes: “They made it clear from the start that the slightest deviation from the norm would be punished. They turned everything into prisons, even our own bodies.” This rhetoric, reminiscent of George Orwell’s dystopic book, is read from Abigail Bray’s more recent novel Misogyny Re-loaded.

    Winston Smith, Orwell’s central character, is referred to in Bray’s text, as is his torture in the infamous Room 101. The aim:

  • picks January 29, 2016

    Louise Despont

    Louise Despont’s “Energy Scaffolds and Information Architecture” has a religious atmosphere. Visitors are asked to remove their shoes upon entering the museum. Despont’s installation, an alternate universe containing two wooden chambers, is accompanied by a soft, live soundscape, courtesy of artist and musician Aaron Taylor Kuffner. Hung on the walls, Kuffner’s robotic gongs, drums, chimes, and bells—collectively titled The Gamelatron Roh Ageng, 2013—play continuously to mimic the gamelan, orchestral music traditional to Despont’s new home in Bali.

    Despont’s sacred spaces serve as elaborate

  • picks September 18, 2015

    Marina Abramović

    Marina Abramović first came to Australia in 1979, with her partner and then collaborator Frank Uwe Laysiepen (Ulay), but it was the trip taken the following year, to spend seven months with the Pitjantjatjara people in the Great Victorian Desert, that was to inspire and inform much of her subsequent performance work as well as interest in immateriality and mindfulness. Abramović is not present in this exhibition, “Private Archeology,” but her image is everywhere, encouraging viewers to dig deeper and deconstruct the mythmaking integral to her artistic legacy.

    The masochism that pervades her

  • picks August 10, 2015

    David Haines and Joyce Hinterding

    What might the sun smell like? David Haines imagines it as something like the charred remains of electrical wire, or the dry mustiness of a lake bed, perhaps even raw egg. Ozone One: Ionization and Ozone Two: Terrestrial, the two scents he concocted in his private perfumery for the work EarthStar, 2008, seep from slips of white paper sprouting from two beakers in the corner of a darkened room. The sun’s surface glares from a video projection nearby, its electromagnetic waves radiating an audible static that’s caught by two large copper antennae laid side by side. Suspend your disbelief and you

  • picks June 24, 2015

    Lorraine O’Grady

    Artist and critic Lorraine O’Grady’s latest exhibition, a pairing of two previously seen series, is an exploration of how narrative is used to make sense of the world. Spread over the gallery’s street-level space, “Cutting Out of the New York Times,” 1977/2015, contains elements of memoir, journalism, and social critique. First exhibited in 2006, photocopied sections from O’Grady’s first poems stick to the walls, resembling vertical and horizontal scrolls of text cut from the New York Times over twenty-six Sundays in 1977. “White and Black and / The Sound That Shook Hollywood / The Crisis Deepens

  • picks May 22, 2015

    “Enchanted Space”

    A woman’s tongue licks and slurps brightly colored candy and cake decorations off a pane of glass positioned above the camera lens in Marilyn Minter’s eight-minute video Green Pink Caviar, 2009. The fluorescent hues of the film illuminate the darkened gallery, as meditative music plays through headphones hanging nearby. Dana Levy’s palette in the video Everglades, 2014, projected onto the back wall, is less obnoxious but equally provocative, toying with the viewer as voyeur. The video was shot at night in Florida’s Everglades National Park: A full spectrum of colored lights permeates the park’s