Hiji Nam

  • interviews July 23, 2019

    Fiona Tan

    Fiona Tan often reinterprets archives in her work, which incorporates video, photography, and installation to present an intellectual aesthetic history with an acute awareness of its own methodological limitations. “I am constantly reminded that all my attempts at systematical order must be arbitrary, idiosyncratic, and—quite simply—doomed to fail,” she has said. When the Ludwig Museum in Cologne invited Tan to devise an exhibition premised on the museum’s holdings of some seventy thousand photographs, she decided to focus on the advertising images of Agfa, the German photo and camera company.

  • diary June 29, 2019

    The Custom of the Country

    IN EDITH WHARTON’S THE HOUSE OF MIRTH, society girl Lily Bart spends the “long gilded hours of the day” moving from one Hamptons estate to another, venturing out occasionally to a Monte Carlo hotel. Though impeccably trained to move among nineteenth-century New York’s upper crust, Lily cannot afford her lifestyle independently and must rely on the goodwill of better-endowed friends and sponsors. They, of course, expect certain favors in return, whether it’s writing letters or keeping a bothersome husband amused.

    Lily falls from society’s grace when she ceases to be useful and overstays her welcome,

  • picks June 18, 2019

    Rosa Aiello

    As an adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith story, Rosa Aiello’s video The Coquette, 2018, promises to end with murder and without justice. The twenty-four-minute satire noir follows a doomed young woman who flirts with and eventually spurns a suitor in an arc delivering us to the seemingly inevitable: Yvonne is brought to her demise by two resentful admirers, to whom the judge grants lenient to zero sentences (because they went to the same prep school—classic!).

    A backstory describes how, at the age of ten, Yvonne lost her virginity to a thirty-year-old man; her mother still blames her for seducing

  • picks May 22, 2019

    Robert Bittenbender

    The 2003 Lifetime TV movie Homeless to Harvard tells “the inspiring true story” of a young girl who escapes her drug-addicted parents and destitute childhood by making it to the Ivy League. Captivatingly played by Thora Birch (of 1999’s American Beauty), Liz Murray lived this classic American tale of rags-to-riches reinvention, one Robert Bittenbender presumably riffs on in his assemblage Homeless to Haverford (all works 2019), one of five such pieces in this exhibition, “Space Vixen.” There are also two digital videos in which pages from friends’ unpublished novels run on a loop (The Blond

  • interviews May 07, 2019

    Anna K.E.

    That harmony, like beauty, often comes from invention within repertoire and constriction is reflected in the Tbilisi-born artist Anna K.E.’s work, which is marked by the gestures of a ballerina and the design of a choreographer. For the Fifty-Eighth Venice Biennale, K.E. will bring together performance, video, sculpture, and hieroglyphs from Asomtavruli, the original Georgian alphabet, in a single architectural environment for the Georgian pavilion, curated by Margot Norton. Below, she discusses REARMIRRORVIEW, Simulation is Simulation, is Simulation, is Simulation, 2019, which will be on view

  • interviews April 30, 2019

    Ser Serpas

    The materials for Ser Serpas’s latest body of work were sourced locally from the streets of New York’s Lower East Side, where they will return at the end of her first US institutional solo exhibition. For Serpas, the show serves as both a homecoming and a farewell to the city she is leaving, after living there for six years, for Switzerland. “Against Attachment” opened April 25 and is on view through June 2, 2019 at Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies, Ludlow 38, in New York.

    FINDING OBJECTS AND RECOMPOSING THEM comprises a lot of my art, just going on walks and asking, “Is this anybody’s

  • picks March 28, 2019

    Fin Simonetti

    The title of Fin Simonetti’s exhibition, “Pledge,” evokes the ways we are taught—practically from birth—the supposed virtue of belonging to and believing in things, such as clubs, cherished political leaders, and social scripts that dictate who plays perpetrator or victim, top or bottom. Here, the artist has carved various protective objects and symbols from alabaster, including ear plugs, candles, a fire extinguisher, dog paws, a lock, and genitalia. But Simonetti knows that what we turn to for safety can often lead, rather than deliver us, from violence. Rendered life-size and in uncanny

  • interviews March 21, 2019

    Ben Morgan-Cleveland

    The New York–based artist Ben Morgan-Cleveland is perhaps best known for co-owning the Brooklyn gallery Real Fine Arts, which closed last year. His work has been exhibited at Shoot the Lobster, Eli Ping Frances Perkins, 15 Orient, Greene Naftali, and elsewhere. His upcoming solo show, “Gallery with Words,” will be on view at Kai Matsumiya in New York from March 22 through April 27, 2019. Here, Morgan-Cleveland discusses the sculptures he’s been making in the commons of a New York City park.


    I’VE BEEN MAKING WORDS out of branches in a quiet part of Prospect Park. There’s a lot of rearranging, an

  • interviews March 12, 2019

    Bunny Rogers

    Bunny Rogers’s preferred email sign-off is a sentiment that rings true to her work: Sincerely. It is the slipperiness of connection, however, that allows her to calibrate so sensitively the inner illogic of our own narratives and memories in her practice, which spans sculpture, performance, coding, and writing. “Pectus Excavatum,” her solo exhibition at the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt, revisits familiar motifs from past work—animals, toys, mops, and ribbons—to excavate sites of personal and mass media mythology. The show is on view through April 28, 2019. 


  • interviews February 19, 2019

    Keren Cytter

    One feels continuously jolted by an element of disjunction in Keren Cytter’s work. In her videos, for instance, subjects interact with each other, but the potential for intersubjectivity seems simultaneously to be stripped away. Things happen, sometimes over and over, but never within the breadth of typical temporality. Bringing together a selection of her videos, children’s books, animations, and drawings, Cytter’s solo exhibition at the Museion in Bolzano, Italy, “Mature Content,” is on view through April 28, 2019.

    I MADE THREE ROOMS at the Museion in which to show my films, with the entrances

  • picks February 12, 2019

    Doris Guo

    Doris Guo’s exhibition is solemn, as if one has been summoned to a church or a graveyard for prayer. Here, a funereal series of Chinatown restaurant chairs are nestled within wooden, coffin-like receptacles. Though the chairs appear to be upright, the artist has amputated their back legs, giving us only a truncated front view. (They won’t be seating anyone for a happy communion anytime soon.) These innocuous objects are meant to, both literally and symbolically, contribute to the circulation and consumption of Asian food, yes, but also bodies, capital, and a certain kind of aesthetic. They are

  • interviews February 01, 2019

    Dora Budor

    Dora Budor’s current exhibition at 80WSE in New York blends historical fact with fable to tell the building’s story of transformation, reflecting a fascination with the ways in which subjectivity is inflected by reactive, evolving environments. Originally built in 1879 as a residence exclusively for single men, primarily artists, the so-called Benedick Building—nicknamed after the bachelor character in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing—was bought in 1925 by New York University, and turned into offices and dormitories as part of its accelerated expansion. Here, Budor speaks about starting with

  • interviews January 25, 2019

    McArthur Binion

    In an extension of what Lawrence Alloway called “systemic painting”—abstraction with a simple, methodical organizing principle based on repetition and difference—and an expansion upon the medium’s potentialities, McArthur Binion’s four-decade practice combines gridded, gestural strokes, created in his signature wax crayon, with biographical elements. Here, the Chicago-based artist discusses developing upon the narrative and materiality of his earlier output for his latest exhibition of oil-stick canvases, “Hand:Work,” on view at Lehmann Maupin in New York through March 2, 2019. The exhibition

  • picks November 08, 2018

    Franz Gertsch

    Installed in the back room of the Swiss Institute’s ground-floor galleries, like the children’s section in a bookstore, are some of Franz Gertsch’s earliest works, such as small drawings based on fairy tales of teapots come to life, Begegnung (Encounter), 1957, and a woodcut print of a man cursed to become a bear, Vor dem Spiegel (Tristan Bärman) (In Front of the Mirror [Tristan Bärman]), 1961. The artist returns to the subject of the mirror stage in his later photorealist paintings, based on photographs he projected onto canvas and painted in darkness. At Luciano’s House, 1973, depicts adolescents

  • interviews October 19, 2018

    Yasumasa Morimura

    For over thirty years, Yasumasa Morimura has been practicing tactics of appropriation to enact embodied challenges—one might say glitches—to the canon of Western art history. “Ego Obscura,” which runs until January 13, 2019 at the Japan Society, marks Morimura’s first institutional solo exhibition in New York City.

    I FIRST STARTED making self-portraits in 1985, using prosthetics, cosmetics, and sets to assume the roles of figures who signify more than themselves—individuals or works that have become archetypes, including old masters’ paintings, Albrecht Dürer’s Self-Portrait, 

  • picks September 28, 2018

    Pati Hill

    In the early 1970s, Pati Hill (1921–2014) began using a photocopier to create life-size images of mundane objects that together call to mind the song “My Favorite Things” by those famous Teutonic Singvögel, the von Trapp family: a rumpled brown paper bag, a box tied with twine, a seashell, spools of thread, and a frayed shirtsleeve. Hill’s chosen medium simultaneously evokes the drudgery of adult administrative duties and the messy thrills of high-school collages and punk zines. But her ambitious spirit was decidedly youthful: In 1980, at almost sixty years old, she moved to Paris, intent on “