Hiji Nam

  • Merlin Carpenter

    During the opening of his second presentation at Reena Spaulings Fine Art in 2007, Merlin Carpenter painted invectives such as DIE COLLECTOR SCUM and I HATE YOU THE ART WORLD YOU CUNTS onto canvases. At his 2011 show at Berlin’s MD 72, only those who were willing to pay 5,000 euros were allowed to view the art. For a 2017 show of paintings at Simon Lee Gallery in London, Carpenter contractually bound buyers of his works to keep them wrapped up until the year 2081. His art, depending on who you ask, is either willingly naive, deeply cynical, or the real thing. For his fifth outing at Reena

  • interviews April 28, 2020

    Hwayeon Nam

    Over the past eight years, the Korean artist Hwayeon Nam has explored social and historical choreography and temporal reroutings of archives through the figure of Seunghee Choi (1911–1969). A pioneer of modern Korean dance and a national icon whose life and career were marked by colonial occupations, clashing ideologies, and peninsular war, Choi was born the year after Japan annexed Korea. She studied dance in Tokyo at age fourteen and later toured internationally, counting among her audience and admirers figures such as Charlie Chaplin, Jean Cocteau, Yukio Mishima, and Pablo Picasso. Choi’s

  • interviews April 16, 2020

    Leslie Thornton

    “There are no other people in the world. Something has happened to them, but Peggy and Fred are unconcerned . . . They are adrift in the detritus of prior cultures, cast loose in a world of post-apocalyptic splendor. And they also watch television . . . This constitutes their idea of the Social.” This is how Leslie Thornton describes her epic cinematic series “Peggy and Fred in Hell,” which she has repeatedly edited and reassembled from 1983 to 2016. Thornton’s five-decade output is similarly elliptical and self-theorizing, drawing from shot and found footage, text, and archival material to

  • Conrad Ventur

    “This is a tough town. And if you’re not standing on something solid, you’re gonna get pushed over.” Thus spake the photographer and filmmaker Conrad Ventur on his decision to become a gardener in The Internship, 2018–19, a forty-four-minute video that was the fulcrum of his show, “A Green New Deal,” at Participant Inc. After fifteen years of being on what he calls “the artist roller coaster . . . lots of money and then no money, and then more no money. And then more more no money”—and working as an archivist and editor to support his artmaking—Ventur began taking night classes in horticulture

  • Seeun Kim

    The sixteen canvases making up Seeun Kim’s exhibition “Pitman’s Choice” evoked both the sea and the city, marked as they were with bleeding curves that suggested overpasses, bridges, and dunes, perpetually fusing and confusing the biomorphic and geometric. The thirty-year-old Korean painter’s palette of beach-house colors—tortoise shell, cabbage white, greens the shade of hedges—further jumbled the stairs, tunnels, and passageways of urban vistas with those of an architecture of the emotions. Scale became hard to gauge. The central mass in the earth-toned Leftover, 2017, could have been a root

  • Bunny Rogers

    Curated by Thomas D. Trummer

    Inside a folder labeled LAMB GRAVES on Bunny Rogers’s website everybodydiesbut.me is a seven-page spreadsheet that lists burial sites of children (BABES, OUR DARLING). Most entries include a thumbnail photo of the tombstone, its inscription (JUST ASLEEP, AT REST), the year of death, and the location. Elsewhere, in a folder called alternately IN HEALTH and HELL, Rogers has posted an obituary-like portrait of herself as a teenager. An expired countdown clock on her main site, meryn.ru, once ticked off the hours until Rogers would outlive those in the “27 Club,” including

  • diary December 19, 2019

    Scene and Held

    PRICED OUT OF THE LES, Ludlow 38 will shutter indefinitely. By now, this is too familiar a story to really be anything beyond a bummer, so last Thursday, on the night of the crushing UK elections, some friends of the gallery gathered to toast it goodbye at Nublu Classic, the Alphabet City bar. Guests of the “Too Faust Too Furious” party were variously scrounging for drink tickets and fretting about getting canceled in Texte Zur Kunst; Marie Karlberg was valiantly fighting a hangover from her opening at Tramps the night prior, which featured a sizable chunk of art-world players playing (basically)

  • picks December 09, 2019

    Patricia L. Boyd

    With an elegantly understated semiotics of the garden, Patricia L. Boyd’s exhibition here foregrounds the labors and failures of maintenance. In Unearthed, 2019, an array of weeds rest on a sheet of canvas; the artist’s mother snuck the flora, pruned from her garden, through US customs by dissembling them between yellow card stock and photographs of sundry English gardens she had visited. These pictures now grace the gallery’s walls, as does the video Sweepings, 2019, in which neglected to-do lists loop in a ceaseless tide: chicken liver / dust buster / more socks / emails / kevin’s memorial?

  • picks December 09, 2019

    Ei Arakawa and Sarah Chow

    “Occultism is the metaphysics of dunces,” once wrote Adorno, a “regression to magic . . . assimilated to late capitalist forms.” It’s no surprise, then, that astrology is alive and well in our century. It serves as the conceptual linchpin for “Moon Rehearsals,” an exhibition by VERTEX af (Ei Arakawa and Sarah Chow). A continuation of a project begun in 2018 at Düsseldorf’s Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, the show joins Arakawa’s superlunary LED-lit tapestries with Chow’s “Performance People,” 2018, a series of astrological readings of canonical art. For the latter—fifteen printouts

  • diary November 06, 2019

    Seoul Cycle

    ARRIVING OFF A FOURTEEN-HOUR FLIGHT from New York, I couldn’t remember the code to my grandmother’s apartment, until it came back like muscle memory: 1945, the year of national liberation for my grandparents, who were in middle school when the Japanese occupation of Korea ended. The persistence of the country’s ancient Confucian moral codes are refracted and jumbled through memories of imperial rule and aspirational neoliberalism in modern Seoul, and compounding deep-rooted hostilities against our former colonizer are the recent trade standoffs; the astonishing sense of kinship among Koreans

  • interviews October 29, 2019

    Pat Steir

    Since the late 1980s, Pat Steir has slung her paint from a loaded brush, letting oils arc and flow in a signature gesture of both creation and sublime surrender. For her latest exhibition, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, the American artist has filled the building’s rotunda with a new suite of thirty paintings that, together, form a color wheel—an art fundamental that dates back to the early eighteenth century. “What Goethe was really pursuing was not a physiological but a psychological theory of colors,” Wittgenstein once wrote. The same might be said of Steir’s

  • picks October 08, 2019

    Bernadette Van-Huy

    In one of the two photographs from “Filler Stuff,” Bernadette Van-Huy’s solo exhibition here, we see painter Rita Ackermann sprawled back on a Twister mat–cum–picnic blanket (Blades of Grass, 2018). She may not be participating in “the game that ties you up in knots,” but she’s taking notes. Beside her are a nest of peanut shells, a five-hundred-piece jigsaw puzzle, and a pair of binoculars. Maintaining a “nonproductive attitude,” in the words of artist Josef Strau, is hard work—and it’s a sensibility that Van-Huy has translated into an arrangement of sandbags with scribbled-on musical notes

  • interviews September 30, 2019

    Tony Cokes

    “Capitalism is profoundly illiterate,” observed Deleuze and Guattari in Anti-Oedipus. Since the mid-1980s, Tony Cokes has been composing multimedia installations that collage pop music, archival film footage, and critical theory. While demanding close reading from viewers, his work also suggests the stakes, and even hazards, of legibility. For one of two commissions in his survey at Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) at the University of London, Cokes quotes from filmmaker and scholar Kodwo Eshun’s 2018 Mark Fisher Memorial Lecture, which took place at the school around a year after

  • 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