Jeffrey Kastner

  • “Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art: Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar Japan”

    The years immediately following World War II were a threshold moment in twentieth-century Western culture, but the dramatic effects of postwar conditions on art were hardly confined to Europe and the United States.

    The years immediately following World War II were a threshold moment in twentieth-century Western culture, but the dramatic effects of postwar conditions on art were hardly confined to Europe and the United States. With the destruction of multiple national institutions in the catastrophic violence that consumed Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and much of Tokyo, Japanese artists and the collectives they formed—Group Ongaku, Gutaï, and High Red Center, among many—found space for radical gestures within both the disorder immediately following the war and the

  • Michel Gondry

    Michel Gondry, trailing a well-deserved reputation as one of contemporary filmmaking’s most innovative visual stylists, has made what must have seemed an entirely natural move from cinema to gallery. His whole professional trajectory, after all, has been built on a series of successful crossovers. First, the French-born former drummer and former art student parlayed a string of quirky animated videos for his own 1980s Parisian pop band into a career as an auteur of celebrated clips for the likes of the White Stripes, the Chemical Brothers, and Björk. Then, after directing commercials for a

  • “Strange Powers”

    In spite of its current predisposition to secularism, art has always been something of a faith-based enterprise. Its cultural and commercial value relies on the willingness of viewers to believe in things that can’t always be immediately perceived or fully understood—to allow for the possibility that the objects and images they encounter in the gallery might have access to meaning and even power. This outlook—as embodied in a variety of artistic practices, especially ones whose content itself involves the uncanny or the supernatural—formed the basis of Creative Time’s memorable summer group

  • Manifesta 6

    BY THE TIME you read this, the convoluted legal battles being waged this summer over the abrupt cancellation of Manifesta 6—which was scheduled to open in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, on September 23—may very well have been settled. Yet even if cooler heads prevail in a pair of court proceedings going on at the time of this writing, the baroque trajectory of the story so far suggests that no matter the resolution, it is unlikely to produce a definitive account of just why the plug was pulled on the 2006 installment of the celebrated itinerant biennial.

    Not that there’s been a lack of information

  • Andrew Sexton

    A series of wry inside jokes instantiated via improbable materials and processes, Andrew Sexton’s recent solo debut was built around what at first seemed a similarly unlikely organizing principle: His drawings and multimedia conglomerations were devised as “portraits” of friends and family members. Although its symbolic vocabulary occasionally suggested a familiar brand of neo-Gothic kitsch, Sexton’s bricolage nevertheless managed to avoid the self-conscious seriousness that often plagues work in the idiom, forgoing moody introspection for genuine exuberance. And the artist was comfortable enough

  • 1000 WORDS: IRVING PETLIN, MARK DI SUVERO, AND RIRKRIT TIRAVANIJA

    FOR A CONTEMPORARY ART WORLD already engaged in a productive critical reassessment of the practices of the 1960s, the 2006 Whitney Biennial, which opens March 2, offers yet another welcome opportunity to compare and contrast that cultural moment and our own. The Peace Tower, 2005–2006, a joint project created by Rirkrit Tiravanija and Mark di Suvero for the Whitney’s Sculpture Court, resuscitates a curiously underexamined watershed in the history of cultural activism in America—the creation, in the winter of 1966, of a dramatic collaborative artwork in the West Hollywood neighborhood of Los

  • Charlie White

    Most viewers will associate Los Angeles–based photographer Charlie White with his distinctive brand of cinematic conceptual photography, one that—particularly early in his career—often married Hollywood production values to a giddily overripe psychosexual imagination. White made his name as the auteur behind the 1996 “Femalien” series—a thoroughly silly set of sci-fi soft-core pix—and a few years later produced the considerably more substantive “Understanding Joshua,” 2000, in which the eponymous antihero, a sad-sack homunculus, makes his way through a landscape of suburban parties and unsatisfying

  • ELECTIVE AFFINITIES: THE ART OF EDGAR ARCENEAUX

    All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.—Galileo Galilei

    I’m playing dark history. It’s beyond black. I’m dealing with the dark things of the cosmos. The dark things are the unknown things. —Sun Ra

    Illogical judgments lead to new experience.—Sol LeWitt

    IT’S A FEW DAYS BEFORE the opening of “Borrowed Sun,” Edgar Arceneaux’s recent exhibition at The Kitchen in New York, and the artist is standing over a table in the gallery, making a large drawing of what looks to be a hat hanging aloft in space. When I ask him about it, he glances up from his work

  • “Frequency”

    MOST PEOPLE will view “Frequency,” a survey of thirty-five emerging black artists, as a direct successor to the Studio Museum’s landmark 2001 group show, “Freestyle.” After all, there are numerous echoes between the two—the presiding curatorial team of Thelma Golden and Christine Y. Kim, the formats of the exhibition and its catalogue, the linguistic interplay of the titles. Golden and Kim themselves spend much of their introductory dialogue in the “Frequency” catalogue reading their current show through the previous one, particularly vis-à-vis the notion of a “post-black” artistic sensibility,

  • Tom Friedman

    Though no doubt initially conceived primarily as a practical measure, the decision to make Tom Friedman’s recent exhibition accessible “by appointment only” also had a certain conceptual logic. The extreme fragility of Friedman’s work clearly demands some form of crowd control. The scrupulous agglomerations of paper, cardboard, Styrofoam, string, wire, and other assorted craft materials that made up this new suite of works operate, as usual, at the very limits of technical feasibility, seeming always just one inadvertently swung backpack away from annihilation. At its most successful, Friedman’s

  • Ian Burns

    With an engineer’s flair for coaxing unexpected function from unlikely materials—and a Conceptualist’s penchant for seeking ingenious ways to deploy that function—Ian Burns conceived his recent show as a series of exaggeratedly low-tech viewing stations. Burns stood out in P. S. 1 Contemporary Art Center’s “Greater New York 2005” with The Epic Tour, 2005, a room-size kinetic sculpture that had viewers riding a goofy trainlike vehicle past an array of colorful shadow boxes. Here again, he squeezed a ramshackle charm out of jerry-rigged apparatus—this time involving more shadow

  • Darren Almond

    Inspired by the life and work of Russian poet Joseph Brodsky, Darren Almond’s recent exhibition was a study in strategic contrasts, an orchestrated dialogue between beauty and decay designed to evoke both the lyricism and the melancholy characteristic of the late Nobel Prize–winner’s artistic outlook. Pairing a suite of wildly gorgeous color photographs of the California coast with a series of somber black-and-white shots of a winter landscape in Siberia—where Brodsky spent eighteen months in a labor camp before being exiled in 1972—the show also included a selection of Almond’s painted aluminum

  • A Talk with Center for Land Use Interpretations’s Matthew Coolidge

    SEWER SYSTEMS AND TRAFFIC PATTERNS; abandoned air-force bases and simulated Main Streets built to train law-enforcement officers; dead shopping malls and towns swallowed by the rising waters of technologically diverted rivers. This is the American landscape as seen through the eyes of Los Angeles’s Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI): a complex national topography that’s emphatically physical yet also has a certain uncanny lyricism, one rich in the cadences of what CLUI’s director, Matthew Coolidge, calls “anthropogeomorphology”—the landscape as altered by humans.

    Founded in 1994 by Coolidge

  • Sue de Beer

    Indeterminacy—spatial, temporal, and, above all, emotional—is the central motif of Sue de Beer’s absorbing two-channel video installation, Black Sun, 2004–2005. While it continues the exploration of adolescent desire and frustration that’s earned de Beer a reputation as a preeminent auteur of teen angst, the new work also suggests an artist who is herself maturing, moving away from the often melodramatic physical abjection of her earlier works toward a more nuanced investigation of psychological alienation.

    As in previous works, the winkingly gothic milieu of Black Sun extends into the three

  • The Gates

    AT THE TIME of this writing, workers are slowly making their way along some twenty-three miles of Central Park pathway, dismantling the 7,503 orange structures that only a few weeks earlier had sprouted into the most elaborate and talked-about artwork in New York City history, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s monumental sculpture, The Gates.

    Even before the final arch is removed, it’s clear that the project will be remembered as a genuine cultural phenomenon, an uncanny hiatus in New York’s life as usual. The most expertly blasé city in the world spent the better part of February swooning over the

  • the 51st Venice Biennale

    FAMILIARITY, IT IS SAID, BREEDS CONTEMPT—and the recent proliferation of biennials has indeed made the large-scale international exhibition an object of, if not scorn, at least skepticism. Yet even for those who question the utility of the biennial merry-go-round (2005 will see a dozen-odd such shows, from Moscow, Sharjah, and Prague to Gothenburg, Lyon, Tirana, and Istanbul) one always stands apart. The Venice Biennale is inevitably a subject of fascination, not only for what its content says about the state of contemporary art but also for what its form signals about the condition of the global

  • Chris Gentile

    Operating in a conceptual space populated by artists like James Casebere and Thomas Demand, Chris Gentile’s recent work is a hybrid of sculpture and photography that asks interesting questions about the nature of both. Like these better-known contemporaries, Gentile’s sculptural practice is in this case a disembodied one, manifested only in the context of photos—a move calculated to probe the indexical gaps between things and their depictions. In contrast to the form’s more architecturally oriented pioneers, however, Gentile doesn’t pursue totalizing verisimilitude for his meticulously crafted

  • “Remote Viewing: Invented Worlds in Recent Painting and Drawing”

    To look closely at the world is to understand that the line between familiar surface appearances and the complex, hidden structures that constitute them—between the “real” and the abstract—has never been as definitive as conventional wisdom would have it. Exploring this zone of indeterminacy via science, psychology, and hallucinatory symbolism, the eight artists in this show—including Franz Ackermann, Julie Mehretu, Matthew Ritchie, and Terry Winters—are all supremely skilled mark makers who synthesize information in dazzlingly idiosyncratic ways. The ninety-odd works

  • Kysa Johnson

    Concerned with the extremities of perception—the telescopic and, especially, the microscopic—Kysa Johnson’s appealing brand of conceptual painting and drawing evokes the structural poetry at the very base of things. Inspired by essential biological forms and processes, the elegant renderings on view in her first New York solo show (in ink, watercolor, and most often chalk on blackboard) operate in a territory somewhere between lyrical abstraction and literal representation. Their focus is that level of observation where the familiar “real” forms of the world begin to resolve into the fantastical,

  • Paul Pfeiffer

    In its ambition and substance one of most significant gallery shows of last fall in New York, Paul Pfeiffer’s “Pirate Jenny,” a sprawling exhibition divided between Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea and The Project uptown, confirmed the artist’s continuing fascination with time and perception, as well as his ability to manipulate both to resonant effect. If the scale of the far-flung show—which included nineteen pieces in video, film, photography, and sculpture—threatened to diffuse the overall effect of the work, it also seemed to bring certain essential aspects of Pfeiffer’s sophisticated practice