Jennifer Allen

  • news July 01, 2002

    Food Art, French Headlines, and a Fight over a Kunsthalle

    This week, Jennifer Allen tracks the coverage on a new book about food art from “Schiele to Jason Rhoades,” but also finds an article by Susan Sontag that claims taste has disappeared from art altogether. Plus, French headlines, and an article about the fight to save Cologne's Kunsthalle.

    THE ART OF CONSUMPTION: In Germany, the Süddeutsche Zeitung's Nico Bleutge gets a taste of Künstlerküche. Lebensmittel als Kunstmaterial von Schiele bis Jason Rhoades (Artist kitchen: food as art material from Schiele to Jason Rhoades), a new book by Ralf Beil. After digesting this consuming study, which considers works by Futurists, Daniel Spoerri, and Salvador Dalí, among others, Bleutge concludes that food “always implies its own history of taboos and rituals.” Meanwhile, Frankfurter Rundschau's Silke Hohmann hones in on John Bock's cornucopia of ritualistic performances at Documenta11, in

  • news June 24, 2002

    Documenta11, the New Head of London's ICA, and More

    This week, Jennifer Allen seeks out the ongoing coverage of Documenta11 in French and German papers, an interview with the new head of London's ICA, Allan Yentob, and the resignation of Vittorio Sgarbi, the notorious undersecretary of culture in Italy who tried to install Robert Hughes as curator of the next Venice Biennale.

    MORE REACTIONS TO DOCUMENTA: “A very politically correct and fatally austere exhibition,” is how Le Monde's Geneviève Breerette described Documenta11, who left frustrated not only by the long screening times but with the work as well. “With Enwezor, one doesn't joke around.” Libération's Elisabeth Lebovici offers a more positive assessement. “Art here signals the end of the intimate, of egotistical procrastinations of the ‘Me.’ Never before has it been so much about people, crowds, ships that sink, phantom ferryboats, trains that never arrive.” In Germany, critical accounts continue to appear.

  • news June 13, 2002

    The First Reports from Documenta11, Art Basel, and More

    This week, Jennifer Allen reviews a flurry of critical responses to this week's key art events in Europe, including Documenta11, a theatrical piece by William Kentridge, Art Basel, and more.

    DOCUMENTING DOCUMENTA11: The long-awaited quinquennial opened in Kassel last week, garnering an impressive set of reviews across Europe and leaving journalists striving to assess the exhibition's global theme. In Germany, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung's Thomas Wagner comments, “Even when one sometimes overflows with words like hybridization, creolization, transculturalism, and deterritorialization, Okwui Enwezor has accomplished with bravado what was expected from him: a Documenta that opens itself to all the changes that have been brought about through global transformations.” FAZ.NET has

  • picks June 06, 2002

    Francis Alÿs and Alejandro González Iñárritu

    Francis Alÿs and Alejandro González Iñárritu

    Politics of Rehearsal (or what makes traffic move at 6 pm on a Friday in Mexico City), 2002, is a unique collaboration between the Mexico City–based Belgian artist Francis Alÿs and the internationally acclaimed Mexican director of Amores Perros, Alejandro González Iñárritu. Alÿs works with the visual “waste” of Iñárritu's feature film—the discarded castings, rehearsals, rushes, and takes that never made it into the final cut of the prizewinning film. Scenes of dog fights, clashes, and car crashes are shown here on more than thirty monitors and screens, set up in blocks or standing alone in the

  • news June 06, 2002

    An Art-Critical “Blacklist,” Matthew Barney, and Orlan

    This week, Jennifer Allen reports on a newly declared war against “cliché overflow” in art criticism and surveys recent interviews with two artists, Matthew Barney and Orlan, who present dramatic perspectives on the human body.

    AN ART-CRITICAL “BLACKLIST”: Anticipating the flood of critical writing that can be expected in the wake of Documenta11, Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Jörg Heiser and Holger Liebs have compiled a list of ten expressions they would like to see banned from art criticism. “There’s a lot to judge, praise, or criticize,” claim Heiser and Liebs. “But art criticism has a problem. It’s called: cliché overflow. Banalization. Escape into theory.” What’s on the “blacklist”? “pattern of perception,” “platform,” “complexity,” “precise,” “poetic,” “position,” “obsession,” “project,” “presentation,” and “myth.” The

  • picks June 05, 2002

    Sofia Hulten

    Sofia Hulten

    Sofia Hulten’s action videos have always investigated the border between the mischievous and the absurd. In Fuck It Up and Start Again, 2001, a young woman destroys an acoustic guitar and tapes it back together, only to smash it and repair it again and again until only an unruly mass of fragments remains. Grey Area, 2001, follows a woman in a gray flannel suit hiding in the most unlikely places in an office: Gray carpets, open umbrellas, and filing cabinets all provide camouflage for concealing office help. Now, for her first solo show in Berlin, Hulten explores the fine German art of “basteln,”

  • picks June 03, 2002

    Kara Walker

    Kara Walker

    Along with the Kunstverein Hannover, Berlin’s Deutsche Guggenheim is presenting a generous selection of work by Kara Walker for the first time in Europe. The exhibition thus has an air of retrospective about it and features early gouaches dating from 1995–96 and a recent series of finely crafted color works on cardboard, including Monument, 2001, a graphic homage to sodomy and masturbation. The series of silkscreened silhouettes The Emancipation Approximation, 1999–2000, depict the era of American slavery as a both sexually violent and fantastic tale, where swans practice cunnilingus and sport

  • Marc Bijl

    Marc Bijl is a busy man. The Dutch artist, currently a resident at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, has been storming the city for the last two years with a series of public interventions that confuse cultural symbols and national political identities, both local and foreign. Bijl’s actions—mostly clandestine and always illegal—lie somewhere between performance and disturbance, installation and litter.

    Take Symbolic, 2002: Bijl made cement casts of the German iron cross and the Nike logo and abandoned them at different points in the city. Lying alone on the pavement, the casts look like

  • picks May 31, 2002

    “Here and Now”

    “Here and Now”

    How does a city absorb and produce difference? The group exhibition “Here and Now” seeks to answer the question with a sample of works created by foreign artists currently living in Berlin who seem to function as impromptu ethnographers and reflect the foreignness of both the German capital and their respective homelands. The Japanese artist Kei Takemura, for example, has reproduced fragments of wallpaper from her Berlin apartment as a life-size silk tapestry—a soft monument to renovations in the city. Australian artist Dominic Eichler, working with Ninon Liotet, pairs would-be cowboys from his

  • news May 31, 2002


    This week, Jennifer Allen reports on German reviews of Manifesta 4, an interview with Chantal Akerman about her new film From the Other Side, and what Bruno Latour has to say about his exhibition at ZKM “Iconoclash.”

    THE GERMAN PRESS ON MANIFESTA 4: After Rotterdam in 1996, Luxembourg in 1998, and Ljublijana in 2000, Manifesta arrived last week in Frankfurt am Main. The immediate response to the fourth installment of the nomadic biennial for young artists—curated by Iara Boubnova, founder and director of the Institute of Contemporary art in Sofia, Núria Enguita Mayo, curator and head of the Fundació Tàpies in Barcelona, and Stéphanie Moisdon Trembley, a freelance curator who helped found the BDV (Bureau de Vidéo) in Paris—has been mixed. Writing in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frieze magazine’s Jörg Heiser

  • news May 24, 2002

    Museum Ludwig, AVL-ville, Austrian Culture, and more

    This week, Jennifer Allen reports on a controversial Rem Koolhaas design for the Museum Ludwig, a police raid on Joep van Lieshout's AVL-ville, the political background of the new Austrian Cultural Forum in New York, and a profile in Le Monde of publisher Benedikt Taschen.

    KOOLHAAS’S PLANS FOR MUSEUM LUDWIG “CHUNKY”: Museum Ludwig and the Cologne cathedral are disputing plans by Rem Koolhaas to give the museum a facelift. The Dutch architect’s renovation design for the building, which cathedral provost Bernard Henrich finds excessive and “chunky,” will infringe upon the cathedral's property by exactly 3.4 square meters. To complicate matters, an international competition was recently announced to rebuild the square that links the cathedral with the Museum Ludwig and the Cologne train station. Although Koolhaas's firm, OMA, was in the running, last week the jury

  • news May 15, 2002

    Bonami in Venice, a New French Culture Minister, and More

    Jennifer Allen looks at Francesco Bonami's newly unveiled plans for the 2003 Venice Biennale, the new minister of culture in France, and why a small German city closed a show of work by Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard.

    BONAMI REVEALS PLANS FOR VENICE: According to an article in Il Manifesto, the theme of the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003 will be “Dreams and Conflicts.” Curator Francesco Bonami, who announced his project last week, will attempt to explore the gap between “the dreams and the conflicts in which contemporary art is constructed” and “give life to the increase in multiple realities.” In addition to restyling the Italian pavilion—a project that will be undertaken by Italian architect, critic, and curator Massimiliano Gioni—Bonami also intends to establish a national pavilion for Palestine—a proposal

  • news May 08, 2002

    Documenta11, Le Pen's Culture Politics, and More

    This week, Jennifer Allen reviews responses in the German press to Okwui Enwezor's list of artists for Documenta11, an article detailing Jean-Marie Le Pen's ideas about French art, and the new team at the Kunstverein München, Maria Lind and Søren Grammel.

    MIXED RESPONSES IN GERMANY TO DOCUMENTA DIASPORA: Initial reactions in Germany to the list of 118 artists selected for Documenta11 have been less than enthusiastic, despite the long buildup. Writing in the Tagezeitung, critic Harald Fricke was pleased with the broad internationalism of the show, but he was also irritated, somewhat inexplicably, to find “a long-forgotten artist” such as Victor Gruppo among “old stars” such as Louise Bourgeois, Jeff Wall, and Leon Golub in curator Okwui Enwezor’s “transnational and trans-generational” quinquennial: “Almost a third of the artists are around sixty,

  • Vibeke Tandberg

    Forget the prince. Vibeke Tandberg knows what every princess really wants: a shiny new mountain bike. The Norwegian artist, who settled in Oslo after residencies in London and New York, has produced eight large-scale color photographs that trace the awkward courtship between a modern-day princess and her latest acquisition. They show the artist, decked out in a white bathrobe, running shoes; a cheap blond wig, and a dime-store crown, moving through a sparsely furnished apartment with her unlikely beau, a ten-speed whose brand name remains hidden behind a light armor of silver paint.

    Despite the

  • picks April 21, 2002

    Santiago Sierra

    Santiago Sierra

    Santiago Sierra has opened up the new space of Carlier Gebauer—literally. The Spanish artist, who is based in Mexico City, removed the gallery windows—both pane and frame—and replaced them with large rectangular black boxes in a crass homage to Minimalism. The boxes, which are covered in plaster and sealed with tar, jut through the gallery walls over the River Spree. A fresh breeze from the river blows through this newly baptized white cube, whose once pristine walls now bear large black scratches, small chips, and ragged holes. Sierra has made the cumbersome boxes precisely the same size as

  • picks April 16, 2002

    Michel Majerus

    Michel Majerus

    There’s only one word to describe Michel Majerus’s latest installation: brilliant. The Berlin-based painter has built a massive metal frame—sleekly polished chrome on the inside, smooth glossy yellow on the outside—around four new paintings. The frame, which is just slightly smaller than the gallery, transforms the white cube into something resembling an oversized Sol LeWitt structure. The paintings—a wall painting, a silk screen on aluminum, an inkjet print transferred to plastic, and a classical canvas work—offer a full range of techniques and a heady mixture of images, including laughing neon

  • news April 15, 2002

    Documenta in Lagos, Gursky, Budget Cuts, and More

    Documenta's fourth platform was held recently in Lagos; Budget cuts in Berlin hit several art organizations; a discussion about Andreas Gursky; more.

    LEARNING FROM LAGOS: Last week, the German newspapers assessed the results of the fourth Documenta Platform, held at the Goethe-Institute in Lagos, Nigeria. Speakers, some of whom were invited by the African organization for social studies Codesria, considered how Four African Cities Under Siege—Lagos, Kinshasa, Freetown, and Johannesburg—exist between a state of chaos and spontaneous forms of organization. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Rudolf Schmitz focused on the contributions by individual speakers, from Codesria’s director, Sheila Bunwaree, to Abdou Maliq Simone. The Tagezeitung’s Jochen

  • K21

    IN THE ERA of the ever-expanding museum, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen introduces an alternative, cooperative approach. The Düsseldorf institution has placed its most recent work in the Ständehaus (the former house of parliament, abandoned in 1988), which it rechristened K21, while keeping the bulk of its collection at its original site on the Grabbeplatz, now called K20. The codelike monikers would seem to suggest that only twenty-first-century work would grace the resettled space, but as Julian Heynen, who came to K21 as artistic director after nearly two decades at the Krefelder

  • Kerstin Kartscher

    Doodle or drawing? Kerstin Kartscher's work combines the pleasures of both. The German artist, who resides in London and Berlin, has used a rather paltry set of tools—three magic markers (red, black, and blue) and two fluorescent pens (orange and yellow)—to produce a series of fantastic landscapes on paper that could almost be the efforts of an idle temp talking on the phone or an amateur artist trying to master the human figure. Even the spelling mistakes in the checklist seem to augment the work's dilettantish, almost kitsch appeal. Whatever Kartscher's intentions or methods, the

  • picks March 28, 2002

    Won Ju Lim

    Won Ju Lim

    LA on the Spree? The Korean American artist Won Ju Lim manages to bring the Pacific urban landscape to the cold German capital with her installation California Dreamin’, 2002. Working with yellow and green transparent Plexiglas and white foamcore board, Lim has constructed what appears to be an architectural model of an overflowing building complex, complete with Ikea lamps doubling as oversize streetlights. For atmosphere, the artist has added a video of Los Angeles twinkling at dusk and two picture-perfect sunsets taken from postcards of the city—all projected at angles on the gallery walls.