Jens Hoffmann

  • OPENINGS: ADRIANA MARTÍNEZ

    IN ADRIANA MARTÍNEZ’S 2016 video work Shipping and Handling, a familiar brown box rotates evenly, suspended in the pitch-black interior of a gleaming white stand. Bar codes are visible on several sides of this simulated cardboard cube, as are simple black images of arrows, goblets, and umbrellas—all graphics borrowed from the inscrutable iconography of packaging. Yet the real meaning of the work seems to lie not so much in these specific details but in the general allegory Martínez has constructed: The box stands in for Earth, our spherical home replaced with a generic cardboard package

  • Biennale de Montréal

    The 2016 Biennale de Montréal, titled “Le Grand Balcon” (The Grand Balcony) and organized by Belgian curator Philippe Pirotte (with curatorial advisors Corey McCorkle, Aseman Sabet, and Kitty Scott), was refreshingly ambiguous, intentionally confused, decidedly unruly, convincingly contradictory, and consistently chaotic. The curatorial statement mentioned a gloriously diverse range of touchstones, including Jean Genet’s strongly political absurdist play Le Balcon (The Balcony), 1956—which examines authenticity, representation, truth, and illusion—as well as the Marquis de Sade and an

  • 9th Biennale De Montréal: “The Grand Balcony”

    Titled “The Grand Balcony” after Jean Genet’s iconic 1956 play, this year’s Biennale de Montréal aspires to join the ranks of such prestigious biennials as those of Istanbul, São Paulo, and Sydney in showcasing a prodigious number of artists and commissioned works. The Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal and various downtown spaces will serve as a stage for a dynamic program of lectures, performances, concerts, and screenings. In addition to premiering several films, such as Eric Baudelaire’s AKA Jihadi, which traces

  • Adrián Villar Rojas

    The Argentinean artist Adrián Villar Rojas offers his audience a mash-up of the adolescent iconographies that have fascinated him since he was a teenager: that of sci-fi, with its robots and spaceships; that of the postapocalyptic, derived from graphic novels and video games; and that of the prehistoric, with its dinosaurs and primitive tools. “Two Suns,” his first solo exhibition at Marian Goodman Gallery in New York, might be understood as an endpoint of his long-term exploration of these surreal pre- and post-human universes.

    To explain, it is necessary to return to Villar Rojas’s 2008 solo

  • 12th Havana Biennial: “Between the Idea and Experience”

    The inaugural Havana Biennial of 1984, which exclusively featured art from Latin America and the Caribbean, was one of the first biennials to concentrate on artists from the so-called Third World. Since then, the Havana Biennial has grown into one of the world’s most significant showcases of contemporary art; not surprisingly, issues such as decolonization and neoliberalism’s effects on the region have been explored in this explicitly political series of exhibitions. While maintaining this tradition of engagement (whose range

  • art in Costa Rica

    DESPITE THE EVER-EXPANDING BORDERS of the art world, Central America rarely features on the itineraries of its jet-setters. Its seven countries have long been dismissed through the clichés of the banana republic, plagued by civil war, violent crime, and drug trafficking. Yet similar problems afflicting nearby Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia have not prevented major institutional funding for contemporary art there. The difference—somewhat ironically for an isthmus linking two continents—seems to be one of connectivity. The historical lack of a proper network in Central America for curators

  • “artevida”

    The citywide, large-scale group exhibition “artevida” (artlife) examined the relationship between art and life around the time of the Brazilian military dictatorship, which lasted from 1964 to 1985. The show, curated by Adriano Pedrosa, artistic director of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, with Rodrigo Moura, director of the Instituto Inhotim near Belo Horizonte, revolved around three by-now iconic artists: Lygia Pape, Lygia Clark, and Hélio Oiticica, all of whom practiced in Rio de Janeiro during that era and—together with Amilcar de Castro, Franz Weissmann, and others—gave birth to

  • “Art or Sound”

    Exhibitions examining the relationship between art and sound have been plentiful in recent years, among them the Museum of Modern Art in New York’s 2013 “Soundings: A Contemporary Score.” This trend reflects sound’s importance in contemporary practice. Artists such as Carsten Nicolai, Haroon Mirza, Susan Philipsz, Florian Hecker, and Janet Cardiff have made music or sound the focus of their work and have addressed the problem of sound’s visualization in a museum context, often with success. Yet, despite all this focused attention, the presentation of sound in an environment essentially designed

  • “Pedro Paiva and João Maria Gusmão: Papagaio” (Parrot)

    The work of Pedro Paiva and João Maria Gusmão has generated a lot of interest since the early 2000s (among other high-profile global exhibitions, the two have participated in the Gwangju Biennale, Manifesta, and the Bienal de São Paulo, as well as in the Venice Biennale, twice), yet no comprehensive consideration of their practice has been undertaken. Former Tate Modern director Todolí takes steps toward amending that with this exhibition. Though the show includes film-based pieces only, it surveys the artists’ production over the past ten years. And indeed it is film

  • 5th Auckland Triennial

    For this edition of the Auckland Triennial, titled “If you were to live here . . . ,” the French-Chinese curator Hou Hanru, a veteran of the biennial/triennial circuit with more than a dozen such megashows under his belt—Venice, Shanghai, Lyon, Istanbul, etc.—decided to disperse the presentation throughout the city. But the Auckland Art Gallery, newly refurbished and hugely expanded, remained a major hub, where Hou cleverly integrated the triennial’s contemporary works into the collection. His thoughtful curation both foregrounded high points of the institution’s holdings—the

  • Exhibiting the New Art

    Exhibiting the New Art: “Op Losse Schroeven” and “When Attitudes Become Form” 1969, by Christian Rattemeyer and other authors. London: Afterall Books, in association with the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands, 2010. 280 pages. $28.

    DANIEL BUREN ONCE REMARKED that an art object only fully becomes an artwork when it is exhibited and can create a relationship with the public. It follows that we should look at art not only by examining individual artworks, artistic careers, and movements but also by exploring the history of exhibitions. The growing interest

  • OPENINGS: ANNETTE KELM

    THINK “ART CAR,” and you’ll likely summon images of styled automobiles from BMW’s long-standing series by that name featuring automotive collaborations with artists—beginning with the likes of Alexander Calder and Andy Warhol in the 1970s and A. R. Penck and Jenny Holzer in the ’90s, and continuing through to Olafur Eliasson’s high-tech, high-concept frozen vehicle last year commenting on carbon emissions and global warming. But such designer traits are hardly what come to mind when considering Berlin-based artist Annette Kelm’s Art Car, 2007, a photographic diptych depicting a vehicle

  • Mario Ybarra Jr.

    OFFERING A FRESH PERSPECTIVE on the fusion of cultures, practices, and aesthetics, Mario Ybarra Jr. has reenergized everything from the commingling of street culture and fine art to the grassroots workshop and the artist-run gallery. He is one of a new generation of artists of Mexican descent who, in contrast to many of their forebears, do not reject their American identity but embrace both of the trajectories in their backgrounds equally. Since graduating from the University of California, Irvine, in 2001, Ybarra has developed a prolific artistic practice that emanates from his upbringing,