Johanna Fateman

  • Still from Beyoncé’s 2016 visual album Lemonade, multiple directors. Beyoncé.

    Johanna Fateman

    1 BEYONCÉ, LEMONADE (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia) The Queen broadcasts on her own frequency, cutting through the chatter of a thousand hot takes to assert soulful authority on personal matters as well as those of grave public concern. With Lemonade she appears betrayed but unstoppable, triumphant on a sinking cop car, ready with hooks, hashtags, and fresh choreography.

    2 M.I.A., AIM (Interscope) Now that the West can no longer deny center stage to border politics and mass displacement, M.I.A., who has trained her spotlight on the refugee experience all along, tells us this album will be

  • Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Maintenance Art Tasks 1973 (detail), album with gelatin silver prints, chain, and rags, 13 × 12 1/2 × 1 3/4". Photographs by Joshua Siderowitz, 1973.

    Mierle Laderman Ukeles

    “MAINTENANCE ART,” Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s dense and radiant Queens Museum retrospective, is not only about maintenance but about commitment: a groundbreaking practice of labor and care that the artist invented and to which she has remained devoted for decades. The blessing/crisis of motherhood precipitated her bold conceptual move. In 1969, as a young artist burdened by the demands of housekeeping and childcare, she had little time to devote to her “real” work, so she hit upon a Duchampian-feminist method of designation to transform her crucial yet unrecognized labor—and eventually that

  • Conrad Ventur, Untitled, 2010–14, digital C-print from 35 mm, 30 x 20''.
    picks November 11, 2016

    Conrad Ventur

    For Warhol’s aging Superstars, underground-legend status doesn’t pay the bills. Ivy Nicholson—the gorgeous, angular, eccentric Brooklyn-born fashion model and actress of the 1950s who became a Factory regular in the ’60s—has spent her golden years in poverty. Conrad Ventur’s seductive and unsettling color photographs (all works cited, 2010–14) show her still glamorous, with winged black eyeliner and a henna-red fringed hairstyle, uncannily photogenic even in difficult circumstances. His fascination with Warhol’s queer orbit is longstanding; previous projects include a collaborative series with

  • Paul Verhoeven, Elle, 2016, video, color, sound, 131 minutes. Patrick (Laurent Lafitte) and Michèle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert).

    Paul Verhoeven’s Elle

    IN PAUL VERHOEVEN’S twisted Christmastime thriller Elle, Isabelle Huppert is the cold and cruel Michèle Leblanc, an impeccably dressed executive of a video-game design company in Paris. She’s also a mother who acidly bankrolls the false starts of her loser millennial son and his hot pregnant girlfriend, and she’s the daughter of a famous mass killer rotting in prison. She’s single—divorced—sleeping with her best friend’s (and business partner’s) husband while playing elaborate head games with her ex and nursing a dangerous crush. In one amazing scene, Michèle jerks off while peering

  • Carol Rama, Autorattristatrice n. 9, 1969, glass eye, spray paint, mixed media on canvas, 39 3/8 × 31 1/2". © Archivio Carol Rama, Torino.

    Carol Rama

    Tongues, serpents, penises, orifices, and eyes populate the wonderful and terrifying world of Carol Rama’s art. Lewd and menacing, they’re there even when they’re not—one senses them lurking just outside the frame, smothered by strips of tire rubber, or abstracted into scabby, flaccid shapes. Rama (1918–2015) was born in Turin and worked there her entire life, producing paintings, drawings, and assemblages with protofeminist, antifascist vigor in an untrained, sophisticated style that defies easy categorization. Her frank sexual content, Surrealism-inflected figuration, and evocative

  • View of “Diamond Stingily,” 2016.
    picks September 30, 2016

    Diamond Stingily

    Five unhinged doors, standing upright in space, look more like shields than portals. Each one is titled Entryways (all works 2016). A baseball bat leans on every one of the uniquely worn, deadbolt-adorned rectangles stationed around the dim gallery, evoking the violence and vigilance of everyday life. While these unfriendly readymade and pre-owned doors are the most immediately commanding element of Diamond Stingily’s show, a looping video is the centerpiece. Facing the entrance, on the far wall, is a large projection of vintage black-and-white footage—taken from folklorist Bess Lomax Hawes’s

  • Richard Hawkins, Turd Plug to Prevent Nocturnal Insemination, 2016, glazed ceramic in artist’s frame, 23 x 26 x 3 1/2''.
    picks September 23, 2016

    Richard Hawkins

    The free downloadable PDF is the contemporary form most suited to the manic conspiracy theorist. Appropriately, a number of them make up the offsite key to “Norogachi: Ceramics After Artaud,” Richard Hawkins’s show of impressively hideous works—glazed tablets that incorporate disturbing, scatological vignettes of a hellish metaphysical realm. The artworks—a speculative merging of Antonin Artaud’s paranoid lexicon of psychic attack with the symbolic imagery of the Tarahumara, an indigenous people of northwestern Mexico—are based on Artaud’s 1936 trip to Norogachi, a remote village in the Sierra

  • Charles LeDray, Daisy Chain, 2013–14, fabric and human bone, 1 x 16 1/2 x 15 1/2''.
    picks September 16, 2016

    Charles LeDray

    Charles LeDray’s miniatures are as enchanting and magnetic as panoramic Easter eggs or the Stettheimer dollhouse, but without the whimsy or windows to peer into. Though, actually, there is an austere glass case displaying treasure among the mysterious objects in this spare, dimly lit installation of his work. Chic little vases or urns—made on a doll-size potter’s wheel, one imagines—fill the glass shelves of the vertical vitrine. There are fourteen hundred black porcelain vessels in Throwing Shadows, 2008–16, each one unique. LeDray meticulously fabricates his work without assistants, and the

  • Roz Chast, Dad’s Favorite Foods, 2014, wool and linen, 50 x 38''.
    picks September 02, 2016

    Roz Chast

    Since 1978, genius cartoonist Roz Chast has graced the pages of the New Yorker more than twelve hundred times, delivering spot-on vignettes of normal, neurotic people interacting—or keeping their anxious, philosophical thoughts to themselves—in cluttered apartments and wallpapered middle-class living rooms, on busy Manhattan streets, and, sometimes, on the roads of the larger tristate area. Brooklyn-born Chast’s outer-borough antiaesthetic is founded on her famous understated drawing style. Her lines evoke the cat hair likely embedded in the upholstery of the worn sofas she frequently depicts,

  • Bunny Rogers, Mandy’s Piano Solo in Columbine Cafeteria, 2016, video, color, sound, 13 minutes 16 seconds.

    Bunny Rogers

    What could easily have been too much—a confusion of references or a crowding of ideas—instead formed an economical and coherent network of symbols in “Columbine Cafeteria,” Bunny Rogers’s debut exhibition at Greenspon Gallery. Enchanted mops, Halloween apples, institutional furniture, rubber garbage cans, ballet slippers, a storybook key, and stained-glass panels were among the curious, mournful, and ominous objects on view in this poetic, almost austere, installation. They were part of a highly stylized, fantasy re-creation of the suburban Colorado high-school cafeteria where students

  • Jimmy DeSana, Birds, 1985, Cibachrome print, 10 x 8''.
    picks August 26, 2016

    Jimmy DeSana

    Photographer Jimmy DeSana made a career of defamiliarizing the domestic. He troubled suburban interiors with nude models in precarious poses, recasting everyday objects as BDSM props in his spare, elegant tableaux. He also used outlandish color—saturated effects often achieved with gel-covered tungsten lights—to make normal things lurid, clubby, better. “Remainders” is a modestly sized show of small-scale works, images that have not been exhibited for more than two decades, in which the figure is mostly absent and objects are uncannily abstracted. In Spools, 1985–86, the titular threadbare posts

  • View of “Kristin Smallwood: IUD,” 2016.
    picks August 19, 2016

    Kristin Smallwood

    The floor of Kristin Smallwood’s busy multimedia exhibition “IUD” is papered with clippings from straight porn magazines and women ripped from fashion glossies. She sneaks some photographs of herself into the messy X-rated collage, too. These images are decidedly glum—mug shots, not beaver shots. Smallwood merges the genres, sort of, in a video that loops on a small wall-mounted monitor. The Perfect Woman (all works 2016) shows the artist in close-up lip-synching, deadpan, to Whitney Houston’s soaring 1992 ballad “I Will Always Love You,” her face transformed by the ingenious superimposition