Johanna Fateman

  • Jackie 60

    ON JUNE 26, 2015—that hot Friday when the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, kicking off a joyful and extra-legit Pride weekend in NYC—I sat in an air-conditioned gallery on the seventh floor of the Museum of Arts and Design with a small group of people, young queers and some familiar faces from a very particular, very gracefully aging demimonde. Debbie Harry was there; so were the photographer Alice O’Malley and the performer and DJ Michael Cavadias (aka Lily of the Valley). Each with our own pair of padded headphones, we gazed down at the traffic crawling north from Columbus Circle

  • picks September 25, 2015

    Maureen Gallace

    With each new show of small gorgeous landscapes by Maureen Gallace, it’s natural to look for what is different from last time, noting incremental shifts in technique or subject matter. (For example, there are more paintings of the sea in this group.) But the more important point seems to be that, after more than two decades, her paintings remain very much the same. In her vistas of usually rural New England, bluntly elegant, or maybe confidently awkward, brushstrokes make up sand, snow, flowers, foliage, and sky. Often, there’s a house, shack, or barn at the picture’s dead center, and often she


    “ORGANIC HONEY” “Organic Honey” would be a cool drag name today. And in the early 1970s, Joan Jonas’s performance alias must have been gratifying to her peers—an inspired jab at countercultural pretensions and gender roles, a sardonic and playful recasting of the narcissistic hippie chick as Porta-Pak Conceptualist. Jonas’s description of Organic Honey as an “electronic erotic seductress” captures the character’s archetypal and shape-shifting qualities. She’s stylized, campy, mythical, and mediated. In conceiving her, Jonas was influenced by the conventionalized movements and expressions


    “WHENEVER YOU PUT YOUR BODY ONLINE, in some way you are in conversation with porn.” The large-type epigraph on the landing page of the online exhibition “Body Anxiety” was culled from an interview with artist Ann Hirsch, whose frustrated musings in ☆ミ, or Starwave, an invitation-only Facebook group for “Internet-savvy” women artists, curators, and writers, spurred Jennifer Chan and Leah Schrager to organize the show. But the tensions percolating in “Body Anxiety” are long-standing. This unruly collection of work from mostly little-known artists, many from overlapping feminist subsets of the

  • Björk

    Talk of the Björk retrospective always raises eyebrows. Yes, it’s a risky crossover thing, but even if it goes a little astray, it’ll be cool—promiscuously collaborative, fashiony, and strange. The visionary Icelandic pop star has for more than two decades brought experimental aesthetics to stadium stages and dance charts, always matching her prolific and innovative musical output with striking, otherworldly visual material and an evolving persona. Appropriately, this exhibition will present a complex narrative of her career, blending biography and fiction in an

  • picks December 12, 2014

    Birgit Jürgenssen

    Starting a fire by striking a man’s face—is it a feminist idea? Match-bust, 1973, looks like a big matchstick with a human head for a tip. It’s twenty inches tall, but still you can imagine dragging it along a brick wall or a curb, rubbing off the nose and brow to get a light. This poetic piece by Birgit Jürgenssen (1949–2003) is one of a handful of early, Surrealist-influenced sculptures grouped in the center of the gallery. Another great one, Untitled (Horse), 1973, looks like a child’s hobbyhorse—except that a wavy dick sticks up from the seat of its hand-sewn velvet saddle. The phallic horse

  • interviews October 31, 2014

    Greer Lankton

    “LOVE ME” is the first New York retrospective of works by Greer Lankton (1958–1996). Known for her distinctive dolls—modeled on friends, celebrities, fictional characters, and herself—Lankton was an important figure in the East Village art scene of the 1980s. This exhibition, curated by Lia Gangitano in cooperation with G.L.A.M. (Greer Lankton Archives Museum), includes over ninety of Lankton’s dolls as well as ephemera documenting the installations she created for them, her artistic processes, and her milieu. “LOVE ME” will be on view at PARTICIPANT INC from November 2 through December 21,

  • picks October 23, 2014


    I missed “Act I” of this exciting group show curated by Prem Krishnamurthy and Carin Kuoni, but traces of the eleven-day installation by HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN? remain in the gallery for “Act II,” on view now. The walls are still painted black, and an edit of the art collective’s timely, twenty-four-channel video piece The Wayblack Machine, 2014, plays on a single monitor. It’s a moving montage of material culled from news sources and social media about the police killing of unarmed black teenager Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9. Art’s turnaround time doesn’t often allow for

  • Masha Gessen’s Words Will Break Cement

    IN THE MONTHS since journalist Masha Gessen wrote the postscript to her riveting history of Pussy Riot, a lot’s happened. Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, two of the women imprisoned for their guerrilla performance at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior in early 2012, were released in advance of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, thanks to Vladimir Putin’s grudging, Christmastime concession to world opinion. In February, after Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina spoke at an Amnesty International concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, an open letter from Pussy Riot appeared

  • slant December 22, 2013

    Johanna Fateman

    IN JULY I beamed with pleasure while reading the essay “Further Materials Toward a Theory of the Man-Child” by Moira Weigel and Mal Ahern, published by the New Inquiry. The sharp, insouciant piece is an extended riposte to the French radical philosophy journal Tiqqun’s book Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl, published in English by Semiotext(e) in 2012. Weigel and Ahern reject the Young-Girl as a gendered scapegoat and take aim instead at her “boyish critic” who exemplifies a dominant strain of cultural passive-aggression and reliance on irony. Mimicking Tiqqun’s style, they

  • Johanna Fateman

    1 KANYE WEST’S PERFORMANCE OF “NEW SLAVES” ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE West artfully used the dead vibe of the SNL studio to highlight the minimal instrumentation of “New Slaves” and to make the bitter political content of his lyrics and performance seem as out of place as possible. It was an unforgettable and poetic show of rage, restraint, and vulnerability.

    2 NO BRA, CANDY (self-released) Susanne Oberbeck has very long hair, sings like a butch Nico, and performs shirtless. Layering menacing sprechstimme over skeletal electro tracks is her hallmark, but there are more live elements in the mix this

  • interviews October 01, 2013

    Ann Hirsch

    Video and performance artist Ann Hirsch frequently explores issues of young women’s sexual self-expression in pop culture and online. In past works, she has reported on her social experiments—like her experience as a contestant on a reality television dating show, and her stint as a hipster “camwhore,” in which she played the attention-hungry college student Caroline, gaining a cult following on YouTube. For two new pieces—an e-book and a play—Hirsch mines her childhood memories of engaging with a pedophile online in the late ’90s. Twelve, published by Klaus_eBooks, will be available soon as an

  • “Spectacle: The Music Video”

    I WAS PRETTY SURPRISED to hear Meg Grey Wells, curator with Jonathan Wells of “Spectacle: The Music Video,” say that the most frequent question they heard while organizing the exhibition was, Is the music video dead? What kind of curmudgeon asks that? I’d already watched half a dozen music videos before arriving for the press preview at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York—and it was only 11 AM.

    I’d started with the video for “Boss” (2012) by Tinashe, a young pop-R&B talent I’ve been hearing about. I watched her mouth lyrics to the angry-sexy slow jam, rip a rose off its stem with her

  • “Klara Liden: Bodies of Society”

    With a squatter’s ingenuity, Klara Liden finds opportunities for her sly, poetic assertions of autonomy in the unpoliced moments and discarded materials of cities.

    With a squatter’s ingenuity, Klara Liden finds opportunities for her sly, poetic assertions of autonomy in the unpoliced moments and discarded materials of cities. The young Swedish artist’s first large-scale American museum exhibition will feature more than ten works made over the past decade, including a sculpture, an installation, a slide show, videos (such as her early Paralyzed, 2003, in which she performs improvised acrobatics on a Stockholm subway car), and excerpts from her “Poster Paintings” series, 2007–10 (sheaves of stolen advertising

  • picks January 27, 2012


    In the neon pink zine-catalogue produced for this group show, curator Amy Smith-Stewart describes a heightened cultural hostility to women’s bodies fostered by contemporary mass media that traffic in “unattainable avatars” of femininity. Celebrity culture, reality television, and social networking are her particular culprits, and with “Campaign” she rallies against their imagemaking monopoly. But if the artists don’t present an alternative propaganda front, as the exhibition’s tongue-in-cheek title suggests they might, their disunited, often humorous challenges to “our prevailing depictions of

  • picks January 26, 2012

    Taylor Mead

    A skull-sized dent in the canvas of Andy as the Odalisque, 1994, is just about level with Warhol’s head in Taylor Mead’s portrait of his influential friend and collaborator (Mead starred in a number of early Warhol films). But the painting loses none of its camp or neo-Expressionist charm to this accidental feature—Warhol’s dashed-off form is a rosy, abstract bulwark with a soup can and flowers perched nearby. His signature mop of hair is rendered in greenish iridescent plumes applied straight from the tube. The other paintings made between 1974 and 1994 grouped in the gallery’s back room—portraits,

  • picks November 15, 2011

    Billy Childish

    Foreboding skies, strange foliage, and shadowy figures are busy with swirling and knotted brushstrokes in “I Am the Billy Childish.” The whorls of unrealistic colors on these canvases unmistakably recall van Gogh, but Billy Childish’s sincere embrace of the post-Impressionist’s gesture is assimilated into his distinct, punk-painterly economy: The swaths of taupe in Lt. Sydney A. Cloman, First Infantry, on His Horse on the Wounded Knee Battleground, 2010, are unpainted linen; his dandy palette of avocado, robin’s-egg blue, and hot pink in the bramble of Russian Shepherd Boy, 2011, is very much

  • picks April 28, 2011

    Joan Semmel

    One could call Joan Semmel, icon of the 1970s women’s art movement, her own muse, if her ever-evolving tradition of feminist figuration did not so methodically refuse such romantic notions. Vanity is absent from her four decades of frank self-portraiture, as is introspection. Instead, Semmel’s paintings give the impression that she has pragmatically chosen the naked woman closest at hand to forward her interrogation of the female nude. Her latest exhibition features recent works where her body is older, of course, and she does not apologize for this semitaboo self-exposure. Semmel describes her

  • picks March 11, 2011

    David Wojnarowicz

    Controversy has introduced David Wojnarowicz—artist, writer, AIDS activist, and legendary figure of the 1980s downtown scene—to a new generation nearly twenty years after his death. Last November, the Smithsonian Institution removed a video excerpt of his unfinished 1986–87 film A Fire in My Belly from the National Portrait Gallery following objections from the Catholic League and members of Congress, whose outrage focused on a supposedly blaspheming detail from the film: a shot of ants crawling over a crucifix.

    As Internet versions of Fire went viral, misconceptions about the work also spread.

  • Johanna Fateman


    1. Kiki and Herb (Royal Albert Hall, London) Finally a venue grand enough to showcase the hallucinatory architecture of this duo’s masterful, genre-spanning medleys. Kiki and Herb—looking fantastic—delivered their coup de grâce (“Total Eclipse of the Heart”) to a confounded audience waiting patiently for headline act the Scissor Sisters.

    2. White Magic, Through the Sun Door (Drag City) Mira Bilotte’s voice is beautiful and the production is trippy. Perfect songs for feeling sad—or spending the night alone in a haunted house.

    3. Tracy & the Plastics, Culture for Pigeon (Troubleman