Johanna Fateman

  • View of “Post-Speculation,” 2014.
    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

  • Diagram of Maria Alyokhina’s pretrial jail, Moscow, 2012.

    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

  • A poster from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s series “Stop Telling Women to Smile,” 2012–
    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

  • Kanye West performing “New Slaves” on Saturday Night Live, New York, May 13.

    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

  • Ann Hirsch, Photos for Jobe #2, 1998/2013, ink-jet print, dimensions variable.
    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

  • View of “Spectacle: The Music Video,” 2013, Museum of the Moving Image, New York. “Agent Provocateur” section. Photo: Eric Harvey Brown.

    “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 Lidén, Der Mythos des Fortschritts (Moonwalk) [The Myth of Progress (Moonwalk)], 2008, color DVD (still), 4 minutes.

    “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

  • Jill Magid, From a Distance You Don't Look Anything like a Friend, 2011, letterpress, neon, dimensions variable. Installation view.
    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

  • Taylor Mead, Fairy Tale Poem, sheet 8 (They both lost!), 2012, ink and acrylic on paper, 28 1/2 x 20 5/8".
    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,

  • Billy Childish, Lt. Sydney A. Cloman, First Infantry, on His Horse on the Wounded Knee Battleground, 2010, oil and charcoal on linen, 60 1/4 x 96”.
    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

  • Joan Semmel, Crossed Legs, 2011, oil on canvas, 48 x 48".
    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

  • David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (Bread Sculpture),1988–89, bread, string, needle, newspaper, 13 x 3 x 6”.
    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.