John Beeson

  • Michael Dean

    Viewers entering Michael Dean’s exhibition “Look at them fucking laughing” found themselves among a field of standing sculptures taller than they are wide or deep. The variously colored concrete forms were grouped a bit like Stonehenge monoliths—seventeen pillars, each with its lower part bent forward to keep it upright. Some are earthy pinks or browns or gray. Two others (both titled analogue x, 2015) aren’t solid forms at all, but rather bent metal rods with a thickness of sky-blue concrete surrounding them. They both lean precipitously to one side. Off in a corner, six slightly taller,

  • Daniel Keller

    Underpinning Daniel Keller’s recent exhibition “Kai ❤ Dalston Bushwick” was a convoluted story of a love triangle unfolding in the near future. Finger-width tubes looping along the floor and sporting cubic-zirconia engagement rings were laced through holes in the walls. These tubes connected transparent glass cubes in different shades of green—aquaria filled with water and pumped full of air to foster the reproduction of spirulina, an edible algae that has been touted as a so-called superfood. This assemblage conveyed a fascination was with romantic relationships, specifically their logistics.

  • Alicja Kwade

    Alicja Kwade clearly meant to address some pretty grand concepts in her most recent solo show. Most of the works on view dealt with the materials of an existing system––the hands of a clock, the trade in antique jewelry, this gallery’s lighting fixtures. Their titles referred to ideas as universal as time (Die Zukunft des Vergangenen betrachtend [Contemplating the Future of the Past], all works 2015), value (Relikt und Bedarf [Relic and Demand]), and physical reality (The Heavy Weight of Lively Light). But the results were polite, clunky riffs on product design rather than the lofty experiments

  • Dan Rees

    “Stimulate Surprise” was Dan Rees’s fourth solo show at Tanya Leighton, and his second without any of the abstract paintings for which he’s best known. The exhibition consisted of six three-dimensional works and two videos, all addressing tropes of industry (specifically agriculture), advertising, and global trade. Though this thematic framework could have said a lot about the artist’s own industrious output of paintings, their signature Artex—a material otherwise most often used in texturing ceilings—finish and their proliferation on the market and in digital reproduction, here it

  • “American Producers”

    “American Producers” was the second iteration of the Playback Room, a project series organized by Wolfgang Tillmans that proposes that the art world attend to music on the latter’s own terms. The project aims to present music at its intended playback quality and to submit it to contemporary art’s viewing habits and interpretive frameworks. Here, visitors entered Between Bridges through a tunnel designed by artist Anders Clausen into a white-walled exhibition space sparsely arranged by Tillmans in collaboration with Clausen: Ten wooden chairs stood in two rows facing a top-end hi-fi system

  • “Pictures, Before and After – An Exhibition for Douglas Crimp”

    At a time when influencing artists’ exposure is one of the few powers left to a writer, the artist list for an exhibition in Douglas Crimp’s honor read like a testament to his point of view. The checklist of more than thirty artists, whom Crimp has variously written about, curated into exhibitions, worked for, or befriended, placed Joseph Cornell, Marcel Broodthaers, and Agnes Martin alongside Charles James, the Cockettes, Antonio Lopez, and others. Comprising hours of video, many pages of text, and dozens of artworks, “Pictures, Before and After – An Exhibition for Douglas Crimp” was organized

  • Park McArthur

    Park McArthur’s exhibition “Passive Vibration Isolation” needed just three straightforward elements to broach a topic both urgent and far-reaching. In Lars Friedrich’s new, though perhaps temporary, ground-floor space, five loading-dock bumpers hung on the walls surrounding five steel stands draped with pajama pants. Extending a narrative concerning access that McArthur had already introduced with “Ramps,” her widely acclaimed exhibition at Essex Street in New York last year, “Passive Vibration Isolation” looked at the interaction between a body and the environment it inhabits. Here, access led

  • Chris Martin

    Chris Martin paints to open up a space of possibility. This was made particularly clear in his recent exhibition at KOW, which consisted of paintings finished in the past five years. Throughout this work, points of reference from various cultural strata intermingle: Glued-on photos or newspaper clippings depict musicians—some better known than others—as well as anonymous figures, animals, and so on. Icons of recreational drug culture also abound, whether in the form of “420” painted in bold strokes across the width of one painting, or psychotropic mushrooms cropping up in collages, or

  • Nicolas Ceccaldi

    “Red Wine,” the title of Nicolas Ceccaldi’s first solo show in a public institution, was apparently intended as a catchall reference to intoxicating substances, to pleasurable means of withdrawal from reality. Then again, the poster accompanying the exhibition included an image of someone holding out a red pill, somewhat incongruously recalling a famous scene from the 1999 movie The Matrix: By taking it, the film’s protagonist, Neo, chose to be confronted with the dystopian, machine-dominated real world. The poster’s design was clearly based on DIS magazine’s stock-imagery initiative DISimages,

  • Andreas Siekmann

    This show took its title from a line by Karl Marx––both figuratively and literally. Witness to a parliamentary debate in 1842 that resulted in a ban on gathering fallen twigs for firewood in public forests in Germany’s Rhineland, until then a common practice among the poor, Marx imagined, “In the stomach of the predators, nature has provided the battlefield of union, the crucible of closest fusion, the organ connecting the various animal species.” The rural aristocracy was reshaping feudal standards of property, and, as Marx argued, the citizenry was becoming subject to control by private

  • Roe Ethridge

    Roe Ethridge’s Berlin exhibition “Sacrifice Your Body” overlapped with his identically titled exhibition at Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York, each show comprising a different “edit” of a group of recently produced photographs also found in his book Sacrifice Your Body (2013). This is to say that Ethridge is working with a more or less familiar artistic procedure: the task of editing his own photographic production. Prominent tropes in Ethridge’s current iconography still include his well-known styling of both people and objects as if they were consumer products; thus, several images borrow the

  • Ari Benjamin Meyers

    Ari Benjamin Meyers Esther Schipper Every Saturday over the course of Ari Benjamin Meyers’s “Black Thoughts,” the exhibition fulfilled the promise of a spectacular viewer experience, which has become known as a characteristic of a certain vein of 1990s art––and typical for several artists in Esther Schipper’s program: Different combinations of five commissioned musicians would appear to interpret a rather minimal musical composition by turns restrained but insistent or full-on and dynamic. Any other day of the week, though, the gallery was vacant of the performers and their sound; the exhibition

  • picks December 24, 2013

    Nora Schultz

    Nora Schultz’s exhibition “Stative auf der Flucht / The tripods’ escape” personifies the tripod, weaving it into a gossamer narrative set in an alternate reality. Schultz is dealing in a special brand of speculation––science fiction––as indicated by the show’s accompanying text, a reworking of an interview with an unidentified sci-fi author. But her point of departure should come as no surprise, since it’s formalized in the spindly steel and foam creatures (Tripod I and II, all works 2013) and chunky space-age gear (Moonboots) found in the gallery’s front room. Together, text and object set the

  • Ericka Beckman

    During the 1970s, while in graduate school at CalArts, Ericka Beckman met several other artists who would become prominent figures of her generation—Mike Kelley, Matt Mullican, James Welling, and James Casebere among them. These interlocutors had a lasting impact on her artistic production, which consists primarily of film and video. For one thing, Beckman’s concern with the ways in which sociocultural norms develop and are maintained often coincided closely with Kelley’s. For another, she has been historicized alongside Mullican and Welling, for example in the exhibition “The Pictures

  • Maria Nordman

    Maria Nordman’s first solo exhibition in Berlin consisted entirely of works that she made in the 1970s and ’80s but which are dated as if extending toward a perpetual present moment, as is always the case in her production. Though born in Germany, Nordman is strongly associated with Los Angeles in those decades, when artists came to emphasize sculpture’s field of installation––especially viewers’ perception of physical form in relation to light, space, and site.

    At Konrad Fischer Galerie in Berlin, De Ondas (Portuguese for “on waves”), 1983–, assumed a deconstructed form that differed from the

  • Clegg & Guttmann

    Power, it’s been said, has been a central theme of Clegg & Guttmann’s portrait photography since the 1980s. The titles or captions of some works openly catalogue the professional stature of their subjects, and symbols of wealth and position abound: power suits, power ties, strings of pearls, bourgeois coiffures. Some of the subjects, in fact, commissioned their portraits. The images, too, as time has come to show, possess a palpable iconic status and historical relevance not unrelated to power.

    First gaining attention in New York and then in the German-speaking art world, where Clegg & Guttmann

  • Marlie Mul

    The nature of a site is in the details: the way that this concrete floor maps a shape from white wall to white wall, or the way that the broad walls give way to narrower ones and another mounted with a bookshelf, or the way that the large, ground-floor window looks out onto a particular vista. Banalities like this year’s extralong, snowy winter in Berlin also count among the specifics of a site and might even have come to mind at Marlie Mul’s exhibition “Boneless Banquet for One,” where the mixture of gravel and slush tracked around by pedestrians on the city’s streets and sidewalks seemed

  • Józef Robakowski

    Der Linie nach” (Along the Line), a recent exhibition of work by leading Polish avant-garde filmmaker Józef Robakowski, took as its cohesive ingredient a simple formal element: the line. Not in itself a particularly compelling theme, it is nevertheless of great significance for Robakowski, who believes that by training his artistic faculty on such a basic form it is possible to address nonformal, procedural, and personal subject matter.

    Robakowski’s roots are in action-based art production dating back to the 1960s, for example with the Toruń, Poland–based collective Zero-61. Since then, and

  • OPENINGS: GERRY BIBBY

    “CANDY SAYS, ‘I’ve come to hate my body and all that it requires in this world.’” Against a sugar-sweet melody, Lou Reed opens the first track of the Velvet Underground’s 1969 self-titled album by quoting Warhol’s beloved superstar Candy Darling, who resolutely revised her body as well as her gender identity via hormone injections and drag. One could say that such a state of exhausted subjectivity and fractured self-image is a pervasive contemporary condition; this is, in fact, a central premise of Gerry Bibby’s performative encounters with a wide range of media. In chorus with sources of cultural

  • Vincent Fecteau

    Among the new abstract sculptures in Vincent Fecteau’s exhibition in Berlin were the largest that the artist has made until now. They are even bigger than his wall-mounted works exhibited at greengrassi in London in 2010, but all of these new painted sculptures sat on pedestals––three smaller-scale ones (all Untitled, 2011, and previously shown at last year’s Whitney Biennial) on standard rectangular plinths and four larger ones (all Untitled, 2012) on tabletops. The materials—such as foamcore and cardboard—and manageable scale of Fecteau’s previous, similarly displayed works led them