John Beeson

  • slant December 12, 2012

    John Beeson

    FROM THE DRONING CHORDS of Sonic Youth’s 1984 “Death Valley ’69” that echoed down the pitch-black entry hall to the sinking feeling in my stomach brought on by Richard Kern’s Fingered, 1986, KW’s “You Killed Me First” kept a firm hold on me. My hesitations about the exhibition’s dutifully spray-painted walls aside, the eighteen films on view told a brilliantly fucked-up story of twentysomethings on New York’s Lower East Side in the 1980s and their spite for their parents’ generation’s counterculture-turned–dominant culture. The filmmakers’ assaults on their own bodies––complemented by plenty of

  • Franz Erhard Walther

    In recent years, the story of Franz Erhard Walther, when told, has been of his influence. A classmate of Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, and Blinky Palermo at the art academy in Düsseldorf, later the teacher of Martin Kippenberger, Christian Jankowski, and Jonathan Meese, among others, in Hamburg, Walther occupies a pivotal position in postwar German art history. This narrative of influence, however, threatens to obscure the importance of his own work, with its material sophistication and conceptual acuity—as evidenced by the four dynamic pieces that constituted this very thoughtfully

  • “Querelle—Photographed by Roger Fritz”

    In 1982, the year in which Rainer Werner Fassbinder made his film Querelle, one of the actors, Roger Fritz, took several hundred photographs on the set. On the film’s release, a book was published with reproductions of 119 of the images. Depicting the actors in still, dramatized poses that embody each character’s attitude as well as narrative episodes, Fritz’s photos distill Querelle’s wild, colorful, indoor set into iconic images. Fassbinder is noted for having brought some of the theatricality and the directness of the stage into the cinema, in part through his attention to the dynamic among

  • FORT

    Near the end of Wong Kar-wai’s 1990 film, Days of Being Wild, the character Yuddy invokes the legend of the bird with no legs for a second time: “I used to think there was a kind of bird that, once born, would keep flying until death. The fact is that the bird hasn’t gone anywhere. . . .” Meanwhile, the camera peers out over lush Philippine jungle, from the same vantage as during the film’s opening credits. The legend of the bird without legs was not invoked by the artist collective FORT in their recent exhibition “Lou,” yet the show’s stylized, meandering approach seemed to invite such a

  • Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys

    It has been argued that the work of Belgian duo Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys hinges largely on an investigation of psychologies, a conclusion founded in de Gruyter’s influential experience working in a Brussels community center and the recurrent focus of the artists’ videos on the interaction between eccentric characters and their settings. With “Im Reich der Sonnenfinsternis” (In the Realm of the Solar Eclipse), the artists brought forth 120 paintings and sculptures constituting the life’s work of Johannes, the melodramatic artist character from their video Das Loch (The Hole), 2010, which

  • Yngve Holen

    Under fluorescent light, the mirror foil letters of the words SENSITIVE TO DETERGENT glimmered on a wall in a corner of Autocenter’s one-room exhibition space. Although this banner was similar in appearance to John Knight’s wall text AUTOTYPES, seen in his 2011 show at Greene Naftali in New York, any pursuit of the apparent affiliation between Knight’s work and the recent sculptural production of German- Norwegian artist Yngve Holen leads only to a dead end. The auto parts included in Holen’s exhibition may have been intended to pun on the name of Autocenter, a ten-year-old fixture among Berlin’s

  • Melvin Moti

    In a darkened section of the gallery, a film projector cast an image onto the wall: the barren, gray surface of the moon pocked with craters. Looking down as if floating above it, the camera bobs and swivels. Next, the film observes the interaction of floating, gently spinning glass vases, which draw meteoric paths in slow motion. The vases, the carved wooden spoons, and the repoussé gold-leafed eighth-century Thai Buddha seen in the 35-mm film appeared as well in a series of photographs occupying the gallery’s other room. These objects are replicas of works in the collection of the Victoria

  • Viktoria Binschtok

    With the advent of Street View, Google introduced a new logic––if not a new language––to photography. Artists swiftly responded by using this massive image map as a site for appropriation as well as an inspiration for artistic forms and functions. “World of Details,” Viktoria Binschtok’s contribution to this fruitful dialogue, fluidly incorporates the merits of the new technology and supplements a parallel constellation of images of the artist’s own creation. The Russian-born, Berlin-based artist’s appropriated images derive from 2009, two years into Street View’s history, and depict people on

  • Mario Pfeifer

    To describe Mario Pfeifer’s A Formal Film in Nine Episodes, Prologue & Epilogue, 2010, in a formal manner, as the work’s title suggests we should, one would have to say that it involves slow-paced action, sweeping camera movements, a diversity of real-world sounds, frequent swatches of vivid blues, and intermittent yellows. Shot in 35 mm on location in Mumbai, the footage has been transferred to digital video. In this, Pfeifer’s first solo gallery exhibition, four screens presented the work’s ten short sequences—not eleven, as the title might indicate—which, with their consistent

  • picks November 23, 2011

    Timur Si-Qin

    For “Mainstream,” Timur Si-Qin’s first solo exhibition at Société, the artist lined the gallery’s two rooms with thirty-two computer printout copies of posters for the movie Transformers (2007) and overlaid each with plant leaves of varying shapes, sizes, and species. In casual, asymmetric arrangements that do not necessarily respond to the composition of the posters, the botanical material serves a primarily symbolic function. Nature and culture, here framed in stark contrast to one another, nevertheless exist on the same plane. In fact, the logic of mechanical reproduction and the aesthetic

  • Fred Lonidier

    THE QUESTION IS WHO EXERCISES HOW MUCH POWER TO WHOSE ENDS? reads a line printed below statistics concerning US car production in the year 1978 and a photograph depicting cars in a parking lot. The collage, enclosed in a license-plate frame, at the top of which stands the word oligopoly, is one in a row of similar constructions––the others address FETISH, WASTE, POLLUTION, EXPENSE, and DANGER as characteristics of the automobile industry. Together, these elements comprise Photo License, 1978, the first piece visitors encountered in Fred Lonidier’s exhibition “Artworks from Protest, Social

  • Horst Ademeit

    Born in Cologne in 1937, Horst Ademeit was a trained craftsman who worked odd jobs and lived a significant part of his life in a low-income housing project, ill, paranoid, and immersed in legal proceedings concerning fees that he owed and complaints that he filed. Although he had attended Joseph Beuys’s open-door class at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1970, Ademeit did not find support for the work that he was producing, and subsequently ceased fine-art training. In fact, the Polaroid photographs, journals, and handwritten notes that comprise Ademeit’s first museum exhibition, curated by Udo

  • picks June 02, 2011

    Nairy Baghramian

    Through the staggeringly evocative sculptural works that populate her exhibition “Formage de tête” (roughly, “Formation of the Head”), Nairy Baghramian invokes the subject of creation in a way that references the specific case of her materials as well as the circumstances of formation, generally. The grotesque corporality of the five silicon casts on display is further exacerbated by their vulgar sexuality; each is like several pounds of prosthetic flesh rife with recesses and abscesses, deep folds and low-hanging sheaths. Suspended just below chest height on open metal frames, the works invite

  • picks May 14, 2011

    Gabriel Kuri

    In his sculptures and installations, Gabriel Kuri attends to the significance of material goods within society, and he does so while displaying remarkable sensitivity to material forms, if not always an aesthetically indulgent touch. In his latest exhibition, “carbon index compost copy,” which inaugurated Esther Schipper’s new gallery space when it opened over Berlin Gallery Weekend, Kuri presents his familiar thematic territory cast in an attractive aesthetic light.

    The works on view emphasize the complicity of two-dimensional forms in the creation of commodities and the attribution of value.