Julia Bryan-Wilson

  • Amy Blakemore, Shoes, 1998, color photograph, 19 x 19".

    “Amy Blakemore: Photographs 1988–2008”

    The MFAH’s selection of thirty-six works from the past two decades tracks Blakemore’s transition from black-and-white to color, and considers how her casual snapshot aesthetic is married to a conceptual engagement with photography’s capacity to distort memory.

    Amy Blakemore’s photographs—of discarded shoes, gathering clouds, a child in a crowd—proffer open-ended narratives. That dreamlike opacity is augmented by her use of low-tech Diana cameras, which produce pictures with softly focused edges and blurred resolutions. The MFAH’s selection of thirty-six works from the past two decades—the artist’s first midcareer survey—tracks Blakemore’s transition from black-and-white to color, and considers how her casual snapshot aesthetic is married to a conceptual engagement with photography’s capacity to distort memory. The

  • “Warhol's Jews: Ten Portraits Reconsidered”

    The eightieth anniversary in 2008 of Andy Warhol’s birth provoked the exhumation of little-known material from the artist’s seemingly bottomless archives—for instance, “Other Voices, Other Rooms,” the important exhibition organized by the Moderna Museet and the Stedelijk Museum, included rarely screened videos and audio recordings among its seven-hundred-plus items. “Warhol’s Jews” was a smaller, more focused look at still more underexamined work: the artist’s controversial 1980 series of ten portraits of famous Jews from the twentieth century. The acrylic screenprints depict subjects such as

  • THE BEST BOOKS OF 2008

    15 SCHOLARS, CRITICS, WRITERS, AND ARTISTS CHOOSE THE YEAR’S OUTSTANDING TITLES.

    MICHAEL HARDT

    The financial crisis of fall 2008 is one symptom of a transition in the nature and form of global order. The most important question this transition raises is what new possibilities it is opening up; but before asking that, one has to understand also what the transition is closing down. Two of the best books I have read in the past year, Giovanni Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century (Verso) and Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Picador),

  • billboard projects in Los Angeles

    FOR ALMOST AS LONG as billboards have existed, laws have sought to limit their presence or ban them outright. Deemed “inartistic and unsightly” by a court ruling in 1911 and dismissed as “visual pollution” by another in 1975, the large-scale advertisements were eventually denounced in 1981 by no less an authority than the United States Supreme Court, which concluded that billboards “by their very nature, wherever located and however constructed, can be perceived as an esthetic harm.” Such juridical opinion, suggesting as it does that outdoor signboards can be legislated on aesthetic grounds,

  • “Phantom Sightings”

    IN 1972, under cover of night, three members of Asco, the Chicano conceptual-art collective from East Los Angeles, tagged the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with their last names. The work was prompted, so the story goes, when a LACMA curator told Harry Gamboa Jr.—who founded Asco (“nausea” in Spanish) with Willie Herrón III, Patssi Valdez, and Gronk (Glugio Nicandro) in 1971—that Chicanos were not represented in the museum because they were gang members, not artists. Asco’s graffitied signatures were at once a fuck-you defacement and a sly Duchampian appropriation—claiming authorship of an

  • Walid Raad, We Decided to Let Them Say ‘We Are Convinced’ Twice (detail), 1982–2008, one of nineteen archival ink-jet prints on paper, each 17 x 22".

    “Not Quite How I Remember It”

    This thematic group exhibition—featuring recent work by thirteen international artists, including Diane Borsato, Gerard Byrne, Mary Kelly, and Michael Stevenson—examines the malleable nature of historical memory.

    This thematic group exhibition—featuring recent work by thirteen international artists, including Diane Borsato, Gerard Byrne, Mary Kelly, and Michael Stevenson—examines the malleable nature of historical memory. These artists re-create, appropriate, and refashion a diverse set of archives and artifacts to interrogate the concept that, as William Faulkner noted, “the past is never dead. It's not even past.” Reenactment has been a hot topic in recent years, but this show's dynamic mix of time- and object-based works (video, performance, photography, sculpture), as well

  • Kirsten Forkert and Mark Tribe

    “THE ART WORLD IS A POISON in the community of artists and must be removed by obliteration,” asserted Carl Andre at a late-1960s meeting of the Art Workers’ Coalition, calling for the demolition of a system that he deemed a source of “infinite corruption.” His demands were sweeping: “No more ‘shows’”; “No more ‘scene’”; “No more big-money artists.” An audio recording reveals that Andre’s invective elicited loud applause, and indeed, amid the current orgy of commercialism, his anger retains its relevance, although his idealism seems outmoded. But as it turns out, the speech was not his own: It

  • “The Way That We Rhyme: Women, Art, and Politics”

    With feminism surveys on both the East and West coasts, 2007 seemed like the Year of the Woman in the art world. Thankfully, that “year” may not be over come 2008, which promises yet more exhibitions exploring feminism in all its expansiveness. This Bay Area show ostensibly features the collaborative practices of younger women artists, but its participants, whether embracing trans-identifications or blurring the lines between artist and activist, restlessly question such categorization. Accompanied by a nontraditional catalogue— a “handbook” featuring extensive

  • Geyer, Hayes, Hunt, Sander, and Thorne, Script: Citizen: 248 predictions about what I will do when democracy comes, 2007, still from a color video, 75 minutes 14 seconds. From 9 Scripts from a Nation at War, 2007.

    9 Scripts from a Nation at War

    FROM THE LEFT SIDE of the screen, a hand scribbles a statement on a blackboard: “I will long for a break in the non-stop coverage.” Just as the writing is completed, someone else’s hand appears from the left to erase it. The board is newly filled and erased 248 times in the course of the hour-and-fifteen-minute-long video Citizen, one part of the ambitious multivideo work 9 Scripts from a Nation at War by artists Andrea Geyer, Sharon Hayes, Ashley Hunt, Katya Sander, and David Thorne, recently on view at Documenta 12 in Kassel. Each different sentence is a “prediction about what I will do when

  • OPENINGS: LISI RASKIN

    LISI RASKIN ONCE SPENT AN ENTIRE MONTH looking for nuclear submarines. The New York–based artist was on a residency in 2005 at Cove Park in Scotland, which overlooks a Trident submarine docking base at Loch Long. While she never caught a glimpse of one of these billion-dollar machines slithering through the water, her attempt was in perfect keeping with her ongoing investigations into the effects of nuclear culture on the landscape. The installation that resulted from Raskin’s month-long vigil, (Remote Location) Observation Station, 2005, at Glasgow’s Transmission Gallery, featured a video in

  • Eva and Franco Mattes

    Eva and Franco Mattes, best known as the collaborative 0100101110101101.org, have engaged in such pranks as launching an ad campaign for a fake movie (United We Stand, 2005) and creating a computer virus as their contribution to the 2001 Venice Biennale. Their “hacktivist” tendencies, already somewhat mild, have been diluted even further in their new series, “13 Most Beautiful Avatars,” 2006. The Matteses, after spending about a year as members of the online community Second Life, selected thirteen of the most “visually dynamic” characters they encountered and created individual portraits—based

  • Carrie Moyer

    Carrie Moyer’s newest series of paintings builds on her previous works, which combine abstract forms and swathes of color with overt citations of radical social movements. Yet the works here, devoid of raised fists and images of Emma Goldman, also mark a significant departure for the New York–based artist. Moyer has moved further into the realm of free association, allowing her political references to hover suggestively rather than spelling them out. Biomorphic shapes evoke the “central core” imagery of ’70s feminist art at the same time that they resemble simplified Rorschach inkblots onto