Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

  • “PÒTOPRENS: The Urban Artists of Port-au-Prince”

    When the Haitian artist Myrlande Constant was a teenager in Port-au-Prince, she went to work with her mother in a factory making elaborately beaded wedding dresses. When she left, she began using the beads to make extremely unorthodox versions of drapo vodou—the small embroidered and sequined flags that have been produced in Haiti for generations, as both religious objects and artworks for sale. Constant’s imagery drew equally from vodou mythology, current events, and popular culture, and her densely textured flags are large, more like quilts, crammed with figures, scenarios, and decorative

  • film September 29, 2018

    Fault Lines

    HALFWAY THROUGH director Sofia Djama’s accomplished feature-film debut, Les Bienheureux (The Blessed), about the intertwined lives of five characters struggling with the past and the future in present-day Algiers, a pudgy teenager with obnoxious hair pushes his sister aside at her bedroom door. They’ve been fighting about their dad, a man both demanding and catatonically depressed, and about who is responsible for the housework. Their mother is dead, and the whole family is clearly bereft. The sister, Ferial, has a sharp tongue and an outsize attitude. She isn’t taking any of her brother’s crap.

  • Marlene Dumas

    There was a time in the late sixteenth century when fears of the plague forced theaters all across London to close their doors until the illness passed. This posed something of an employment problem for Shakespeare. To continue working, he turned to poetry. “Venus and Adonis,” a narrative poem from 1593, and perhaps his first published work, took a brief episode from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and transformed it into a rollicking, ten-thousand-word disputation on the natures of love and lust. In Shakespeare’s text, Venus, the goddess of love, falls for the alluring young hunter Adonis, who couldn’t

  • “SIAH ARMAJANI: FOLLOW THIS LINE”

    Iranian-born American sculptor Siah Armajani is one of those artists whose work is so conceptually rigorous that it can often intimidate more readily than please. He is best known for his monumental sculptures in public spaces, many of them doubling as functional architecture (a bridge in Minneapolis, a lighthouse on Staten Island) while delivering polemical messages or damning critique (such as Fallujah, 2004–2005, an antiwar work inspired by Guernica with a spritz of Duchamp). Yet for six decades, Armajani has made smaller, more

  • “DOROTHEA TANNING: BEHIND THE DOOR, ANOTHER INVISIBLE DOOR”

    She loved gothic novels, Lewis Carroll’s stories, and Sedona, Arizona. She married Max Ernst, played chess with Marcel Duchamp, and established a firm place in the history of Surrealism. But how can one encapsulate the life of Dorothea Tanning, who went through numerous phases in her career and continued to make work well into the twenty-­first century? This compelling retrospective will elucidate, covering nearly seventy years of her oeuvre with more than one hundred paintings, drawings, and soft sculptures—as well as the incredible installation Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre

  • picks July 16, 2018

    Ana Mendieta

    The major facts of Ana Mendieta’s life and work are well established. She was born in Cuba in 1948. Her family, at odds with Fidel Castro, sent her to the United States when she was twelve. A program run by the CIA and the Catholic Church landed her in foster care. She studied painting but was increasingly drawn to performance. Her materials included mud, feathers, blood, and her own body. She moved to New York and joined the feminist AIR Gallery. She met the minimalist sculptor Carl Andre, fell in love, and plunged to her death from the window of his apartment. She died at thirty-six but had

  • diary July 09, 2018

    Braving the Elements

    AROUND LUNCHTIME ON THE LAST THURSDAY IN JUNE, I found myself at a table on a terrace with an absurdly beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea. Behind me was the kind of low-slung corporate resort hotel that is typical of La Marsa, one of several suburban tourist towns east of the capital of Tunisia, Tunis. I scanned the horizon from left to right. A thin dark line separated the deep blue sky from a vast expanse of light sparkling turquoise. It was a ridiculous sight, a shimmering paradise, laughable in its right-there realness. I was distractedly sharing a meal with about a dozen people, flanked

  • picks June 21, 2018

    Bodys Isek Kingelez

    There are three key moments that keep the legend of Bodys Isek Kingelez burning. One is when the Congolese sculptor—maker of intricate paper objects known as “extrêmes maquettes”—quit his job as a schoolteacher in Kinshasa and began making art, feverishly, from paper, scissors, a razor, and glue. The second came when a Kingelez sculpture arrived at the Institut des Musées Nationaux du Zaire. The staff there refused to believe he’d made it himself and demanded he create another one onsite. He did, and they immediately hired him as a restorer. The third was his participation in the 1989 exhibition

  • picks June 12, 2018

    Anna Boghiguian

    Anna Boghiguian’s first museum exhibition in the United States comes curiously late in her life and career. Boghiguian is a legend in Cairo, the city where she was born, and her cluttered rooftop studio, occupied for decades and almost worryingly stuffed with materials, is a tiny windswept palace of wonders and curiosities. It is also a place to listen and learn, as she habitually unspools a good many lessons in literature and history. That sense of Boghiguian holding forth translates well in this show.

    “The Loom of History” fills a wide room in the New Museum’s ground-floor galleries. The walls

  • picks June 01, 2018

    “Multiply, Identify, Her”

    This lively exhibition of ten artists contributing portraits, videos, films, and photocollages winds its way around two muses. One of them, the artist Laura Aguilar, who recently died, is nowhere to be seen—her work is not included in the show—but the spirit of her challenging self-portraiture (for some pictures in her 1996 “Nature Series,” Aguilar would fold her enormous body into the shape of a large rock in a landscape) was an explicit inspiration for the curator, Marina Chao, and Aguilar’s sense of identity as necessarily plural, complex, and polyphonic provides a spacious conceptual blueprint,

  • Joe Overstreet

    Joe Overstreet’s experimental paintings from the early 1970s were made to be suspended from ceilings and tied to floors using a system of ropes and grommets. As a result, they occupy a good deal of three-dimensional space, and by design their shapes change every time they are installed, depending on how they are stretched out, draped, or crumpled. In some works, such as St. Expedite II and Untitled, both 1971, and Untitled, 1972, Overstreet has painted squares of canvas in solid colors—red, green, navy blue, deep purple—edged in contrasting stripes. Other works, such as the enormous

  • picks May 18, 2018

    León Ferrari

    In the mid 1960s, the legendary Argentinian artist León Ferrari caused a scandal when he took a life-size statue of Jesus and nailed it to a model of an American fighter jet. It was Ferrari’s way of protesting the Vietnam War. The piece, La Civilización Occidental y Cristiana (Western Christian Civilization), 1965, was made for a specific exhibition but whisked away before anyone could see it. It was included in a major retrospective of Ferrari’s work in 2004, but a local Catholic official denounced it as blasphemous and had the whole thing closed down. At the time, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was

  • picks May 11, 2018

    Ala Younis

    Ala Younis walks such a fine line between art and nonart that it is thrilling to follow her, even through piles of meticulous (read: boring) research, to see where she’ll land. Ten years ago, Younis created a memorable installation of discarded sewing machines (and a related video), titled Nefertiti, 2008, delving into the history of manufacturing as a nationalist, notably unfeminist endeavor in Egypt. In 2015, she unveiled Plan for Greater Baghdad, which took a handful of old 35-mm slides, taken by the architect Rifat Chadirji, of a gymnasium—designed by Le Corbusier and named after Saddam

  • Moyra Davey

    The only coin ever made in the United States that can be picked up with a magnet is the 1943 steel cent. It was produced in a time of austerity at the height of World War II, when copper was being rerouted to munitions manufacturing. Steel pennies coated in zinc may have conserved necessary metal, but they caused all kinds of problems, too. They were unusually light. They were often mistaken for dimes. They got stuck in vending machines. They rusted quickly. A few years ago, someone gave the artist Moyra Davey a whole cache of them as a gift. They had aged weirdly and unevenly, having become by

  • “Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Sunset, Sunrise”

    As the sculptor Siah Armajani has noted, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian was the first Iranian artist of her generation to use cut-glass mosaics as a medium, as art without religious function. Farmanfarmaian was born to a family of ayatollahs, merchants, and Ottoman aristocrats. She studied painting and sculpture in Tehran and had wanted to move to Paris but ended up in New York via Bombay in the 1940s. She fell in with a crowd of artists. She made a disco ball for Andy Warhol. She returned to Iran in 1957 and apprenticed herself to local craftspeople. She experimented

  • “74 million million million tons”

    In the past few years, Lawrence Abu Hamdan has made vital contributions to the developing discourse around questions of evidence, narrative, and atrocity, while outgoing SculptureCenter curator Ruba Katrib has offered deeply compelling curatorial investigations of the vexed status of artistic materiality; pairing the two promises a most intriguing show. This exhibition brings together ten artists (and artist groups) who are working in the space between an occurrence and the consensus that forms around it. That gray area is predicated on ambiguity

  • film April 30, 2018

    Seeds of Change

    ONE DOESN’T NEED to go far to find a meaningful connection between art and serious farming, especially when the art in question is driven by political urgency. The example of John Berger, the poet, critic, and painter who lived half his life on a remote working farm in rural France, is close enough. For the past ten years, the Palestinian artist Jumana Manna has been making dazzling films and quizzical objects about the historical strata and lived experience of cities, namely Jerusalem. Her works draw upon many sources and experiment with many genres, but virtually all of them are urban—with

  • picks April 27, 2018

    Ghada Amer

    A handful of new ceramics hang high on the walls of Ghada Amer’s latest exhibition. One might describe them fairly and accurately as large, misshapen bowls. Amer is famous, of course, for her paintings that layer the very masculine gestural language of Abstract Expressionism (all splashes and dashes and drips of paint) over delicate embroideries and tangles of thread, which yield to even fainter stencils of women in autoerotic poses, taken straight from softcore porn. But ever since the 1990s, Amer has been making three-dimensional objects, too. To make a sculpture of a wedding dress, she once

  • picks April 20, 2018

    Yto Barrada

    Over the past fifteen years, Yto Barrada has made photographs, films, posters, prints, textiles, toys, mechanized models, games, collages, oversize blocks, fake fossils, and vast collections of sundry other objects that nearly defy categorization as art. She has moved through dramatic phases in the formal development of her work, lurching from humor and whimsy to a damning critique of colonialism, underdevelopment, and injustice. She has tumbled headlong into obsessions with historical figures, including members of her own family (her mother, her grandmother) and unknowable strangers (her

  • Peter Hujar

    In one of the most enduring passages from Teju Cole’s 2011 novel Open City, the protagonist, a young man named Julius who has recently arrived in New York from Nigeria to complete a psychiatry fellowship, takes a series of ever-longer walks around the island of Manhattan. His observations are cool and detached until he hits upon a singular and exasperating fact: This is a place surrounded by water that has totally turned its back on the flow of its rivers and the ocean beyond them. “The shore was a carapace,” thinks Julius, “permeable only at certain selected points. Where in this riverine city