Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

  • View of “Process 01: Joy,” 2012. Christine Hill, Volksboutique Small Business Outpost (Chinatown Division), 2012, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks October 15, 2012

    “Process 01: Joy”

    It must take a particular kind of obsession, and a notably self-reflexive sense of humor, to organize an exhibition about feeling lost, lonely, or rebellious in a job, and then subtitle that exhibition “joy.” But with the first show to open at this new gallery and project space in Chinatown, director Prem Krishnamurthy, of the design studio Project Projects, manages to delve into the alienation of labor while still deifying the love of one’s work.

    The centerpiece of the exhibition is an installation by Christine Hill that serves as a remote office and New York satellite for her long-running,

  • Left: Dream City founders Selma and Sofiane Ouissi. Right: Curator Tarek Abou El Fetouh with Kunstenfestivaldesarts director Christophe Slagmuylder. (All photos: Kaelen Wilson-Goldie)
    diary October 08, 2012

    Daydream Nation

    NEARLY TWO YEARS have passed since the Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi doused himself in gasoline and set the Arab world on fire. After losing the only means he had left to make a living—a vegetable cart and a set of scales—and then, though accounts vary, getting smacked in the face and spat on by a cop, Bouazizi committed an act of desperation so extreme it sparked demonstrations across the region, to the extent that most of the cities looped around the Mediterranean and down through the Gulf have smoldered at one point or another in the past twenty-two months.

    Bouazizi’s self-immolation

  • Joe Namy, Automobile, 2012. Performance view, in front of Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, July 31, 2012. Photo: Ghalas Charara.

    Ashkal Alwan’s Home Workspace Program

    SOMETHING HAD CLEARLY GONE WRONG. On a muggy, breezeless evening in Beirut in late July, a crowd was gathered around an artist named Joe Namy, who was nearly in tears. He stood in the doorway of a former factory, which opened onto an empty street running through a drab industrial district on the eastern edge of the city. This wasn’t the glamorous end of the Lebanese capital: no lights shimmering off the Mediterranean, only darkened construction sites, an unloved overpass, and the sickly trickle of the nearby Beirut River. Anxious and forlorn, Namy was telling his audience that he was canceling

  • “Akram Zaatari: This Day at Ten”

    Akram Zaatari has made more than thirty videos since the mid-1990s, and “This Day at Ten” surveys a decade of his pioneering production, taking as its focal point one of the most complex works in the Lebanese artist’s oeuvre, Al Yaoum (This Day), 2003.

    Akram Zaatari has made more than thirty videos since the mid-1990s, and “This Day at Ten” surveys a decade of his pioneering production, taking as its focal point one of the most complex works in the Lebanese artist’s oeuvre, Al Yaoum (This Day), 2003. Defying categorization, the eighty-six-minute video demonstrates the range of interests that have long preoccupied Zaatari: the circulation of images related to conflicts in the Middle East, the meaning of archival materials, and the use of documentary and snapshot photography. Fanning out from the exhibition’s central

  • View of “Bucharest Biennale 5,” 2012. Inside: Vesna Pavlović, Search for Landscapes, 2011. Outside: Abbas Akhavan, Untitled Garden, 2009.

    Bucharest Biennale 5

    The heart of the fifth Bucharest Biennale wasn’t one of the works in the exhibition. Rather, it was a library, unrelated to the biennial, that happened to be located in the middle of Pavilion, a nonprofit storefront art space in the city center. Pavilion was founded in 2004 by the curators and theorists Răzvan Ion and Eugen Rădescu, who are the directors of the space, the editors of the journal Pavilion, and the organizers of the biennial, which began in 2005 as an annual festival for art and photography but has been scheduled to occur every other year since 2006.

    This year, Pavilion’s buzzing

  • Left: Curator and CIRCA director Sarah Rifky with curator Daniella Rose King of MASS Alexandria. Right: Documenta 13 communications director Terry Harding with artist Rania Stephan and Documenta 13 artistic director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. (All photos: Kaelen Wilson-Goldie)
    diary July 11, 2012

    Class Trip

    JUST OVER THIRTY DAYS have passed since Documenta 13 opened in the central German city of Kassel, where hundreds of artworks are scattered like trinkets in a treasure hunt, replete with maps, clues, riddles, and the inevitable question: “That, over there, is that art?” The exhibition’s potential for playfulness may be undercut by its capacity for exhaustion, but the feedback so far has been uncommonly good. The critics are overwhelmingly positive about the work of artistic director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, in part because she seems to be saying so much, so deeply, about the purpose of art in

  • Adrian Piper, Food for the Spirit #1, 1971, black-and-white photograph, 14 1/2 x 15".
    picks June 25, 2012

    “Carnal Knowledge: Sex + Philosophy”

    In 1971, Adrian Piper spent the summer holed up alone in her apartment, reading Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1781), practicing yoga, and subsisting on nothing but juice and water. To counter the feeling of falling away from the world, Piper began reading into a tape recorder and photographing her image in the mirror, as if to ensure her existence.

    The result of this intimately staged exercise in intense self-study is “Food for the Spirit,” 1971, a series of fourteen underexposed black-and-white self-portraits that are at once ethereal, acetic, and, in the context of a large and lively

  • Vyacheslav Akhunov, Doubt, 1976, ink on paper, 12 x 8”.
    picks March 26, 2012

    “Revolution vs. Revolution”

    Since the Beirut Art Center opened its doors three years ago it has become a kind of game to guess how this former factory space will be reconfigured for each new show. Solo exhibitions have tended to be muscular––an elegant curved wall for Fouad Elkoury’s autobiographical ephemera; a long, wide corridor for Chris Marker’s “Staring Back”––while group shows have mostly left the space open for different works to correspond. How strange, then, for the current exhibition, inspired by the uprisings in the Arab world that began in 2010, to evoke none of the public squares, roundabouts, or urban

  • Left: “Higher Atlas” curator Nadim Samman. Right: “Higher Atlas” curator Carson Chan. (All photos: Kaelen Wilson-Goldie)
    diary March 08, 2012

    Center Stage

    ONE OF THE THINGS that makes the contemporary art scene in Morocco so difficult to grasp—and so unlike the cultural infrastructures existing elsewhere in the region—is the fact that it has no center. Casablanca is the commercial hub, Rabat the seat of government. Asilah and Essaouira host major annual festivals for art and music. Tangier lays claim to the literary imagination. Marrakech, with its eleven-year-old film festival and two-year-old art fair, is the destination of choice for an incongruous mix of jet-setting expats, holidaymakers on a budget, and riad-refurbishing fashionistas quick

  • Left: Curator Reem Fadda and Ashkal Alwan director Christine Tohme. Right: Art & Patronage Summit Director Hossein Amirsadeghi. (All photos: Kaelen Wilson-Goldie)
    diary January 17, 2012

    Fund and Games

    WITH FOUR KEYNOTE LECTURES, six panel discussions, and a grand total of forty-two speakers divvied up over two full days of heavy-duty talk, the so-called summit meeting titled “Art & Patronage: The Middle East” trundled into London last week with no heads of state in sight but so many elephants in the room that the hosting venues—the British Museum on Thursday, the Royal College of Art on Friday—felt squeezed and suffocated by their collective heft.

    Explicitly billed as a gathering of minds and implicitly sold as a pooling of funds, the summit was the brainchild of Hossein Amirsadeghi, who,

  • 4th Marrakech Biennale

    This festival of arts explicitly buys into the city-branding directive of big, brash international showmanship. However, presided over by Vanessa Branson (sister of Richard) and featuring participants ranging from the writer Gideon Lewis-Kraus to the punk-rock/freak-folk duo CocoRosie and the artists Younes Baba-Ali, Tue Greenfort, and Karthik Pandian, the fourth Marrakech Biennale promises to be at once stranger than the last and as heterogeneous as ever. After the bombing in the city’s bustling Jemaa el-Fnaa last spring, the event is now doubly tasked

  • Saloua Raouda Choucair, Poem In Nine Verses, 1966–68, aluminum, 11 3/8 x 8 5/8 x 2 3/4".

    Saloua Raouda Choucair

    The first major exhibition in more than thirty-five years for the Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair opened with an enormous photograph of the artist’s studio, taken in 2000, strategically placed in the foyer of the Beirut Exhibition Center. Turning left, you entered a space the size of an airplane hangar to get an eyeful of Raouda Choucair’s monumental sculptures in stone, metal, and wood, all evoking sinuous movement from a play of lines, forms, and volumes. Turning right, you found a more intimate room filled with her curious experiments in centrifugal tension—objects made from