Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

  • Sharjah Biennial 10

    Suzanne Cotter and Rasha Salti with Haig Aivazian

    The Sharjah Biennial is a strange bird. It began as a local, folkloric affair, then tacked to become a generically international event. Then it tacked again to become a regional powerhouse and an incubator for new work and noncommercial practice. Where it will go next is anyone’s guess. The tenth edition, dubbed “Plot for a Biennial,” is conceived as a film treatment and arranged around words such as treason, insurrection, corruption, and devotion. Proposing a series of scripted encounters in sites throughout the city, the show invites

  • View of “Saloua Raouda Choucair,” 2010.
    picks November 28, 2010

    Yto Barrada, Etel Adnan, Saloua Raouda Choucair, Tania Bruguera

    The best and most boisterous show of the year in Beirut came courtesy of two artists who would seem, on paper, totally incongruous together. Yto Barrada is a young French-Moroccan photographer and filmmaker who has been experimenting lately with rambunctious sculptures and automated matchbox car racetracks. Etel Adnan is an octogenarian Greek-Lebanese poet and painter who has been making diminutive canvases of abstracted mountain vistas for decades. Their double-barreled exhibition, which ran from April through July, was Galerie Sfeir-Semler’s strongest to date, and the first to really fill the

  • Left: Artists Julie Ault and Mario Rizzi. Right: BAK artistic director Maria Hlavajova with BAK curator Cosmin Costinas. (All photos: Kaelen Wilson-Goldie)
    diary November 15, 2010

    West Point

    WITH SO MUCH HAPPENING elsewhere in Istanbul—an opening at Rampa for the painter Ahmet Oran, a very VIP preview of Kutlug Ataman’s retrospective at Istanbul Modern, a new project by the critical darlings xurban_collective at Sanat Limani, Banu Cennetoglu’s first solo show at Rodeo, and a timely debate at Depo on the often violent relationship between art and gentrification—it was slightly frustrating to spend three full days stuck inside the Istanbul Technical University’s Faculty of Architecture for a “research congress” organized two weeks ago by Former West. I’m sure there were worse places

  • Left: “Speak Memory” curator Laura Carderera. Right: Artist Osama Dawod of the Townhouse Gallery with Townhouse founder and director William Wells. (All photos: Kaelen Wilson-Goldie)
    diary November 05, 2010

    Remember the Time

    MAYBE MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE still buy sports cars, marry their secretaries, or suffer spectacular nervous breakdowns. But arts initiatives of a certain age? They organize conferences. And so it was that the “Speak Memory” symposium on archival practices commenced at the twelve-year-old Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art in Cairo last Thursday.

    Taking its title from Nabokov’s memoir––which was, incidentally, published in the US as Conclusive Evidence, a name far less serviceable for this particular affair––“Speak Memory” gathered together an eclectic group of artists, curators, and researchers.

  • Security camera installed by CAMP (Shaina Anand, Nida Ghouse, and Ashok Sukumaran with Mahmoud Jiddah, Shereen Barakat, and Mahasen Nasser-Eldin) as part of Al jaar qabla al dar (The Neighbour Before the House), 2009–, East Jerusalem, 2009. Photo: Nida Ghouse.


    EARLY IN JANUARY 2007, the artists Shaina Anand and Ashok Sukumaran hung a battery-powered remote control from a tree across the street from their apartment in Mumbai, along with a sign informing passersby (in Hindi and in English) that this was a public switch, which, when pressed, would turn lights on and off in apartment 23 of the building behind them. Whenever people operated the remote control and turned to locate the apartment, Anand or Sukumaran (or whoever happened to be over at the time) would walk to the windows and wave.

    After thirty days, a counter attached to the receiver had recorded

  • Left: Tapei Biennial 10 co-curator Tirdad Zolghadr. Right: Tapei Biennial 10 co-curator Hongjohn Lin. (All photos: Kaelen Wilson-Goldie)
    diary September 19, 2010

    Break a Lag

    JET LAG IS BORING, it really is. And it has become such a common feature of the biennial experience that the mere mention of it feels obvious, embarrassing, and trite. Still, three sardine-can flights and twenty-four hours of bleary-eyed, every-airport-is-uncomfortably-the-same travel for the opening of the Tenth Taipei Biennial on September 7, and I felt an irrepressible need to reread the first page of William Gibson’s novel Pattern Recognition, on which he lays out his (or his character’s) memorable theory of jet lag: “that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly

  • Walid Raad, My Neck is Thinner than a Hair: Engines, 2001–2003, digital print, 10 x 14".

    Walid Raad: Miraculous Beginnings

    This show, and its accompanying catalogue, will create an intriguing echo chamber for reflections on art, politics, and the ruthless economy of culture.

    In his 2007 book, Undeserving Lebanon, theorist Jalal Toufic writes that, in the aftermath of wars and invasions, the process of working through what has happened must not be left to the perpetrators and victims alone. Walid Raad’s practice not only speaks to Toufic’s challenge but complicates it. In an exhibition that juxtaposes a decade of key works by Raad’s Atlas Group (investigating the history of Lebanon’s civil wars) with a selection from A History of Modern and Contemporary Art in the Arab World (another Raad project, exploring the creation of infrastructures

  • Cengiz Çekil

    Born in 1945, Cengiz Çekil is widely regarded as a founding father of Turkish contemporary art. Perhaps because he has spent most of his life outside Istanbul, however, the art establishment in the country’s most cosmopolitan city has mostly overlooked or ignored him. René Block and the curatorial collective WHW skillfully inserted a few of Çekil’s more incontestably brilliant works into the fourth and eleventh Istanbul biennials, respectively. But according to the curator and critic Necmi Sönmez, who wrote the text for the artist’s only existing monograph, “Cengiz Çekil remains the least known,

  • Left: Ashkal Alwan director Christine Tohme. Right: Outisde the Beirut Art Center. (Except where noted, all photos: Houssam Mchaiemch)
    diary May 09, 2010

    Home Improvement


    NINE PERFORMANCES, seven panel discussions, eleven lectures, four artists’ talks, two walking tours, one museum visit, ten film and video screenings, and a six-hour colloquium: The fifth edition of the Home Works Forum on Cultural Practices in Beirut ran people into the ground for eleven days in a row, finally ending last Sunday.

    Directed by Christine Tohme of the arts organization Ashkal Alwan, Home Works is the closest thing Beirut has to an international biennial, though since its inception in 2002, it has always managed to avoid the excesses and limitations of the format. Home Works happens

  • Walid Sadek

    Walid Sadek’s first solo exhibition, “Place at Last,” came relatively late in the career of an artist and writer who has been active, if not exactly prolific, for more than fifteen years. In the mid-1990s, Sadek produced a number of fiercely influential and foundational works that helped set the tone and agenda of Beirut’s then-fledgling contemporary art scene. Many of those early pieces were text-based interventions—posters, postcards, diminutive publications, a few delicate broadsheets—and most were conceived either for a series of public projects initiated by arts organization Ashkal Alwan

  • Left: Barrak Alzaid of the Sharjah Art Foundation. Right: Artist Toleen Touq leading one of the dardashat sessions at the Shelter Maraya. (All photos: Kaelen Wilson-Goldie)
    diary March 24, 2010

    March in Time


    THE UNSUSPECTING STAR of the third annual March Meeting in Sharjah was a young performance artist named Barrak Alzaid. With a lot of sass and two little handwritten-in-pink-highlighter signs—one reading TWO MINUTES, the other reading PLEASE STOP!—he kept immaculate time over the course of three days, fifty lightning-quick presentations, and two keynote lectures by literary scholar Abdelfattah Kilito (on translations) and curator Okwui Enwezor (on archives).

    Seated in the front row of a sterile conference room, with a staff badge looped around his neck and a laptop balanced perilously on his knees,

  • Haris Epaminonda

    The work of Haris Epaminonda consists primarily of found material. Her early videos are excerpts from Egyptian soap operas and fragments from Greek films. Her objects are relics from antique dealers and curiosities from flea-market stalls. Her images are pages from antiquarian books that have been carefully cropped, photographed, or used as the base layer of lacelike collages. The work hums with the nostalgia surrounding such archaic stuff. Here, framed images, found sculptures, custom-made plinths, a low-slung wooden table, a glass-topped box with a book inside, an earthenware bowl, a lump of