Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

  • Mona Hatoum

    A barrier of coarse gray sandbags spouting tender shoots of green grass. A wooden tabletop strewn with fifty grenades made of pastel-colored ceramics. Silhouettes of armed soldiers snipped from wispy white tissue paper. Mona Hatoum’s exhibition at the Jordanian arts foundation Darat al Funun presented numerous pairings of brutality and fragility. She took a series of images and implements of war—such as troops, ammunition, boulders, barbed wire, and bomb sites indicated on maps—and translated them into precious objects rendered in delicate materials, including a draped scarf, a cage of bent

  • Walid Raad

    Since 1999, the Lebanese artist Walid Raad has been better known as his collective alter ego the Atlas Group, an imaginary, anonymous research foundation in whose name he has produced an intricate series of videos, installations, and performances. This fictional entity has been devoted to an accounting of Lebanon’s contemporary history, maintaining an archive of notebooks, photographs, videotapes, films and other materials supposedly culled from the country’s visual culture. Raad’s work with the Atlas Group has delved into episodes from Lebanon’s long history of civil wars (always plural, never

  • Lamia Joreige

    Lamia Joreige’s Je d’histoires, 2006–2007, is a small, room-size installation that consists of an LCD screen, a control pad, a table, and an armchair. The viewer enters, sits down, and begins to play. (The title translates literally as “I of Histories,” but it toys with the similarity between the words je, “I,” and jeu, “play.”) The control pad offers a grid of options, and the viewer can choose from six videos, three texts, and five sound tracks to create a single work. There is a finite number of permutations, and part of the fun of the piece lies in figuring out all the possible combinations,

  • “Less Roses”

    Of all the many students of Bernd and Hilla Becher who have gone on to earn critical acclaim in the art world, Elger Esser is arguably the most romantic. Where the photographs of Andreas Gursky or Candida Höfer are cool and clinical, Esser’s are infused with warmth. Esser has traveled to Lebanon several times and created a series of landscapes capturing salt flats in the north, archaeological ruins in the south, and strangely poetic views of Naqoura, a town better known as a political hot spot and the headquarters for UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which since 1978 has been

  • Oraib Toukan

    Oraib Toukan’s first solo exhibition, at the Jordanian arts foundation Darat al-Funun, delved into a dialectic between memory and amnesia that has become almost overbearing in contemporary art practice from the Arab world. But Toukan’s depiction of memory as process, and her tethering of memory to the body, marked a promising change from the now ubiquitous strategies involving imaginary archives and historical documents.

    In the split-screen, single-channel video Remind Me to Remember to Forget, 2006, the tip of a makeshift pen is seen on the left side spitting out and sucking in a seemingly

  • Sharjah Biennial 8: Still Life

    The organizers of the eighth edition of the Sharjah Biennial set themselves a formidable task by using an exhibition of contemporary art to address environmental degradation in the United Arab Emirates. One of seven small emirates constituting the UAE, Sharjah is a Persian Gulf rentier state whose export of fossil fuels has made it the world’s fourth-wealthiest nation. To mitigate the foreseeable exhaustion of oil and gas reserves, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and to a lesser extent Sharjah have engineered a massive construction boom to create additional sources of income through tourism, financial services,

  • Ken Gonzales-Day, two men were found on a tree, 2005, chromagenic print, 39 1/2 x 72“. From the series ”Searching for California’s Hang Trees," 2005.
    picks August 06, 2007

    “Past Over”

    By writing off summer group shows as low-season rummage sales for leftover stock, one risks missing out on adventurous curating and the testing of new talent. “Past Over” at Steve Turner Contemporary features six artists (and one collective) who range from relatively unknown to firmly established. The gallery’s inaugural outing, the exhibition is thematically tight and full of discovery. The works are daring and diverse, but they all divulge dirty secrets that have been sanitized by dominant historical discourses.

    Following the lead of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, Mary

  • Eleanor Antin, Portrait of the King, 1972, silver gelatin photograph mounted on board, 13 3/4 x 9 3/4".
    picks July 08, 2007

    “Identity Theft: Eleanor Antin, Lynn Hershman, Suzy Lake 1972–1978”

    A blond wig and a polka-dot dress. A driver’s license, a residential address, and a bank account. Romantic interludes, physical insecurities, and an impending emotional breakdown. These were elements in the “Roberta Breitmore” project in the mid-1970s, in which artist Lynn Hershman went far beyond creating an image; she constructed a full-blown identity. At around the same time, Suzy Lake adopted the personae of her friends and colleagues, documented through painstaking photographic progressions, while Eleanor Antin became a monarch, a ballerina, and a nurse, oscillating between sexpot and saint.

  • Youssef Nabil

    One of the largest and most mysterious of Youssef Nabil’s hand-painted photographs is a portrait of the artist tucked into the woods of Vincennes, an English garden in the eastern part of Paris. Foliage crowds the corners of the composition, a lily pond catches the reflection of surrounding trees, and there, set back and centered, the artist’s arm slips out from beneath a blanket of leaves to expose the curve of his back and the nape of his neck.

    Self-Portrait, Vincennes, 2003, was one of forty-five photographs included in Nabil’s solo show “Portraits Self-Portraits.” One of his most substantial

  • Amanda Riffo, Pierre, 2006.
    picks October 31, 2006

    “Nafas Beirut”

    What do you do when your city comes under siege? If you’re an artist in Beirut, most likely you document the moment—not in its grand narratives but rather in its intimate details. The war in Lebanon this summer caused crushing damage, but it also provoked a rush of artistic responses, and “Nafas Beirut” attempts to collect and collate them all. Curators Sandra Dagher and Zena al-Khalil have dubbed their exhibition “a platform for artists bearing witness.” This, plus the high number of participating artists (forty-five), would seem to suggest an all-inclusive affair and the varying quality