Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

  • Walid Raad

    The heart of Walid Raad’s first major museum survey in the US is neither a sly series of photographs nor a lo-fi video slipping between fact and fiction, but rather a theatrical stage set, built into MoMA’s vast atrium. There, Raad is scheduled to perform Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: Walkthrough, 2013, more than seventy times in total. Originally commissioned for Documenta 13, Walkthrough is the linchpin of a long-term project that explores the institutions and infrastructures of contemporary art in the Arab world. Raad’s first was, of course, the Atlas Group, the

  • 14th Istanbul Biennial: “Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms”

    With more than eighty participants, thirty venues, and the admonition to set aside three days to see everything, the Istanbul Biennial promises to make greater use of the city than ever before. For this edition it’s not only the city but also the Black Sea, the Bosporus, and the Sea of Marmara; also boats, islands, and Istanbul’s Asian side. New locations privilege the intimate—the house where Trotsky sought exile in 1929, the apartment where journalist Hrant Dink lived until his assassination in 2007—and taken together, they evince the ways in

  • Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

    IN SONALLAH IBRAHIM’S NOVEL Beirut, Beirut (1984), an unnamed Egyptian writer leaves his home in Cairo and boards a plane for the Lebanese capital. The year is 1980, and the writer has hidden a manuscript in the lining of his luggage. Detecting a lull or possibly an end to the civil war that broke out in Lebanon five years earlier (it would continue for another decade), he is traveling to see a publisher. His manuscript is politically damning and sexually daring and nobody in the Arab world will touch it—except possibly in Beirut, which is historically known for publishing books that would

  • Fouad Elkoury

    In 1849, Gustave Flaubert and Maxime Du Camp set off on an adventure to the East. For two young Frenchmen of the mid-nineteenth-century haute bourgeoisie, the East meant Egypt, so they made their way from Paris to Marseille, where they boarded a ship for Alexandria. From there they traveled south to Cairo and on to the city of Esna. They continued to Karnak, Beirut, and Jerusalem before heading home. Du Camp took more than two hundred pictures, many of which were bound into the book Egypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie (1852), a landmark in the history of photography. Flaubert, of course, found

  • Mona Hatoum

    Twenty-one years have passed since Mona Hatoum’s first major museum show at the Centre Pompidou. By 1994, she already had nearly two decades of work behind her but was just beginning to gain international prominence. Hatoum has cut a curious path through the intervening decades, from the muscular look of her oversize kitchen utensils to the fragility of her sculptures in glass and textiles. This summer, the Pompidou is reconstructing the full arc of Hatoum’s oeuvre. With seventy-five pieces dating from the 1970s through 2014 and a catalogue anthologizing key writings

  • slant April 07, 2015

    Neverending Story

    A TRAUMATIC EVENT is one that defies our ability to tell what happened and at the same time sets off the desperate compulsion to do so, or at least to try, over and over, however awkward, until a story begins to take hold. A sharp, sudden eruption of violence—a war, an explosion, an attack—both does damage and repairs, by triggering the impulse to explain it, assign it meaning, and make it fit within the wider story we tell ourselves about the worlds in which we live.

    In the months that have passed since three young men, two of them ex-convicts, gunned down the staff of a satirical magazine and

  • Taysir Batniji and Anna Boghiguian

    Anna Boghiguian is an artist with a wild style and singular vision, yet her dense, visceral drawings and scattershot installations play surprisingly well with others. In 2012, she shared a room with Charlotte Salomon at Documenta 13 in Kassel. The next year, she joined Goshka Macuga for an exhibition at Iniva in London. For her first major show in Beirut, Boghiguian (an Armenian-Egyptian nomad presently based in Cairo) was paired up with Taysir Batniji, a Gaza-born, Paris-based artist who might seem diametrically opposed to her in every way.

    Along the south side of the gallery, Boghiguian’s messy,

  • film January 14, 2015

    Price of Freedom

    IN THE SUMMER OF 2013, the Syrian writer Yassin al-Haj Saleh took a dangerous journey from the rebel-held city of Douma to his hometown of Raqqa, now the headquarters of the so-called Islamic State, across the border to southern Turkey and on to Istanbul. One of the foremost intellectuals of his generation and widely considered the sage of the Syrian revolution (hakim al-thawra), Haj Saleh had been in hiding for two years. When he won a Prince Claus Award in 2012, he delivered his acceptance speech—an eloquent response to the twinned questions: why revolt and why write—from an undisclosed location

  • “Ahmet Öğüt: Happy Together: Collaborators Collaborating”

    In recent years, Ahmet Öğüt has auctioned off a self-portrait titled Punch This Painting, 2010; created a school for (and taught by) asylum seekers (the Silent University); legally exchanged the letters of his name with artist Nina Katchadourian; and twinned himself to his colleague Cevdet Erek. For this exhibition, Öğüt will revisit nearly a decade of his comical yet critical collaborations by constructing a television studio as a single, durational work. In it, he will stage a public debate among people he has worked with—all from non-art

  • picks July 09, 2014

    “A Museum of Immortality”

    Rounding out the third edition of Ashkal Alwan’s experimental art school, “A Museum of Immortality” is the last in a series of exhibitions anchoring a curriculum developed by the artists Anton Vidokle and Jalal Toufic. The show is based on a concept by Boris Groys, and actually tries to realize the Russian philosopher Nikolai Fyodorov’s wild notion of “The Common Task,” whereby a heady, hallucinatory mix of science, technology, political circumstance, and spiritual fervor reimagines the museum as a space for resurrecting the dead and immortalizing all mankind.

    With the help of more than fifty

  • Rasheed Araeen

    Rasheed Araeen’s “Before and After Minimalism” pulls viewers through the initial twenty years of his career, with drawings, paintings, and sculptures from 1953 through 1973; it also includes a new work, Sharjah Blues, 2014, which was commissioned especially for the show. Araeen’s first major exhibition in the Middle East is thus neither a dutiful retrospective nor a comprehensive survey. Rather, the show reads like a highly compelling story hinging, by necessity, on spare language and a dramatically pared-down plot.

    Born in Karachi, Pakistan, and based in London, Araeen is now seventy-nine years

  • diary April 27, 2014

    Truth and Consequence

    IN HIS BLISTERING critique of colonialism in Africa, the revolutionary Martinican writer Frantz Fanon made a curious if counterintuitive observation about the Arab world: For all the appeal of Arab nationalism and the renaissance in arts and letters that were accruing political currency in Fanon’s time, the region was, and remains, deeply divided by its experience of occupation, independence, state formation, and trade.

    “The political regimes of certain Arab states are so different,” wrote Fanon, two-thirds of the way through The Wretched of the Earth, “and so far away from each other in their

  • diary March 27, 2014

    Global Affair

    A FRIEND WHO goes to far more art fairs than I do once told me the atmosphere of Art Dubai was so gauche and ostentatious that it made the flash of Art Basel Miami Beach look as bookish as Documenta. A curator for a mainstream American museum, he meant it in a disparaging way, of course, and for a good long decade, Dubai has inspired exactly that animosity and ill will. It is in many ways a fake and wretched place, and Dubai bashing is not only easy but also self-evident. The rest of my friends—including those who live there, grew up there, and have gone there for work, autonomy, or escape—tend

  • diary March 17, 2014

    Everyone’s a Critic

    ALTHOUGH IT SLIPPED into the same week as the Whitney Biennial, the Armory Show, a fistful of ancillary fairs, and the start of the spring season for virtually all of New York’s galleries and museums, the opening of “Critical Machines,” an exhibition and conference on the future of art magazines (in print and online), faced its toughest competition from none of those mainstream art-world monoliths. What pulled people away from an otherwise erudite encounter with the editors of October, Cabinet, Bidoun, e-flux, Ibraaz, and Red Thread, among others, was a single political protest, which brought

  • OPENINGS: JUMANA MANNA

    FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, Jerusalem has been known as a site of religious fervor: a place revered, set apart as sacred. Yet this rarefied status has also made the city vulnerable. An object of desire throughout history, Jerusalem has repeatedly fallen to conquerors, crusaders, and colonial attacks. Sundered and rebuilt over and over, it inspires passionate beliefs but also entrenched superstitions, wild fantasies, and hysterical delusions. These layered mythologies and pathologies are the chosen subject of the artist Jumana Manna, who has fearlessly used the videos, photographs, and sculptures

  • Stan Douglas

    In the spring of 1974, a coup d’état in Portugal sent the dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar tumbling from power. Salazar himself had died some years earlier, having suffered a brain hemorrhage in 1968, when he reportedly fell from a chair. His colleagues in the Estado Novo party were not only right-wing and repressive but were also increasingly unable to manage Portugal’s far-flung colonies. When the junta finally seized hold of the state, it simply cut those colonies loose. And so, like the dominoes of Arab autocracies in a more recent season of supposed reawakening and rebirth,

  • Malerie Marder

    Fifteen years ago this spring, a group show opened at a little uptown gallery with a very long name. “Another Girl, Another Planet,” at Lawrence Rubin Greenberg Van Doren Fine Art, featured the work of thirteen photographers—twelve of them young women—who were disregarding the documentary functions of photography to create more cinematic constructions exploring drama, seduction, and sexual desire. Organized by Gregory Crewdson and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and accompanied by a short story from the novelist A. M. Homes, it was a lightning bolt of an exhibition, one that struck something

  • Etel Adnan

    The two great subjects of Etel Adnan’s paintings are a mountain in California and the Mediterranean Sea. For the past six decades, she has returned to them again and again, playing with the endless possibilities that color, texture, and a palette knife lend to her diminutive geometric abstractions of a peak and a horizon line. The most whimsical thing about her recent exhibition in Beirut, however, was neither Mount Tamalpais in Marin County nor the curve of the Levantine coastline. Rather, it was the way the sun and the moon slipped into those familiar landscapes and then seemed to follow

  • picks December 13, 2013

    “Rituals of Rented Island”

    On one small screen in this concise and revelatory survey of performance art in Manhattan in the 1970s, Laurie Anderson is standing on a street corner, dressed in white. Although the scene speaks of summer, she is perched on an incongruous pair of ice skates. The blades of those skates are plunged into blocks of ice, which are melting away as she plays the violin. On another screen, Jill Kroesen is describing a phenomenon known as “abnormal love,” impossible and unrequited, while sitting on the floor among white pyramids, tugging on the front of an elegant black evening gown. On another screen

  • picks November 23, 2013

    “La Bienal 2013: Here Is Where We Jump”

    To follow the subtle spatial logic of El Museo del Barrio’s current exhibition, the seventh edition of a biennial formerly known as “The (S) Files,” one begins with a bombastic gold-leaf portrait of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, and ends with an impressive pile of paint chips. Alex Nuñez’s ODB, 2012, creates a playful tension between fine art and popular culture, Byzantine icons and hip-hop bravura. For Pavel Acosta’s Wallscape, 2013, the artist stripped the paint from a wall in the museum’s permanent-collection galleries, then meticulously rearranged the refuse to