Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

  • 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

  • diary November 21, 2013

    Queens Bees

    OF ALL THE GREAT MUSEUMS set inside New York City’s vast and uneven network of thriving or threadbare public parks, the entrance to the Queens Museum might be the most dramatic. From the second-to-last stop on the 7 train, one takes a long stroll down an eerily empty boardwalk, slips into Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and turns onto the wide, leafy boulevard that leads to the Unisphere. An enormous stainless-steel orb that stands twelve stories high and weighs more than three hundred tons, the Unisphere is the ultimate in triumphant old-school spectacle, surrounded when occasion demands by

  • Charline von Heyl

    A painter’s painter if ever there was one, Charline von Heyl has said so many strange and beautiful things about what it means to look at a work of art that standing in front of her own pictures can feel like a good challenge or a daunting test. This is an artist who considers the act of looking an adventure, who credits art historians for thinking with their eyes, and who says that when a work of art does something different or something new, “you can’t stop looking because there is something you want to find out, that you want to understand.” She adds, “Good paintings have this tantalizing

  • film October 25, 2013

    Children of the Revolution

    IN THE TEN MONTHS since it won the audience award at Sundance, Jehane Noujaim’s documentary The Square, about the political upheavals that have been convulsing through Cairo for nearly three years now, has proved almost as unpredictable and unwieldy as its subject. The version that screened in Park City, Utah, began with the protests on Tahrir Square, which were initially organized, at the outset of 2011, as a response to police brutality and the case of Khaled Saeed, a young man who had been beaten to death six months earlier by the Egyptian security services in Alexandria, and then escalated

  • picks October 17, 2013

    Marwan Kassab-Bachi

    The Syrian poet Adonis composed seventy-five prose poems in his honor. The great Saudi novelist Abdelrahman Munif wrote the artist’s most important monograph in Arabic. His major bodies of work include still lifes of marionettes and paintings of stretched and distorted faces. As the founder of an important summer art academy at the Jordanian foundation Darat al Funun in 1999, he tutored a generation of young talent, from the composer and sound artist Nadim Mishlawi to the painters Ayman Baalbaki and Tagreed Darghouth. His exhibition history is a veritable tour of art spaces once active in

  • picks October 02, 2013

    Jean-Luc Moulène

    In 2001, the French artist Jean-Luc Moulène took a series of photographs in the Lebanese port city of Sidon, which included portraits of people he met there by chance or through friends. The resulting images were displayed on the crumbling facades of the old souk. Twelve years later, many of them are still there. One portrait in particular, titled Abou Baker, 2001, after its subject, was later borrowed by mourners for the young man’s funeral. For Moulène’s illuminating, inscrutable exhibition at the Beirut Art Center, Abou Baker and another picture from the same series—featuring three bare-chested

  • Eliot Porter

    Eliot Porter was eleven years old when his parents gave him a box camera for Christmas. In the woods behind his house in Illinois, what most fascinated his boyhood imagination were weeds, wildflowers, insects, and birds. Starting then and for the rest of his life, he photographed bitterns, red-winged blackbirds, and marsh wrens, among other bird species. At twelve, Porter created moody pictures of majestic ospreys in Maine, dramatic studies in the mechanics of flight that capture the predatory fish hawk in muscular moments of taking off and landing. Finding the resulting images too muddy, however,

  • diary September 19, 2013

    Absent Presence

    ONE OF THE MOST breathtaking works in the Thirteenth Istanbul Biennial, which opened to the public on Saturday, is a black-and-white film that was made more than sixty years ago. The sole mention of it is buried in the back of the biennial guidebook, and it is scheduled to screen only once, on an undisclosed day in October, at 5533, the most remote of the exhibition’s five venues. The only film ever made by Jean Genet, Un Chant d’amour (1950) is a talismanic study of autoerotic longing among a prison population hounded by curious and resentful guards. French censors banned the film as soon as

  • diary September 13, 2013

    Better in Theory

    THE POLYFORUM SIQUEIROS is an absurd, angular structure standing in the shadow of Mexico City’s World Trade Center, in the borough of Benito Juárez. Perched like an eccentric papal hat over a handful of cheap cafes and restaurants, the building breaks up the otherwise endless Avenida de los Insurgentes, said to be the longest street in all of the Americas, which cuts a line like a scar, north to south, through this heaving, hurling megacity of more than twenty million people.

    The Polyforum was the last, most ludicrous project by the late Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, who set out to

  • “Adel Abdessemed: L’Âge d’or

    For the first time since opening its doors three years ago, Mathaf is devoting a solo show to an artist from the Arab world, a vast and variable region with complicated politics and notably undernourished art-historical narratives, which the museum was established to explore. Adel Abdessemed’s “L’Âge d’or,” curated by Pier Luigi Tazzi, will delve into notions of past, present, and future through works made with materials such as salt, jade, porcelain, cannabis, gold, resin, bamboo, and bronze. An Algerian-born, Paris-based artist of Berber descent who is fiercely

  • diary July 29, 2013

    Live Studio Audience

    THERE ARE MUSEUMS with a mission to tell the story of modern art. There are museums that endeavor to be encyclopedic. There are museums forever grasping for what’s now, new, and around the next curatorial turn. In New York City in the summer of 2013, there are more than seventy art museums, at a conservative count, opening their doors to the public on a daily or near-daily basis. Few of them have the real and still retrograde intention of belonging to a neighborhood, a community, or the densely layered history of a specific cultural milieu. Fewer still have the energy, depth, and on-the-ground

  • diary July 15, 2013

    Art House

    “I NEED SOMEONE who understands art to come down here and tell me how this is art,” Phil Beder says as I step into his radio studio on the damp opening day of Thomas Hirschhorn’s majestic Gramsci Monument. “I understand books, sculptures, and paintings,” Beder adds. “Less so the ephemeral stuff.” His bashfulness only just covers up his mischief. A former schoolteacher, Beder is a veteran of the storied New York radio station WBAI. I am sure he knows very well how Hirschhorn’s work is art and, moreover, why the arguments employed to elucidate and defend it are interesting, urgent, and even critical

  • diary June 24, 2013

    Home Makeover

    SOMEWHERE ON THE ARABIAN PENINSULA in the late seventh century, a quixotic young poet named Qays fell totally and hopelessly for a mercurial beauty named Layla. He composed long, lush, embarrassingly honest poems in her honor, turning up every day to profess his love. When Layla’s father found out, he was livid. A lowly poet for his daughter? Never. He married her off and sent her away, at which point Qays went crazy. In one version of the story, they were simply the sweetest of childhood friends. In another version, Layla was smitten but passive, and so she died of a broken heart, leaving Qays

  • diary June 08, 2013

    Bodies that Matter

    ON A DAZZLING SATURDAY AFTERNOON, splashed with resplendent sunshine after too many cool gray days of rain, I slowly picked my way through the hordes of tourists, whether drawn by warmth or light, who had turned out suddenly and in droves to clog the quintessentially Venetian quay that loops around San Marco and runs along the edges of Castello and the Arsenale. At the foot of a bridge leading over to the quieter corners of the Giardini, I stumbled across a woman in a long, pink, ruffled flamenco dress, lying perfectly still, facedown on the ground, surrounded by a fan, a scarf, a strewn bouquet

  • Eric Baudelaire

    The aftereffects of political violence, financial ruin, and other disasters (both natural and manmade) have been the subject of French artist Eric Baudelaire’s films, videos, and photographs for more than a decade. Yet none of his work is strictly, or even superficially, documentary, and all of it seems to be in dialogue with the high formalism of several major and minor figures in the history of art, literature, and cinema. Baudelaire consistently flirts with the aestheticization of conflict. He risks turning the wreckage of war into images that are beautiful, melancholic, or sublime. But there

  • diary May 22, 2013

    Public Relations

    WHEN THE ISTANBUL FOUNDATION FOR CULTURE AND ARTS (IKSV) struck a sponsorship deal with Koç Holding to support five editions of the Istanbul Biennial over ten years, from 2006 through 2016, one can reasonably assume that everyone involved wanted something fairly solid—financial stability, reputational fortification—from the arrangement. What no one seems to have imagined, however, was that the deal would so ruffle the feathers of Istanbul’s factional communities of contemporary artists, political activists, and territorial leftists that Koç—Turkey’s largest industrial conglomerate, which is run

  • diary May 04, 2013

    Gimme Shelter

    THE BALKAN WARS OF THE 1990S burned through the state once known as Yugoslavia as one terrible explosion after another rocked the hills and cities of Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo. The conflagration left a devastating legacy of war crimes, corruption, and still-smoldering embers of fear, arrogance, and ultranationalist manipulation of supposedly ancient ethnic strife. A decade of violence crippled the region, brought a cosmopolitan society to its knees, and returned such terms as “mass slaughter” and “ethnic cleansing” to the vocabulary of Europe. As an unexpected consequence, those wars also

  • Huguette Caland

    The Lebanese-born, California-based artist Huguette Caland has burned through numerous styles, moods, and media in the five decades since she made her first painting, a monochrome titled Red Sun, to mark the death of her father in 1964. At the Beirut Exhibition Center, the work was placed just inside the entrance, where it marked the beginning and end points of Caland’s first retrospective in Lebanon, which took a full-circle tour through the three major historical phases of her work. Produced as a ruminative elegy to her father, Bechara El- Khoury—who was Lebanon’s first postindependence