Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

  • Hassan Khan, The Portrait is an Address, 2016, mixed media. Installation view. Photo: Walid Rashid.

    Hassan Khan

    Of the many organizing principles through which to present the work of Hassan Khan—moving chronologically from early to recent work, for example, or arranging disparate mediums into thematic clusters related to recurring ideas of power or dreams—portraiture would appear the least obvious. Since the late 1990s, the Egyptian artist has made a slew of videos, photographs, installations, animations, sculptures, and performances that deliberately resist—even defy—categorization. He is a musician who pays close attention to the vicissitudes of shaabi, literally “of the people,” a

  • Saba Innab, Then We Realized, Time Is Stone, 2016, concrete, metal, terrazzo, dimensions variable.

    Saba Innab

    Seven terrazzo columns run diagonally across a narrow room, each one standing slightly taller than the one that came before. Behind them stands a large piece of a perforated concrete wall (the kind used in Mediterranean buildings to shade exposed stairwells and balconies), its pattern of circles-in-squares hinged on a metal structure and cut like the head of an arrow, pointing inward. Together, the columns and wall—discarded objects of demolition, altered by the artist—form a single installation, Then We Realized, Time Is Stone, 2016, which makes up roughly half of Saba Innab’s most

  • The six standing columns of Baalbek's Temple of Jupiter at night. (Except where noted, all photos: Kaelen Wilson-Goldie)
    diary October 11, 2016

    Temple Talk

    CYNTHIA ZAVEN IS AN ARTIST, COMPOSER, AND PIANIST with wild curly hair and a steely demeanor. She is exceptionally talented and extremely busy, frustrating from a critic’s point of view. She teaches at a conservatory in Beirut, scores films, and travels constantly. She makes work when she wants to, when she has time. Her installations are slow, serious, and ephemeral. They can be captivating in the context of an exhibition but almost impossible to write about afterward. Zaven has no gallery, doesn’t sell, and seemingly feels no pressure to produce. She is adept at keeping the demands of the

  • Muhamad Arabi, Mahmoud el Zohbi, 1950, gelatin silver print, 3 1/8 × 5 1/8".

    “The Arab Nude”

    THE SUMMER OF 2016 was not a particularly auspicious time in the Arab world for art deemed sexually explicit. It was in many ways a terrible season all over the world, marked by intense spasms of violence. It was also a summer when the strain of living in close proximity to so many grueling conflicts and situations (the protracted wars in Syria and Iraq; a revanchist military dictatorship in Egypt; an unrelenting refugee crisis sending men, women, and children to their deaths on the Mediterranean Sea; a violent coup attempt and crackdown in Turkey; and the hyperconservative, medieval ideologies

  • Basim Magdy, An Apology to a Love Story That Crashed into a Whale (detail), 2016, sixty-four C-prints on metallic paper, each 18 7/8 × 28 3/8".

    “Basim Magdy: The stars were aligned for a century of new beginnings”

    Rainbows, prisms, and a bouquet of tulips with playful faces drawn on their petals. Industrial wastelands and barren cityscapes. Soldiers, superheroes, skeletons, and a giant squid paired with a rocket. Basim Magdy’s first-ever US museum survey offers an introduction to the Egyptian artist’s sprawling, cheerfully sinister visual vocabulary via thirty-six works from the past decade, including drawings, paintings, films, photographs, and installations that reveal a perpetual remixing of tragicomic iconography. Magdy’s materials (gouache, spray paint, pen, Super 8 film dyed

  • Claire Pentecost, Amor Fati, 2016, polluted water from Lebanese sources, hand-blown glass, recycled paper, printed banner, dimensions variable.
    picks August 16, 2016

    “Let’s Talk About the Weather: Art and Ecology in a Time of Crisis”

    When this museum reopened last year after a long and painful renovation, it had transformed like a butterfly. The old cocoon was dainty and provincial. The new creature was colorful and strange—and also quite big, nearly five times its previous size, featuring an 8,600-square-foot exhibition hall, with double-high ceilings, plunged two stories underground. Before now, the museum had filled that cavernous new space with a major survey of nineteenth- and twentieth-century paintings (primarily) about Beirut, and a smaller, more intimate monographic exhibition for a largely unknown Lebanese modernist

  • From left: Rania Stephan, Still Moving, 2016; 64 Dusks, 2010–16.
    picks August 15, 2016

    Rania Stephan

    Rania Stephan’s gallery debut comes at a point when a midcareer museum survey might have made just as much sense. She is better known as a filmmaker. Her work began migrating only recently from film festivals to exhibitions. Stephan got her start in the 1990s, as an assistant director to the filmmakers Simone Bitton and Elia Suleiman. In parallel, she developed her own work along two very different paths. On one side, she makes quick, powerful slice-of-life documentaries. On the other, she composes essayistic videos that toy with notions of memory, montage, and the obsolescence of materials such

  • Danny Lyon, Willie, 1985, gelatin silver print from film stills, 14 x 15''.
    picks August 12, 2016

    Danny Lyon

    Moving deftly through all the major stages of Danny Lyon’s work to date, “Message to the Future” touches on police brutality, civil rights, sexual ambiguity, wayward masculinity, violence heaped upon immigrants and the working class, and the strange, shifting sands of democracy in the United States at a time of near-frantic discontent. It is, in other words, timely and prescient in ways that no one involved probably imagined it would be in the summer of 2016.

    The artist’s emotional range here is vast and volatile: In one image, Stokely Carmichael smolders in anger. In another, James Baldwin turns

  • Bucharest Biennale 7: “What are we building down there?”

    Some of the most interesting thinking about biennials today is coming from curators who are abandoning standard exhibition formats, staging a season of performances, for example, or a series of talks instead. The team organizing the seventh Bucharest Biennale is making one such radical departure, shifting the focus away from traditional venues and on to twenty-one advertising billboards scattered throughout the city. For the Brooklyn-based Van Tomme, the decision is partly practical and mostly conceptual, a bold response to the strange, multifaceted phenomenon of

  • Leila Alaoui. Photo: Art Factum Gallery, Beirut.
    passages April 22, 2016

    Leila Alaoui (1982–2016)

    LEILA ALAOUI’S BEST-KNOWN WORK is a series of photographs called “The Moroccans” (2010–14). Each picture shows a man or woman wildly dressed, dramatically lit, and set against the same black background, eyes locked on the camera. As portraits go, the images in “The Moroccans” are intense. Alaoui’s subjects stare down the lens with a look of playful or defiant challenge. They rarely smile but always sparkle—whether in the confidence of their pose, the glint in their eyes, or their dazzling array of costumes and accoutrements. Taken together, the series offers a jumble of facts and attitudes to

  • Marwan Rechmaoui, Blazon, 2015–, embroidery and appliqué on 420 flags, fifty-nine laser-cut-brass-on-stainless-steel shields. Installation view. Photo: Agop Kanledjian.

    Marwan Rechmaoui

    A clocktower, a lighthouse, a mosque, an aerial view of a public park, a racetrack, a forest of pine trees, a branch of jasmine blossoms, a disused cinema, a derelict hotel, a Ferris wheel, a cemetery, another mosque, a newspaper building, statues of a former president and a poet and a painter, the logo of the first department store to employ women in the Middle East, the fortresslike headquarters of the Druze community in Lebanon, and a stacking sculpture by the inimitable modern artist Saloua Raouda Choucair, one of the few public artworks of note in Beirut: All of these things—and many

  • Tamer El Said, Akher Ayam El Madina (In the Last Days of the City), 2016, color, sound, 118 minutes.
    film March 09, 2016

    Come Undone

    IMAGINE. A shitty day in the loud, aggressive city you adore and deplore. You’re trying to work out a mess of impossible problems in your head when suddenly, in a place of some eighteen million people, you see someone you know. In fact, someone you once loved. And seeing her now, sitting alone in a café across the street, you realize you still love her. And so shitty is your day that you think, what the hell, and you call her. And then, holding the phone hopeful to your ear, you wait, feeling better already, about to smile at the sound of her voice. Or not. Because what happens next? She looks