Kate Linker

  • Silvia Kolbowski

    Silvia Kolbowski’s show seemed important for pushing the artist’s focus into a broader referential frame. All of her work deals with the construction of sexuality, and, in particular, with the imposition implicit in the feminine position; her rearrangements of photographic images generally drawn from mass media magazines treat the means employed, and masculine interests served, in the process of feminine subjection. This exhibition extended the reach of those themes into the spheres of business and fashion.

    My comment requires a stipulation, for the show, composed of three different modes of

  • “The New Capital”

    This show seemed to promise more than it delivered, though not from problems in structure or conception. Instead, its difficulties appeared intrinsic to the task of mapping an interesting but indefinable region in the relations between esthetics and culture.

    Organized by Tricia Collins and Richard Milazzo, “The New Capital” drew together the very diverse work of some 16 artists. Its thesis concerned the role of photography (or, rather, of photomechanical reproduction) in this last fifth of the 20th century; rather than aping Walter Benjamin, it transmuted his theory into the contemporary vernacular,

  • Laurie Simmons

    Not far away, in an East Village gallery, Laurie Simmons phrased a concise reflection on the position of women in representation. “Tourism” is a series of large color photographic prints in which famous architectural scenes—Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, Gothic cathedrals, and more—are glimpsed as they are “visited” by female dolls. The dolls are tall, slender, ’60s-ish figures, color cued to their environments; similarly, their gestures and groupings mimic the features of their locales. The photographs sit flush against the wall so as to simulate “windows on the world.” Because of the way the

  • “Subjects in Pictures”

    This exhibition, organized by Philip Monk, presented the work of six Toronto-based artists. Its title involves a play on words, for, as Monk notes in his catalogue essay, it can speak of both content and individuality, “subject-matter and subjecthood.” In the latter, Monk is dealing with one of the capital topics of our era, for the representation of individuals in any work extends beyond their simple figuration to encompass reflection on the forms of subjectivity in society. To “picture” individuals in and as images is to comment on the social relations their appearances imply, and on the means

  • Bruce Nauman

    Bruce Nauman’s work is important for proposing a departure from that impasse of conceptualism, the belief in the self’s authority over language, in its ability to control and define. Since the late ’60s, through punning and anagram pieces contemporaneous with works involving physical forms, Nauman has explored transformations in language that problematize meaning, revealing the arbitrariness of its assignment to words. These seemingly playful works demonstrate the abstractness of the sign, indicating that it has no inherent relation to a signified. In his more recent practice Nauman appears to

  • “For Presentation and Display: Ideal Settings”

    At the back of the gallery, Allan McCollum and Louise Lawler composed a critical installation, a reflection on the limits imposed on art by the gallery under capitalism. Lawler and McCollum are friends, and, as artists, share certain concerns. Their decision to work together can thus be seen as exemplary for collaboration, describing an area of intellectual coincidence rather than the kind of market combination that characterizes most recent endeavors.

    “Ideal Settings” appeared to take the form of a monument, a reminder of and commentary on the place common to those transactions that we describe


    AMONG THE TORTUOUS TEXTS of Jacques Lacan, several speak with unusual lucidity and pertinence about the constraints surrounding the very idea of women. In “Encore,” an essay from the early 70s approaching the terra incognita of feminine desire, Lacan speaks “of all those beings who take on the status of the woman.”1 Lacan exposes the problem as one of authority, for “status” is a juridical term, denoting a condition or position with regard to the law. Woman’s supposed “nature,” he implies, is highly unnatural; it is not inherent but assumed (or imposed) from outside. But in another text Lacan

  • Richard Pare

    The production of Richard Pare, the British-born photographer, is multiple. Not only a taker of pictures, he is also their collector and commentator; Pare is a curator of photography for the Seagram Collection and for the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the author of two important books on the field—The Courthouse, A Photographic Document (1978), and Photography and Architecture. (1839–1939) (1982). Hence when, as in his recent exhibition, Pare approaches the topic of Egypt, focusing on its deserts, monuments, lush oases, and capital city, Cairo, it is with neither an untutored eye nor a

  • Imants Tillers

    The notion that esthetics follow geography has always lodged uneasily in the critical mind, but it finds its latest expression in recent Australian art. As the proverbial “Down Under,” Australia suffers from its physical isolation; it is discussed—and vocally discusses itself—in terms of its distance, and thus detachment, from Western culture. However, by a near reversal, this situation is being altered, as much Australian art, and many Australian artists, are now appearing in America and Europe.

    Central among them is Imants Tillers, whose paintings are textbook illustrations of Walter Benjamin’s

  • “Body Politic”

    Fashion is no stranger to the domain of art, so it’s not surprising that the most serious and salient topics should enter the commercial market. Over the past year we’ve been told that political art is a “hot” subject, a “new” direction—in short, a trendy topic. Through a manifestation of historical amnesia, such consumerism serves to shelve a reputable political past behind the latest intellectual commodity. It also reduces issues to tissue, to wrapping paper for the packaging of products.

    Contemporary discourse, however, has an important and expansive focus in the political investment of the

  • Anthony Gormley

    Not far away, Anthony Gormley showed a series of sculpted bodies which shunned the political for metaphysical allures, secreting a pervasive and eternalizing calm. Gormley’s spare, eerie figures seem primed by primordial forces, their smooth bodies, scored by quadrant lines, marking the axial coordinates of space. Here they crouched, squatted, or sat rolled into a knee-to-elbow ball; one strode his environment like a Giacometti, while another lay stretched out on the floor. Because they are molded forms (composites cast from Gormley’s body parts), these lead-plaster-and-fiberglass figures seem

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat

    I’ve generally been a fan of Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the few painters able to extend the graffiti issue of language from subway to gallery wall. Basquiat’s lexicon of diagrams, animals, anatomical parts, and “Sarno” crowns (to note only its most obvious elements) always seemed unusually broad in its conjunctive capacity; in its various manifestations, fused to a range of abstract pictorial marks, it seemed able to encompass much of the verve and jostling rhythm of the street. However, judging from Basquiat’s latest one-man show, that language has become slightly strained.

    My comment requires