Kate Sutton

  • picks May 06, 2020

    Andro Eradze

    As an origin myth, the tale of Prometheus suggests that staring into flames is no new pastime for human civilization. And yet the opening frames of Andro Eradze’s nearly fourteen-minute HD video All Hands Bury the Dead, 2019, remind us how otherworldly a fire can seem, as branches bloat into ash, then buckle into the low light of the embers. Later, similar footage is played in reverse, bringing the gnarled limbs writhing back to life.

    A commission for the Kunsthalle Tbilisi, the video was originally timed to coincide with the now-postponed Tbilisi Art Fair, which tends to be a showcase for the

  • books April 28, 2020

    Nothing Happens

    ELEMENTARY POETRY, BY ANDREI MONASTYRSKI, translated by Brian Droitcour and Yelena Kalinsky. Preface by Boris Groys. Ugly Duckling Presse and Soberscove Press, 2019. 328 pages.

    ON FEBRUARY 1, 1981, a group of ten artists trekked off into the snowy woods outside Moscow. When they reached a clearing, they huddled around a wooden board studded with ten spools of white thread. Each participant—Ilya Kabakov, Oleg Vassiliev, and Yuri Albert among them—was instructed to take up the loose end of his or her thread and walk two hundred to three hundred meters into the forest, until they could no longer

  • 5th Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art

    Originally published in 1912, Alexander Bogdanov’s short story “Immortality Day” was written in the shadow of Cosmism, a late-nineteenth- to early-twentieth-century school of thought that hailed scientific advances such as blood transfusions and the evolving understanding of genetic inheritance as stepping-stones to eternal life. Bogdanov’s wry narrative follows the interplanetary chemist Fride as he hits a midlife (early-eternity?) crisis, spurred on by the realization that, having dedicated centuries to the intellectual pursuits of astronomy, literature, and art, he had exhausted his brain’s


    IN 1804, French weaver Joseph Marie Jacquard unveiled an invention that would revolutionize the textile industry: an apparatus that automatically controlled which threads were pulled on a loom, based on information stored on a looping series of punch cards. Intricate fabric patterns previously requiring hours of tedious manual labor could now be produced quickly, efficiently, and at scales capable of meeting the demands of the burgeoning global market. But the Jacquard loom would affect more than just brocade. Famously, the invention also inspired the Analytical Engine, a nineteenth-century

  • picks December 03, 2019

    Anna Witt

    Speculation around the Singularity maintains that as man makes machines, soon, machines will unmake man, stripping humanity of the functions that have bolstered class structures and social standing: that is, our jobs. This fantasy of forced obsolescence is one part Matrix, one part Jetsons, and, increasingly, one part reality. Of course, machines aren’t coming for our jobs so much as for our tasks, relegating humans to the role of assistant, the stopgap between automated operations. (Yes, George Jetson may have outsourced childcare to a sentient vacuum, but he still had to put in time mindlessly

  • books November 18, 2019

    Socialist Media

    AGENTS OF ABSTRACTION, BY ANA OFAK. Sternberg Press, 2019. 389 pages.

    BLAME IT ON THE SPOMENIKS. All asymmetrical concrete stems, rippling aluminium wings, and bold swooping bodies, these massive monuments read more like Starfleet spaceships, crash-landed amid the forests of former Yugoslavia. Often sited in remote rural areas, these abstract memorials were commissioned primarily in the 1960s and ’70s as part of a nationwide push—yes, one fronted by charismatic president Josip Broz Tito (who tends to get the sole credit for “Tito’s monuments”), but, in keeping with Yugoslavia’s signature emphasis


    ON JULY 26, 1963, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake leveled roughly 80 percent of Skopje, now the capital of the recently christened country of North Macedonia, but then known as the third-largest city in Yugoslavia. An unprecedented international outpouring of support in the disaster’s wake allowed the city to rebuild at the edge of the architectural vanguard, with an ultramodern aesthetic and an urban layout partially developed by Kenzō Tange, the elder statesman of the Metabolism movement. A half century later, Skopje’s Museum of Contemporary Art, an institution forged during the reconstruction,

  • picks October 24, 2019

    Hew Locke

    Empire manifests itself in myriad ways, from the statues populating public squares to how many sugars a culture takes in its tea. During the Victorian age, technological advances enabled the mass-production of busts of British royals in Parian, a slip-cast porcelain substitute for marble. Developed in the early 1840s, the material made a splash at the Crystal Palace Exhibition, where the affordable statuettes were snapped up as aspirational décor by the burgeoning middle class. Still others circled the globe as “souvenirs” from the exhibition, traveling to the outer reaches of the commonwealth.

  • Alex Ayed

    In 1991, Judit Polgár, a fifteen-year-old Hungarian chess prodigy known for her unflinching stare and imaginative approach to the game, broke Bobby Fischer’s record by becoming the youngest player ever to receive the title of grand master. Defying convention, her playing style was marked by flamboyant risk-taking and a near-reckless fervor that kept her opponents constantly off-balance.

    Polgár’s inventive strategy provided one catalyst for Alex Ayed’s exhibition “Soap Opera,” but it is safe to say the two play fundamentally different games. If, as the artist believes, chess is predicated on

  • interviews September 24, 2019

    Hamja Ahsan

    Last month, journalist Ciara O’Connor took to social media to point out the disparity between the language of “agency” and “accountability” used in Tate Modern’s exhibition “Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life” and the show itself, which was partially blocked to her as a wheelchair user. O’Connor’s account highlights how the art world’s advocacy for intersectionality rarely expands beyond social, sexual, or political ties to cover physical or neurological forms of difference as well. While the “eccentric genius” trope persists, today’s artists are expected to deliver service with a smile as they

  • picks September 03, 2019

    “Concetto spaziale”

    This three-artist exhibition tackles one of the most accessible but, simultaneously, most elusive and insufficiently understood phenomena in Western society: the human vagina. The show’s title—“Concetto spaziale”—repurposes the nomenclature Lucio Fontana used for his slashed canvases, drawing a direct line from the Italian master to Edona Vatoci’s installation Plan B, 2015–19, a shiny, cotton-candy-colored silk cube, two meters tall with a narrow slit on one side. Entrance requires not only some physical maneuvering on the part of the visitor, but also consent, by way of a pre-signed mutual


    Curated by Amy Smith-Stewart

    Eva LeWitt’s vibrant, wall-spanning compositions quite literally hang in the balance. Each piece must be assembled on-site, as the artist deploys the properties of her primarily synthetic materials in an intricate calculus that leverages the weight of one element against the pliancy of another. LeWitt offsets the industrial accents of her materials with manual interventions, whether she’s hand-cutting swaths of latex or vinyl or pigmenting and polishing the polyurethane foam “pellets” she uses for ballast. The artist tends toward an eclectic, electric palette with

  • passages June 25, 2019

    Martin Roth (1977–2019)

    I FIRST MET MARTIN ROTH five years ago, while he was helping install Pierre Huyghe’s big show at LACMA. Human the dog didn’t have the right papers to work in Hollywood, so we took her for a walk in the canyons of Griffith Park, where she promptly befriended a pug wearing a vest nearly the same shade of fuchsia as the paint on her leg.

    Martin’s work had the gentle, elusive grace of its author. Even in recent years, when his projects had stronger ties to current political events, his approach left more questions than answers. For his show last year at the former Eldridge Street gallery yours mine

  • diary June 21, 2019

    Vienna Calling

    IT WAS IN THE DAIRY AISLE I FIRST SPOTTED HIM. Warned there was a dancer on the loose in Lidl, I had quickly closed in on the likeliest suspect, a wispy blonde boy wearing cropped pants and a Fjällräven backpack. I trailed him as he inspected a bunch of bananas, delicately extracting a single one, before moseying over to peruse the canned coffee drinks. It was only when he shot a withering look at me and my expectant camera that it occurred to me he might not be there to perform. Indeed, the dancer I was looking for turned out to be a man with a sensible shirt and a silvery mane (“our Július

  • diary May 09, 2019

    Persons of Interest

    INTERESTING. Few words have such angular ambiguity, signifying both a viewer’s interpretive generosity while subtly acknowledging that the thing in question just might not be that good. Ralph Rugoff, the artistic director of the Fifty-Eighth Venice Biennale, which opened Tuesday to select press and professionals, played on the word’s double meaning in the title for his show, “May You Live in Interesting Times,” a phrase attributed as an “ancient Chinese curse” but, like the Ivanka Trump/fortune cookie variety, with no actual “ancient” or “Chinese.” The dash of Orientalism was either snarkily


    Curated by Christina Végh and Lea Altner

    Whether through sleek display cabinets, animatronic robots, or multigenerational chronicles woven into tapestries, Goshka Macuga enacts a type of séance within her exhibitions, calling forth the hosting venue’s ghosts. For this show, her installations, sculptures, textiles, and collages will face the spirits of the Bauhaus on the occasion of its centenary, drawing out the conflicts that existed within the movement as well as its relationship to the Kestnergesellschaft. In addition to supporting new commissions made in collaboration with lighting designer

  • picks April 11, 2019

    “Without Anesthesia”

    The Meštrović Pavilion has not had a good year. To residents’ outrage, the city administration uprooted the beautiful park that surrounded the modernist landmark, supposedly in tribute to architect Ivan Meštrović’s “original” concept (though more likely to benefit the mayor’s inner circle). When the call for the Fifty-Fourth Zagreb Salon went out, the application stipulated that participating artists could not publicly criticize the Artist Union or the venue it calls home—a gesture that stirred up its own protests.

    This tension made “Without Anesthesia,” the exhibition put together by


    GABRIELE BEVERIDGE’S works dip into the dream life of consumer culture to deliver a contemporary vanitas attuned to the temporality of modern commodities, on-demand objects whose promises of “forever” are only as good as the next upgrade. Rather than present a critique of commodity goods by way of simulation, Beveridge takes the cosmetic mechanisms that prop up consumer desire and carries them to their logical extreme. Her assemblages put display on display, spotlighting the modular shelves that populate the innards of high-street shops: steel pegboard panels, “slatwall” panels, chrome

  • Hélio Oiticica

    With its no-frills title, the exhibition “Spatial Relief and Drawings, 1955–59,” offset one of the suspended objects made by Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980) with two of his early series from the late 1950s. The first, “Metaesquemas,” 1957–58 (loosely translated as “Metaschemes” or “Metastructures”), comprises abstract gouache drawings on cardboard, and the second consists of works produced during his affiliation with Grupo Frente, an artist collective founded by Oiticica’s teacher Ivan Serpa and active in Rio de Janeiro from 1954 to 1956. With members including Aluísio Carvão, Lygia Clark, and Lygia

  • picks February 01, 2019

    Mithu Sen

    “Language imposes a strange and alien logic that tells us not to smell poetry, hear shadows or taste lights,” Mithu Sen warns in the introductory text to her multimedia installation I have only one language; it is not mine, commissioned for the 2014 Kochi-Muziris Biennale. The artist tried to counteract this logic by becoming stranger and more alien herself, conducting an experiment in “radical hospitality” over three days in a state-operated home for female orphans and victims of abuse in Kerala, India. Posing as Mago, an itinerant being with a camera strung around her neck, Sen attempted to