Kate Sutton

  • diary July 18, 2017

    Faded Memories

    IN AN AGE OF FRANCHISE ENTERTAINMENT, the best sequels might be those not planned too far in advance. Or so it seemed at last Friday’s opening of “FADE IN 2: EXT. MODERNIST HOME – NIGHT,” an exhibition that seeks to blur the lines between art and cinema.

    Organized by Swiss Institute director Simon Castets and curator Julie Boukobza and hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade’s Gallery-Legacy Čolaković, the show marks the inaugural outing of the freshly launched Balkan Projects, a Los Angeles–based cultural platform fronted by actress Marija Karan.

    The exhibition’s first iteration—“FADE

  • picks July 10, 2017

    Hans Op de Beeck

    In his films, drawings, dioramas, and immersive installations, Hans Op de Beeck weds a cunning compositional intelligence with a scenographer’s sleight of hand, telling stories through space. The artist reveals some of his tricks in the 2013 film Staging Silence (2), which spins an array of meditative miniature landscapes from tabletop arrangements of coffee-soaked sugar cubes, half-empty water bottles, and potatoes cut to resemble rocky coastlines. That human hands openly intervene within the frame—dei ex machina manipulating the humble elements on screen—only amplifies the sublime harmonies

  • diary May 30, 2017

    Harmonic Discord

    THE LATE JOHN BERGER once declared that “the opposite of love is not to hate but to separate. If love and hate have something in common it is because, in both cases, their energy is that of bringing and holding together—the lover with the loved, the one who hates with the hated. Both passions are tested by separation.”

    Kunsthalle Wien director Nicolaus Schafhausen invoked Berger’s words last Wednesday at the inaugural convening of the weekend-long opening for “How to Live Together,” a sprawling group exhibition bringing and holding together artists including Bas Jan Ader, Kader Attia, Goshka

  • diary May 17, 2017

    Politics by Other Means

    IN AN UNTITLED FILM shot in Mosul on October 31, 2016, Francis Alÿs trains his lens on a desert landscape suspended in the pink haze of a sandstorm. A tank slowly careens in the distance, armed soldiers milling about in its path. In the foreground, one of the artist’s hands holds up a small white canvas, while the other applies paint, mostly in sand tones with a daub of crimson to match the flag of the Peshmerga—the Kurdish army—flying atop the tank. Using the canvas as both picture and palette, the artist dashes out a composition in situ. “I was originally drawing with pencil on one side and

  • picks May 04, 2017

    Harumi Yamaguchi

    In the 1970s, fashion illustrator Harumi Yamaguchi attained cult status with her “Harumi Gals,” a series of popular print and television advertisements that helped usher in an era of loosening gender roles in Japan, while simultaneously reinventing Parco, the trendsetting Shibuya department-store chain later revered for its progressive ad campaigns. (This same company would bring us the visual sublimity of Faye Dunaway delicately nibbling at a hard-boiled egg for a 1979 TV spot.)

    Harumi Gals offered the epitome of late-1970s eye-shadow chic and nascent 1980s glamour, with full pouty lips corralled

  • picks April 02, 2017

    Rostan Tavasiev

    It’s hard to take Rostan Tavasiev seriously as an artist, if only because for nearly two decades his medium of choice has been the stuffed animal. If myriad “love hours” imbued Mike Kelley’s mangled toys with a crude, bodily aura, the plush animals favored by Tavasiev radiate the chemical-scented clean of the disposable impulse purchase. The artist’s paintings and installations tend to operate on the level of a knock-knock joke, with a sweet, sanitized stupidity that deflects from the compositions’ darker implications. For instance, in the 2009 installation Future, a herd of tiny flame-maned

  • Cécile B. Evans

    Ask a robot, “What’s the weather like?” and you risk the response, “What’s the weather?” This punch line repeats throughout Cécile B. Evans’s growing oeuvre, which explores the psychological repercussions of the increasing encroachment of artificial intelligence into a terrain previously thought to belong exclusively to the human soul. Using videos, installations, holograms, and now what she calls an “automated play,” Evans questions our expectations regarding our relationships with machines as the latter learn to mimic us more and more, paradoxically gaining power through the simulation of

  • diary March 31, 2017

    First Time’s a Charm

    WE CAN’T SEEM to get enough of the White House exploding—at least as moviegoers. No disaster flick is complete without a CGI medley of world monuments meeting their improbable ends, one after the other in a crescendo of increasingly bombastic catastrophes.

    But synchronized destruction packs far less thrill when the effects don’t have to be faked. On April 25, 2015, Nepal was jolted by an earthquake that claimed 8,800 lives, leaving nearly 3 million people homeless and toppling countless centuries-old heritage sites. Within seconds, the catalogue of the country’s sacred temples and central tourist

  • diary March 14, 2017

    Rainbow Connection

    A SALTSHAKER, A BRACELET, and a romantic folklorist painting of a prophetic bird walk onto a wooden stage: That’s the premise of Taus Makhacheva’s Way of an Object, 2013, a marionette show featuring replicas of three items from Dagestan’s Gamzatova Fine Arts Museum engaging in museological debates as they bemoan their fate as passive exponents wrenched from their original contexts. While the traditional Avar “horned” salt box and Kubachi wedding bangle mourn the loss of their specific cultural use-value, the miniature Viktor Vasnetsov painting whines that it’s the one who should really be

  • diary March 03, 2017

    Future Offerings

    WHEN THE PINCHUKARTCENTRE first announced the Future Generation Art Prize in 2010, the competition’s name was met with some cynicism, if only because, in the context of the art world at that time, the “future” was dubious at best—a few laps around Art Basel’s Statements section followed by a fiery demise at Philips and then maybe an embarrassing afterlife hosting Miami parties for struggling luxury brands.

    Nearly seven years later, “the future” invites a different cynicism. Not to be one of those Americans who makes everything about Trump, but . . . Suffice to say, just a month into his official

  • Yuri Pattison

    Last fall’s release of Apple’s new iOS 10 operating system touted a curious new feature: Bedtime. True to its title, the app simply encourages users to get a full night’s rest by alerting them when it is time to go to bed. Users’ personal sleep logs can then be analyzed using Apple’s HealthKit. In effect, the software tracks one’s bodily needs—to the extent that they can be accurately registered by an iPhone—and charts them as a kind of productivity.

    The increasing outsourcing of biological function provided the subtext of Yuri Pattison’s “sunset provision.” The exhibition was originally

  • picks February 23, 2017

    Vlado Martek

    A popular strategy in the recent expansion of the art-historical canon is to position overlooked artists as shaman-like figures, in the Beuysian mode. This shorthand instills an automatic reverence for the misunderstood genius, elevating his or her every gesture to the sacred status of an “artistic action,” thereby reducing the need to establish or address in any real depth the particular context or concerns the artist was engaging.

    Vlado Martek rebuffs this opportunistic absolution in a new set of collages. Instead of embracing the role of the “total artist,” Martek—a fixture in the Yugoslav

  • picks February 09, 2017

    Tschabalala Self

    In 1992, Silverfish’s Lesley Rankine snarled the mantra that would launch a thousand T-shirts: HIPS. TITS. LIPS. POWER. The slogan took the carving up of female flesh and reversed it into a roll call for the reservoirs of strength built into a woman’s body.

    Tschabalala Self’s portraits perform a similar inversion, defying dominant tropes in popular representations of the black female body. They do this by dismantling those same bodies and reassembling them in ways that transform their perceived vulnerability into blistering inviolability. Self’s “paintings” (as the artist chooses to refer to her

  • diary January 26, 2017

    Condo Camping

    IN THE SERIES OF LECTURES that now constitute A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf made the case that for a woman to write anything of substance, she must have access to resources—most notably, the titular claim to space—that could free her from the tedium of social convention. The argument was radical at the time in proposing the domestic sphere as a space for transgression and reinvention, rather than just a convenient place to keep your wife.

    Woolf may not be namechecked in the press release for Sadie Coles’s current group show, “Room,” but her thinking pervades it. Curated by Laura Lord, the

  • “Daniel Arsham: Hourglass”

    This show guides the viewer through three distinct environments: a cavern of crushed-amethyst athletic balls, an hourglass-filled gallery, and a Japanese Zen garden patrolled by a performer in the guise of its resident hermit-monk. In lieu of rocks, this figure tends to a garden of sculptures cast from everyday objects, which Daniel Arsham offers up like riddles for some future archaeologist to decipher. For these works, the artist forgoes the monotone grays of his earlier casts in favor of blue calcite, a startlingly vivid material Arsham began using

  • Garage Triennial

    A full century after the collapse of the Russian Empire, the Russian Federation still covers more than an eighth of the planet’s inhabited land—home to more than 170 ethnicities, speaking more than a hundred different languages. This astonishing diversity rarely figures into the country’s reigning cultural narratives, which tend to concentrate on the competing capitals of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The Garage seeks to expand this picture with its newly launched triennial. Under the direction of Kate

  • diary December 16, 2016

    Unfamiliar Territory

    “WE ARE LIVING IN AN ERA of cognitive capitalism, where maps are more important than actual territories,” Moderna Galerija director Zdenka Badovinac told the packed conference room last Thursday in Ljubljana. “Under these conditions, what’s important is not maintaining the integrity of a given territory, but rather widening the participation in mapping the world.”

    Badovinac’s words formed the thrust of the two-day conference at the Moderna, part of the run-up to this year’s Igor Zabel Award ceremony. Founded in 2008 to honor the late Zabel (a cultural critic and senior curator at the institution),

  • Wook-kyung Choi

    Silence can speak volumes. The eloquence of the unspoken may help explain the recent resurgence of interest in the artists of dansaekhwa (Korean for “monochrome painting”), a loosely affiliated group of painters working since the late 1960s, whose meditative, “empty” canvases elevate the organic pull of materials over the individual artistic statement. This type of work rose to prominence at a time when Korea was under pressure to formulate a new postwar cultural identity, bolstered by a narrative that was not reliant on either the Japanese occupation or encroaching interference from the West

  • picks November 25, 2016

    Carlos Reyes and Jo-ey Tang

    “Black door code 31A5 à gauche puis 2ème étage tout droit à gauche” (Black door code 31A5, then left, 2nd floor, then straight, then on the left), the trailing title of this otherwise lissome little show, plots out the path a visitor must now take to reach the gallery after a recent renovation relocated the building’s entrance. Carlos Reyes also lifted these directions to title each member of a quartet of blown-glass objects (all works cited, 2016), slender, stemlike sculptures that enact a shift in their unconventional negotiation of the space. Two drip vertically down toward the floor, while

  • diary November 14, 2016

    Eastern Block

    IN WHAT NOW SEEMS LIKE AN OMEN, I spent the Thursday before last huddled in a museum parking lot, watching a red sedan go up in flames.

    “What about all the toxins?” I asked.

    “They’re not blowing toward us,” replied artist Dalibor Martinis, waving his hand at the thick trail of black smoke. True. It was slithering up and away from us—toward observers on the terrace above.

    We had gathered at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb to watch Martinis set fire to the car as part of his series of performances The Eternal Flame of Rage.

    The sedan had been overturned pre-immolation, its belly exposed like