Kate Sutton

  • picks November 04, 2016

    Darius Mikšys

    For his series, “Pinocchio,” 2011–, Darius Mikšys delegates his exhibition space to other museums, which then collectively author installations or other artworks—their own real live boys, so to speak. This iteration couples Mikšys’s collaborations with London’s Hayward Gallery and Mexico City’s Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo. The Hayward crafted a two-pronged curatorial riff on its own public face; in keeping with the Pinocchio theme, the institution produced fifteen prosthetic replicas of the nose of its namesake, Sir Isaac Hayward, which were sent to the Kunstverein with the mandate that the

  • diary October 25, 2016

    Occidental Tourist

    THIS YEAR, the weeklong gap between Frieze and Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC)—out of respect, it turns out, for Yom Kippur—gave way to some less than respectful headlines, pitting the two fairs in a bitter battle for galleries. While many collectors did have to choose between the events, most of the press ran with what they were given, trading tallies of who was in, who was out, and whether the early Brexit wounds were enough to counter “what happened to Kim.”

    Thankfully, Paris didn’t seem too concerned with imaginary scores against London, focusing instead on the things it can

  • diary September 14, 2016

    Seoul Cycle

    EVERY FOUR YEARS, the Olympics leaves a trail of heated debates as host nations are left to reckon with unpaid bills and abandoned stadiums. Culturally, however, the Olympics can effect more positive changes, encouraging evolving scenes to take stock of their own narratives. Take South Korea. “The 1988 Seoul Olympics really marked the first time we were able to see a lot of major international artists here,” recalled Hyun-Sook Lee, founder of the Seoul-based Kukje Gallery. Kukje, I learned, simply means “international,” a tag Lee earned by introducing local audiences to artists like Joseph Beuys

  • passages July 22, 2016

    Bill Berkson (1939–2016)

    “WE DO NOT RESPOND OFTEN, REALLY,” Frank O’Hara once noted. “And when we do, it is as if a flashbulb went off.”

    No stranger to bright lights, Bill Berkson—O’Hara’s protégé, collaborator, and traveling companion—quoted the elder poet’s line in “Critical Reflections,” a 1990 essay for this magazine. The piece, a manifesto of sorts, lamented an art criticism where words let go of the heady rush of looking, listening, and taking it all in, to slip instead into a kind of joyless airplane mode. No flashbulbs now, just the flutter of a smartphone, endlessly dividing our attention.

    Bill wasn’t about to

  • diary July 19, 2016

    Brexit Wounds

    WHEN THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY Lancashire patron Henry Blundell found himself flummoxed by a newly acquired sculpture of a sleeping hermaphrodite, he simply indulged in a little sculptural reassignment surgery to produce the sleeping Venus he desired. For a collector of antiquities, he was, peculiarly, not precious about the past.

    While Blundell’s tastes may smack of small-mindedness, Lancashire’s neighboring city of Liverpool—now home to his collection—prides itself on its own flexible appropriation of global history. In an age of rapidly spiking nationalism, the city is emphatically multicultural.

  • Köken Ergun

    In a 2013 advertisement for the eleventh annual Turkish Language Olympics, students, styled like life-size versions of the fetishistically multicultural automatons from Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” ride, gather around a picnic table in a grassy field. A Slavic-looking boy in an embroidered peasant blouse lifts a lid on a tureen, takes an approving sniff, and then announces in stilted Turkish, “Radishes, right?” An African girl in a purple hijab turns to her seatmate, who is sporting a Mongolian loovuz. “It is similar to your national dish,” she remarks, using the same formal Turkish.

    Welcome

  • diary May 24, 2016

    Bay Watch

    “DISRUPT” MAY BE SILICON VALLEY’S favorite verb. Coined in the 1990s, the phrase “disruptive technologies” evokes the elimination of middlemen and the ousting of market juggernauts. But two decades later, we’re learning that the “empowerment” encouraged by such disruption isn’t always equally distributed. (Just Google “AirbnbWhileBlack.”)

    If anything, what’s been “disrupted” most in the Bay Area are communities. Skyrocketing rents have notoriously pushed former city dwellers out to the last stops on the BART lines, only to have the displaced drive back into the city every day to Uber around the

  • picks May 16, 2016

    Andreas Angelidakis

    In Madame de Staël’s 1807 classic, Corinne, the Italian heroine treats a visiting Scottish nobleman to the view from Rome’s Capitoline Hill, with the caveat that “readings in history . . . do not act upon our souls like these scattered stones.” The conviction that our antiquity must be experienced firsthand was one of the primary motivations behind the Grand Tour, an itinerary popularized in the late seventeenth century that sent well-born Europeans off in search of the supposed origins of Western Civilization, as if the future of the present lay squarely in the past.

    Andreas Angelidakis’s

  • “Shahzia Sikander: Ecstasy as Sublime, Heart as Vector”

    Drawing from the Indo-Persian tradition of miniatures, Shahzia Sikander makes paintings, installations, and animations that testify to the artist’s deep faith in the power of transformation. Her work uproots political and religious iconography to dismantle cultural tropes; take, for example, the animation SpiNN, 2003, which abstracts the hairstyles of gopis (female devotees of Krishna) into a flock of small black silhouettes that swirl around the screen like a murmuration of starlings. This whirlwind reappears in the three-channel video Parallax, 2013, where

  • diary April 12, 2016

    Crisis Management

    IN HIS TUESDAY op-ed for the New York Times, U2 frontman/iTunes spammer Bono encourages readers to “think bigger” about the refugee crisis, even going so far as to suggest a new Marshall Plan. “For as hard as it is to truly imagine what life as a refugee is like, we have a chance to reimagine that reality—and reinvent our relationship with the people and countries consumed now by conflict, or hosting those who have fled it.”

    It is also difficult to make artwork about this kind of crisis. After all, it’s a very fine line that separates empathy from insensitivity. One solution is to allow asylum

  • diary March 23, 2016

    Pay It Forward

    “SO, WHO DID YOU VOTE FOR?”

    The question may be inescapable on social media, but I wasn’t prepared to hear it from the gate agent of my Doha-Dubai shuttle. Not sure how my response might impact my boarding (can you even “Feel the Bern” in Arabic?) I went with the best answer for these troubled times: “Not Trump?”

    The fact that an airport attendant in Qatar would be so keyed to the US primaries—something that, at least up until this year, most Americans couldn’t care less about—is a powerful reminder that the future at stake come November doesn’t just belong to America.

    This collective fate was

  • Thomas Struth

    In 1964, Stanley Kubrick penned a letter to writer and futurist Arthur C. Clarke suggesting they join forces to produce “the proverbial ‘really good’ science fiction movie.” A former chairman of the British Interplanetary Society and the author of many books on space travel, Clarke aided Kubrick in recruiting the experts who helped ensure that the resulting film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), would be as technically accurate as possible for a story set more than thirty years in the future. The advances predicted included artificial intelligence, satellite communications, video conferencing, and

  • OPENINGS: TAUS MAKHACHEVA

    FLANKED BY the Caucasus Mountains on the highest plateau in Dagestan, the village of Tsovkra-1 has parlayed the perils of its topography into a peculiar claim to fame: that every able-bodied member of its roughly four-hundred-person population can walk a tightrope. While locals say that this skill was first developed simply as a way to traverse the region’s slopes and crevices, tightrope walking is now considered an integral part of the republic’s cultural heritage.

    It is no wonder, then, that the artist Taus Makhacheva chose to site her recent piece, Tightrope, 2015, just outside Tsovkra-1.

  • Kate Newby

    “The main thing is to tell a story,” Frank O’Hara declares in “Fantasy,” which appeared in his seminal 1964 collection Lunch Poems. In the text, O’Hara slaloms back and forth between daydreams of Helmut Dantine, the Nazi antihero of the 1943 film Northern Pursuit, and tending to an ailing Allen Ginsberg, who spends the poem wrestling with indigestion behind a bathroom door. The story the poet tells has no single narrative but skitters between reverie and a makeshift recipe for Alka-Seltzer.

    Kate Newby borrowed O’Hara’s formula—“two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”—as

  • picks January 07, 2016

    “Elvire Bonduelle: Waiting Room #4”

    Now in its fourth iteration, Elvire Bonduelle’s ongoing curatorial project “Waiting Room” transforms gallery spaces into temporary reception areas where visitors can indulge in the kind of concentrated viewing typically only possible when one has time to kill. Bonduelle sets the stage with her own sculptures, black metal benches festooned with Styrofoam in bleached hues of blue, honeydew, and buttercream, attended by oval MDF tables, finished with surfaces suggesting white marble or speckled granite. Amedeo Polazzo’s appealingly plain ceramic vessels cluster along the windowsill, while in the

  • picks December 21, 2015

    Emilija Škarnulytė

    Cosmic waves course through Emilija Škarnulytė’s “QSO Lens,” a solo exhibition that proposes more observable surrogates for the million missed transmissions passing through our world at any given moment. The gallery is closed off by a thick black curtain blocking all outside light. The darkness behind is perforated by the steady ping of quasar signals that have been translated from interstellar noise to frequencies audible to the human ear. Borrowed from NASA, these recordings provide the sound track to two of the three videos projected in the central viewing area. The largest of these is No

  • diary November 27, 2015

    APT Pupils

    “THE HISTORY OF AUSTRALIA’S relationship with the Aboriginals is a history of wrong decisions,” Vernon Ah Kee told the crowd at Brisbane’s Griffith University Art Gallery last Thursday. “There were opportunities to go another way, but the government at the time repeatedly chose brutality.” The artist compared the experience of being indigenous in today’s Australia to having thousands of little cuts all over your body, painful but not lethal. Ah Kee stood in the crossfire of two sets of his canvases, one showing the bound figures of the oppressed, the other the snarling faces of their oppressors.

  • diary November 24, 2015

    The Safety of Objects

    WITH BLOCKBUSTER BIENNIALS increasingly wedded to the galleries underwriting them, the term “biennial art”—the European second cousin of “commercial” art—no longer holds the same currency. When it comes to events off the beaten track, however, exhibitions often build credibility through following “biennial art’s” favorite strategy: Find a fresh wound from recent history, and wiggle one’s finger around in it, preferably via video installations that “challenge dominant modes of perception” and “invert expectations.”

    Ariani Darmawan’s 2008 short film Sugiharti Halim manages to do both while wickedly

  • picks November 18, 2015

    Akosua Adoma Owusu

    Half man, half arachnid, the character of Kwaku Ananse has spawned an entire body of “spider tales” within West African folklore. In some fables, Kwaku Ananse appears as a hapless hustler, using his cleverness and cunning to overcome his physical limitations; in others, he is no less than the god of storytelling, spinning tales as easily as the silken strands of his web. In this context, then, the act of weaving serves more as a means of cultural transmission than a commercial product.

    In her roughly five-minute short film Intermittent Delight, 2007, Akosua Adoma Owusu splices footage of West

  • diary November 15, 2015

    Light and Space

    EARLIER THIS YEAR, after getting grilled over delays on his latest project, The Revenant, filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu reasoned: “Nobody will go to a movie because the guys were on schedule and on budget. Mission and ambition should never be compromised.”

    If you took Iñárritu’s advocacy for taking one’s time with a project and multiplied it by, say, forty years, you would have James Turrell’s Roden Crater. The artist has been working since the early 1970s to convert an extinct cinder volcano in the Painted Desert into “a controlled environment for the experiencing and contemplation of light.”