Kate Sutton

  • “Specters of Communism: Contemporary Russian Art”

    In perhaps his most popular one-liner, perestroika-era satirist Mikhail Zadornov dubbed Russia “a country with an unpredictable past.” Spanning two continents and eleven time zones, the state now known as the Russian Federation lays claim to conflicting inheritances, from Kievan Rus and the Third Rome to the czarist Russian empire and the Soviet Union. Vladimir Putin was able to consolidate power by cherry-picking aspects from each of these legacies and placing them under the banner of his political party, United Russia; the liberal opposition, however, is having a much harder time formulating

  • picks April 16, 2015

    Alban Muja

    What’s in a name? Those who would refute Juliet’s oft-cited argument that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” fail to recognize that these words are spoken by a character who needs no convincing of the true power of proper names.

    With this exhibition, Alban Muja investigates both the import and impotency of nomenclature in Kosovo. Under Slobodan Milošević, the act of naming was one of the sole forms of agency allowed Kosovar Albanians. While borders may have been shuttered, there were no restrictions on calling one’s children after Albanian cities. Muja’s series of seven photographs,

  • diary March 29, 2015

    Global Village

    IF THE OLD MCLUHAN adage holds true, first we shape our tools and then they shape us. At this stage in history, however, we face the very real possibility that our tools might soon evolve beyond us, a moment ominously dubbed “The Singularity.” This is the dilemma explored in The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present, a pocket-size primer on our blossoming obsolescence, coauthored by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Douglas Coupland, and Shumon Basar. Modeled after McLuhan’s tenets, the book embeds images by Rosemarie Trockel, Taryn Simon, Hito Steyerl, Jon Rafman, Amalia Ulman, and Camille Henrot

  • diary March 14, 2015

    Practice Makes Perfect

    ON THE LAST DAY OF FEBRUARY, as yet another record(/will)-breaking snowstorm bore down on the frostbitten East Coast, Zurich-based dealer Karolina Dankow was perched on a terra-cotta-colored swing in one corner of a sunbaked cactus garden, in the backyard of an LA gallery space just east of Culver City. Inside, the walls were lined with breezy Juliette Blightman portraits, the first in a series of pop-up shows from Dankow’s Karma International, the latest gallery-in-residence to be arranged by art adviser Simmy Swinder, who had inherited the venue from Carmichael Gallery. “If I’m doing my job

  • Julije Knifer

    The word meander derives from the Maiandros River, which twists and turns through what is now Turkey on its way to the Aegean Sea. The water’s singularly serpentine path was stylized into a popular pattern, picked up and disseminated throughout classical Greek and Roman art and architecture. The meander eventually wound its way to the forefront of the European avant-garde when, in 1960, Croatian painter Julije Knifer—a member of the Yugoslavian proto-Conceptualist Gorgona Group—declared that from that moment on, his work would consist exclusively of its interlocking right angles. If

  • diary February 11, 2015

    Space Race

    “DRAGAN, YOU HAVE to let Zdenka and I go. We would be so good in space!” Kate Fowle pleaded from the backseat of the black minivan, where she was nestled in alongside curator Zdenka Badovinac and artists Dragan Živadinov, Luchezar Boyadjiev, and Roman Uranjek. We were en route from the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art’s temporary pavilion in Moscow’s Gorky Park to the buzzy Buro Canteen for a private dinner in honor of the February 5 opening of “Grammar of Freedom/Five Lessons: Works from the Arteast 2000+ Collection.”

    One of the founding members of Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK), Živadinov doubles

  • diary February 06, 2015

    Paramount Pictures

    IT WAS 6:30 AM on a Friday in Los Angeles, and the three twentysomethings on the porch of Ryan Trecartin’s Los Feliz home shared that last-cigarette look of people who should have gone home hours ago.

    In reality, they’d only just arrived, fashionably on time for the Brutally Early Club, a pet project of Hans Ulrich Obrist, who, amid all his cross-continental comings and goings, discovered the untapped meeting-planner potential of the wee hours. (There was some experimentation with a 4 AM “Hyper Early Club” Shumon Basar informed me, but that “never really took off.”) In its other iterations, B.E.C.

  • picks February 04, 2015

    Deimantas Narkevičius

    In music terminology, the Italian phrase da capo (from the head) signals the performer to return to the beginning of a score and repeat what has been played before. Taking this term as its title, Deimantas Narkevičius’s most recent exhibition cycles through selections from almost two decades of the artist’s films and installations, beginning quite literally from The Head, 2007. The twelve-minute, 35-mm film draws from found footage of sculptor Lev Efimovich Kerbel and his massive 1971 bust of Karl Marx to question the difference between a monument and a sculpture in a time when the former stood

  • diary January 25, 2015

    What’s the Frequency?

    “YOU LIKE BILL CLINTON?” It was the first English my cab driver had spoken since my arrival at the Pristina International Airport. All too aware of my status as an American tourist in Kosovo, I was still measuring my response when we passed an eleven-foot-tall bronze statue of the forty-second president of the United States, all smiles on the corner of Bulevardi Bill Klinton, with one arm raised in a friendly wave, Ronald McDonald–style. Just two storefronts down, Boutique Hillary—specializing in pantsuits—had a sign advertising 50 percent off. “There’s a really dodgy story behind that monument,”

  • picks November 11, 2014

    Eftihis Patsourakis and Michael Anastassiades

    In pairing paintings by Eftihis Patsourakis with objects by Michael Anastassiades, “Doings on Light and Time” performs a kind of double alchemy, deriving the sublime from works rooted in the crude mechanics of analog cameras and arcade games.

    Patsourakis’s series “Headless,” 2012–14, recreates misaligned snapshots from family albums of the 1970s and ’80s. The focus of these paintings is less the partial figures depicted within the photographs than the technology that produced them, which dates to a time when handheld cameras were just becoming widely available. In their eagerness to record moments

  • diary October 28, 2014

    Future Lovers

    TWO DAYS BEFORE a pivotal parliamentary election would cement Ukraine’s European future, in the lobby of Kiev’s Premier Palace Hotel the instrumental version of Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In the World)” was the sole clue that we weren’t in pre–Orange Revolution 2004. Minigarchs in bomber jackets and buzz cuts corralled their plate-faced, ponytailed girlfriends into the restaurant for the “His-and-Hers Menu,” while bodyguards—uniformly better dressed than their bosses—sat slumped over smartphones, throwing the occasional eye to the hostesses busy luring expense accounts to the erotic cabaret upstairs.

  • diary October 10, 2014

    Tomorrow Never Dies

    THOSE TEMPTED to compare the art world’s fall fair calendar to a roller coaster might reconsider the metaphor after meeting artist Julijonas Urbonas. The son of a Soviet theme-park manager, the Vilnius-based artist has parlayed his childhood fascination with the thrill rides into his proposal for “The Euthanasia Coaster.” “It’s designed to deliver the passenger the most pleasant and perfect death possible,” he beamed, while talking me through a scale model, one of the main attractions at Galerija Vartai’s booth at last week’s ViennaFair.

    Now a decade old, the Austrian fair has recently careened

  • diary October 03, 2014

    Left of Center

    “IS IT ME, or are quail eggs everywhere these days?” Witte de With director Defne Ayas wondered, waving away a tray of said canapé from our spot onboard the Halas, a hundred-year-old yacht. It was Wednesday evening, and we were cruising up Istanbul’s Haliç (“Golden Horn”) as part of the opening festivities for the sophomore edition of the ArtInternational fair, a cosmopolitan challenger to local lovefest Contemporary Istanbul, which is scheduled for November.

    Ayas and I didn’t recognize our fellow passengers (let alone the language they were speaking), so we struck up conversation with Chef Gazi

  • picks September 27, 2014

    Chosil Kil

    Chosil Kil is an artist who prefers encounter over explanation. The press release for “Kiss & Fly,” her first solo show in her homeland of South Korea, begins: “You are a braver lover in your second language.” Fluency allows feelings to be obscured by more nuanced vocabulary.

    The gallery entrance provides visitors with an immediate view into both the lower and mezzanine floors of the split-level space. The steps to the lower level are blanketed in pink rose petals and palm-sized statuettes of frogs, potential princes alternately dashing, plucky, and absurd. Inside the lower gallery, a trio of

  • diary September 14, 2014

    House Proud

    “WATCH OUT. You might get what you’re after.”

    In 2010, David Byrne may have visited the Gwangju Biennale (as Cindy Sherman’s plus one), but in 2014, he reigned over it, albeit in absentia, after chief curator Jessica Morgan used the Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House” as the theme for the biennial’s tenth edition, a paean to the creative potential of destructive acts.

    Gwangju needs little reminding of the cleansing power of renewal. The city is busy bracing for the thirty-fifth anniversary of the May 18, 1980 uprising, a seminal moment when students took to the streets to demand democracy and

  • George Schneeman

    I HEARD THE VOICE OF THE PORK CHOP SAY, COME UNTO ME AND REST. This block-lettered gospel fills two opposite corners of Pork Chop, 1970–73, a collaborative collage by the painter George Schneeman and the poet Larry Fagin. An upside-down, ochre-colored sofa sectional hovers in the bottom-left corner, while in the top right, a cartoon-strip cel captions a high-speed car crash: WHUMMP!

    A fixture on the scene at St. Marks Church-in-the-Bowery, Schneeman (1934–2009) thrived on these kinds of freewheeling collaborations, churning out myriad collages, book covers, and paintings of and alongside

  • diary August 17, 2014

    Upwardly Mobile

    “ALL OF THESE BIENNALES boast of being a forum for the exchange of ideas,” curator Adrian Bojenoiu, cofounder of the Mobile Biennale, reasoned over a Bellini and a tomato-mozzarella skewer on the steps of the Museum of Fine Arts in Craiova, Romania. “We thought to ourselves, if that’s the case, why not just put the emphasis on the ideas? Why even bother with the exhibition part?”

    We had gathered to toast the launch of the Mobile Biennale, whose “emphasis on ideas” translated to packing a bus with around thirty potential idea-havers, -sharers, and -negaters for a seven-day tour across what some

  • diary July 07, 2014

    Quiet Riot

    “WHAT DO YOU GET someone for their 250th birthday?” bellowed Manifesta’s curator Kasper König, employing a tone that suggested he had a few choice ideas. He was addressing a crowd gathered in the ballroom of Saint Petersburg’s Hotel Astoria to celebrate the opening of the itinerant biennial’s contentious tenth edition, sited in one of the world’s most illustrious museums, the State Hermitage, which was marking an impressive two-and-a-half-century anniversary.

    Cutting a dapper figure in his tux, König certainly didn’t look as battle-weary as he sounded. It was no secret that the exhibition had

  • diary June 10, 2014

    Weekend Lovers

    LAST MONTH, Norway marked the two hundredth anniversary of the signing of its constitution with children’s pageant parades and the traditional fare of hot dogs and ice cream. (“Don't ask us…” curator Jenny Kinge sighed.) As for Oslo’s art world, the bicentennial offered an excellent opportunity to take stock of its uniquely Norwegian situation—the system of guaranteed commissions and arts funding that have created a climate ideal for artist-run spaces, if little else. So in late May, several of these spaces bound together to host Oslo Art Weekend, a relaxed, primarily local affair that wasn’t

  • diary May 20, 2014

    Space Odyssey

    “HONG KONG has nowhere to go. Between the river and the sea, you can’t just add another suburb,” artist Lam Tung-pang declared, turning to the stalwart audience who showed up for Art Basel Hong Kong’s Saturday Salon. “We have to make use of the spaces we have.” His panel’s topic was “Artist Networks,” but it focused more on the twin pillars of real estate and finance than on social relations. To most of the crowd, Lam was known as one of the cofounders of the Fotanian Open Studios, the January festival that canvasses the burgeoning art scene of the industrial Fo Tan district, where studios have