Kate Sutton

  • Stine Janvin Motland in Adam Linder's To Gear a Joan. (Except where noted, all photos: Kate Sutton)
    diary September 11, 2017

    Now I Know How Joan of Arc Felt

    JOANS, GET OUT HERE with your skills . . . UP!

    The call-to-arms at the core of Adam Linder’s To Gear a Joan came from a pert, partially armored performer following a slow parade around the attic space of the Trevarefabrikken, an old cod-liver oil factory lately serving as a “social shelter.” Conceived as a “wearable libretto,” “activated” by the Stavanger-born vocalist Stine Janvin Motland, Linder’s performance will recur throughout the September run of this year’s Lofoten International Arts Festival, which kicked off the Friday before last in Henningsvær, a comely little fishing village roughly

  • Chto Delat, It Did Not Happen with Us Yet. Safe Haven, 2017, two-channel HD video, color, sound, 42 minutes.

    “CHTO DELAT: WHEN WE THOUGHT WE HAD ALL THE ANSWERS, LIFE CHANGED THE QUESTIONS”

    Chto Delat is a group of writers, philosophers, and artists that takes its name, which translates to “What is to be done?” from the title of an 1863 novel by the political revolutionary Nikolay Chernyshevsky (a title lifted by Lenin for his own 1902 tract). Since its founding in 2003, the Saint Petersburg–based collective has applied the eponymous query to both the specific situation in Russia and the larger systems of global capitalism. For its first solo presentation in Mexico, Chto Delat tests what value a self-organized collective holds

  • Iván Argote, As Far As We Could Get, 2017, HD video, color, sound, 22 minutes.

    Iván Argote

    You can tell a lot about a society by how it imagines its opposite. The term antipode derives from the Greek for having one foot facing the wrong direction. Its geographical usage—designating points diametrically opposite one another on the globe—stems from the ancient belief that the other side of the earth held a kind of netherworld, where everything was inverted, causing the men who lived there to walk backwards. 

    Iván Argote tests this theory, surveying a pair of modern-day antipodes for his twenty-two-minute video As Far As We Could Get, 2017. Urban antipodes are rare, with only

  • Geta Brătescu, Les Mains. Pentru ochi, mâna trupului meu îmi reconstituie portretul (The Hands. For the Eye, the Hand of My Body Reconstitutes My Portrait), 1977, 8 mm film transferred to DVD, black-and-white, silent, 4 minutes and 55 seconds.

    Geta Brătescu

    In a 2014 diary entry, Geta Brătescu compares the artist to an acrobat, reasoning that the two face a shared obstacle, daunting enough to name in uppercase letters: “SPACE.” The ninety-one-year-old Romanian artist has dedicated much of her seven-decade career to negotiating enclosures ranging from the confines of a blank page to the mutable gap between her thumb and her index finger. Her maneuvers frequently draw on the recurring motif of the studio—another concept that looms large for Brătescu. 

    “The Studio: A Tireless, Ongoing Space” explored a place of possibility, suspended in a constant

  • View of “Wormwood,” 2017.
    picks July 27, 2017

    “Wormwood”

    Amid the B-movie monstrosities of the Book of Revelation lurks the Wormwood star, destined to hit the earth and poison a third of its waters upon impact. This doomsday comet shares its name with Artemisia absinthium (absinthe wormwood), the bitter medicinal herb responsible for absinthe’s curious coupling of extreme clarity and hallucinogenic stupor.

    Organized by Todd von Ammon, this group exhibition mingles decadence, delirium, and decay in a cocktail best sipped slowly. Associations with prophecies and poisons align in the forked tongues of Olivia Erlanger’s Slow Violence, 2016, a duo of

  • Left: Ambassador Philippe Guex with FADE IN 2 co-curator Simon Castets at the Swiss Ambassador's Residence. Right: Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade Zoran Erić and FADE IN 2 co-curator Julie Boukobza.
    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

  • Hans Op de Beeck, The Collector’s House, 2016, mixed media, 66 x 41 x 13'.
    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

  • Left: Kunsthalle Wien director Nicolaus Schafhausen. Right: Artists Francis Ruyter, Gelitin's Ali Janka, and Günter Gerdes at One Work Gallery. (All photos: Kate Sutton)
    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

  • Left: Curator Sinziana Ravini with artist Radenko Milak at the Bosnia and Herzegovina Pavilion. Right: Curator Peter Eleey and artist Francis Alÿs at the Iraq Pavilion. (All photos: Kate Sutton)
    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

  • Harumi Yamaguchi, Roller Skate, 1977, acrylic on board, 20 x 28 1/2".
    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

  • Rostan Tavasiev, Rechvnich, 2016, paper, mixed media, 23 1/2 x 20".
    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

  • View of “Cécile B. Evans,” 2017. Photo: Georg Petermichl.

    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