Kate Sutton

  • diary September 18, 2013

    Winter Is Coming

    A FOUR-HOUR FERRY RIDE up past the Arctic Circle, Norway’s Lofoten Islands are a true anomaly, a polar archipelago with a California climate, an effect of the warm Gulf Stream waters. At 68º North, the landscape is Sublime, from the craggy, cloud-shrouded cliffs of the fjords to the white sandy beaches edging aquamarine bays. Home to Norwegian painter Gunnar Berg and muse to Edgar Allan Poe and William Carlos Williams alike, Lofoten eludes description. Almost. “It’s like my Windows 95 backdrop,” one artist marveled. “Cold Hawaii,” suggested another.

    Previously a mostly local affair, the eighth

  • diary September 08, 2013

    Weekend Warriors

    “TO BIENNIAL, OR NOT TO BIENNIAL?” That was the question back at the 2009 Bergen Assembly Conference. That gathering had been convened as a think tank for a city angling to become, as more than one public official assured me, the “most open, daring, creative, and innovative within the Nordic countries by the year 2017.” But as plans came together for a Bergen biennial, doubts starting to rise as to whether a grand-scale exhibition was really the kind of “open, daring, creative and innovative” maneuver the city needed. After all, three decades into a so-called biennial explosion, the term itself

  • picks June 12, 2013

    Grete Stern

    In 1948, a year after Eva Perón’s efforts helped secure Argentinian women the right to vote, Idilio magazine was campaigning for their right to dream. For a column titled “El psicoanálisis le ayudará” (Psychoanalysis Will Help You), the primarily female readership would submit descriptions of their dreams to editor Richard Rest (the nom de plume of philosopher and sociologist Gino Germani), who then decoded the meaning of each vision using popular psychology. Additional commentary—often more cynical than sympathetic—could be gleaned in the accompanying illustrations by Bauhaus-trained émigré

  • diary June 09, 2013

    Affirmative Action

    THE ROAD TO ATHENS is lined with empty billboards. One after another, endless and contentless, in various stages of abandon. Small irony that each is topped with a small placard, presumably the name of the parent company: REMEDY. When you enter Athens, however, there’s at least a superficial sense of a city on the mend. From Kolonaki to Kypseli, there’s a new world of design hotels and hipster bars, where cabs come when called and upstart, all-caps ventures like CAN and LIGHTROOM Projects cultivate a decidedly Athenian sensibility.

    “You in Greece should know about things falling apart,” Urs

  • Jonas Staal

    Barclays Capital’s Skyscraper Index—an annual report that traces the curious correlation between contenders for the title of “world’s tallest building” and fluctuations in the Dow Jones—holds that when markets go down, skyscrapers go up. This index serves as a fitting point of departure for “Monument to Capital,” the two-part project that anchors “Art After Democratism,” Jonas Staal’s first solo exhibition in Dubai, a city whose most improbable architecture—including the current recordholder for the highest building, the Burj Khalifa—appeared in a moment of crisis within the

  • diary May 29, 2013

    Encyclopedic Knowledge

    EVEN BEFORE THE FIRST BELLINIS could be served, this year’s Venice Biennale kicked off with a hangover. The S.S. Hangover, to be precise—a repurposed Icelandic sailing ship loaded with chamber musicians, the latest in Ragnar Kjartansson’s endurance-based performances. “When I first saw the boat, I thought it looked like something made by a set designer,” chuckled the artist. “It’s like a bastard of all the boats I could have wanted.” We stood on the lawn beside the Gaggiandre, the dock area outside the Arsenale where the work makes its rounds. At that early hour, 10 AM on Tuesday, I harbored

  • diary May 25, 2013

    The Last Unicorn

    “ALAN’S TRULY MAGICAL, like this unicorn cowboy dressed all in white. You’ll love him!” a friend babbled over brunch last Sunday, a day before I left for Buenos Aires to visit the Faena Arts Center. My first actual glimpse of the mythical Alan Faena would be from the rooftop terrace of the Aleph—the residential building that marks Foster + Partners’s debut in Latin America. Faena, indeed decked out in white, from his fedora to his feet, was strolling down the street outside the Faena Hotel, reappearing minutes later in a penthouse window. “Does he ever leave the district?” one of my companions

  • picks March 31, 2013

    Mary Beth Edelson

    Mary Beth Edelson’s 1972 collage Some Living American Women Artists features—as its title suggests—a coterie of female artists cut and pasted over the sallow faces of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. Georgia O’Keeffe presides at the center, all cool composure in the borrowed body of Christ, while her disciples number Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, Louises Nevelson and Bourgeois, and a thickly spectacled Nancy Graves. Though relatively tame in the time of memes, when the piece was first displayed it was read as taking on the church and patriarchy, and thus was quickly taken up as a banner for

  • diary March 29, 2013

    People of Means

    “THIS IS STRAIGHT out of Inception, right?” Mari Spirito mused last Monday on the staircase of the Salsali Private Museum. She meant the city as a whole; Dubai, having exhausted our capacity to imagine, had left us fumbling for cinematic comparisons. “Don’t you feel like we’re in some B-grade spy thriller?” Phil Tinari asked me later that evening, as we took in the schizophrenic skyline from the penthouse of the Index Tower, where we’d all gathered for a house party thrown by Ayyam Gallery’s Khaled and Hisham Samawi. I considered correcting Tinari—does it get any more “blockbuster” than sipping

  • diary March 01, 2013

    Hollywood Ending

    “IT’S DEFINITELY SURREAL,” photographer Todd Eberle admitted at Dom Pérignon’s luncheon for Marina Abramović last Friday at the Chateau Marmont. “All of a sudden you’re in a room with everyone you just saw on the screen. It’s a little like being at a zoo if they let all the animals out at once.” A Vanity Fair veteran, Eberle was coaching me through the finer points of navigating the magazine’s infamous Academy Awards Afterparty, which rang in its twentieth year on Sunday. Tabloids insist on calling the event “the most coveted invite in town,” but never tell the art world there’s a party they

  • picks February 07, 2013

    Erdem Taşdelen

    The 1981 manual How to Photograph People defines the “semi-aware” subject as one who understands that he or she may be photographed, but never knows at which precise instant. (Think of a performer on stage or an athlete mid-competition.) Staking a claim on the term, Erdem Taşdelen offers this exhibition as a portrait of the artist as a young semi-aware subject. He first tallies the various postures available to him in Erdem Taşdelen, 2011, a set of forty-eight brightly hued business cards, assigning the artist dubious designations like WALKING CLICHÉ, TACTLESS OPPORTUNIST, or DESOLATE BIBLIOPHILE.

  • Edgar Arceneaux

    “I told Jesus, it would be all right, if he changed my name . . .” The soul singer’s voice trembles through the opening notes before swooping confidently down into the lower registers, as she tests out her conviction in varying intonation. Over the verses that follow, Jesus warns his “child” of the grave consequences of a new name: The world will surely turn away from her; even her family won’t know her. The seeker remains resolute, her voice formidable as it reaches the refrain: “It would be all right. . . .”

    The old spiritual lies at the heart of Edgar Arceneaux’s twenty-three-minute film I

  • diary December 18, 2012

    Road to Ruin

    PHILADELPHIA’S STORIED FABRIC WORKSHOP AND MUSEUM was originally conceived by philanthropist Marion “Kippy” Boulton Stroud as a way to entice artists to incorporate textiles into their practice. Over its extensive history—“thirty-five years, one way or another,” if you ask Kippy—the program has hosted five hundred–plus artists-in-residence, from Mike Kelley, Ed Ruscha, and Felix Gonzales-Torres to Laura Owens, Shahzia Sikander, and Ryan Trecartin. More than just relocating the artists physically, the program moves them out of the comfort zone of their chosen medium, encouraging experimentation

  • diary October 22, 2012

    Show Boat

    EVEN IN AUTUMN, Paris plays like a summer pop song: slick, dirty, a little cheesy—but you just can’t help singing along. Last week at FIAC, people were feeling young, even in the midst of October’s punishing back-to-back fair schedule. Following Frieze, the French fair felt like a breath of fresh air. Dealers everywhere were beaming (or at least attempting to), reporting actual sales and not just the “record figures” promised in postfair press releases.

    FIAC week unofficially launched in the suburbs of Paris, with a high-profile Anselm Kiefer showdown in two new spaces: one (Thaddaeus Ropac) in

  • diary October 03, 2012

    The Culture Industry

    LAST MONTH, a stalwart crew of art critics, academics, and enthusiasts huddled in the cold rain on the border of Europe and Asia to celebrate the opening of the second edition of the Ural Industrial Biennial of Art. The project is the crown jewel in the waning empire of Russia’s National Center for Contemporary Art (NCCA), which actively maintains outposts in Saint Petersburg, Nizhnyi Novogorod, and Kaliningrad, but generally only makes the papers with its yearly Innovation prize. In the face of competition from private ventures like the Garage and the Strelka Institute, NCCA has struggled to

  • diary September 17, 2012

    Nights of the Roundtable

    “DID YOU KNOW that when they want to show Korea in movies, they film in Malibu?” a California-based professor divulged from the seat beside me.

    Looking out at Gwangju through the bus window, I found it difficult to picture Barbie and Ken cruising their pink convertible around the Buk-gu high-rises. Then again, the city has played host to stranger realities. In 1980, a student uprising here ended in a massacre that forever altered the country’s political history. The Gwangju Biennale was founded fifteen years later as a way to commemorate that legacy of resistance. Since then, the sleepy southern

  • diary September 01, 2012

    Dream Catcher

    THE NAME OF THE FOUNDING KING OF LITHUANIA, “Mindaugas” is a relatively common appellation in the Baltic country, loosely translating to “many ideas.” It is also the name of the character who serves, quite literally, as the human conduit for the Eleventh Baltic Triennial, which kicked off its twelve-day run on Thursday, August 24, at Vilnius’s Contemporary Art Center.

    Eschewing the traditional format, curators Defne Ayas and Benjamin Cook chose to focus on performance and film, recruiting artists Michael Portnoy and Ieva Misevičiūte to plot a creative framework that would work to the advantage

  • diary August 19, 2012

    Pussy Control

    IN SEPTEMBER 2008, a little-known group by the name of Voina descended on an unsuspecting hypermarket on the outskirts of Moscow, blocking off one of the massive aisles with shopping carts and staging a lynching of three hired gasterbaiters (a derogatory but prevalent term for migrant workers from Central Asia). These workers-cum-performers had agreed to be paid for their services, and the happening might have effectively addressed the city’s callous labor system had it not been for the added distraction of two hot-panted “homosexual” comrades-in-nooses, who spent most of the video documentation

  • picks July 14, 2012

    Christodoulos Panayiotou

    In Bertolt Brecht’s parable “Der Messingkauf” (The Purchase of Brass), the narrator speculates on the absurdity of walking into a music store and attempting to buy a trumpet at the cost of its materials. In a nod to this conceit, Christodoulos Panayiotou presents here a fountain fashioned from a single copper plate. L’Achat du cuivre (The Purchase of Brass), 2012, is the title of the prologue and first act of this two-act exhibition, which is full of Brechtian turns as it riddles the relationship between audience and spectacle.

    For act one, Panayiotou and curator Pierre Bal-Blanc installed “

  • diary June 06, 2012

    Mine Reading

    THE ROAMING BIENNIAL MANIFESTA makes a point of dwelling on peripheries, from the oft-overlooked international hub Luxembourg in 1998 to the Basque borders of Donostia-San Sebastian in 2004 to the contested territories of Nicosia (so contentious, in fact, that Manifesta 6, in 2006, had to be canceled). This year, instead of mucking around in “The Contemporary and Its Discontents” (à la insert-biennial-here), Manifesta 9 delves into what fueled Modernism to begin with: coal. Titled “The Deep of the Modern,” the sprawling three-part exhibition uses the coal mine as a vantage point from which to