Kate Sutton

  • picks December 05, 2011

    “Voyage Around My Room”

    In 1790, French aristocrat Xavier de Maistre was caught dueling and placed under house arrest. During the forty-two days he spent in his cramped quarters in Turin, de Maistre produced what would later become Voyage Around My Room, 1794, a witty travelogue detailing his adventures within his own apartment. The aristocrat’s flights of domestic fantasy merely flirt with the kind of interior obsession at play within the neighboring Casa Mollino, an extravagant garçonnière entirely outfitted by Carlo Mollino in the 1960s. The prolific designer created every last detail of the apartment, which provided

  • diary December 02, 2011

    Pep Raleigh

    A WISE MAN said something once about “mo’ money mo’ problems.” If that’s the case, I was looking forward to a breezy week in Miami. As it turns out, the money’s not all gone, and neither, really, are the problems. Tuesday evening, I went from a nine-hour plane ride to nine straight hours of opening festivities for Art Basel’s tin anniversary. My night began at the fair’s official welcome cocktail at the W hotel. Cohosted by Kreëmart, the event served up desserts designed by artists such as Richard Tuttle, Ryan McNamara, and Regina Silveira. The cake stations were tucked in the various enclaves

  • diary November 14, 2011

    Riders on the Storm

    THE RAIN WAS JUST BEGINNING when my plane touched down in Turin on Thursday, November 3, right in the middle of the vernissage for the eighteenth edition of the Artissima art fair. “Don’t worry, sweetie,” one of the fair’s volunteers tried to console me. “I’m sure you didn’t miss much. Italians are always late for everything.”

    It wasn’t the Italians I was worried about: All through customs, a friend had been feeding me a malicious stream of texts fabricating Ryan Gosling sightings at the fair. (Did he mean Ryan Gander?) But by the time I arrived at Oval Lingotto Fiere, the fair’s capacious venue,

  • picks November 10, 2011

    João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva

    “Alien Theory”––an extraordinary mix of 16-mm and 35-mm films and two camera obscuras by João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva––has the shamanic ability to reveal new worlds using simple sleight of hand. In the opening film, Benguelino casting a spell on the camera, 2011, the camera crouches before Benguelino, a priestlike figure with a wooden rosary slung around his neck. Swigging from a bottle, Benguelino picks up a candle and spits a mouthful through its flame, sending a blaze toward the lens. His is a magic that comes from a bottle, a chemical reaction between liquid and fire. His methods are

  • picks November 05, 2011

    Raphaël Zarka

    Raphaël Zarka’s obsession with form borders on the near pathological. For his 2009 film Rhombus Sectus, the artist stalked the quadrilateral within modernist architecture, from building facades to lightbulbs. In his latest project, Zarka takes up Alberto Burri’s Il grande cretto, a never-completed memorial sculpture that sits on the ruins of Gibellina Vecchia, a Sicilian village leveled by an earthquake in 1968. In the mid-1980s Burri proposed to cover the remains of the city in flat top concrete, essentially converting a site of natural disaster into an expanded field for what he called his

  • diary October 17, 2011

    Garden Variety

    WHO KNEW LONDON HAD SO MUCH SUNSHINE? Saturday afternoon, I found myself basking under brilliant blue skies seeping through the semitransparent geodesic dome constructed for the annual Serpentine Gallery Marathon. This year’s theme was “Gardens,” apparently inspired by the contemplative black hortus conclusus Peter Zumthor built for the gallery’s eleventh pavilion commission, and it offered an intriguing and welcome juxtaposition to the hubbub of Frieze Art Week. I settled into an enviable seat alongside Bidoun’s Negar Azimi, artist Fritz Haeg, and Tate Modern curator Stuart Comer while the

  • diary October 01, 2011

    Parks and Recreation

    IT WAS MIDNIGHT IN MOSCOW, and I was walking down a well-lit, tree-lined avenue, bolstered on either side by a set of open-air dance schools, where couples twirled and jerked to routines obviously choreographed to more accommodating music. Through the trees, I caught snatches of a screening under the stars, courtesy of the Pioneer Cinema, bastion of independent film in this city. Further down the path, long-legged devushki roller-skated around fluorescent-lit fountains while the park’s loudspeakers blasted an achingly hip playlist—everything from the Kills to the Shirelles. In the clearings, I

  • picks September 28, 2011

    German Titov

    This year’s Russian pavilion at the Venice Biennale shirked the glitziness of past group shows and celebrated a new solemnity with “Empty Zones,” a survey of Moscow Conceptualist Andrei Monastyrski and the group Collective Actions. While the collaborative was most active in the 1970s and ’80s, the anomalous selection of their output prompted a reappraisal of its relevance today, but also it spurred much debate on how to present work that is largely predicated on absence. Moscow Conceptualism prioritized communal practices and a hermeneutical excavation of language; accompanying gestures often

  • diary September 20, 2011

    Quick Fix

    NOT QUITE A FESTIVAL, not quite a fair, the biannual ReMap event is a temporary occupation of two Athenian neighborhoods, Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio. The former, one of the city’s more ancient areas (ancient, as in where we get the the word “ceramic”), has in recent years been abandoned to some of the city’s overt vices. But for one month, galleries including Eva Presenhuber, gb agency, Johann König, and Balice Hertling join local standard-bearers like the Breeder, Rebecca Camhi, and Helena Papadopoulos, taking over empty villas on avenues lined with brothels and boarded-up buildings.


  • picks September 07, 2011

    La Carte d’Après Nature

    When, in 1951, René Magritte titled his self-published journal La Carte d’après nature (The Map After Nature), the name applied as much to its format––many issues consisted of one postcard apiece, printed with text and imagery from a coterie of contributors––as to the postindustrial estrangement from nature that it investigated. Borrowing this title for his group exhibition, in its second iteration after a debut at the Nouveau Musée Nationale de Monaco, artist-curator Thomas Demand maintains a focus not on flora and fauna but on the constructions and framing devices through which they are now

  • diary August 05, 2011

    Panic at the Disco

    LAST SATURDAY, Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center hosted its eighteenth annual Summer Benefit, a performance-art playground for the pretty things summering in the Hamptons. The dress code for this year’s theme, “Voluptuous Panic,” was simply “Fearless.” When I called a friend to consult on what constitutes “fearless,” he wasn’t much help: “I think I’m just going to dress for ‘Panic.’ ”

    Plans for putting together a five-alarm ensemble eventually yielded to ice cream and a late afternoon swim in East Hampton, and I ended up having to sneak into the $1000-to-$1500-a-head benefit through the back door,

  • picks July 06, 2011

    Goshka Macuga

    “Remember France? It broke from within.” So begins a pamphlet published by the Walker Art Center in 1941, touting civic virtue (for which the museum—a product of the WPA—makes a convenient mascot) as the remedy to national crisis. “We can only protect our own country within by making more of us more understanding of each other’s freedom and each other’s work and possessions.”

    A very literal interpretation of this last statement guides Goshka Macuga’s research into the Walker’s architecture, both physical and ideological. During a yearlong residency, the artist parsed archives, investigating the

  • diary June 17, 2011

    Customs Duty

    “YOU MUST HAVE more respect for Switzerland’s traditions!” curator Beatrix Ruf thundered to no one in particular, inadvertently flicking cigarette ash onto the Giacometti-designed tables of the fumoir in the fabled Kronenhalle bar, where the pre-Baselites had gathered last Thursday to observe the Swiss in their natural habitat.

    They put on quite a show. On one couch, David Weiss placidly perused a newspaper, immune to repeated interruptions from Valentin Carron, who kept sticking his head over the page to comment. Another couch overflowed with art students who had gathered to celebrate the opening

  • diary June 06, 2011

    Opening Ceremonies

    THE VENICE BIENNALE may be frequently deemed the Olympics of Art, but one sometimes forgets the workout it provides during the preview, when one finds oneself propelled through three days of palazzo-hopping on a diet of “O”s: prosecco, espresso, and gelato. On Thursday, my first prosecco of the day was at the opening of the Montenegro pavilion, which doubled as a breakfast reception for the Marina Abramović Community Obod. “The thing I love about the name is that it puts the emphasis on community,” curator Svetlana Racanovic ventured. Does it now? Abramović clarified: “It’s not that I want to

  • picks June 01, 2011

    Mark Grotjahn

    With these “Nine Faces,” Mark Grotjahn appears to have returned to the chrysalis stage. The much-lauded painter of “butterflies” claims to have always used the inherent symmetry of the face as the initial support structure for his paintings. In these new works, the titular faces are at last allowed to penetrate the surface, surging out from the near-sculptural topography of the paintings. Grotjahn applies his paint with a palette knife, knotting together the thick hatch marks into strands, which are then wound in harsh diagonals across the canvas. Each individual mark contains multiple unmixed

  • diary May 24, 2011

    Happy Endings

    LAST FRIDAY, as the would-be-Raptured Craigslisted off their futons, the PinchukArtCentre celebrated what lies ahead: not only its Future Generation Art Prize (which makes its international debut next week in Venice), but also “Your Emotional Future,” Olafur Eliasson’s jaw-dropping (at this point, does he have another mode?) exhibition, seeping through three floors of the building. Eliasson demurely shrugged off a share of the credit: “I just do half the work; you do the rest by coming here.”

    And come they did. It helped that SANAHUNT, a luxury concept store, was staging its own version of the

  • picks May 02, 2011

    Raphael Montañez Ortiz

    Raphael Montañez Ortiz may be hailed as performance art’s piano man––his “concerts” (which he “played” with an axe) were even immortalized in a New Yorker cartoon––but the actual politics of the artist’s “Destructivism” made for much more than a dinner show. According to archives compiled by artist-curator Pedro Reyes, participants in Ortiz’s performances flogged each other with dead chickens, doused one another with cups of animal blood, and committed mass “mouse murder” (a comment on the Vietnam draft)––all part of a ritualistic release the artist offered as a quasi-shamanistic rebuttal to

  • diary April 27, 2011

    One More Minute

    LAST FRIDAY, the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture opened its doors for “New York Minute,” an expansion of the 2009 group exhibition at MACRO in Rome. The show whirls together a raucous, at times willfully tasteless take on “New York,” which here translates to a scrappy street-punk style spiked with a certain glamorous credibility: in short, graffiti pegged with aggressively design-conscious wall labels. (“Deitch meets Place des Vosges?” one French curator suggested.)

    In putting together the show, curator Kathy Grayson seemed to make lifestyle part of the aesthetic criteria, noting in the

  • diary March 07, 2011

    Jane Champions

    ON WEDNESDAY EVENING, I followed the opening of the Armory Show with a dinner for Bidoun Projects. The event took over a sumptuous SoHo loft in the New Museum building on Mercer and boasted an ecumenical host committee that included Shirin Neshat, Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller, Jimmy Traboulsi, Maria Baibakova, and Chelsea Clinton. “Bidoun’s such an amazing project,” Clinton explained. “Besides, I would support anything Negar [Azimi] does.”

    The festivities kicked off with a benefit auction, during which guests like Michael Stipe, RoseLee Goldberg, Cay Sophie Rabinowitz, and Jay Jopling could snap

  • picks December 30, 2010

    Andrei Monastyrski

    In the 1985 video Confession to a Lamp, a young Andrei Monastyrski casts shadows on the wall as he sits before a lamp, delivering a mumbled assessment of the situation of the artist in Soviet Moscow. In between earnest facial expressions, forearm scratches, and deep drags on his cigarette, Monastyrski concludes that the only course of action is to adhere to a purely existential practice.

    Even before this moment, the artist’s work had been predicated on semantic divisions, awarding voids and pauses primacy over actions. This ambitious retrospective––the first museum show for perhaps the most