Kate Sutton

  • 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

  • diary December 23, 2010

    Batting Average

    IT WAS ALREADY DUSK by 3 PM last Friday as I slid/shuffled my way across the icy Patriarch Bridge to the Red October Chocolate Factory. The venue had been famously brought into international art-world consciousness in 2008 as the site of Gagosian’s second foray into Moscow; now it was host to the city’s newest contemporary art fair, Cosmoscow (or “CosmosCow,” as friends couldn’t resist calling it).

    Touted by the leading newspaper Kommersant as “a little piece of Art Basel in Russia,” Cosmoscow was initiated by collector and first-time fair director Margarita Pushkina and dealers Vladimir Ovcharenko

  • diary December 07, 2010

    Dis Education

    “WHERE IS EVERYONE? It was so quiet at the fair today . . . ” moaned a dealer nursing a caipirinha poolside at the Delano. The perennial complaint that there’s too much going on (a grumble right up there with, “But I’m on the list!”) this year struck a stark contrast with the more relaxed-fit feel at Art Basel proper.

    Thus I was unprepared for the bustle Thursday morning at the opening for NADA, where most visitors stuck to the party line and endorsed the gig as an enthusiastic antidote to Big Fair bullying. It’s tricky to tell how much of this has to do with the work on view, and how much is

  • picks November 24, 2010

    “Big Sign – Little Building”

    “Learning from the existing landscape is a way of being revolutionary for an architect,” authors Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour claim in their collaborative 1972 publication Learning from Las Vegas. “Not the obvious way, which is to tear down Paris and to begin again, as Le Corbusier suggested in the 1920s, but another, more tolerant way: that is to question how we look at things.”

    Curated by Marta Kuzma, “Big Sign – Little Building” takes Learning from Las Vegas as a point of departure from which to consider the changing concept of a “landscape” in the age of American

  • diary October 27, 2010

    Strike It Rich

    IF FRANCE’S RECENT nationwide strikes and faltering Eurostar service inspired anxiety among those on the Frieze–FIAC socializing spree, the reality was that the blazing barricades plastering the cover of the New York Times were nowhere to be seen around the taxi lines outside Le Meurice. “Actually, the reduced traffic has made cabs a hell of a lot more affordable,” one collector quipped, affecting that ironic obliviousness best served with Bellinis.

    Aside from the strikes, last week’s FIAC tour was all about spaces: Gagosian’s new one, Chantal Crousel’s second one, Perrotin’s expanded one—and

  • diary October 14, 2010

    My Own Private Oslo

    BACK BEFORE THE REIGN of Ryanair and “caring” about your carbon footprint, cheap flights often meant layovers in underappreciated airports like Copenhagen or Reykjavík. While this may no longer be the case, I still opted for the more adventurous, northern route for my pre-Frieze weekend, eschewing both Art Forum Berlin and Manifesta to attend Tauba Auerbach’s opening at the Standard Gallery in Oslo. After all, I reasoned, how many excuses does one get to go to Oslo? (A gross miscalculation, apparently, as the weekend would give me plenty.)

    Thanks to the efforts of organizations like the UKS (

  • diary September 27, 2010

    Staying Alive

    ON TUESDAY, September 14, the Centre Pompidou debuted its two latest exhibitions: Gabriel Orozco’s traveling “Terra Cognita” and Prix Duchamp winner Saâdane Afif’s “An Anthology of Black Humor.” The latter—which borrows its title from the delirious omnibus by old-world delinquent André Breton—came off as a Dadaist eulogy for the Pompidou. Afif, something of a dark horse himself, had solicited acquaintances to contribute songs on Death and the Museum, which were then printed on gray walls. For the centerpiece, the artist commissioned Kudjoe Affutu—a Ghanese custom coffin maker, onetime assistant

  • diary June 20, 2010

    Fairy Tale Ending


    WHILE OTHERS angled for last-minute flights from Berlin, my Art Basel warm-up consisted of a full night’s sleep chased with champagne and a visit to Droog at the Monday afternoon preview of Design Miami/Basel. It would have been nice to stick around and enjoy the smartly dressed company, but staying put wasn’t on the agenda. Instead, I set off for the opening of Liste, a less well-heeled event, if only because everyone knows stilettos are no match for the iron-grate stairwells of the labyrinthine Werkraum Warteck, the longtime venue for the “young art fair” that is now celebrating its fifteenth

  • picks May 04, 2010

    “Always Other Art”

    Widely recognized as one of the most important contemporary collectors of Russian icons, Victor Bondarenko has also amassed an extensive collection of “Other Art”––the “nonconformist” and underground art of the Soviet period. Bridging several generations (from the 1970s to now), the one hundred works on display in this group exhibition constitute approximately one-third of Bondarenko’s contemporary collection. Curator Sergey Popov has opted not to indulge too heavily in the “underground” imperative (the too-popular sleight of playing up the social conditions around the work’s creation, rather

  • diary April 30, 2010

    Sex Drive


    OF THE MANY OBSTACLES on the path to transcendence, volcanic ash may not be the most obvious. That said, escalating travel hassles drastically reduced attendance for last week’s art-world-takes-Eastern-Europe tour between a Mark Rothko opening at the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow and a group exhibition, “Sexuality and Transcendence,” at the PinchukArtCentre in Kiev. Following a week of distressed Facebook status messages, many jet-setters reconsidered the merits of flying to Moscow for a dinner party (even a really good one). It wasn’t so much flying in that was the problem.

  • diary March 08, 2010

    Rats to Riches

    New York

    ON THURSDAY EVENING, the former Dia, now former X Initiative space, in Chelsea witnessed the dawn of Independent, a “hybrid model” or “transparent financial cooperative” (read: fair with benefits) masterminded by, among others, dealers Elizabeth Dee and Darren Flook. Originally, the idea had raised eyebrows—does anything new or of interest in the art world not?—but by the time of the opening, most visitors seemed convinced by the project’s unconventional format and celebrated its dearth of walls, which gave way to an appealing alloverness. (So long as we had something to talk about besides New

  • picks March 08, 2010

    “The Calm Before the Storm”

    How can one characterize “the calm before the storm” in a place where the storm is always raging? This is the question driving curator Vardit Gross’s selection of Israeli video art in this exhibition, which seeks to submerge viewers in a state of perpetual suspense. A constant, controlled raveling and unraveling underlies Sigalit Landau’s luscious DeadSee, 2005. The work centers on an image of the artist floating in the Dead Sea, tucked tightly within a coil of watermelons (some partially engorged, to a gloriously sensual effect). As the spiral unwinds, Landau is dragged along with it, clinging

  • diary January 25, 2010

    Keeping the Faith


    ABUNDANT ICE AND A –25°C CHILL pretty much precluded stilettos, but it didn’t stop a crowd of nearly five thousand fur-clad visitors from descending on last Friday’s opening of concurrent solo shows (Sergey Bratkov and Subodh Gupta) at the PinchukArtCentre. When asked to explain the connection between the artists, collector Victor Pinchuk noted a “spiritual synonymity” between the respective exhibition titles: “Ukraine” (Bratkov) and “Faith Matters” (Gupta).

    An unofficial retrospective, Bratkov’s exhibition culminates a three-year process that began when the artist was tapped for the PAC-administrated

  • diary December 22, 2009

    Village People


    IN 2007, Larry Gagosian brought Jeff Koons, Piotr Uklanski, and Richard Prince to Barvikha, the “Luxury Village” forty minutes outside Moscow, temporarily setting up shop upstairs from Alfa-Bank and across from the Lamborghini showroom. Few in the art public ever made the trek—unfathomable traffic and a lack of public-transportation options played at least some part—and most critics based their venomous reviews on press images. A certain disenchantment, then, greeted the ArtChronika Foundation’s decision to host the December 10 award ceremony for the third edition of its annual Kandinsky Prize

  • diary December 05, 2009

    Moon over Miami


    THIS YEAR, I PAID my Miami penance up front, with back-to-back red-eye flights—seventeen hours’ worth—from Moscow. In return, I was rewarded with indecently warm weather and the delicious stupor of intense sleep deprivation. This meant that by the time I arrived at Emmanuel Perrotin’s gallery for dinner on Tuesday night (after pantomiming the address to my French cab driver), it already felt like the afterparty. The good-natured dealer had flown in the majority of the participating artists—among them Matthieu Mercier, Bernard Frize, and Daniel Firman—for the group exhibition and two solo shows

  • picks December 01, 2009

    Vladimir Logutov

    “Boom” marks Samara, Russia–based artist Vladimir Logutov’s first solo show at this gallery. The tightly conceived exhibition follows on the artist’s experiments with compression (for instance, a project in which Logutov commissioned steel workers to pound a railroad tie into a knot) by focusing instead on tropes of explosion—albeit in a highly controlled and technically convoluted manner.

    The show centers on the four-channel installation Pause, 2009, which features projected videos in flickering stasis, as if someone had pushed the Pause button on the DVD player. Logutov uses his own footage of

  • diary October 19, 2009

    Everything Counts


    HAILING A CAB to Primrose Hill last Tuesday for the opening of the modestly titled Museum of Everything, one of many events coinciding with the Frieze Art Fair, I found the queue to get in stretching around the block, with rumors of an estimated forty-minute wait. Thankfully, I’d had the foresight to share my cab with a prominent London dealer––it helps to have an in when it comes to outsider art––and we were discreetly shuffled inside.

    The Museum of Everything was masterminded by collector James Brett, who invited noteworthy figures from Hans Ulrich Obrist and Jeremy Deller to Nick Cave and