Katie Anania

  • picks April 28, 2017

    “Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time: Against Capitalism’s Temporal Bullying”

    The blank white wall that faces the viewer when entering the New York installment of this exhibition is no curatorial oversight. Rather, it is a component of an installation by artist Cassie Thornton (Psychic Architecture, 2017), its smooth drywall surface a bureaucratic metonym for the emotional walls that Americans erect when they negotiate the healthcare system. At once familiar and frustratingly ungenerous, the wall is a fitting mascot for this group show, organized by Taraneh Fazeli, which takes place in New York City with satellite events in Houston—two major hubs of finance and healthcare.

  • diary March 01, 2015

    Ghost in the Machine

    “BETWEEN ACTION AND THE UNKNOWN,” the Shiraga/Motonaga show at the Dallas Museum of Art, is studded with death and damage, or at least with simulations. One of the highlights of the exhibition tour I attended a couple weeks ago was Kazuo Shiraga’s painting Wild Boar, 1963, in which a real boar hide is splayed across a six-foot canvas and covered in red paint meant to simulate entrails. Gabriel Ritter, who curated the show with Koichi Kawasaki, tells us that Shiraga, frustrated with his inability to hunt and kill a wild boar on his own, ended up buying the hide at a market. Next we shuffle around

  • picks February 03, 2015

    “Friendship and Freedom”

    History is always partial, fragmentary. Remnants and details rise to the surface, but the rest has to be reconstituted by observers in the present—doubly so for queer history, which often has other layers of obfuscation to deal with. Some of the components of “Friendship and Freedom” read like a historical exhibit awaiting queer rebirth. Leah DeVun’s vitrine of punk-rock friendship books culled from her personal archive, for instance, is installed beneath three tape recorders playing gravelly, decaying mixtapes. DeVun’s accompanying photos of the fey and fanciful little books serve to “queer”

  • interviews December 10, 2014

    Amy Franceschini

    Tree University is a site-specific project created by the collective Futurefarmers that was inspired by the life and work of Henry David Thoreau. Developed for the exhibition “Walden, revisited” at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, the work centers on a fallen Norway spruce in the middle of the park. Here, Futurefarmer Amy Franceschini—who founded the group in 1994—discusses the project. “Walden, revisited” runs through April 26, 2015.

    TREE UNIVERSITY grew out of a lineage of “free school” projects that Futurefarmers had been organizing. We had been wanting to

  • interviews September 29, 2014

    Sanaz Mazinani

    Sanaz Mazinani is a San Francisco–based artist whose work explores the relationship between perception and representation. Her installation U.S.A.I.R.A.N., 2014, is currently featured in “5 x 5,” a program of contemporary, temporary public art spearheaded by the Washington, DC, commission on the arts and humanities. Mazinani’s work, which appropriates the exterior of a vacant library at 1300 H Street Northeast in DC’s thriving H Street Corridor, is on view until November 21, 2014.

    U.S.A.I.R.A.N. is a public art installation that activates a vacant space by covering all its windows with a set of

  • picks September 03, 2014

    Forrest Bess

    Like the Kinsey Report, Forrest Bess’s work synthesized several currents in motion in midcentury America: new, open-minded perspectives that science and medicine offered on the physical body and the self. This exhibition emphasizes not only Bess’s small, spare abstract paintings, but also his life as a sexual visionary in a small Texas fishing village, where he painted in solitude and corresponded with such art-world luminaries as Betty Parsons and Meyer Schapiro, and sexologists such as John Money. From his small house where he worked as a bait salesman, he would send Parsons paintings to sell,

  • picks January 28, 2013

    “40 Under 40: Craft Futures”

    This exhibition, which is curated by Nicholas R. Bell and features forty emerging artists working at the intersection of art and craft, has a title that provokes futuristic visions. In keeping with the current shift to digital technology, viewers might expect this show to champion an erasure of the evidence of the hand in production that was traditionally associated with craft. Indeed, there is little messiness here, but what one finds instead is an uncanniness that stems from the actual bodies that constantly intervene on the more controlled, product-oriented facets of craft.

    Olek’s installation

  • picks November 06, 2011

    Harmony Hammond

    Seething with bumps and snags, Harmony Hammond’s new paintings collapse many divergent qualities onto one profoundly built-up surface. Flap 2008-11, for instance, features a taut seam running horizontally across the width of the canvas. Taken by itself, the seam mimics any number of gendered phenomena in the world that we tend to read as having sexed characteristics: the envelope-style closure of throw pillow covers, or the opening of a dress shirt. This combined with the thick, spackled, golden veneer (and the additional layers of hue that viewers can discern if they inspect the side of the

  • picks December 06, 2010

    Keith Wilson

    In this exhibition, Keith Wilson puts himself in dialogue with Ed Ruscha’s early photographs of banal architecture. After touring the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin, Texas, on foot, Wilson produced eighteen straightforward pictures of apartments in the area, works that are largely displayed in pairs here—one long shot of each Hyde Park apartment complex, and one perfectly centered shot of the complex’s logo in situ on the building. The accompanying artist’s book couples the images in the same way, creating a sequential part-whole relationship between graphic text (the logos) and architectural

  • picks April 12, 2010

    “Desire”

    The difficulty in talking about “Desire,” the Blanton’s deliciously problematic assembly of international contemporary artists, without using “I” or “we” speaks to the show’s efficacy. In attempting to sort out the forty-six works in this show, one wants to use personal pronouns: Do I like this? Do you? Does she? But videos like Isaac Julien’s Long Road to Mazatlan, 1999, whose narrative in certain moments combines the restrained aggression of cruising with Javier de Frutos’s modernist choreography, both implicate and exclude the observer, underscoring the argument that desire is not proprietary

  • picks October 13, 2009

    Leah DeVun and Levi Dugat

    Leah DeVun and Levi Dugat’s works love the eye, using alternating stretches of seamless, misty penciled passages and scribbled fill-ins to enmesh reverie with alienation. “Your Heart Is Not a Museum,” an exhibition of drawings, is the artists’ second collaboration; most of the works on view were authored together via conversation rather than by hand. Viewers can imagine each artist visiting the other’s studio and leaving ideas like so many Victorian calling cards, generating the vulnerability, intimacy, and occasional identity dysphoria that bind the resulting works together.

    Their styles are

  • picks September 13, 2009

    “Polymict”

    “Polymict” is a small exhibition, and its component works in Okay Mountain’s garage space feel distilled, as though melted down to make an elixir. Enter the word polymict, a geologic space composed of layers of rock from different sources. Curator Nathan Green installed half the show (five paintings each by Logan Grider and Ludwig Schwarz), and then invited Warren Aldrich and Lillian Gerson to build an installation that responds to the canvases. Green complicates the motif of geologic layering with the idea of layers in general, placing Grider and Schwarz’s bright abstract works along three

  • picks August 02, 2009

    Francisco Matto

    “The Modern and the Mythic: Francisco Matto” shows one of Joaquín Torres-Garcia’s most commercially successful students to also be one of the most resonant, though curator Gabriel Perez-Barreiro goes out of his way to disprove the existence of a causal relationship between the former and the latter. Matto’s economical use of forms and strokes, which remained constant from the 1940s to the ’90s, refreshingly obfuscates any narrative of stylistic development. To illustrate the cohesiveness of Matto’s oeuvre, the show wends through several clusters of galleries—some exhibiting vertical two-dimensional

  • picks June 18, 2009

    “Practice, Practice, Practice”

    In “Practice, Practice, Practice,” artist Michael Smith and curator Jay Sanders reformulate the comedic punch line into a unit: the number three, a pedagogy shared by Jasper Johns (“Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it”). The abruptness of these ideas betrays the exhibition’s second premise: that artistic practice is tantamount to banal repetition punctuated by accidentally interesting moments, enfeebling the modernist myth of making. Wedged into the gallery space are works by twenty-six artists that explore comedic processes––feigned expertise, futility, zeal, consonance,