Keith Seward

  • Andres Serrano

    Andres Serrano returned from the land of the dead and apparently decided to go East—to Budapest, “a city that attracted his attention in 1993 during a brief detour from Vienna,” as the press release for his latest exhibition so picturesquely put it. Serrano is the artistic equivalent of a band that puts out concept albums, and for this new show the theme is not the morgue, the KKK, or body fluids, but the city. While being plunged into the rhythms of a new metropolis tends to produce a discombobulating sense of contingency in most of us, Serrano appears to have emerged from Budapest with an

  • Jeanne Dunning

    Jeanne Dunning tends to take two kinds of photographs: at first glance, you might characterize them as pictures that either defamiliarize the familiar or vice versa. The former present a thing in a way that suggests something else, as in Dunning’s well-known pictures of anuslike fruits, or in a recent photograph called Hand Hole (all works 1994), a tight close-up of a cupped hand that takes on the appearance of some sort of sexual orifice; the latter clearly and unambiguously focus on an obviously manufactured bodily “deformity,” as in The Extra Nipple, a photograph that could easily be your

  • Richard Meier

    If Richard Meier’s buildings and sculptures were before and after photographs, nothing less than a nuclear apocalypse would lie between them. While his clean, white, pristine buildings all stem from a rationalist, Modernist tradition, Meier’s sculptures look more like architectural models for the end of the world. Useless platforms, passageways that end abruptly, precarious towers of obscure purpose, ruptured cubicles, tortured metal armatures, steel excrescences that look less like decorative motifs than unneeded prosthetics—it all gives the impression of a bomb dropped into a planned community.

  • Lyle Ashton Harris

    In case you don’t already know, the art world is as rife with gangs as any urban ghetto—they have unofficial and sometimes official names (“the Yale Mafia”), turfs, and protocols—and so you have to look past the fact that institutions like the Whitney Independent Study Program seem to act on Lyle Ashton Harris like a sort of Art superego, transforming idlike impulses of creativity into the SoHo equivalent of gang colors and secret handshakes. Harris’ work may toe a certain party line (the interrogation of identity, the deconstruction of gender, class, and ethnicity, etc.), but it does so from

  • Rita Ackermann

    Each painting in Rita Ackermann’s first solo show was organized around a predominant theme (speed, vacation, drugs, doing nothing) and populated by svelte waifs, fashionable nymphs, and other girlish sprites combined and recombined in almost serial fashion, like Minimalist variations of a cube. In Now I’m Gonna Take a Vacation (all works 1994), Ackermann’s figures—all drawn in black outlines and somewhat arbitrarily filled in with color, as in a coloring book—cop typical vacation poses. One girl dives into the water; another skinny-dips; one faces us with her camcorder; another lying on her

  • Paula Hayes

    It is easy to see from Paula Hayes’ work that she’s an artist excited by nature; in fact, with her proliferating root systems, eroticized bees, ominous frosts, and suggestive phrases, it would even be easy to think that she’s sexually excited by nature. In Wish Energy (all works 1994), a sinewy house is labelled both “nice” and “haha,“ and a big arrow pointing downward at some sort of root system says “2″ hard frost.” Seemingly unconnected phrases line the individual roots: “Fucking everyone is fucking no one, take the queen jelly, oh it’s necrophilia is it!?, you know the ego is in the blood.”

  • Barbara Kruger

    In her recent installation Barbara Kruger used the royal “we” to subjugate, threaten, and harass “you.” That “we” was given an audible Big Brother voice—male, of course—coolly meting out invective in a brilliantly mixed soundtrack punctuated with cheers, laughter, screams, church music, gagging noises, and an ominous sample from the song “We Are the World.” “My people are better than your people,” the voice intoned, “More intelligent, more graceful, more powerful, more beautiful, more chosen, more agile and cleaner. My people invented everything.” While the gallery walls were papered with a

  • “Altered”

    Everyone seems to know by now that Rudolf Schwarzkogler did not actually kill himself by cutting his penis off in slices during an Aktion, and yet you will read no text about the Austrian artist that does not relish in either reporting or debunking the castration myth. Perhaps this is because, while manifestly untrue (Schwarzkogler died in 1969 when he leapt or fell from a window), the myth nevertheless expresses in nuce certain truths about the products of his all-too-brief career. Not only does it condense the automutilative forces generally rampant in his work into a picture of the ultimate

  • Lily van der Stokker

    If exuberance were king and wanted to hire a court painter, it couldn’t do better than put Lily van der Stokker on the royal payroll. The artist’s decorative wall paintings and drawings—equal parts age of the Baroque, age of Aquarius, and age of ado-lescence—appear to strive for sheer exuberance as much as Platonic philosophy strives for the ideal. Dynamic lines reminiscent of Bernini, Borromini, and chemistry notebook doodlings, vivid hues reminiscent of early ’70s concert posters, and flowers—lots and lots of flowers—were all in full evidence in Mud Honey and Curlique (both works 1994), the

  • “Pictures of the Real World (In Real Time)”

    It takes gall, balls, or copious amounts of irony to call an art exhibit “Pictures of the Real World (In Real Time).” When such weighty words as “real” get bandied about, you can barely speak in anything other than gross generalizations; for example, “Interspersing On Kawara’s famous date paintings with photographs ranging from a 1966 work by Dan Graham to a 1993 picture by Robert Barry, this exhibition (curated by Robert Nickas) explores the relationship between art and the real world for the last three decades. The earlier photographs in the show confront the real world head-on, as in Garry

  • Kirsi Mikkola

    Most kids have imaginary friends. Artists and writers often don’t outgrow them, but as Kirsi Mikkola demonstrates, keeping in touch with made-up playmates is certainly not a bad thing. Four imaginary characters populate the little world that Mikkola elaborates in her drawings and sculptures: there’s Glo’, a devilishly innocent little girl in a red frock and white apron; Quickie, less a playground than a Playboy playmate with big breasts, big hair, and a big butt; No. 1, the epitome of the beer-bellied, lascivious dope, something along the lines of Homer Simpson; and Pansy, a giant flower with

  • Paul Garrin

    “Shoot the cops . . . with your video camera!” A few years ago you couldn’t walk five blocks in the East Village without encountering this slogan, stenciled on sidewalks and building walls. If it wasn’t the work of Paul Garrin, then it certainly was a tribute to the video artist whose tape of the 1988 riot in Tompkins Square not only brought him a mass-media attention he would never have earned from his collaborations with Nam June Paik, but also became an icon of the power of reverse surveillance.

    In his first New York show, “Watch Your Back,” Garrin continued to investigate the potentials of