• Andreas Angelidakis, Domesticated Mountain, 2012, animation, color, sound, 6 minutes 16 seconds. From “Retail Apocalypse,” 2022–23.
    picks October 31, 2022

    “Retail Apocalypse”

    The shifting architecture of consumption is the subject of “Retail Apocalypse,” which restages an exhibition held at Zurich’s Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in 2020. Featuring works by twenty artists, architects, and filmmakers, the show explores spatial and cultural typologies of shopping from modernity to the present, though the landscapes of contemporary consumption loom largest for its participants.

    Cao Fei’s documentary 11.11, 2018, juxtaposes the frenetic movement of commodities around Beijing with the constricted lives of those who deliver them. In David Přílučík’s short film Steel

  • video October 26, 2016

    Artists on Political Art


    To coincide with the November 2016 issue of Artforum on art and politics, artforum.com invited artists Carrie Mae Weems, Matthew Weinstein, Marilyn Minter, Hans Haacke, Nadia Ayari, Nancy Chunn, and Vitaly Komar to discuss political art.


    Two years ago in the pages of Artforum we asked artists to create works inspired by Soviet monuments threatened with destruction. The result was an unprecedented coauthorship between East and West. For the first time, Modernism and Socialist Realism intersected: more than 200 artists from different parts of the world created their own versions of Russian Socialist Realism. But time erodes not only the memorials of totalitarianism but also the memory of the revolutionary traditions of American democracy. It’s time to take the next step—to create new and original versions of American Social Realism.


    TODAY, ANY EFFORT to save Russia’s Socialist Realist monuments from destruction would surely be seen as an attempt to preserve a totalitarian tradition. We propose neither worship nor annihilation of these monuments, but a creative collaboration with them—to leave them at their sites and transform them, through art, into history lessons.

    Fate has provided a unique opportunity: we can turn Moscow into a phantasmagoric garden of “posttotalitarian” art. It would be a shame to miss this chance, which is already passing. The statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet secret police, for example,


    . . . JOSTLING AGAINST OTHERS at openings, or at receptions in artists’ studios—everywhere where the artistic life of New York is heard—one cannot escape the mounting sense of claustrophobia. Ah, it’s now become impossible to see the paintings past the sea of backs of an art-crazed public. We dash out to the streets for a breath of fresh air, but no relief: here, too, we are tossed like tiny pebbles on the waves of the bustling crowd. Stifling! . . .

    Van Gogh, of course, fled from the “dwarfish infamies of M. Messonier” to Arles; Cézanne packed it in for Aix-en-Provence. Gauguin, finding no peace

  • In Search of Religion

    The dead man lay, as dead men always lie, quite heavily, in corpselike fashion sinking his stiff limbs into the cushions of the coffin, with his eternally bent head on the pillow; he thrust forward, as dead men always do, his yellow, waxen forehead with bald patches on the sunken temples and a protruding nose which seemed to be pressing against the upper lip . . . his face was more handsome and, above all, more significant than it had been in life . . ."
    Lev Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

    “Lev Tolstoy is the mirror of the Russian Revolution.”
    Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Lev Tolstoy as the Mirror

  • The Barren Flowers of Evil

    Truly now, isn’t it a strange phenomenon? The Petersburg artist! An artist in the land of snows, in the land of Finns, where everything is wet, smooth even, grey, cloudy.
    —Nikolai Gogol, Nevsky Prospect

    HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO understand something you know nothing about. Leafing through the pages of books arrived from afar, it is pure torment to get inside a foreign text, to separate metaphor from reality. In order to form a mental picture of another world through the comparison of words and images, texts and illustrations, one must possess a truly iron will and a stubborn belief in the necessity