Lara Atallah

  • picks February 11, 2019

    Alia Syed

    Sinuating ripples along a shoreline, the sound of waves—one cannot underestimate the calming effect certain kinds of landscape have on the psyche. However, in Alia Syed’s work Meta Incognita: Missive II (2018)—the second in a trio of roman à clef–style films whose themes center around the River Thames in England—all is not what it seems. The narrative is built upon the exploits of the Englishman Martin Frobisher, a “licensed pirate” of the sixteenth century who tried to locate a path to Asia through the Northwest Passage. (The Latin title of the work translates to “Unknown Limit”—one can’t help

  • picks December 22, 2017


    Long before there was a Manhattan, the epicenter of savage capitalism all dolled up with shimmering lights and unyielding skyscrapers, there was Mannahatta—a Lenape place-name that means “island of many hills.” As an institution that “acknowledges its location on Indigenous land,” this nonprofit gallery brings together several artists, including Jolene Rickard, Kay WalkingStick, David Martine, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, for an exhibition that examines, through beauty and bloodshed, ideas surrounding American Indian heritage.

    The show starts off with Pena Bonita’s Stalled on the Way to Rosebud

  • picks October 20, 2017

    Joyce Kozloff

    We’ve heard it more times than we can count: It’s a man’s world. And within it, conquest is key to prosperity, requiring a neurotic addiction to territorial expansion. That’s where maps come in. Tools of imperialism and warfare strategy, maps have been utilized as political weapons across the centuries (their most dangerous purpose is to depict land as battlegrounds). But in Joyce Kozloff’s case—as a founding member of the Heresies collective and a major figure in the Pattern and Decoration movement—maps, for the past twenty-five years, have functioned as instruments dedicated to pushing a

  • picks June 23, 2017

    Lissa Rivera

    Delicate poses, painted lips, silky dresses, and a serenely defiant gaze are a carefully scripted fuck-you to heteronormative gender codes in Lissa Rivera’s “Beautiful Boy,” her exhibition of photographs here. Rivera’s Fassbinderesque lighting and luscious, vibrant colors are tender, moving. She enthralls us, and that sensation comes from the show’s underlying narrative about the romantic relationship between the artist and her subject, BJ Lillis, the beautiful boy in question.

    These photographs depict an androgynous man wearing makeup, sometimes nude or draped in feminine attire, staged in poses

  • picks April 14, 2017

    Sebastião Salgado

    The annihilation of life—it is war’s brazen raison d’être. The splattering of blood and flesh, the smell of decaying bodies on burning land, a permanently ruined environment—the trauma of such horror marks survivors indelibly and gets passed on to subsequent generations. This is the natural outcome of any armed conflict.

    Sebastião Salgado’s black-and-white photographs of Kuwait (all titled Kuwait, 1991), shot toward the end of the Gulf War, feel otherworldly. They capture the spectacular violence of smoldering desert landscapes where nearly seven hundred oil wells—set alight by Saddam Hussein’s

  • picks March 31, 2017

    “The Intricacies of Love”

    As children, we are the freest, most uninhibited versions of ourselves that we will ever be. Life has yet to mold us into self-conscious “grown-ups,” limply following decorum, jaded by bullshit. This three-person exhibition looks askance at adulthood and the dynamics between kids and their surroundings. Julia Brown’s dual-channel video The Young Mothers Project, Part I and Part II, 2014, present different versions of the same world. In Part I, a steady camera is pointed at a single mother seated in her living room, talking about the struggles of parenthood, while her daughter restlessly fidgets

  • picks March 17, 2017

    Arthur Russell

    The exhibition “Do What I Want: Selections from the Arthur Russell Papers” is a posthumous homage to a pioneer of electronic music who spent most of his career overlooked. Russell, nearly penniless toward the end of his life, died from AIDS in 1992. This show, an invitation to glance at the various facets of a musical genius, is a visual elegy filled with posters, snapshots, and letters from record producers, such as David Berson of Warner Brothers and Jan Abramowitz of Metronome. And the exhibition’s intimate setup is brilliantly designed to make viewers feel as though they’re part of an

  • picks December 16, 2016

    Golnar Adili

    Are there hidden messages in the handwritten letters of the dead? Perhaps one can find them at those interstitial points between vowels. Golnar Adili’s work speaks to loss and memory through a personal archive of family documents that she came across after her father—an Iranian intellectual forced into exile after the 1979 revolution—passed away.

    In Eleven-Page Letter, 2016, the artist covers her father’s epistolary correspondences with sheets of vellum, cutting out small windows to reveal the Persian vowel “ye,” a letter that curves up to form what looks like an empty embrace. “Edits,” “freedom,”

  • interviews December 13, 2016

    Emily Jacir

    Emily Jacir is an artist and filmmaker whose work addresses silenced historical narratives, translation, resistance, transformation, and exchange. She investigates personal and collective movement and its implications for the physical and social experience of trans-Mediterranean space and time. Her solo exhibition “Europa,” her first survey in Ireland, features such works as the installation ex libris , 2010–12—originally commissioned by Documenta 13—which is a memorial to the approximately thirty thousand books from Palestinian homes, libraries, and institutions that were looted by Israeli

  • picks December 02, 2016

    Marilyn Minter

    Marilyn Minter is what some would call a “nasty woman”—a term that has made quite a few waves this past election season. And depending on who you are and where you stand, that epithet can either be the highest form of flattery or a scathing misogynistic insult. Minter’s “nasty” work demands respect from its audience, and the large scale of these in-your-face paintings serves to reinforce this idea.

    The women depicted here—seen through a misty haze, as if in the midst of a scalding-hot shower—stunt the male gaze and its obsession with bodies that are polished, waxed, nipped, tucked, and Photoshopped

  • picks October 07, 2016

    Ieva Epnere

    Memories are shape-shifting narratives that time can ruthlessly mold and alter. Much like the sea, they are a force to be reckoned with, and if we are not cautious, they can drown us. To an image maker, memories can be extraordinarily useful weapons, as they have the power to dismantle the lines between fiction and reality.

    In Ieva Epnere’s video Sea of Living Memories, 2016, Latvians remember when their small country was under Soviet rule, which started in early World War II and lasted until 1991. Military maps, footage of the sea, black-and-white photographs, and the aged faces of citizens

  • picks July 22, 2016


    A Tim Rollins and K.O.S. installation—Darkwater III (After W.E.B. Du Bois), 2013—sets the tone of this show. Pages of the titular author’s essays are mounted on twelve panels hung side by side, partially obstructed by gold acrylic and “furnace black” watercolor. Indeed, the work looks as though it were recovered from a fire. One of panels reads “Most men today cannot conceive of a freedom that does not involve somebody’s slavery.” This statement, written in 1920, could not be more apropos now, where black men and women are still part of a ruthless cycle that subjugates and victimizes.

    Just past

  • picks May 20, 2016

    Josh Kline

    The scene is set in what looks like a futuristic cemetery, only it’s today—we encounter 3-D-printed and CNC-carved bodies, based on real people, in see-through plastic bags. Of the four on display, one’s a bookkeeper; another, a humble entrepreneur (Productivity Gains [Brandon/Accountant]; By Close of Business [Maura/Small-Business Owner], all works 2016). They lie on the floor, shriveled in fetal positions. Expressions of loss—or is it peace?—appear on their synthetic faces, and their attire’s tidy and wrinkle free. In Josh Kline’s world, obsolescence is the law of the land, and humans are a

  • picks April 29, 2016

    Anne Collier

    Beauty has often been in the eye of the patriarchal beholder. Frequently, where the male gaze is concerned, women are weak—their delicate (and delectable) bodies meant to fuel desire and consumerism. A “beautiful” woman, by Western standards, is defined by the Aryan trifecta: blond hair, blue eyes, and pale skin. She is soft, fragile, helpless. And her tearful face divulges a constant need to be saved and cared for.

    With imagery sourced from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, Anne Collier’s photographs of women remind us that misogyny is not just found in the fine print of policy, or within a GOP debate.

  • picks March 25, 2016

    Patti Smith

    One encounters a table and chair from the now defunct Café ‘Ino. They sit there like relics, memorializing a place that exists only in unassuming photographs, fissuring the linearity of time. With no regard to chronology, this exhibition echoes the modus operandi of human memory, navigating different episodes of history—personal and public—in no specific order. Each image is a signpost for the many interlacing narratives that make up Patti Smith’s life and travels.

    Beds, statues, rivers, open roads, and tombstones, which bear the names of figures who’ve shaped our culture, form a visual diary.

  • picks March 11, 2016

    Anna Ostoya

    There’s something spectral bouncing around the various pieces installed in this gallery. It’s left behind a flurry of questions that all lead to one very particular origin: Artemisia Gentileschi’s famous Baroque work Judith Slaying Holofernes, ca. 1620, which Anna Ostoya has cleverly dissected through an eclectic assortment of hard-edged paintings and ink-jet prints.

    Ostoya’s display is akin to a detective’s evidence wall. She dismantles the Italian artist’s painting and reimagines alternative scenarios for the gruesome biblical story we can see, which has merged with the real-life rape of

  • interviews February 23, 2016

    Tammam Azzam

    Like many Syrian artists, Tammam Azzam left his homeland five years ago in search of safer shores. After arriving in Dubai, where he still lives, Azzam spent years making political art that lamented the international community’s passive efforts to put an end to one of the bloodiest wars in recent history. In 2013, Azzam’s Freedom Graffiti, a piece in which the artist superimposed Klimt’s The Kiss on the demolished facade of a Damascus building, went viral on social media and landed the artist in the news. His current exhibition, “The Road,” which is on view at Ayyam Gallery in Dubai through

  • picks February 12, 2016

    “The Real Thing”

    This four-woman photo exhibition sifts through the cavernous world of love in the time of screens and does some subtle paradigm shifting by exploring romantic relationships through the female gaze. Natasha Caruana’s “Married Man” series reveals some bleak insights regarding monogamy. Snapshots taken with disposable cameras narrate stories of the artist’s dates with married men found through a matchmaking website that caters exclusively to a wedded clientele. Sheepish hand-holding gestures are mixed in with images of half-empty glasses, faceless guys, and empty ring fingers. Her book on the series

  • picks January 22, 2016

    Coco Fusco

    When does a revolution die? Can bits of its carcass be found in the crevices of empty squares? Taking Cuba and its silenced dissidents as her case study, Coco Fusco explores these questions in a survey that covers two decades of work via eight videos and an installation.

    The exhibition starts with C O N F I D E N C I A L, Autores Firmantes, 2015, which highlights the archive as a means to author—and alter—history. Twenty-one facsimiles of files that were penned by Cuban authorities in 1971 are displayed in vitrines on the ground floor of the gallery, where we find that Jean-Paul Sartre and

  • picks December 22, 2015

    Leila Alaoui

    In 1978, philosopher Edward Said published Orientalism, an analysis of the West’s distorted representation of the Orient and its inhabitants as a tactic used to assert its dominion over that part of the world. To this day, the book’s core ideas percolate through much of the art produced in the Middle East and North Africa in the postcolonial era. Oscillating between fine art and documentary photography, Leila Alaoui’s “The Moroccans,” 2010–, is an ongoing project that seeks, from her vantage point as a native Moroccan portraying her compatriots, to rebuke the orientalist discourse.

    Inspired by