Larissa Harris

  • “Two or Three Things I Know About Her”

    In “Two or Three Things I Know About Her,” five female New Yorkers can’t ignore the fact that they hardly recognize their city. Everything that made it the capital of the twentieth century—its subways and sidewalks, its newspapers and nightly news shows, its psychoanalysis habit, its shared urban space and the freedom of (many different forms of) speech and expression that played out there—is romanced and mourned here at once. Harvard’s Carpenter Center gallery is housed in the lobby of the only Le Corbusier building in North America, and its cement and glass recurred throughout curator

  • Pedro Reyes

    Some of the nearly one hundred projects represented in “ad usum: To Be Used,” a survey of six years’ worth of work by Mexico City–based artist Pedro Reyes, are models for environmentally engaged architecture. The rest are perhaps best understood as tools aimed at triggering an enhanced engagement with self and surroundings. These videos, objects, models, records of workshops, and combinations thereof draw on radical theater, psychology, parapsychology, the workings of the market, and an understanding that comedy and grace are intimately linked.

    Sometimes Reyes’s tools are Platonic archetypes of

  • Laura McPhee

    In the photograph used on the museum handout for Laura McPhee’s recent exhibition, smoky rays of sunlight stream into dense forest as fire licks at the roots of trees in the center of the frame. In the foreground, more sunlight illuminates underbrush while branches to the upper right and left almost touch the lens, creating a path for the eye that seems to lead a hundred feet deep. The highly theatrical composition resembles nothing so much as a picture by Gregory Crewdson, and when one realizes that Understory Flareups, Fourth of July Creek, Valley Road Wildfire, Custer County, Idaho, 2005, is

  • Taylor Davis

    In Taylor Davis’s recent exhibition at Samson Projects, low cratelike forms with peepholes and slightly gaping panels; objects resembling drawers fallen out of a dresser; an unsteady, solitary eight-foot plywood phallus; and hay bales caged by wood or silver fabric made up a loose grid on the floor. Untitled, 2005, containing one bale of sweet timothy like a chicken in a roomy coop is paired with Farmer’s Daughter 2, 2005, a crate built tightly around another bale. Together they exemplify the themes of containment and control that ran through the show. Jackie Winsor’s cubes-with-apertures are

  • Left: MFA Director Malcolm Rogers and David Hockney in front of Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy, 1970–71. Right: Boston Symphony Orchestra Director James Levine with David Hockney and brother Tom Levine.
    diary February 22, 2006

    Hockney Night


    “This is going to be one of those cozy Boston events,” said my friend as she steered us into the Museum of Fine Arts parking lot. We maneuvered past crowds of fragile, pink-cheeked men and ladies in mink moving towards the gala for “David Hockney Portraits,” a show co-organized by the MFA and London’s National Portrait Gallery in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Caught incongruously in a group photo with other “sitters” flown in for the occasion (apparently at the artist’s expense) was Chloe McHugh, teenage daughter of California-based photographer Jim McHugh—otherwise

  • “Down the Garden Path: The Artist's Garden After Modernism”

    Curator Valerie Smith seemed to have chosen works for “Down the Garden Path: The Artist’s Garden After Modernism” not simply to illustrate a theme, but to enrich it. Fleshing out a well-installed selection of actual works, photographic documentation, and plans for unrealized projects with five new artists’ gardens commissioned for Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Smith’s exhibition proposed the garden as a model for human influence on the environment, while positioning it as a lens through which to view the diversification of artistic strategies since the 1960s.

    Works offering ecology as the foundation

  • “Contemporary Erotic Drawing”

    Organized by independent curator Stuart Horodner, Houston’s DiverseWorks director Sara Kellner, and Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum director Harry Philbrick, the elegant “Contemporary Erotic Drawing” never got hung up on what constitutes “erotic” or what constitutes a drawing. With sources ranging from comics (mainstream and underground) to the classical study, from high formal or “obsessive” abstraction to design and decoration, from the notebook doodle to midcentury abstract animation, most drawings in most media here treated sexuality as a source of delight, or, at least, an opportunity to

  • Left: Julian Laverdiere. Right: Boyd Rice and Ross Cisneros.
    diary April 08, 2005

    Praxis of Evil


    All told, Cambridge’s summit on evil last Sunday turned out to be good. Budding gnostic and MIT graduate student Ross Cisneros, one of six candidates in the institute’s visual-art program, had convened “Regarding Evil,” bringing together a “wise clergy” (in his words) that included natty artists Ronald Jones and Julian Laverdiere; bespectacled political scientist Jodi Dean; black-clad, snuff-taking, muscle-bound musician, Church of Satan associate, and Charles Manson friend Boyd Rice; and the presence of Manson himself (in the form of two incoherent missives written from prison). Matthew Barney

  • Two views of Stephen Prina's performance.
    diary December 17, 2004

    Harvard Bard


    “If you’re talking about it, you’re probably not doing it.” Maybe Stephen Prina had this caution in mind when he opted not only to open his exhibition at Harvard’s Carpenter Center with a screening and performance, but to schedule the event at 11:00 PM—a time better suited to action than analysis. Prina is a newly appointed professor and artist/exemplar of the postmedium condition at Harvard’s Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, the exotically titled studio program where undergrads make art and movies as part of a well-rounded liberal education. By way of backstory, you may recall

  • Boris Mikhailov

    The twenty-six photographic series that Ukrainian photographer Boris Mikhailov made between the late 1960s and 2002 (all but three of which are represented in this exhibition) include several varieties of homemade antidote to official Soviet visual culture as well as negotiations—some shaky, some masterful—with the many new “freedoms” of the post-Soviet world. Though the series vary enormously in format, technique, and strategy, Mikhailov’s interests in the individual rather than the type, immediacy rather than distance, and the everyday rather than the ceremonial remain constant