Laura McLean-Ferris

  • Jason Rhoades

    HOW WOULD JASON RHOADES’S desire to offend go down now, in this era of call-outs and open letters? Many of the late artist’s raucous installations are like elaborate exercises in trolling: They appear orchestrated to provoke, conjuring the specter of an overactive macho id, preoccupied by cars, power tools, guns, pornography, dick jokes, cum jokes, pussy jokes, religious jokes, junk food, and celebrity.

    The Brant Foundation—which has mounted a focused presentation of Rhoades’s work, including three major installations—has an obvious fondness for those who have at one time or another taken up the

  • Sondra Perry

    The words “It’s in the game” are typically the aggressive opening credits of video games made by EA Sports, at least they were the last time I played one. The phrase’s use in the title of a recent video by Sondra Perry, the centerpiece of her debut exhibition at Bridget Donahue, reminded us that it is only half of the original slogan, which promises a Borgesian duplication of the world of sports: “If it’s in the game, it’s in the game.” Perry explores the implications of such doublings in IT’S IN THE GAME ’17 or Mirror Gag for Vitrine and Projection, 2017.

    Playing on a loop in the gallery, which

  • OPENINGS: IRENA HAIDUK

    A GROUP OF SIRENS glided silently around Kassel during the run of Documenta 14 last year. These were women balancing books on their heads in the style of the classic finishing-school posture exercise, cast by Irena Haiduk to form an “Army of Beautiful Women” for the performance Spinal Discipline, 2017, a component of the artist’s enigmatic contribution to the quinquennial exhibition. During the summer, this perambulatory team of female-inclined people wore a light, cap-sleeved garment called the ABW Pattern #3 Dress in a variety of shades. During the autumn months, when I visited, they wore the

  • Cathy Wilkes

    Replete with sticky materials summoning childcare and motherhood, a selection of Cathy Wilkes’s most potent works from the past twenty years is installed in her first major survey, awarded to the artist as the inaugural winner of the Maria Lassnig Prize. Incorporating found objects from the Glasgow area (where the artist is based) into assemblage, painting, and sculpture, Wilkes’s work elicits a deep form of attention that defies the tyranny of forgetting, overlooking, not noticing. In a vitrine near the start of the exhibition, lying next to a carved, wooden bird ornament flipped supine so that

  • Stefan Tcherepnin

    In recent years, artist and composer Stefan Tcherepnin’s work has featured a number of “Cookie Monsters,” who appear again and again in his performances, videos, and sculptures. These “bad” copies come in a range of colors, with googly eyes askew, and sloppy, sagging fur. I’m told that one might represent the Sesame Street character’s “evil Russian twin,” though each also resembles a bootlegged Times Square costume. In other words, we’re looking at a “poor man’s Cookie Monster,” with more pathos than the original. These monsters, however, also carry with them a more adult form of comedy—confused,

  • Alvin Baltrop

    Alvin Baltrop’s photographs of the derelict piers beyond the West Side Highway in Chelsea and of the bodies of the men who cruised the dilapidated architecture for sex and other forms of illicit intimacy during the 1970s and ’80s were rarely exhibited during his lifetime. Over the past decade, thanks in part to the work of art historian and curator Douglas Crimp, who has included the artist in several exhibitions and wrote an essay on Baltrop’s photographs for this magazine in 2008, more attention has been paid to the photographer’s formal, graceful images, which were assembled by Crimp for an

  • Quintessa Matranga

    The recurrent motif in “Me at 3AM,” Quintessa Matranga’s recent show of seven small, anxious oil paintings, was a thick quilted comforter, which acts as a barrier between a human figure and the ominous, threatening world that she inhabits. Painted on the New York–based artist’s bedroom floor, these small, deliberately impoverished works of teen surreality summon a youthful, sequestered world. In Sleeping in My Dreams (all works 2017), a bed is hoisted into a black night sky; sandwiched between the mattress and a comforter is a young woman, secured in place by a chain. She is elongated and

  • Michaela Eichwald

    In recent years, demonstrating one’s own insouciant flexibility, whether professional or personal, has been a matter of economic survival; thus, the shrug emoji has reigned. We are all implicated in variously exciting or pernicious networks: What to do about it? Painting, in its dominant German/American vein—at least the type associated with the Cologne–New York axis and identified by David Joselit in 2009 as “networked”—has demonstrated commitments to awkward states such as ambivalence, and to its own poverties. Michaela Eichwald’s exhibition of paintings at Reena Spaulings Fine Art

  • A. K. Burns

    In recent months it has been dispiritingly difficult to visit exhibitions without applying the lens of American politics, but “Fault Lines,” A. K. Burns’s show at Callicoon Fine Arts, couldn’t have been read without it—literally. Language was a focal point of the presentation: Steel fences featured the Rusmfeldian terms knowns and unknowns; a cast-concrete foot on a rebar leg bore the words YOU’RE FIRED; and a similar hand gracefully offered a gold-plated brass IUD in Hand Out (She Was Warned), 2017, its title echoing the silencing of Elizabeth Warren as she opposed the nomination of Jeff

  • Bonnie Lucas

    Since the 1970s, Bonnie Lucas has been reconfiguring the icks and discomforts of feminine aesthetics, revealing the precise flavor of subjugation imposed by sweetie-pie girlishness. Combining frilly garments, plush animals, hair grips, jelly shoes, flowers, bunnies, decorated eggs, wedding cake figurines, sequins, baby toys, and ballet ribbons, the artist constructs unstable bodies that burst open at the seams. “Young Lady,” at JTT, curated by Marie Catalano, was a timely presentation of works made by the artist between 1983 and 1987: intricate, wall-based assemblages she calls “object collages,”

  • Beatrice Marchi

    For those suffering from the most standard form of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the lack of sunlight in the winter months causes depression. Italian artist Beatrice Marchi’s “Summer in the North with Loredana” opened in the middle of a New York winter that was darker than most. Yet in Marchi’s show, malaise was rooted as much in cultural and technological shifts as it was in seasonal change. That is to say that each passing season simply introduced a different flavor of depression.

    In Loredana Across the Seasons, 2017, an animation of pastel-drawn images, a female figure with auburn hair

  • Phoebe Collings-James and Jesse Darling

    One of the seven freestanding components of Jesse Darling’s Liberty Poles (all works 2016) clattered to the floor at the opening of “Atrophilia”in late October, when someone brushed against it. So many signs are ominous in retrospect, but this incident felt especially preordained: The two-person exhibition with Phoebe Collings-James had taken its title from a word invented by the two artists to convey a “desire for collapse or stasis” (a fall into rest or hibernation, then, rather than anarchy).

    Liberty Poles comprises several empty, upturned bags of Gold Medal–brand flour positioned atop spindly,

  • “The Metabolic Age, or How Federico Manuel Peralta Ramos Predicted the Internet With an Egg”

    We, the Outsiders, created by the self-taught Argentinean artist Federico Manuel Peralta Ramos in 1965, is a gigantic egg sculpture that was shown only once before it was destroyed by the artist. The work’s implication of impasse in the face of an unbreachable vessel is the starting point for curator Chus Martínez, who has commissioned a remake of the sculpture and gathered an additional dozen works made since 1965. For Martínez, the colossal egg is an emblem presaging today’s hyperlinked world populated by budding artificial life-forms, with which we interact but can

  • Nancy Lupo

    Arresting, disconcerting, and nominally childproof, the centerpiece of Nancy Lupo’s debut exhibition at Wallspace was a suite of sculptures composed of Bumbo-brand baby floor seats (all works 2015). These small, ergonomic plastic chairs were arranged on the floor in short chains of three, four, and five, and sat variously upside down or right-side up. They also looked unnervingly sticky: Lupo covered the seats in Soylent 1.0, the beige, mineral-rich meal-replacement paste invented by a group of impoverished tech entrepreneurs in San Francisco, who released it as an open-source recipe. Each chain

  • picks May 29, 2015

    Susan Cianciolo

    Is it too much to say that the most humane objects—cups, books, shirts, and socks—the things that regularly get intimate with us, often find themselves packed into cardboard boxes? An exhibition of sculptures, costumes, and performance documentation by Susan Cianciolo, “If God Comes to Visit You, How Will You Know? (The Great Tetrahedral Kite)” focuses on the designer and artist’s “kits,” selections of materials, tools, and ephemera collected in decorated cardboard boxes. Much of the contents are part of Run, her deconstructive fashion line emphasizing customization and personal relationships,

  • Florian Meisenberg

    In David Foster Wallace’s epic 1996 novel, Infinite Jest, the young tennis-academy student Hal Incandenza dreams of a tennis court with lines and systems so unfathomably complex, they turn to liquid before his eyes: “There are lines going every which way, and they run oblique or meet and form relationships and boxes and rivers and tributaries and systems inside systems: lines, corners, alleys, and angles deliquesce into a blur at the horizon of the distant net.” Nearly two decades later, we know all about networks so vast, intricate, and complex they are described as clouds—masses of data

  • Tyson Reeder

    Pierre Bonnard once claimed that he would like to “arrive in front of the young painters of the year 2000 on the wings of a butterfly.” Had he done so, there’s a fair chance he would have presented himself to Tyson Reeder. Chopper (all works 2014), on view in Reeder’s recent show at Canada, is a cheerfully nostalgic painting of a motorcycle with a comically elongated front end, seen against a checkered backdrop of graphite and paint in yellow, mustard, and green over a lilac underpainting that summons the lysergic tiling of Bonnard’s Nude in the Bath, 1936–38. The French artist is one of the

  • picks March 06, 2015

    Candice Breitz

    Repressed emotions usually find a route of escape, as Freudians would have it, in slips, dreams, and jokes, but in David Cronenberg’s body horror The Brood (1979), the director shows rage and pain swelling on the skin as bursting pustules. Following an experimental therapist, played by Oliver Reed, and his patients, the film builds toward the birth of murderous “psychoplasmic” children, borne on the skin from a woman’s wrath. Artist Candice Breitz has appropriated three histrionic scenes from this film, each featuring Reed enacting role-plays with his patients and standing in for mommy, daddy,

  • “No entrance, no exit”

    Today the membrane that screens private space from public has disintegrated to almost nothing. You could say it’s as thin as a layer of liquid crystal. Still, slight as it might be, it’s in this diminished borderland that “No entrance, no exit,” an exhibition of works at the Kitchen by Anna K.E., Alina Tenser, and Viola Yeşiltaç, was set. Each artist responded to the pervasive atmosphere of publicity in our present moment: one in which we have begun to accept that much of our activity is captured, distributed, and analyzed and in which we are virtually powerless to the fact that our every move

  • picks February 27, 2015

    Analia Saban

    Taking the concerns of the Renaissance masters and applying them to humdrum, domestic spaces, Argentinine artist Analia Saban wrests lightness and movement from heavy materials. In three works all titled Markings, 2014, Saban scrapes away skeins of emulsion from photographs printed on one side of a canvas. She then arranges these malleable slivers in an empty white space on the other side of the canvas. Images of potential materials and tools—a stack of roof tiles, shelves of paint cans, sample chips—now dance delicately as a scraps of tissue paper or insect wings. Material alchemy is also