Lauren Mackler

  • Performance view of Annamaria Ajmone's La  notte è il mio giorno preferito (Night is my favorite day), Palais de Tokyo, Paris, June 9, 2022. Anamaria Ajmone. Photo: Antoine Aphesbero.
    performance July 05, 2022

    Call of the Wild

    IN THE UNDERLIT BASEMENT SPACE of the Palais de Tokyo, Italian dancer and choreographer Annamaria Ajmone’s La notte è il mio giorno preferito (Night is My Favorite Day) started with the sound of a deep animal howl, the reverberations of which lent dimension to the darkness and outlined the space of the performance, delineating its edges and corners. In the infrared glow of the overhanging green lights, a minimal representation of a forest emerged; a few sparse lianas built the habitat for the performance. Suddenly, a stealthy, human-animal hybrid figure appeared and began an evasive dance,

  • Jasper Marsalis, Event 3, 2020, oil on canvas, 60 × 80".

    Jasper Marsalis

    Jasper Marsalis’s “♫ A Star Like Any Other—” at Kristina Kite Gallery drew on a similar show he presented at Midway Contemporary Art in Minneapolis this past fall. This exhibition included one more of his large paintings titled Event, and variously numbered from 1 to 4, that depict performative spaces—clubs and arenas, dark spaces. Disco balls, microphones, and beams of colored light fill the large canvases. In Event 1, 2019, silhouetted figures perform behind these components, abstracted into shapes. Event 3, 2020, presents a close-up of an open mouth in front of two microphones; beads of sweat

  • Aram Saroyan, Untitled (7), 2019, permanent marker on paper, 18 × 24".

    Aram Saroyan

    Seventeen drawings hung level, a rectangle of fluorescent lights suspended from the ceiling, two doorways, in and out. In such a sparse show, one couldn’t help but tally the components. Along the walls of the gallery, the framed works on paper were installed snugly, flirting with the room’s corners, stressing the space’s rectangularity. The drawings, however, were colorful portals abiding by their own physics. Squiggly pathways drawn with markers in combinations of bright colors boldly traversed the pages. While childlike in their medium, the works suggested profound meditations, as if they had

  • Tiger Tateishi, Revolving Fuji, 1991, oil on canvas, 89 1⁄2 × 63".

    Takuro Tamayama and Tiger Tateishi

    It was dusk, and the storefront of Nonaka-Hill had just lit up. The gallery, housed under a deceptive marquee reading BEST CLEANERS, was preparing to open for its evening hours. Inside, a delicate, neon-hued landscape composed of table-like sculptures huddled in the center of the room, illuminated by a suspended glowing orb and fluorescent lights tinted with Day-Glo gels. On the elevated ground, a work by Takuro Tamayama, a marble humanoid shape’s head, slowly rotated, stressing its pawn-like form. Two of Tamayama’s videos—one projected on a wall and the other playing on a boxy monitor—staged

  • View of “Annie Leibovitz,” 2019.

    Annie Leibovitz

    Annie Leibovitz’s “The Early Years, 1970–1983: Archive Project No. 1” at Hauser & Wirth in Los Angeles began with a wall-size timeline anchoring us firmly amid the total noise of this thirteen-year stretch. The timeline traced a capricious selection of personal and pop-cultural tidbits with a relatively sympathetic focus on the American spirit and zeitgeist, its aspirations and rock-star veneer, with occasional detours toward political injustices and small and large tragedies. Two vast galleries were divided into seven rooms by freestanding panels, to which more than four thousand images, mostly

  • Rosha Yaghmai, Hair (detail), 2019, pipe, Hydrocal, epoxy resin, limestone, Miracle-Gro, mud mask, graphite, rust, glass, earth pigments, found materials, 2' 10“ × 17' × 3' 9”. Photo: Johanna Arnold.

    Rosha Yaghmai

    A bathroom scene enlarged: floor, a few inches of wall, a lone strand of hair. The slightly raised ground is covered with what appear to be oversize ceramic tiles of a pastel-green hue but are in fact painted MDF. The trompe l’oeil binding “grout” is made of paint and sand. Along the walls, black “tiles,” roughly four feet tall, are also made of wood panels and coated with piano lacquer. Their edges hug the floor in decorative curves. The whole space is an amplified, supersize reality. “It is the unfamiliar familiar, the conventional made suspect,” Mike Kelley might say, and, indeed, this

  • Nikita Gale, DESCENT, 2018, HD video, color, sound, 8 minutes 21 seconds.

    Nikita Gale

    fuck transparency. Nikita Gale’s exhibition “DESCENT” was paced by a rhythmic guitar distortion and a stoic voice-over emanating from its namesake video. The title’s multiple reads—hereditary descent, angled descent, dissent—were part of Gale’s efforts throughout the show to scramble legibility, both visually and conceptually.

    A long corridor lit green led to the gallery; the color, complementary to the occasional red glow of Gale’s video, left a blinding afterimage of the silhouetted shapes that obstructed the hallway’s other doorways. Gale had divided the main space with a series of

  • Neha Choksi, Copy (Elementary Sympathy Worksheet), 2018, marker on ink-jet print, 64 × 48". From “measuring with a bent ruler.”

    “measuring with a bent ruler”

    The announcing dispatch promised this exhibition would “unravel,” and the unconventional group show was, indeed, deconstructed into a sequence of solo presentations—unwieldy exhibitions that embraced undoneness. Each iteration treated the exhibition space as a forum for making and showed works neither nascent nor completed by three artists (introduced in the press release as mutual strangers). Their pieces segued into one another conceptually as well as formally, offering distinct and complementary approaches to text, collage, and performance. 

    PART ONE: Dylan Mira’s Night Vision (all works

  • Fernando Palma Rodríguez, Soldado (Soldier), 2001, mixed media, electronic circuits and sensors, dimensions variable. Photo: Ed Mumford.

    Fernando Palma Rodríguez

    A small red robot with a coyote head pivoted. It drew back, ready to take a step, but found itself tethered to a rock. Its agency was neutralized by this unjust mechanism, yet it was still threatening, as its blade-clad hands rotated menacingly. Just like its blue double, on view in a simultaneous exhibition across the country, the work is titled Soldado.

    The architect of this machine, Fernando Palma Rodríguez—an artist, engineer, and activist—is based in Milpa Alta, a key agricultural region near Mexico City, where, in addition to his studio, he runs a not-for-profit institution

  • View of “Patrick Jackson,” 2018. Photo: Gil Gentile.

    Patrick Jackson

    Starting with its title, Patrick Jackson’s summer exhibition “DUM MUD” was a palindrome. Typeset on the invitation in large, bubbly letters dripping like cartoon blood (or perhaps more obviously like mud), the made-up word established the tone—and material—of the show. Palindromes are, after all, allegorical representations that upend the linear sequence of language and, in so doing, ping-pong time, focusing a reader’s attention equally on the form and the meaning of a word.

    Staged “off-site” in the artist’s one-bedroom apartment, this unconventional exhibition invited visitors to come

  • Colin Campbell, The Woman from Malibu, 1976, video, black-and-white, sound, 12 minutes.
    picks September 06, 2018

    Colin Campbell and Lisa Steele

    For a few months in the late 1970s, Toronto-based video-makers Colin Campbell and Lisa Steele lived in Venice Beach. Like anthropologists arriving in a foreign land (as Steele has noted), they kept a scientific distance from their subjects and shrewdly consumed the native culture (in person and on-screen) in order to cannibalize it, spitting it back out in dispatches on video-art tapes. Their stint in California was a marathon of highly productive role-playing, tape-making, and persona-building that continued to feed their work long after they left.

    Before California, Steele viewed her work as

  • Allen Ruppersberg, Greetings from California, 1972, acrylic on canvas, 65 7⁄8 × 66".

    Allen Ruppersberg

    Self-fiction and play, double entendre and wit, slippery authorship and off-site-ness are the underpinnings of Allen Ruppersberg’s oeuvre. The Conceptual artist’s retrospective at the Walker Art Center, “Intellectual Property 1968–2018,” foregrounded his persistent fascination with the American vernacular—its humor, horror, literature, and pop culture—unfurled through a thematic and chronological sequence of galleries. EACH WORK IS ONE OF A KIND, as Ruppersberg once wrote in “Fifty Helpful Hints on the Art of the Everyday,” 1985. The show strung experiments into a narrative, bracketed by