Lauren O’Neill-Butler

  • interviews September 07, 2009

    Rita McBride and Kim Schoenstadt

    Tell Me Something Good, a collaboration between Rita McBride and Kim Schoenstadt, is loosely based on “Art by Telephone,” an exhibition the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, organized in 1969. Departing from the conceptual premise of that show, McBride and Schoenstadt are making works from instructions they’ve exchanged over the phone. The project premiered at Alexander and Bonin Gallery last May; the latest installment, which Schoenstadt discusses here, opens at the Santa Monica Museum of Art on September 11.

    THIS COLLABORATION BEGAN with a misunderstanding. Thankfully, there were more to

  • diary September 06, 2009

    Norse Code

    Moss, Norway

    THE RURAL COASTAL TOWN OF MOSS, NORWAY, is a forty-minute drive south of the nation’s chocolate-box capital, a blur of glistening shoreline and light-dappled forests. I traveled this route several times last week by rail, bus, and car, and only in certain moments did my attention stray from the sapphire waters, the islands dotting the bay, and the sailboats navigating their routes along the eastern shore of the Oslofjord. Norway, as you may know, is one of the world’s most picturesque places. Its contemporary art, as the well-worn estimation goes, tends to be somber, dark, and loud, the brooding

  • Anne Eastman

    Anne Eastman’s first solo exhibition in New York used mobiles made of wood, mirrors, and fishing line to ardently sample a range of early-twentieth-century art, from Russian Constructivism and Surrealism to the kinetic sculptures of Duchamp and Calder. She seemed particularly fixated on Moholy-Nagy: One work carried the lubricious title Oh! László, suggesting excitement or titillation. Its small Plexiglas mirrors, suspended within a black wooden frame, primarily offered fleeting reflections of gallery visitors. As in the rest of the show, Eastman’s modestly articulated take on abstraction and

  • interviews August 24, 2009

    Geoffrey Batchen

    A professor of the history of photography and contemporary art at the CUNY Graduate Center, Geoffrey Batchen’s previous books include Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography (1997) and Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History (2001). This October, MIT Press will publish Photography Degree Zero, an anthology that Batchen has edited of writings about Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography (1980).

    I’VE READ CAMERA LUCIDA MANY, MANY TIMES, and I’ve taught it for many years. Yet, it is one of those books you can read over and over and still find new things that you

  • interviews August 14, 2009

    Rebecca Solnit

    Rebecca Solnit is the author of ten previous books, including Savage Dreams: A Journey into the Landscape Wars of the American West (1994), Wanderlust: A History of Walking (2000), and River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (2003), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Mark Lynton History Prize. Her latest book is A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster.

    THE 1989 LOMA PRIETA EARTHQUAKE IN CALIFORNIA was an extraordinary event for me: I remember noticing that people appeared to be having a relatively positive

  • picks August 11, 2009

    Dorothy Iannone

    It’s hard to say what, or perhaps who, is pleasuring Dorothy Iannone in her “video box” I Was Thinking of You III, 1975/2006, but such is the dreamy ambiguity of her practice. Like the feminist theorist Luce Irigaray in her eminent essay “This Sex Which Is Not One” (1977), Iannone advances a model of sexuality that encourages multiplicity, mutability, and fluctuation.

    A highlight of the 2006 Whitney Biennial, that piece is accompanied in this exhibition––her first solo museum show in the United States––by Iannone’s large-scale magic, mystical paintings, and People, 1966–67, her small wooden

  • film August 04, 2009

    Bee’s Knees

    LET’S NOT DILATE—as many have—on whether writer-director Andrew Bujalski’s scripts are indebted to the languid stylings of Eric Rohmer, or the degree to which his characters are heirs to the lustful eccentrics in Woody Allen’s films. Let’s also forget about Mumblecore, the poorly named genre he’s said to have pioneered, which is distinguished by the directionless musings of late-twenty-somethings as they try to figure their shit out. If Bujalski’s Beeswax (2009), is any indication, he’s well on his way to surpassing most expectations.

    Let’s begin, instead, with the end. It’s a bittersweet moment

  • interviews July 27, 2009

    Mary Ellen Carroll

    Mary Ellen Carroll is a Houston- and New York–based conceptual artist who teaches in the architecture program at Rice University. Here, she discusses prototype 180, a work she is creating in collaboration with the Rice University Building Institute, and a recent mayoral forum on land use in Houston at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston that she organized and moderated. Her forthcoming monograph is being published by SteidlMACK and will be available this fall.

    HOUSTON IS THE ONLY METROPOLITAN AREA in the United States without a formal land-use zoning code. The no-zoning policy creates conditions,

  • interviews July 08, 2009

    Aki Sasamoto

    Aki Sasamoto is a New York–based Japanese artist who often draws on performance, sculpture, and dance for her works. Here she describes her sense of dislocation after performing and also talks about her role as a founder of Culture Push, the collaborative artists’ group. She recently performed at Zach Feuer Gallery (with Momus) and in the 2008 Yokohama Triennial.

    THROUGHOUT JUNE, I experienced a sense of the unreal and constant self-doubt. A friend pointed out that I always take my time to return to real life after a performance and that I had spent the previous two months performing almost every

  • picks June 16, 2009

    Alice Shaw

    Alice Shaw’s third solo exhibition at Gallery 16 finds the artist as mystic and rationalist, medium and maker. In “Auto(biography)”––the follow-up to “People Who Look Like Me,” her 2006 show at the gallery––Shaw develops her droll conceptualism through an even more comprehensive picture of her primary subject, herself. With the help of an “astro-location reader” and the chair of the Graphological Society of San Francisco––whose findings about her ideal locale and handwriting sample are paired with the artist’s responses (pictures of the sea and desert, and a cursive exercise, respectively)––this

  • interviews June 10, 2009

    David Mazzucchelli

    Dan Nadel, owner of the Brooklyn-based publishing house PictureBox Inc., organized “Sounds and Pauses: The Comics of David Mazzucchelli,” the first US retrospective of Mazzucchelli’s twenty-five year career. The exhibition is on view at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York through August 23. Pantheon Graphic Novels will publish Asterios Polyp, Mazzucchelli’s anticipated new graphic novel, on July 7.

    I GREW UP WITH DAVID’S WORK. I first saw his original and groundbreaking drawings in the seminal Batman comic Batman: Year One in 1987. He made those drawings when he was in his mid-twenties.

  • Xavier Cha

    Over the past few years, Xavier Cha has developed a quasi-mythic reputation for her strange, nearly gauche, performances. In her exhibition “Holiday Cruise!” in 2006, for example, she appeared in several ways: lounging in an enormous cornucopia; as a deity called Polyhedra; and gyrating while wearing a full-body costume of hair braided in cornrows. Anyone expecting such lavishness in her recent exhibition would have been surprised by the chilly, detached tone, by the stark and minimal presentation and less over-the-top subjects. But most unexpectedly, she did not perform here herself, opting

  • interviews May 15, 2009

    Jennifer West

    In conjunction with “The Long Weekend” at Tate Modern, the Los Angeles–based artist Jennifer West will premiere a new piece, Skate the Sky Film. Here she talks about her practice of subjecting 16-mm, 35-mm, and 70-mm film to a wide array of substances and the new direction this work has taken her. The festival runs May 22–25; more information can be found here.

    THIS PROJECT IS DIFFERENT FOR ME because I’m working within a twenty-four-hour period in London, and part of it will involve a live audience. I’m also going to show a 35-mm print on a 35-mm projector (on a built platform), which is an

  • picks May 02, 2009

    Unica Zürn

    The black-and-white photographs of Unica Zürn’s body—bound by string, coiled, and reduced to a sack of bulbous flesh—are some of Hans Bellmer’s most admired works and, until recently, her mere cameo in art history’s canon. As a remedial course, perhaps, this elegant show offers a bounty of Zürn’s automatic drawings, a few shimmering paintings, and some brilliant pieces of her writing (for which she is most regarded). Although it reprises themes set forth in Ubu Gallery’s similar 2005 show, the Drawing Center exhibition thoughtfully and tenderly examines her short career and mental illness without

  • Xylor Jane

    Xylor Jane’s third solo exhibition at Canada, titled “NDE,” as in “near-death experience,” did not on first impression look to be about death. Products of a conceptual, task-based approach that Jane began developing in the mid-1990s, these new works, more explicitly than their predecessors, depict patterns through dabs of brightly colored oil paint. Some of these patterns have their origins in printouts of numbers from the Internet. Others are based in a system Jane has generated that links the seven colors of the rainbow to the seven days of the week. If their palettes were more consistently

  • interviews April 29, 2009

    Emilie Halpern

    The Los Angeles–based artist Emilie Halpern incorporates subtle explorations of time, memory, and longing into her films, photographs, drawings, and sculptures. Here she speaks about the new works that will debut at her solo exhibition at Project Row Houses in Houston on May 2 and the process of preparing for the show.

    I WAS VERY AWARE of the various parameters at Project Row Houses when putting together this exhibition. For example, the work typically isn’t for sale and the space is left unattended. It seemed like an opportunity to shift the way I was working, and the timing was ideal: I was

  • diary April 24, 2009

    Due East

    New York

    “I AM PARTICIPANT,” exclaimed artist Kathe Burkhart as we navigated the expanding crowd, a few hundred strong, at the nonprofit’s annual benefit on Sunday. “Well, really Lia is,” she finally allowed, giving credit to the institution’s founding director, Lia Gangitano. Burkhart gestured across the room toward the announcement card for her 2003 solo show, and I skimmed the crowd, spotting other artists who might also “be” Participant. The card, as well as some works by those artists, was amid a makeshift time line that stretched across one of the black-painted walls: the institution’s exhibition

  • interviews April 13, 2009

    Carol Bove

    Carol Bove is a Brooklyn-based artist known for incorporating made and found objects, primarily from the 1960s, into her works. Her solo exhibition at The Horticultural Society of New York opens on April 15 and features an accordion-fold book, which she discusses here. Her exhibition at the Tate Saint Ives will open on May 15.

    TWENTIETH-CENTURY NARCISSUS is a project that Janine Lariviere began in 2002 through her research on flower bulbs and their hybridization and registration. It is essentially a collection of daffodils (cut from catalogs) that are arranged on a time line according to their

  • picks April 13, 2009

    Jennifer Bornstein

    The set in Jennifer Bornstein’s 16-mm abstract film Phantom Limb, 2009, is the same one used in the television show Boston Legal, but you’d never guess it. The eighteen-minute black-and-white work unfolds slowly and silently and ends where it began, with the opening scene flipped backward and in negative. Superimpositions and mirror reflections are spread throughout, in homage, perhaps, to early Surrealist film, and these transitions seem to suit her subject: mirror boxes, traditionally used to treat phantom-limb pains. Bornstein’s work feels a bit like therapy, too: As the camera’s roaming lens

  • interviews April 01, 2009

    Mary Mattingly

    New York–based photographer and sculptor Mary Mattingly has designed The Waterpod, a floating eco-habitat that recalls the work of Buckminster Fuller, Andrea Zittel, and Constant Nieuwenhuis and that will launch this May in the East River. Here she discusses the evolution of the project. Mattingly’s second solo exhibition at Robert Mann Gallery in New York, titled “Nomadographies,” will open on April 2.

    THE WATERPOD is three years in the making. Prior to this project, I made wearable homes with three layers, fit for mobile people in different environmental conditions (arctic, desert/tundra, and