Lauren O’Neill-Butler

  • 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

  • Keren Cytter

    Keren Cytter, who lives in Berlin, pulls from film history for her work, usually in service to video, the medium for which she is best known (though she redirected the practice to text in her novel from last year, The seven most exciting hours of Mr. Trier’s life in twenty-four chapters, which draws from Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom). The two short videos in her exhibition at Thierry Goldberg refer most directly to Blowup and Dial M for Murder, though they also bring to mind a range of other subjects: soap operas, reality television, Godard, Fassbinder. But while Cytter’s videos explore particular

  • interviews March 24, 2009

    Lisi Raskin

    Over the past ten years, the Brooklyn-based artist Lisi Raskin has explored fear, cold-war tensions, and sites that rely on nuclear power in her works. Here she speaks about the process of making Armada, a new installation on view until June 21 at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas, Austin.

    THE “MOBILE OBSERVATION” SERIES began over a year ago. The first part of the project, Command and Control, was commissioned by Bard College and was exhibited at the Park Avenue Armory for the ADAA fair in 2008. Following that, I was commissioned by Bard to take a road trip to expand the

  • diary March 12, 2009

    Family Circus

    Los Angeles

    NEARLY TWELVE THOUSAND PEOPLE were naturalized a fortnight ago at the Los Angeles Convention Center; meanwhile, four thousand were sequestered nearby in the dimly lit lecture rooms, present for the College Art Association’s annual conference. It was easy to get lost in the shuffle: Descending the escalators, I spotted ecstatic new citizens holding tiny American flags and frazzled art historians in casual-smart garb prowling the floors and pushing their way out into the upper-seventies heat, where vendors hawked picture frames, certificate holders, and street meat. The latter group wore name tags

  • interviews March 10, 2009

    Agnès Varda

    The inimitable director Agnès Varda is widely known for her films––the French New Wave classic Cleo from 5 to 7 (1961) and The Gleaners and I (2000) are just a few. Here she speaks about her exhibition at Harvard’s Sert Gallery in the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, which opens March 12. Concurrent with the exhibition, the Harvard Film Archive will devote a week of programming to her groundbreaking films, including her most recent undertaking, The Beaches of Agnès (2008), which opens at Film Forum on July 1.

    THIS IS MY FIRST INSTALLATION in the United States, and it makes me very happy.

  • Daniel Guzmán

    Since the 1990s, Daniel Guzmán has made drawings that borrow imagery from a wide range of sources––from punk rock to the daily news, heavy metal to Mexican mural painting––and his first exhibition at this gallery charted similarly dense terrain. Guzmán’s latest sculptures share certain motifs with his drawing series “La Búsqueda del Ombligo” (The Search of the Navel), 2005–2007, in which he explored his cultural roots; but they focus on darker subjects, namely the New Fire, an Aztec bloodletting ceremony, the artist channeling aggression and disenchantment into metaphor.

    The rectangular structures

  • interviews February 26, 2009

    Kerry James Marshall

    On the heels of Monuments for a New America, his conceptual two-page comic spread in the Washington Post, the Chicago-based artist Kerry James Marshall has created two large murals for the Haas Atrium at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Depicting Mount Vernon and Monticello––among many other hidden aspects––these works, which debut on February 26, continue Marshall’s investigation of history.

    THE CHALLENGE AT SF MoMA is to put something in the space that will not be overwhelmed by the architecture itself. Originally, I proposed to transform the atrium into a Garden of Eden with a stream

  • picks February 24, 2009

    Erica Baum

    The red-, blue-, and green-stippled book edges in Erica Baum’s new photographs bring to mind the paperbacks that encumber used-book stores, thrift shops, and family libraries: faded film adaptations, celebrity biographies, and the occasional art monograph. In this exhibition, she walks a fine line between documentation and concealment, presenting pictures of eight such books fanning out and close-up, open but not completely exposed. Fragments of text and cheaply reproduced images––Goldie Hawn in a scene from Shampoo (1975), Art Garfunkel, Richard and Pat Nixon––are evident between the bars.

  • film February 04, 2009

    Five Women

    I WATCHED CHIARA CLEMENTE’S Our City Dreams (2008) in fits and starts, as the DVD screener battled my computer. During this graceless do-si-do of breaking down and starting up again, the ensuing allover abstract images captured on screen––pixelated views of artists Swoon, Ghada Amer, Kiki Smith, Marina Abramovic, and Nancy Spero, amid contemplative shots of New York City––seemed to dovetail, in moments nearing cliché, with Clemente’s dreamy and meandering first feature documentary.

    An intimate series of portraits, the film trades in contemplative voice-overs and languid views of the artists at

  • Charlotte Posenenske

    In the May 1968 issue of Art International, the thirty-eight-year-old German artist Charlotte Posenenske published a manifesto lamenting the “regressed” utility of art and, by implication, the larger network of the art world. Her statements convey her concern with the social role of artists, and presage her decision later that year to become, perhaps unsurprisingly, a sociologist. Yet unlike other artists from the late 1960s and early ’70s who employed strategies of rejection or withdrawal—Lee Lozano comes first to mind––Posenenske was not concerned with blurring the boundaries between art and

  • picks January 28, 2009

    Christopher Miner

    “After being married for only two years, I’ve found that I prefer to spend more time alone than my marriage will allow.” Self-observant and self-absorbed, Christopher Miner fills his second solo show at this gallery with unbridled quips and deprecating gems. But what at first appears trite or crude resonates beyond the monitor. His outlandish videos dig deep; they recall the abject musings of Mike Kelley as well as the comedic obsessions of Mike Smith. In a new suite of shorts, Miner takes Jackson, Mississippi, his hometown, as subject and muse and presents several intriguing characters––his

  • diary January 20, 2009

    Law and Disorder

    New York

    SINK OR SWIM. Since art nonprofits (and downtown art nonprofits in particular) have dealt with those looming conditions for ages, it felt only natural that last Tuesday night, during several events feting such institutions, conversations about community would trump those about the economic downturn. White Columns celebrated its prestigious history with the opening of “40 Years/40 Projects,” and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project held its fourth annual “Small Works for Big Change” auction at the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation. The latter, a benefit that is supported by donations and volunteers,

  • interviews January 14, 2009

    Superflex

    The international projects by the Danish collective Superflex engage alternative-energy production, community organizing, and what they commonly term “countereconomic strategies.” For their first solo exhibition in London, opening January 16 at South London Gallery, they will present a new film, Flooded McDonald’s.

    THIS WORK IS one of our first forays into filmmaking. Although we’ve previously used film and photography to document our projects, Flooded McDonald’s incorporates a more general cinematic approach. It may at times seem like a documentary, because it follows the actual flooding of a

  • interviews January 06, 2009

    Alex Bag

    Since the mid-1990s, the New York–based artist Alex Bag has created a wide array of acerbic video art––by turns hilarious and horrific––that frequently features Bag herself. Her latest commission opens on January 9 at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Coinciding with the exhibition, Electronic Arts Intermix is expanding its catalogue to include all of Bag’s videos for distribution.

    MY MOTHER STARRED in two children’s television programs: In the mid-to-late ’60s she hosted The Carol Corbett Show on WPIX in New York City, and in the ’70s, in the tristate area, she had a show on WCBS called The

  • Lorna Simpson

    One intriguing aspect of midcareer retrospectives is that they typically herald a new phase in an artist’s practice, a reinvention. Take for example Lorna Simpson, who recently, a year and a half after her mid-career survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art, had a two-part exhibition at Salon 94. Marking a significant shift from her large-scale photographs juxtaposing figure and text, her new work, including two series of drawings, imparts an intimacy and directness underpinned by the seminal themes of her practice: race and gender. While her latest offerings continue to blend formal and

  • interviews December 23, 2008

    Sara Greenberger Rafferty

    The New York–based artist Sara Greenberger Rafferty has exhibited widely since 2001. Her latest exhibition, “Bananas”—exploring humor, performance, and everyday life—is on view January 9–March 7 at the Kitchen.

    I’VE ALWAYS THOUGHT of my work in the context of performance, so I was thrilled when the Kitchen, a long-standing nonprofit performance venue, proposed this exhibition. Even though I don’t make “performance art” as such, my work engages with that medium via more static forms. The exhibition space at the Kitchen is quite large, which has forced me to consider scale in this show more than

  • film December 18, 2008

    On a Hunch

    IN 1963, KEN JACOBS received a postcard requesting his presence as a guest on a daytime NBC television show. The honorarium—a “much-needed” twenty dollars—along with the chance to present his films to a broad national audience, seemed like an appealing, if unusual, arrangement, and Jacobs accepted. He decided to bring along Saturday Blood Sacrifice (1956), his black-and-white slapstick comedy featuring his friend Jack Smith.

    Arriving at the studio, Jacobs learned that he was to appear alongside Carolee Schneemann on . . . a quiz show. Broke and game for practically anything, the artist

  • Chris Johanson

    Comprising paintings and one large installation, Chris Johanson’s second solo exhibition at this gallery was equal parts cryptic and clear-cut, lighthearted and sarcastic, comic and tragic. Most of the artist’s new works employ a Crayola palette and are composed of wood he gathered from Brooklyn Dumpsters and discarded art-shipping crates. While recycling and revitalization were evidenced throughout the show, Johanson did not apply such strategies to his own output. Indeed, the elements that one might most readily associate with the artist’s earlier work (cartoon thought bubbles, copious

  • picks November 22, 2008

    Carol Rama

    At ninety, the self-taught Italian artist Carol Rama is a beacon of change. This long-overdue miniretrospective makes a strong case for resistance—to a specific movement (such as Surrealism or arte povera), to any one medium, and to a particular iconography. As writer and poet Edoardo Sanguineti aptly noted in 1965, Rama’s art is “refined brut and cultured naïf,” and all of the thirty-six works in this exhibition, which date from 1943 through 2005 and range dramatically from hard-edge abstraction and drawings laced with erotic symbols to bricolage and mixed-media sculpture, showcase this