Lauren O’Neill-Butler

  • HW, 2007, embroidered cotton and steel in two parts, each 140 x 43 1/2 x 3".
    picks May 30, 2007

    Trisha Donnelly

    Close your eyes for a moment while visiting Trisha Donnelly’s third solo exhibition at this gallery. A pile of pine branches in the first room and the sound of bells ringing intermittently in the second might provide just enough stimulus to trigger a memory—perhaps of the holiday season, a vacation, or something not typically associated with art. Much of Donnelly’s work operates metaphorically, as if to forge suggestive links between her practice and larger, sometimes otherworldly ideas. Subtle connections between fiction and fact abound in this show, like tiny seeds planted in the back of

  • !Women's Questions?, 1965–2007, ink on paper, dimensions variable.
    picks February 16, 2007

    Jef Geys

    “What happens when feminism becomes a course rather than a cause?” This question, posed by Linda Nochlin during MoMA’s recent “Feminist Future” symposium, is amplified by 157 underlying concerns listed in Jef Geys’s !Women’s Questions?, 1965–2007, now making its belated US debut. Though Geys is not included in the feminist art canon or widely known outside his native Belgium, his community-based, dialogical approach offers a scrutiny of women’s experience since the Second Wave's heyday. Each work takes the form of a handwritten list; the repetitiveness (and seeming sincerity) of his uniform

  • On a Day So Calm, “as it got dark, the water stopped”, 2006, ink, marker, gouache, and collage on paper, 15 x 15".
    picks January 18, 2007

    Crystal Liu

    San Francisco–based artist Crystal Liu imbues the flora and fauna in her work with imaginative narratives and sparse sophistication, offering a refreshing alternative to the “cute overload” imagery endemic to much contemporary art about “nature.” For her New York solo debut, “Before I Ever Dreamed You,” Liu exhibits wool-covered works, other collages, and drawings that belie the popularity of her subjects through meticulous compositions, restrained gestures, and low-key color palettes. Liu titles her series with poetic metaphors and uses subtitles to express an ominous—yet curiously

  • F. Holland Day, The Seven Words, 1898, seven platinum prints in wooden frames, 8 1/2 x 34 1/2".
    picks January 17, 2007

    “Photography and the Self: The Legacy of F. Holland Day”

    This small show, tucked into the Whitney’s mezzanine gallery, posits a somber series on the Passion by F. Holland Day, The Seven Words, 1898, as a precursor to fourteen self-portraits by contemporary artists. Though the works at first appear loosely gathered from the museum’s collection, coherent themes—masquerade and engagement with individual history, for example—materialize. Strange intersections of art and life occur, and the exhibition makes it difficult not to see deeply unsettled personae and the structurally unsound facade of identity everywhere one looks (perhaps the earlier

  • The Quickening, 2006. Installation view.
    picks December 12, 2006

    Sue de Beer

    Sue de Beer’s new video installation, The Quickening, 2006, smartly blends elements of slice-and-dice slasher films with hints of the eccentric gleaned from elder artists Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley. As in her previous work, the gallery contains a sculpture created in tandem with the video production—a thirteen-foot-tall illuminated ring of trees, made from plywood, that projects shadows on the surrounding walls—and a specially constructed screening room, this time decked out with red shag carpet, beanbag chairs, and a dropped ceiling. The video portrays a fragmented narrative, laced

  • Sabrina Gschwandtner, Phototatic Behavior in Sewn Slides (detail), 2004, Kodak Ekpatro 9000 slide projector, 35-mm slides, and thread.
    picks November 30, 2006

    “A Fold in the Fabric”

    A focus on materiality threads through the audio and visual installations in this group show, which, at times, are impossible to hear, can be missed in the blink of an eye, or emerge only via interpreter. The last is literally true in Dominique Petitgand’s two-speaker installation Proportions, 2006, wherein a French narrator provides definitions of phenomenological experiences while a translator attempts, largely unsuccessfully, to explain her thoughts in English. As the characters speak, diegetic sounds of clatter and music isolate the words lost in translation to alienating effect. Andy Graydon

  • Load, 2006.
    picks October 31, 2006

    Molly Smith

    For her solo gallery debut, Molly Smith makes unexpected bedfellows of simplicity and ambiguity through a modest collection of paintings and cast-plaster sculptures. Smith’s barely-there forms, rendered in watercolor on paper, are harnessed by the empty space surrounding them, as in Grounded (all works 2006), a pair of tube socks packing bricks, and Lean, a series of thin lines moving crabwise across the sheet. In other works, the space deepens from within, as in Hatch, in which the interior of an open box reveals seemingly endless watercolor shadows. The artist’s recent switch to larger sheets

  • Migrant Fruit Thugs, 2006.
    picks October 12, 2006

    Fred Tomaselli

    Fred Tomaselli’s recent work engages experience through memory, perception, and imagination while exploring new terrain, including wildlife studies and grotesque portraiture, to positive effect. Employing a barrage of repetitive, exacting patterns—fingernail-size cutouts from magazines and books, candy-colored pills, and foliage—the artist creates an ultrasensorial atmosphere, one that generates the kind of “aha” moments typically inspired by meticulously layered aural harmonies. Migrant Fruit Thugs, 2006, one of several large works invoking John James Audubon, depicts two birds,

  • Mitch Epstein, Biloxi, Mississippi, 2005.
    picks September 27, 2006

    “Ecotopia: The Second ICP Triennial of Photography and Video”

    The frank sentiment of “A Global Warning,” one of the prescriptive taglines for Al Gore’s recent documentary An Inconvenient Truth, is at the heart “Ecotopia,” the second ICP triennial of photography and video. Yet the descriptive and thorny ideas in this sizable exhibition—from the “nomadic postconsumers” of the future (Mary Mattingly) to the black-market trade in endangered species (Patrick Brown)—save it from moralistic didacticism and fear-inducing value judgments. With an empathetic approach, the one hundred works sustain a broad discourse on the politics and aesthetics of nature.

  • Ziggurat, 2006.
    picks September 18, 2006

    Sara VanDerBeek

    Sara VanDerBeek’s first solo exhibition astutely evokes the uncanny in photographs of sculptural assemblages and collages, capturing the creepy aura of the constructed objects within two dimensions. Here, the repressed returns via enigmatic twists and turns: Alexander Calder, Joseph Cornell, and Hannah Höch spring to mind, and mementos—which seem to have a deeply personal meaning and look recondite when combined with wire, thread, and ribbons—abound. In One of Only Two, 2006, a collaged page from the Illustrated London News is set against a black background, like a trapped specimen.