Lauren O’Neill-Butler

  • interviews September 07, 2015

    Thomas Lawson

    Disconnected, Disastrous, Displacement, Disillusionment—many of the titles of Thomas Lawson’s new paintings begin with the prefix dis-. Together, they denote a realm of negation, reversal, removal, and intensification, pulling imagery from common media sources to address questions of attraction and desire that the well-known Los Angeles–based artist discusses below. An exhibition of these uncanny works will run at New York’s Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery from September 12 to October 18, 2015.

    THE SPOOKINESS of representational art always attracts me—pictures that cast a spell on the unwary. I’m

  • performance July 03, 2015

    Sickness and Health

    FOR THREE DAYS IN LATE JUNE, Eiko Otake emerged on Fulton and Broadway. She looked wan and frail: Her face, arms, hands, and feet were painted chalk-white, a yellow kimono clung loosely to her thin frame. She seemed dressed up in disease, like a stain and a plague against the city’s latest picture of health, Fulton Center. The gleaming new subway complex is an efficient symbol of vigorous capital and regrowth after 9/11.

    Carrying a bouquet of dried weeds, Eiko made eye contact with viewers gathered for A Body in a Station, 2014–, and then took in the rest of the midday scene as if she were looking

  • picks June 05, 2015

    Bruce Conner

    Well known for faking his death at least a few times before he died in 2008, Bruce Conner was forty-five when he took on a project to shoot at the nascent San Francisco punk club Mabuhay Gardens for one year. The resultant series of “27 PUNK PHOTOS,” 1978, was originally published in the magazine Search and Destroy, and it’s one of the highlights of this exhibition, which features an array of his gelatin silver prints, collages, drawings, and a film. The show aptly traces his career-long penchant for merging light with shadow, and for finding sensation along the edge—a visual concordance he

  • interviews May 13, 2015

    Yoko Ono

    In December 1971, Yoko Ono famously announced that she was to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The supposed exhibition was, in fact, a conceptual artwork, executed without the participation of the museum itself. This month, though, Ono will open a solo show at MoMA, which will feature her early works on paper, paintings, installations, performances, and audio and instruction pieces. Recently, Ono spoke from her apartment in New York about her unauthorized MoMA exhibition and being asked to realize a show there today, as well as the groundbreaking performances that

  • interviews April 22, 2015

    Joan Jonas

    Born in New York in 1936, Joan Jonas is a pioneer of video and performance art, known for her continuous and seamless merging of cutting-edge technology with historic, ancient, and often ineffable source material. Her latest work, They Come to Us without a Word, 2015, will debut at the US pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale. The piece, which Jonas discusses here, incorporates videos, drawings, objects, and sound and extends her investigation into the writings of Halldór Laxness. For more, check out artforum.com’s video of excerpts from this interview. The fifty-sixth edition of the Venice

  • interviews April 10, 2015

    Simon Dybbroe Møller

    Simon Dybbroe Møller is an artist currently based in New York whose work often takes up what he calls “the weighty architecture of the predigital” and, as he also notes below, “what we used to call nature.” His solo show at New York’s 83 Pitt Street will be on view on April 12, from 5 to 9 PM, and will feature ceramic “shame shields” found in men’s bathrooms, among other works. His upcoming exhibition “Buongiorno Signor Courbet” will run at Francesca Minini Gallery in Milan from May 3 to July 31, 2015.

    ON A CROSS-ATLANTIC FLIGHT, I read Asta Olivia Nordenhof describing a woman taking off her

  • Francesco Vezzoli

    Francesco Vezzoli is an ambitious artist, to be sure. A case in point is the fraught history of his recent exhibition at MoMA PS1: In 2013, the Milan-based artist sought to purchase the ruins of a nineteenth-century southern Italian church, ship the entire thing to New York City, and rebuild the structure in the museum’s courtyard, where he would exhibit his videos. But the dream was not to be: Italian courts, concerned with cultural preservation, intervened and halted the action. Until then, it seemed Vezzoli was unstoppable in achieving his visions of excess.

    Enter “Teatro Romano”: Staged in

  • picks March 13, 2015

    Anicka Yi

    What do women smell like? In her latest solo exhibition, Anicka Yi pushes at the limits of our episteme and provides a whiff. It’s not ready to wear; in fact, it reeks. One hundred women—primarily artists, curators, and critics (full disclosure: I was one)—were swabbed, and the resultant samples have been cultivated here in a moldy petri dish “billboard” that assaults visitors at the entrance to the show. The thriving bacterium, which Yi nurtured with the help of MIT synthetic biologist Tal Danino, is a budding contaminant, a collective, germy growth. A strain from our culture as well as one

  • interviews March 13, 2015

    Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

    Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian was born in Iran in 1924 and is well known for her dazzling approach to geometric abstraction, primarily in the mirror reliefs and drawings she has been making since the 1970s that derive from ornamental elements in traditional Islamic architecture. The first museum retrospective of her work, curated by Suzanne Cotter, was on view at the Serralves Museum in Porto, Portugal, from October 9, 2014 through January 11, 2015 and travels to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York from March 13 to June 3, 2015.

    LAST SPRING, I had a survey exhibition at the Third Line

  • interviews March 04, 2015

    Iman Issa

    Iman Issa is an artist based in Cairo and New York. Her sculptural series “Heritage Studies,” 2015–, which revisits forms drawn from history, will be featured in the Twelfth Sharjah Biennial from March 5 to June 5, 2015. New iterations of this project will also be on view this year in Issa’s solo presentations at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami (April 2 to October 4) and the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (May 18 to June 28).

    THIS SERIES started from the feeling that I was coming across elements from the past that resonated with subjects on which I was working at the time. It emerged

  • Yael Bartana

    At once persuasive and complex, Yael Bartana’s films and videos come off as more than mere intellectual exercises. Seeking to directly effect social change, Bartana enlists the services of actors and nonactors alike, whether for documentaries, as in her recent analysis of Finnish identity, True Finn, 2014, or for works that collapse fact and fiction, as in Inferno, 2013. Her latest New York exhibition featured both these videos, which allude, like her previous output, to the various “demographic threats” ongoing in the world; the thorny question of citizenship, of being a body that matters, has

  • picks February 27, 2015

    On Kawara

    A fact lost on most media: “On Kawara—Silence,” the title of the most comprehensive overview to date of the late Conceptualist’s work, is accompanied by a tiny spiral icon, a miniature Guggenheim ramp. Whether didactic, deadpan, or an allusion to the impressive totality of his work (probably all three), the symbol is an idiosyncratic detail the artist desired. Its closest typographic kin, “@,” doesn’t really suffice, even though it aptly lights up the poetically terse, direct address of much of Kawara’s best work, its pre–social media forthrightness. See the postcards to his friends (the “I Got

  • interviews February 27, 2015

    Hans Haacke

    The 2015 commission for Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth Program, Hans Haacke’s Gift Horse takes as its points of departure an etching by George Stubbs and a statue of William IV on horseback that was initially planned for the plinth in 1841. A meditation on capital and casualty, Haacke’s work will be unveiled in London on March 5, 2015, and will remain on view for eighteen months.

    I WAS ONE OF SIX ARTISTS invited to submit proposals for the Fourth Plinth on the northwest corner of Trafalgar Square. The plinth has been empty for more than 150 years. George IV, whose equestrian statue graces the

  • “Learn to Read Art: A Surviving History of Printed Matter”

    “We had this dream that artists’ books would be in drugstores and airports,” said Lucy R. Lippard a few years ago when I asked her about the early days of Printed Matter, Inc. A founder of the venerable institution in 1976—along with Carl Andre, Edit deAk, Sol LeWitt, Walter Robinson, Pat Steir, Mimi Wheeler, Robin White, and Irena von Zahn—Lippard noted that she hadn’t anticipated back then how these “scribbled little things, misspelled texts, Xeroxes, and so forth” would go on to find their markets. But every format eventually does. If the crowds at the Printed Matter NY Art Book

  • picks January 30, 2015

    Paul Thek

    Paul Thek first visited the Italian isle Ponza in 1968 and later sojourned there, on and off, for a decade. It is said that he spent these salad days boating, swimming, reading, and, as his works from the time avow, painting—namely, the sea, over and over. When in Rome, he deftly transcribed passages from St. Augustine’s Confessions in three of his profuse notebooks (“Do the heaven and the earth then contain Thee, since Thou fillest them?”) alongside some of his own contemplations: black-and-white Polaroids of clouds. Is this how myth builds?

    A quick Ponza image search is jaw dropping for its

  • Gillian Jagger

    In 1997, John Perreault published a glowing review of Gillian Jagger’s work: The artist, the critic gushed, will “eventually be seen as one of the great ones.” Is there loftier praise than that? This recent exhibition—a refreshing, if too small, sampling of the upstate New York–based artist’s sculptures from between 1963 and 2014—signaled the beginning of the reassessment Perrault predicted. It took a while. Jagger and her anthropomorphic output have typically had slippery affinities to past movements. In the mid-1960s the artist famously made plaster casts of manhole covers on the

  • slant December 23, 2014

    The Year in Independent Art Publishing: A Roundtable

    Was 2014 a banner year for small-scale art presses? Printing technology is increasingly accessible, publications seem to accompany every exhibition, and the principal experience of Printed Matter’s New York and Los Angeles Art Book Fairs was congestion. In early December, artforum.com managing editor Lauren O’Neill-Butler sat down with artists Paul Chan, Ian Cheng, and Micaela Durand of Badlands Unlimited; curator Howie Chen of Dispatch; and Primary Information copublisher Miriam Katzeff to discuss just what it is that makes art publishing today so different, so appealing.

    artforum.com: Against

  • Adam Putnam

    Exhibitions by Adam Putnam test the boundaries between architecture and bodies—specifically his own. The New York–based and –born artist explores this theme in a number of ways, most notably through a particularly uneasy brand of performance: Once every week during his last New York show, in 2009, he hung, for five minutes, from an approximately eighteen-foot-long chain. This show, the artist’s first at this gallery, emphasized his sculptures, photographs, and works on paper, presenting exquisitely rendered drawings of Romanesque arches and steeples in charcoal and pigment; sculptures

  • interviews November 28, 2014

    Renée Green

    The artist Renée Green is well known for working with a wide array of media, which often converge in layered installations. Here, Green shares “doubly transmuted” pieces from the introductory essay in her new book Other Planes of There: Selected Writings (2014), which surveys her writings between 1981 and 2010 and was published this month by Duke University Press.

    AS A PRELUDE TO OTHER PLANES OF THERE, I offer these recently written and doubly transmuted excerpts from the book as one way of telling a story, titled, for example, as “Other Planes, Different Phases, My Geometry, Times, Movements:

  • Hito Steyerl

    With large-scale solo exhibitions slated for the spring and fall of 2015—at Artists Space in New York and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, respectively—along with the recent conclusion of shows at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, Hito Steyerl has had a lot on her plate. It makes sense, then, that on this occasion, the Berlin-based filmmaker, theorist, and critic would choose to present work from her archives, taking a moment amid midcareer pressures to be a little redundant. “How Not to Be Seen: