Leslie J. Ureña

  • interviews October 11, 2013

    An-My Lê

    An-My Lê’s photographs, whether of American soldiers in training or of her native Vietnam, typically focus on the preparation and aftermath of the US military’s activities. Here, Lê speaks about working on her first commission: photographs of the Coast Guard, recently installed in the USCG’s newly opened headquarters at the Department of Homeland Security campus in Washington, DC. Additionally, Lê’s work is on view in “Front Room: An-My Lê” at the Baltimore Museum of Art from October 9 to February 23, 2014.

    I HAVE BEEN DRAWN to organizations that have a rigorous structure and hierarchy. And when

  • picks August 27, 2013

    Ellen Harvey

    In the distant future, the aliens of Ellen Harvey’s humorous and intriguing four-part installation embark on Earth-wide research regarding the function and design of classical and neoclassical “Pillar-Things.” The exhibition turns Washington, DC’s imagined future ruins into an alien tourist site, while questioning the production—as well as the understanding, assimilation, and appropriation—of cultural memory and heritage.

    For Alien Souvenir Stand, 2013, Harvey has repurposed a vendor stand—a current-day staple of the DC tourism circuit. Painted with black, white, and gray images of the city’s

  • interviews August 02, 2013

    Lee Mingwei

    The New York–based Taiwanese artist Lee Mingwei is known for his participatory installations that revolve around interpersonal exchanges during seemingly quotidian events, such as mending one’s clothes, having a meal, or sleeping. The artist speaks here about his latest project, Luminous Depths, which invites visitors to toss pots off a third-floor balcony of the Peranakan Museum in Singapore; the resulting shards will be collected and then used in the foundation of a new building for museum. The work is on view until September 22, 2013.

    LUMINOUS DEPTHS BEGAN IN 2011, when Dr. Alan Chong, the

  • interviews March 01, 2013

    Wolfgang Laib

    The German artist Wolfgang Laib is well known for his meticulous installations. Pollen from Hazelnut, 2013, is on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York until March 11, 2013, and the permanent Wax Room (Where have you gone–where are you going?), 2013, opens at The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, on March 2, 2013; for more information click here. In addition, some of Laib’s output will also be on view in two overlapping solo exhibitions in New York: “Without Beginning and Without End” at Sperone Westwater, March 1-30, and “Photographs and Other Works” at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks +

  • picks January 16, 2013

    “Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop”

    The cheekily named “Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop” cleverly demonstrates that from the medium’s inception, photographers were using it for trickery, toggling between perceptible and imperceptible manipulation, whether for artistic, political, or commercial purposes. Masked negatives, photography manuals, and other steps along the way reveal the laborious, witty, silly, and masterful ways in which photographers have cycled through various techniques to change their images.

    The exhibition is at its strongest when it clearly delineates the methods of manual alterations that

  • picks January 02, 2013

    Zwelethu Mthethwa

    You can definitely feel the heat of the sun as it bears down on the subjects of the South African artist Zwelethu Mthethwa’s photographs, now on view as part of the Front Room series at the Baltimore Museum of Art’s recently reopened contemporary art galleries. We see a sweaty cheek reflecting the white shirt worn by a Nazarite boy in Untitled (Brave Ones), 2010–– there may even be a droplet of sweat that has slid down to the tip of the child’s chin, stopped by Mthethwa’s camera. This boy, standing straight and tall, is the most poised of this composition’s three subjects, as opposed to the

  • picks December 10, 2012

    Roy Lichtenstein

    There are approximately 135 works in this vast retrospective of Roy Lichtenstein’s oeuvre, and even more dots, a shape the artist relished. While the array of dots may be dizzying, the National Gallery of Art’s fourteen themes guide visitors through Lichtenstein’s first Pop paintings as well as his war, romance, and art-history series, along with less familiar works—including several nudes and pieces loosely based on Chinese Song Dynasty landscapes—granting an opportunity to examine the evolution of Lichtenstein’s work and his handmade approach.

    The first three densely installed galleries highlight

  • interviews November 30, 2012

    Chen Chieh-jen

    Chen Chieh-jen is a Taiwanese artist whose most recent film is titled Happiness Building I. Here he discusses the film’s collaborative framework and his “active social practice.” Happiness Building I is on view at the Shihlin Paper Mill until January 13 as part of the 2012 Taipei Biennial, and at the Guangzhou Triennial until December 26. The film’s set is open to the public at the Yi-Ping Construction Material Company in New Taipei City, Taiwan, until December 31.

    I HAD ALREADY BEGUN WORK ON HAPPINESS BUILDING I when I was invited to participate in this Taipei Biennial. As with my previous “

  • picks October 24, 2012

    Ai Weiwei

    In the first major US survey of Ai Weiwei’s work, Mori Art Museum curator Mami Kataoka has added to her 2009 Mori exhibition, to produce an insightful and thought-provoking installation that leads one to look beyond the artist’s recent difficulties in China, and think more broadly about the intertwined roles of art, history, and politics.

    Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, 2010, in the courtyard and Forever, 2003, in the main lobby serve as an introduction, but it is not until one arrives at the slithering reptile of Snake Ceiling, 2009, wending its way across the ceiling, that one begins to see

  • picks March 23, 2012


    Chim↑Pom’s irrepressible energy permeates the collective’s first solo exhibition outside Japan, “Beautiful World – SURVIVAL DANCE,” curated by Huang Chien-Hung and co-organized with Mujin-to Production. Known for their controversial social projects, the six-member Japanese group create interventions that deliver pointed commentary.

    A case in point is a photograph from their 2009 project Making the Sky of Hiroshima PIKA!, which greets visitors to the exhibition. The sky-written word pika (flash) over the A-Bomb Dome, perhaps the most recognized memorial in Hiroshima, generated protests but was

  • interviews May 11, 2011


    The New York–based collective eteam is Franziska Lamprecht and Hajoe Moderegger. Their latest exhibition, “If the dancing gets too stiff, the rain needs to get dug out as ice-cubes,” which connects local populations in Dewitz, Germany, and Oasis, Nevada, is at Galerie M29 in Cologne through May 28.

    THIS SHOW IS PART OF OUR LARGER PROJECT, OS GRABELAND. The “OS” stands for either “open source” or “operating system,” and the German term Grabeland means land for digging, particularly land left over from allotments leased to people during World War I and World War II so they could grow food. As with

  • picks March 18, 2011

    Dan Perjovschi

    Dan Perjovschi, a Romanian artist based in Bucharest, continues his project of politically charged cartoons drawn onto galleries’ walls with his parody of Hong Kong, capitalism, and China in his installation Hong Kong First, 2011. Among the topics that Perjovschi tackles are the city’s shopping obsession, urban density, and socioeconomic disparity. The outline of a high-heeled boot, in profile, symbolizing both luxury and oppression, appears first on the gallery’s window and again in a cartoon hanging within the gallery space, depicting a small group of people huddling between the heel and the