Lillian Davies

  • diary February 17, 2008

    Brain Candy

    Paris

    “It’s good that people have to wait—it’s like a rock concert,” remarked Marc-Olivier Wahler, director of the Palais de Tokyo, last Wednesday night, as a growing crowd anxiously paced outside the entrance to Loris Gréaud’s “Cellar Door.” Two years in the making, Gréaud used every second before the gate rolled open to prepare his unprecedented solo show. (This was the first time the institution’s entire space had been devoted to the work of someone under thirty.) Eager to get a look at Gréaud’s ambitious project—the expansive charred forest, the paintball arena, and the full-scale replica of his

  • picks February 09, 2008

    Mona Hatoum

    For her first solo exhibition in Paris in thirteen years, Mona Hatoum presents a powerful selection of new and recent sculptural, kinetic, and paper-based work, firmly locking the viewer into a state of enraptured paralysis as she incites concurrent feelings of enchantment and disturbance. Hatoum immediately establishes an acute level of tension with the installation Nature morte aux grenades (Still Life with Grenades), 2006–2007, just inside the gallery entrance. Covering a morgue gurney, an icy cold steel-and-rubber contraption, with a colorful collection of crystal blown into the shape of

  • diary January 27, 2008

    Here, There, Everywhere

    Paris

    Arriving at Jeu de Paume just after 11 AM on Monday for the opening of Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s first retrospective in France, I immediately found the artist, dressed in slim, dark jeans and a pin-striped blazer, holding court in the luminous triple-height entryway. Ahtila gave me a polite hello but quickly urged me down the gray stone ramp toward her newest work, Where Is Where, allegedly finished just two days before. “It takes fifty-two minutes, so go on.” An attentive crowd was gathered inside the six-screen installation, absorbing the poetic drama of mortality and colonial politics. The starting

  • picks January 04, 2008

    Carsten Höller

    In this exhibition of new works, each shadowing a previous project, Carsten Höller constructs a theater of duality. The walls are covered in Double Shadow Zöllner Wall Paper, 2007, a graphic pattern in white and gray that quickly launches into motion as the varying tones and angles tease the eye into registering volume and movement. (These images have also been photocopied in black-and-white and pasted like a frieze around the gallery.) In the back room, Höller has set up a microphone, seemingly an opportunity for the viewer to enter the work as an autonomous figure. However, the piece, titled

  • Loris Gréaud

    Granting Loris Gréaud domain over its entire exhibition space—an unprecedented opportunity for a French artist under thirty—the Palais de Tokyo will present “Cellar Door,” a show with operatic implications.

    Granting Loris Gréaud domain over its entire exhibition space—an unprecedented opportunity for a French artist under thirty—the Palais de Tokyo will present “Cellar Door,” a show with operatic implications. A libretto will integrate installations from 2001 to the present, one of which, in an act of Gréaud's signature “spatiotemporal” repositionings, will be a replication of his first major solo show at Le Plateau, Paris, in 2005. A new work—a paintball terrain where players armed with pellets of International Klein Blue are to “perform” once a day—will boast technical

  • picks December 27, 2007

    Hedi Slimane

    Hedi Slimane approaches the sublime in this cohesive installation of image and sound, form and texture, with souvenirs from his documentation of the Klaxons’ appearance at indie-rock festival Benicassim, as well as a recent performance by Amy Winehouse. Plunging into the richness of music and performance, Slimane’s art re-creates the seductive power of a band’s live show. A glittering silver runway, illuminated by a row of bare lightbulbs, draws visitors into the otherwise darkened space. Music—ambient recordings from the Klaxons’ preshow preparations—pours forth from two speakers. Suspended

  • picks December 07, 2007

    Stéphane Couturier

    In a visually and historically rich exhibition of large-format color photographs and a film, French artist Stéphane Couturier investigates the architectural legacy of Le Corbusier in the city of Chandigarh, India. Following the partition in 1947 of the British Indian Empire into India and Pakistan, Chandigarh developed rapidly in the 1950s under the supervision of Le Corbusier, whom Jawaharlal Nehru had commissioned to lead urban planning. Couturier’s images of the city's local monuments, such as Chandigarh Secrétariat #1, 2007, and Chandigarh Haute Cour de Justice #1, 2007, as well as of

  • picks November 22, 2007

    Philippe Bazin

    Asked by the Dunkerque Museum of Fine Arts to respond to a painting of a bound slave by Louis XIV’s leading court painter, Hyacinthe Rigaud, French photographer Philippe Bazin launched an investigation into the construction of identity and visibility through a series of filmed interviews and photographs. Examining historical representations of Dunkerque’s population from the Comoros, an archipelago located between Madagascar and Tanzania, Bazin presents sharp close-up photographs of nineteenth-century “ethnic casts”—facial molds with exaggerated physiognomies made in the colonies in an attempt

  • picks October 31, 2007

    David Claerbout

    In this small survey, Belgian artist David Claerbout presents films that hover between the fixedness of still photography and the momentum of time-based media. His Shadow Piece, 2005, for example, is a found photograph of a modern glass-and-steel office foyer digitally merged with footage of people, clad in suits or heels, walking briskly. Yet even as the action plays out, time seems suspended, since the quality of the sunlight does not change and the shadows cast across the polished marble floor do not move. In contrast, the bands of shade beneath the concrete highway viaducts in the video The

  • Davide Balula

    Atomic clocks, first developed in 1949 in the United States, regulate universal time according to the resonance of atoms. The frequency of these fundamental particles, often of cesium or rubidium, creates a simple motion analogous to that of a sonic wave—a correlation that anticipates French artist Davide Balula’s coupling of sound and time. At the entrance to his exhibition “De la place pour le sable” (Room for Sand), Balula unhinges the standard measure of speed and duration by setting the hands of each of the twelve clocks in Les Humeurs, 2007, at dramatically different speeds. Launching a

  • picks September 25, 2007

    Jochem Hendricks

    German artist Jochem Hendricks’s first solo exhibition in London betrays his deep suspicion of how society attributes material value and rewards materialistic behavior; it’s a distrust that triggers a body of aesthetically and technically diverse work. Hendricks maintains a consistent emphasis on process, undermining the authority of a finished artwork in favor of exposing the traces of its original form. On the ground floor, his ragged and spiky “Eye Drawings,” including watching Porn 1 (Eye Drawing), 1993, are the digital records of retinal movements made while looking at a particular object,

  • picks September 20, 2007

    Thoralf Knobloch

    Fourteen new paintings by Berlin-based artist Thoralf Knobloch inaugurate Wilkinson Gallery’s expansive new space, engaging its dramatic dimensions and elegant proportions. Knobloch paints from photographs he has taken, certain details of which he has edited out or accentuated before carrying out the first brushstroke. Making lean compositions, he zooms in on commonplace objects, emphasizing color and perspective while leaving key indicators of location and narrative tantalizingly ambiguous. In Planke (Plank; all works 2007), Knobloch presents the inside of a small wooden rowboat with clothing

  • picks September 18, 2007

    Jean-Luc Moulène

    In a series of photographs shown together for the first time, Jean-Luc Moulène imports fifty-eight products made in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to this polished neoclassical gallery space in central London. Absent from global markets due to imposed sanctions, these items (olive oil, soap, lingerie, the glossy publication This Week in Palestine) are otherwise invisible to anyone outside of the isolated territories. The fifty-eight color photographs (taken between April 2002 and November 2004) are printed to uniform size and hung in a nearly unbroken line around three white rooms, as if each item

  • picks August 14, 2007

    Troy Brauntuch

    Levelling a steadfast gaze at the world around him, American artist Troy Brauntuch depicts a wrecked car from the 1992 LA riots and the mangled fuselage of Pan Am Flight 103, downed over Scotland in 1988, with the same cool detachment he employs when picturing his pet cat and stacks of pressed dress shirts. In his drawings and photographs, Brauntuch disengages from a distinct narrative and defined characters, withdrawing from the specificity of his subjects, exploring instead the space around their encounter with an audience. He establishes a visual distance, devises open and somewhat vacant

  • picks July 05, 2007

    Karen Kilimnik

    A beguiling evocation of a tropical oasis, Karen Kilmnik’s installation inside this eighteenth-century row house’s greenhouselike front room is an imaginative display of collected details. The strong smell of mulch exudes from The Jungle in La Bayadère in London, 2003–2007, as the moist ground cover is laid thick beneath trees, live orchids, and rather fake-looking parrots and other “jungle bird” types. Speakers, installed above the entry door, wash the scene with sound: a delicate string piece, the climactic rumbling of a full orchestra, a lone howling wolf, birdsongs, and a chorus of crickets.

  • diary June 04, 2007

    Swingin' Sixty

    London

    By 7:30 PM Wednesday night, paparazzi lined the red carpet outside the endearingly modest front door of London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, eager for snaps of stars from the art, fashion, television, film, and music industries participating in the ICA and Sony Ericsson’s “All Tomorrow’s Pictures” project. A celebration of the institution’s sixtieth anniversary, and an effective publicity and fund-raising stunt, fifty-nine celebs and one mere mortal—Matthew Gordon (lifted from the civilian masses by a panel of judges)—were asked to capture a “vision of tomorrow” on a K800i Cyber-shot phone

  • picks May 14, 2007

    Guillermo Kuitca

    Seizing the epic structure of Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle, Guillermo Kuitca engages its historic resonance in ruminations on legacy and evolution. Each of the four canvases that complete Kuitca’s The Ring, 2002—here installed independently, rather than as a continuous frieze as is sometimes the case—is paired with one of the operas and marked with production-company logos to resemble record sleeves or CD covers. Although connected by the expanding circuitry of a street-map-like grid, Kuitca matches each opera to a unique theater, conductor, and record label—recognizing the ongoing evolution of

  • picks May 04, 2007

    “Slash Fiction”

    The coat of arms of the Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland marks the entrance with a double crown, symbolically overthrowing the sovereignty of the space. Each visitor must have her KREV-issued visa application approved before entering, indicating an appropriate “purpose of visit.” Inside, curators Nav Haq and Mia Jankowicz have brought together video, installation, and performance works that seek escape from the mechanics of the status quo. Wang Wei, one of six international artists included here, has provided a scaffolding construction that simultaneously restricts movement and emphasizes the

  • picks April 25, 2007

    “Momentary Momentum”

    Launching the intimacy of drawing into spectacular motion in a selection of films, videos, and animations, cocurators Ziba de Weck-Ardalan and Laurence Dreyfus have carefully installed work by twenty international artists across two floors of this showcase space. Headlining the exhibition in the first room, Christine Rebet’s Brand Band News, 2005, a triple-projection video installed inside a raw wooden cabin designed by the artist, is a magical vision of the Wild West. Bewitching music, composed by George Philip, with lyrics by the artist’s brother Frédéric Rebet, accompanies the narrative,

  • picks April 03, 2007

    Marcel Dzama

    Marcel Dzama’s Ljubojevic (all works 2007), a life-size bear costume peering through a hole in the wall just behind the gallery's front windows, is a gatekeeper at the entrance to this iteration artist’s fantastic world. Inside, Dzama’s drawings and photo collages give life and dimension to his cast of characters, evocative of those in Roald Dahl’s playful tales. The ink-and-watercolor sketch for Ukuleter describes a tree with a thick trunk and spindly branches as a “day-time talk show king” who “popularized the ukelele which was named after him.” But his story ends in misfortune—he was “burnt