Liz Kotz

  • “Seth Siegelaub: Beyond Conceptual Art”

    In the 1960s, Seth Siegelaub catalyzed a shift toward art practices that could exist in language or in the pages of books and magazines. Exposing his maverick and multifaceted activities as exhibition organizer, art collector, Marxist publisher, and bibliophile of textile histories, “Beyond Conceptual Art” assembles a generous 160 textiles, 400 books, and nearly 240 archival documents and facsimiles. In addition to early artworks by his collaborators Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, David Lamelas, Sol LeWitt, and Lawrence Weiner, among others, the

  • Seth Siegelaub

    LIKE MANY OTHERS OF MY GENERATION, I knew Seth Siegelaub as the legendary figure who launched the most visible and canonical practices of Conceptual art: the “fab four” (Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, and Lawrence Weiner) and all that. It’s a story that’s become a little pat. But history is far more interesting, and Siegelaub’s role more complicated and improvisatory. From the 1960s until his death, Siegelaub seems to have been resolutely practical and nondogmatic, and almost maddeningly mobile. He responded to the moment as if making things up as he went along.

    Who else could go

  • “ Henry Flynt: Activities 1959–”

    Henry Flynt’s efforts to demolish art and serious culture may have worked all too well.

    Henry Flynt’s efforts to demolish art and serious culture may have worked all too well: Perhaps no figure to emerge from the 1960s New York avant-garde is as elusive as the artist-musician-philosopher, who, after coining the term concept art in 1961, veered off on a trajectory so unique as to defy easy description. But awareness of Flynt’s importance to art history and to experimental music just keeps growing, bolstered by the astonishing trove of recordings—from hillbilly and blues to noise music and ragas—he has released in recent years. Now, the first

  • “Letters: Michael Morris and Concrete Poetry”

    Flickering in and out of fashion since the 1950s, concrete poetry offers a model of interdisciplinary practice that is emphatically transnational and transportable, linking artists and writers in far-flung locales.

    Flickering in and out of fashion since the 1950s, concrete poetry offers a model of interdisciplinary practice that is emphatically transnational and transportable, linking artists and writers in far-flung locales. Vancouver emerged as an international art center during the 1960s, due in part to the efforts of Michael Morris, whose collaborative endeavors—from the Image Bank (an idea-exchange system via the postal service) to the artist-run space the Western Front Society—prefigured current interests in cross-media and networked practices.

  • Richard Hawkins

    OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES, Richard Hawkins has emerged as a standard-bearer for a still-living tradition of renegade Los Angeles art. His work remains at best haphazardly known, making it an ideal candidate for the kind of elucidation and contextualization midcareer retrospectives provide. So Lisa Dorin (of the Art Institute of Chicago, where this exhibition originated) is to be commended for organizing Hawkins’s first US survey—a challenging undertaking, given the extremely idiosyncratic nature of his art. But the show, unfortunately, was a missed opportunity, one that failed to provide

  • 1000 WORDS: ROBERT WHITMAN

    FOR MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS, Robert Whitman has been making theater pieces that verge on alchemy. In these works, everyday objects take on uncanny properties, as in Two Holes of Water No. 3, 1966, where suburban station wagons wrapped in plastic become mobile TV and film projectors, or in Prune Flat, 1965, in which a single lightbulb descends from above, its brightness washing out the piece’s projected 16-mm footage and restoring three-dimensionality to the world onstage. In the 1960s, when many artists sought to escape metaphor and illusion, Whitman embraced them, even using stage-show

  • Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life

    How to present Fluxus in a museum context has always been a problem.

    How to present Fluxus in a museum context has always been a problem. The movement was animated by performances and ephemeral transactions, manifestos and publications. And Fluxus objects were meant to be picked up and handled, not simply looked at. Perhaps to dislodge the notoriously slippery movement from conventional scholarly and critical rubrics, “Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life” focuses on the experiential and pedagogical. One hundred twenty objects, including Fluxus kits, scores, and games, will be organized around a series of questions such as “Change?”

  • Lutz Bacher

    TUCKED AWAY IN A SIDE GALLERY of P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, the nine panels of Lutz Bacher’s obscure but essential early work The Lee Harvey Oswald Interview, 1976, constituted the core of her first museum retrospective. Intended as a publication maquette, the original pasteup (owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art) is composed of eighteen 8 1/2 x 11“ sheets of paper collaged with xeroxed photos and texts, typed text on notebook pages, handwriting, and tape; in the version exhibited here, these pages were reproduced as photostats on nine 20 x 24” panels. The look is stark and fragmentary.

  • Words Without Pictures

    IT IS AN ENDURING CLICHÉ that Los Angeles is anti-intellectual—too spread out, too traffic choked, and too privatized to sustain public debates. And it’s true that, compared with New York, museums here seem to do relatively little public programming. Everyone complains that no one will drive across town to go to events. Yet when there’s something genuinely interesting, like Benjamin H. D. Buchloh’s 2007 talk about Michael Asher’s Santa Monica Museum installation, it is jammed. Indeed, under the surface, a million conversations about art are going on—a hidden public sphere just waiting

  • Allen Ruppersberg

    Allen Ruppersberg is now a hero to many younger artists, although this exhibition, titled “You and Me or the Art of Give and Take,” is his first major US museum show since 1985.

    Once described by Allan McCollum as “a love letter to the ephemeral and to memory,” Allen Ruppersberg’s work has moved restlessly among media for more than forty years. He is now a hero to many younger artists, although this exhibition, titled “You and Me or the Art of Give and Take,” is his first major US museum show since 1985. It presents ten older collages and drawings along with two new large-scale installations. One of the latter, The Never Ending Book Part 2/Art and Therefore Ourselves, 2009, is a stage-like environment filled with more than fifteen thousand

  • “Poor. Old. Tired. Horse.”

    Titled after the 1960s literary journal founded by Scottish artist-poet Ian Hamilton Finlay, “P.O.T.H.” looks back at this tradition through a contemporary lens to assemble a diverse array of poetic, typographic, and textual works, from wall painting to sculpture, by nearly twenty artists and writers.

    Decades ago, Joseph Kosuth famously dismissed young upstarts like Vito Acconci as doing “concrete poetry,” not true Conceptual art. But the visual experiments with language made by such progenitors of the genre as Augusto de Campos, Eugen Gomringer, and Emmett Williams nevertheless filtered out into the art world, where, perhaps to Kosuth’s dismay, they firmly took root. Titled after the 1960s literary journal founded by Scottish artist-poet Ian Hamilton Finlay, “P.O.T.H.” looks back at this tradition through a contemporary lens to assemble a diverse array of poetic, typographic,

  • Primary Information

    THE 1960S SAW an explosion of artists’ books and magazines, to say nothing of artist-produced and countercultural records, manifestos, and ephemera of all types—items that were handed out at demonstrations or exhibitions or bought cheaply through the mail. But today, all too often, viewing conditions hopelessly festishize and “museumize” such projects: Art that was once as accessible as a stack of pamphlets now sits awkwardly behind glass in a vitrine or is consulted in hushed rooms by researchers wearing white gloves. As I stand in galleries trying to read such documents, I often wonder why

  • Dan Graham

    Since 1965, when he began producing the diagrams and photo-text magazine pieces that would become landmarks of Conceptual art, Dan Graham has made a series of swerves in his practice through video and film and performance to the architectural pavilions of the 1980s and beyond.

    Since 1965, when he began producing the diagrams and photo-text magazine pieces that would become landmarks of Conceptual art, Dan Graham has made a series of swerves in his practice through video and film and performance to the architectural pavilions of the 1980s and beyond. This body of work—along with his early stint as a gallerist showing art by friends such as Carl Andre and Robert Smithson, and his energetic activities as a critic and speaker—has earned him near-legendary status. Artists today find a potent model in Graham’s integration of the

  • Lawrence Weiner

    In the mid-1960s, Lawrence Weiner famously turned from painting and sculpture to words. But it was not until his 2007 retrospective, “As Far as the Eye Can See,” that a wide audience became acquainted with his practice.

    In the mid-1960s, Lawrence Weiner famously turned from painting and sculpture to words. But it was not until his 2007 retrospective, “As Far as the Eye Can See,” that a wide audience became acquainted with his practice. This latest exhibition presents a body of new work united as a single project—part of which will appear on the Power Plant’s smokestack, rising fifty feet over Lake Ontario—and promises, cryptically, to explore “the non-metaphorical use of a cul-de-sac as a sculptural material.” No such dead-end streets actually exist on the institution’s grounds, so we

  • Letters to Editor

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    To the Editor: Someone please tell me what was going on with David Rimanelli's review of Chris Kraus' novel I Love Dick [Bookforum, Spring]. I like Rimanelli's art criticism, which is often very sharp, but this was less a review of the book than a review of gossip about the book. It's hard to tell if he even read it.

    As I'd think you'd know by now, there is this whole tradition of novels—yes, novels—that seem to use “real life” characters and references, where the lead character has the same name as the author, and so forth. These are not diaries. Funny how your reviewers

  • the Five Lesbian Brothers

    Bitter jealousy, glorious revenge, corrupted innocence—these are the tropes of an emerging pulp lesbian sensibility that traffics in the tawdry castoffs of ’50s and ’60s American pop culture. The territory of fanzines, girl bands, and a host of recent artists and writers, this self-consciously downbeat vision salvages its images from a mélange of bad plays, pop psych, and supermarket novels from Ann Bannon to Jacqueline Susann. Trashy, melodramatic, and trading on irony, its seductions collide with more familiar aims of gay cultural politics: countering the stereotype, fighting misrepresentation,

  • OPENINGS: NICOLE EISENMAN

    Nicole Eisenman’s figures cavort across page and wall with raunchy perversity. In her stream of recent drawings, gouaches, quick cartoons, and large-scale murals, diverse genres and art-historical references collide with ferocious energy: comic books, history painting, Ash Can School, Pablo Picasso, linear perspective, Saturday-morning cartoons, the hybrid musings of Saul Steinberg. These deadpan samplings populate a Rabelaisian dystopia of the comic, the grotesque, and the orgiastically violent. Yet this fancifully excessive sensibility veers from gritty urban realism to bubblegum. The exuberance

  • Liz Kotz

    IN A WELCOME EFFORT TO redress the backseat status of time-based media like video in the market-driven art world, this year’s Biennial includes eight “video installations” and two extra video screening rooms in the main exhibition galleries. Presumably, the intention is to produce a critical interaction between work in the visual and media arts; unfortunately, the results are dispiriting.

    While the incidental use of TV monitors in room-sized installations by Renée Green, Daniel J. Martinez, and Fred Wilson may be a healthy sign—video is now a tool like any other—the superficial engagement with

  • THE BODY YOU WANT: AN INTEVIEW WITH JUDITH BUTLER

    BOYS AS AWKWARD AND GLAMOROUS GIRLS, girls as macho and very swishy boys, black boys in whiteface in girls’ clothes: “identity bending,” a key Modernist trope since at least Marcel Duchamp (and a perennial staple of the cabaret and performance scenes), seems to be enjoying a renaissance of sorts in the gallery world. From Matthew Barney’s bride stripped bare to reveal a gym-pumped, decidedly “male” physique, to Chuck Nanney’s less-than-vigilant self-transformations (he looks like a Rocky Mountain logger in a shift from Sears), to Lyle Ashton Harris’ seductive gender/race drag, to the decidedly

  • SEX WITH STRANGERS: LUTZ BACHER

    LUTZ BACHER’S WORK inhabits a messy, ambiguous zone where pathology meets pleasure, where what we most fear is what we most desire. Like much of the most powerful art exploring sexuality and the body today, her work refuses the clarity and distance of a more avowedly critical art; indeed, her ambivalent attraction to problematic materials flies in the face of more conventional feminist approaches. Though pornography, with its highly charged narratives of subjugation and entrapment, constitutes a key site of her investigation, the strategies she employs could not be further from those of antiporn