Lois E. Nesbitt

  • Janine Antoni

    Compulsive eating, and the whole alarming catalogue of self-destructive habits now grouped under the rubric of “eating disorders,” are, like any oral fixation, about substitution—about filling in for what lacks. And, like all compulsive behaviors, they mask anger or rage that might otherwise overwhelm the individual. Artmaking, too, is about substitution, physical surrogates, and creating one’s own world in lieu of an existing one perceived to be inadequate or unbearable. Artmaking also often involves compulsive activity, whether or not such behavior is ultimately productive, is open to question.

  • John Fekner

    Just as the graffiti artists of the ’80s were lured into the galleries from their outdoor urban sites, John Fekner hit the streets. Traveling around at night and often sleeping in his car, Fekner imprinted troubled areas of New York City with large stenciled words (seen here in slide projections), attacking the destruction of the environment and the adverse social conditions that surround us. The sites spoke for themselves: garbage dumps, decrepit buildings, junkyard pileups of used cars or TVs. Onto these Fekner applied straightforward messages: “LOST HOPE” on a bombed-out housing project; “

  • Ana Mendieta

    This show, which documents the first seven years of Ana Mendieta’s career, supplements spotty appearances of her work in group shows during the last few years and participates in a general revisioning of her career. Not only was her reputation thwarted during her lifetime, by her position as a Cuban born female artist in a white, male dominated art world, but her work has subsequently been upstaged by the victim status imposed on her as a result of her premature and much-publicized death in 1985. Starting with works made just after Mendieta graduated from the art program at the University of

  • Fernando Melani

    Italian artist Fernando Melani was somewhat of a Modernist anachronism. In 1945, at the age of 38, he embarked on an ambitious program to link abstract art with experimental physics. He pursued the project until his death in 1985, and his efforts yielded thousands of artworks and a substantial body of theoretical writing.

    Melani carried out his “research” in his house in Pistoia, converting his living quarters into an artistic laboratory, eliminating all typical domestic props, and taking his meals at a local restaurant. Melani’s output was prodigious and, over the course of forty years, the

  • Empty Pedestals Project

    Some years ago, artist Marc Blane began documenting “predesignated art sites” in New York City, sites formerly occupied by heroic sculptures and ceremonial fountains commissioned during the turn-of-the-century City Beautiful Movement. Due to the vagaries of time and the wages of vandalism, these sites now stand empty. For this exhibition, Blane invited young artists and architects to design new works for several such spots, with the idea that their projects might replace the former Eurocentric, Beaux-Arts monuments with imagery capable of speaking to each area’s current, predominantly non-European

  • “Interrogating Identity”

    Opening up artistic and scholarly canons, raising consciousness about the existence of others, celebrating multiculturalism (as opposed to the homogenizing “melting pot”)—such are the hallmarks of currently politically correct writing, grant giving, art-making, and other activities involving the processing of culture. “Interrogating Identity,” which focused on the work of “Black” artists (used here, in the British sense, to apply to non-Caucasians of various ethnic backgrounds), pandered to this trend while shedding little new light on the complex of related issues.

    The work exhibited consisted

  • Malcolm Morley

    Violence seems to course through Malcolm Morley’s bronze miniatures of tanks, guns, and soldiers, as well as through paintings in which explosive color, congested compositions, and radical shifts in scale veer toward chaos. The seemingly gestural paintings, executed by projecting a grid onto a watercolor sketch and painstakingly transferring the image onto canvas, depict tropical islands where things have run amok. In Gloria, 1990, highly decorated World War I fighter planes careen above a beach where oblivious vacationers frolic in the waves, in a wacky, hallucinatory vision that points to the

  • Donald Moffett

    As an AIDS activist, Donald Moffett has created or collaborated on numerous graphic campaigns designed to wake up ordinary citizens and unresponsive public figures to this devastating crisis. In the works displayed here, some of which refer indirectly to AIDS and all of which endorse uninhibited homosexual behavior, Moffett continues to exploit the strategy employed by many artists in the ’80s (and subsequently appropriated by the AIDS activists) of combining found images with provocative, often subversive texts, here infused with the artist’s characteristic bad-boy humor.

    At Wessel O’Connor,

  • Mark Tansey

    Mark Tansey translates the language of art history—particularly terms with scientific and military origins such as “avant-garde,” “revolution,” “discoverer,” and “pioneer”—into literal scenarios that mock the discipline’s self-importance. His Action Painting II, 1984, which depicts a party of plein-air painters outfitted with easels and folding chairs sketching an atomic bomb exploding across the desert, sets the studio-bound heroics of the Abstract Expressionists against the devastating potential of contemporary technology. Elsewhere Tansey presents the postwar migration of artistic energy from

  • Sean Landers

    The ’80s fascination with success has lately given way to explorations of failure in the work of artists such as Nancy Barton, just as high-gloss cool has been replaced by rude, crude, and messy manners in art by the likes of Mike Kelley. Sean Landers, who previously exhibited sculpted heads floating in resin cylinders, has recently been presenting the ruminations of imaginary alter ego Chris Hamson in the form of letters scrawled in ballpoint on legal paper. Hamson is the artist-as-failure, confused, full of self-doubt, and given to explosions of rage at his pitiful position on the bottom of

  • Gordon Matta-Clark

    In 1974 Gordon Matta-Clark took a saw to a house in Englewood, New Jersey. By the time he was done, the house, which belonged to dealer friends Holly and Horace Solomon, had been neatly split down the center, with one half bevelled to incline slightly from the vertical, and the four corner eaves extracted.

    Splitting: Four Corners, 1974, as represented here by the artist’s photographs and photo-collages as well as by the corners themselves (which look surprisingly unimposing—their walls are thinner than one would expect, and their internal hodgepodge of two-by-fours and wiring rather crude), was

  • Nancy Dwyer

    Nancy Dwyer has always treated words as physical objects, realizing them in sculptural form or strewing clunky three-dimensional characters across the blank backgrounds of monumental canvases. Borrowing texts from television and advertising, she attempts to reinvest these hollow slogans with meaning. Words are positioned in ways that invite multiple mix-’n’-match readings. In Matter, 1990, the words “you,” “me,” “leave,” and “be,” printed on spheres resembling atoms in a scientific diagram, form several significant permutations: “You leave me,” “You leave me be,” “Leave me,” “Be me,” etc.

  • Andrew Masullo

    Andrew Masullo combs junk shops, flea markets, garbage heaps, and attics in search of resonant objects and images. In the past, Masullo’s compulsive output (his previous New York show included 220 works selected from some 450 produced over the preceding year) ranged from mosaiclike text pieces made up of individually cut-out and assembled letters, to eviscerated books restuffed with cubes of fur and fabric.

    The works shown here consist largely of original (primarily abstract) and found paintings on wood or canvas. A taut string of collage-paintings ringing the room includes an old watercolor

  • Muntadas

    The stadium provides the thematic conceit around which Catalan artist Muntadas organized his quasi-architectural installation entitled Stadium V, 1990. The fifth version of a project that has been installed in various cities, the structure consists of an oval of columns spaced so closely that one cannot pass between them; on the floor within the colonnade, a circular projection like the light beam of an oculus shows films of spectators’ faces as they respond to unseen performances. Moving around the periphery, one is bombarded by slide-projected words and images, as well as fragments of speeches,

  • Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson’s simulated ethnographic institution entitled The Other Museum, 1990,is dedicated to precisely that which the traditional museum excludes. An alternative to “our” museum—a repository of artifacts that correspond to official History—Wilson’s installation proposes other ways of seeing, symbolized by an upside-down world map at the entrance; depending on how you look at it, north can be south; black, white; and the “other,” oneself.

    Wilson plays off the old-fashioned, 19th-century colonial museum, recording the white man’s travels among the natives and his eventual disastrous impact on

  • Dennis Adams

    Frequently installed on city sidewalks or in outdoor urban spaces, Dennis Adams’ sculptures derive their subversive edge in part from context. In his series of structurally distorted, marginally functional bus shelters, for instance, back-lit images replacing the usual advertisements depict political events related to local life and history. A Toronto shelter was graced by a photograph of Native Canadians whose society was displaced by industrial development, and his project for the city of Münster incorporated an image from the Klaus Barbie trial in session at that time. Even when Adams moves

  • “Illegal America”

    Chris Burden lies down on a California freeway surrounded by emergency flares; Gordon Matta-Clark carves a hole in the facade of a warehouse on the Hudson River; Louis Aragon writes an ill-timed poem about the Russian Revolution; and Charlotte Moorman plays the cello topless. Each of these acts, and many others staged by the 36 artists included in this thought-provoking exhibition, was deemed “illegal” by the reigning authorities. In some instances their creators were arrested or fined, though in most cases charges were dropped as prosecutors wallowed in a mire of slippery terms and legal

  • Clegg & Guttman

    The significance of Clegg & Guttmann’s cerebral art lies in the multiple visual and conceptual subtexts concealed beneath the glossy surfaces of their Cibachrome photographs. Earlier seemingly straightforward group portraits of corporate executives portrayed actual businessmen or merely actors dressed for the part. These images exploited pictorial illusionism while revealing its artifices. Ultimately the portraits served as a vehicle for exploring power and its visual representation in contemporary society. Similarly, Clegg & Guttmann’s unconventional still lifes used objects to comment on issues

  • Donald Lipski

    In this installment of his project called Gathering Dust, 1988, Donald Lipski pinned tiny odds and ends to the gallery walls in loose configurations. From a distance, skewered curiosities—including a four-leaf clover fashioned from rubber bands, a bottle cap covered in wax, and a book of matches folded in a stepped pattern—look like fishing flies or insect specimens. Lipski crafts these items in idle moments from objects he comes across in the course of his daily rounds. The artist seems drawn to the mundane and insignificant, to the kind of objects that get shuffled to the back of desk drawers

  • Robert Yarber

    Robert Yarber’s lurid nightscapes treat all the obvious aspects of postindustrial anomie. Mismatched couples quarrel in swank restaurants or lie catatonic in the room-with-a-view luxury of resort hotels. Lonely people drift about in quest of romance, only to wind up bewildered beside motel pools or gaudy strips where neon signs advertise life’s most hollow pleasures. In Rex, 1990, and Expenditure of Excess, 1989, faceless, Hopperesque organization men seek distraction in oppressively overlit casinos.

    Recently Yarber’s subject matter has moved up a social notch. Roadside motels and tacky eateries