Lois Nesbitt

  • Michael Joo

    Though the title of Michael Joo’s installation, Salt Transfer Cycle, 1993–94, suggested a neat scientific diagram, the artist offered a complex, disjunctive work. Several videos, one of which was projected across the space, partly obstructed by aluminum poles, competed for attention. A scale model of a missile-shaped vehicle sat on the floor; rows of slaughterhouse meat trays and elk antlers lined the side walls. This calculated visual scatter reflected the deliberately contradictory impulses of Joo’s work.

    Videos projected on the back wall traced the salt transfer itself: they showed Joo “

  • Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler

    Naming is never innocent, and capitalist culture has habitually enhanced the appeal of mundane items by slapping clever labels on them. Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler examine such nomenclatures, highlighting the often outlandish, sometimes absurd fantasies they provoke. Buy into the romance and temporarily deny the banality of a life flattened into two dimensions by the steamroller of mass production. In Keep an Eye on Your Pickles, 1993, pickle jars carry the names of prefabricated houses marketed by Sears. “Princeton” evokes neo-Gothic granite solidity set amid azaleas and sloping lawns, “Ashland”

  • Gotscho

    As the installation created by French artist Gotscho pointed out, weddings are strict rituals governed by rigid conventions. Staging is a large part of the affair, and Gotscho, who has a background in theater, has “staged” his Wedding (all works 1993) accordingly. Neatly paired rows of tuxedos and wedding gowns were hung on opposite walls, presenting a range of these requisite, constraining costumes.

    All of this rigidity obviously has something to do with the fact that weddings are society’s way of recognizing sexual union. Gotscho’s work stressed the violence below the social surface: “union”

  • Erika Rothenberg And Tracy Tynan

    Art has often moved in and out of, or otherwise engaged with, the real world. Such work, by positioning itself outside the gallery or manipulating “nonart” material within conventional spaces, acquires an edge by threatening the admittedly fine line we draw between fiction and reality, art and life. Acting like scientists, anthropologists, private detectives, or journalists, artists like Hans Haacke haul in artifacts from the real world as “evidence,” which they analyze and interpret to argue specific points. Working in the same vein, Erika Rothenberg and Tracy Tynan created an installation

  • “The Art Of Hitler”

    In “The Art of Hitler,” curator Steven Kasher presented a dense, thought-provoking collection of several hundred documents concerning Nazi art; the ways in which the Nazis exploited art; and various subsequent attempts either to rejuvenate or to repress the spirit of the Third Reich. Beginning with the future Führer’s early, unassuming watercolors and his first designs for the swastika, the exhibition went on to explain how Hitler created a comprehensive visual campaign to propagate Nazi values, maintaining personal control over graphic design, architecture, photography, and the public media.

  • Tom Friedman

    Most of Tom Friedman’s recent works result from some extremely obsessive process: chewing endless wads of gum, separating synthetic pillow stuffing thread by thread, or stuffing black, plastic garbage bags inside one another. Friedman, who once wound pubic hair in a perfect spiral across the face of a bar of soap, transforms single, mundane materials—toothpaste, used bubblegum, tube socks—into unlikely, often absurd forms.

    Artists have exploited everyday materials since Marcel Duchamp first introduced his readymades. Friedman merely domesticates the industrial supplies favored by the Minimalists

  • Thomas Ruff

    In Thomas Ruff’s latest photographs lurid green light shines on residential and industrial buildings, the ragged edges of a nameless, graceless city. The illuminated scenes appear through a circular viewfinder, with the photographs’ edges darkened, as if the photographer were scanning the scene of a crime. The bizarre hue and mundane subject matter are unexpectedly mysterious, an effect heightened by the absence of any sign of life. A row of desolate warehouses suggests covert activity; an oblique view of an inscrutable facade resembles the much-reproduced shots of the building from which Oswald

  • Karen Finley

    Karen Finley’s installation, Written in Sand, 1992, adopted a subtle and dark strategy which eschewed the emphasis on the sheer number of deaths characteristic of the most publicized tributes to the victims of AIDS. Emblematic of those works, Gran Fury’s 1987-88 LED installation stated “One AIDS death every ten minutes”; its latest incarnation reflects the continual increase in those statistics. The AIDS quilt, stitched together from the contributions of thousands who have lost friends and relatives, has grown so large that it can no longer be displayed in one place and is presented in fragments

  • Hirsch Perlman

    Hirsch Perlman’s project The Layman’s Practical Guide to Interrogation offers strategies for questioning others, including the one outlined in “Silent” Technique (all works 1992) whereby information is elicited simply by staring down one’s interlocutor. Large sheets of paper (later to be collected in book form), some framed and hanging on the walls and others spread out on a table for the viewer’s perusal, feature handwritten texts accompanied by loose gestural drawings that ostensibly illustrate those texts. The drawings depicting two people in conversation recall old detective movies: anonymous

  • Leonardo Drew

    Many contemporary artists who attempt to articulate African-American experience rely on photo-based techniques (Lorna Simpson’s studies of racist/sexist stereotypes and Carrie Mae Weems’ intimate narratives take the form of cool, almost clinical images, while Pat Ward Williams and Danny Tisdale frequently re-present racial hate-crimes using found photographs of events long past). By contrast, Leonardo Drew’s recent sculptures evoke African-American history using the actual materials of plantation agriculture: unprocessed cotton and cotton fabric, rusted metal, and rotting wood.

    Drew’s abstract

  • Rikrit Tiravanija

    In two spaces separated by a long corridor, Rikrit Tiravanija executed two very different projects. In the main gallery space, the artist neatly stacked what is usually kept out of sight: paintings and artworks from the storage area, but also spare lightbulbs; kitchen appliances, including a microwave oven, minifridge, and water cooler; numerous cans of gallery-white paint; and personal items—from a box of tampons to a single enormous sneaker. Amidst this accumulation, which practically filled the room, sat the gallery owner at her desk (also displaced from the back room), doing business as

  • Fred Wilson

    In “Panta Rhei. (A Gallery of Ancient Classical Art),” 1992, a plaster cast of Atlas bent under the weight of a stack of Western art history books. Barely visible beneath the base on which the figure stood was a single volume devoted to African art. As with Fred Wilson’s best work, this seemingly simple, shamelessly didactic sculpture resonates with subtler messages. We all know by now that European and American art historians have stacked the cards heavily in favor of the classical tradition, at the expense of African and Far Eastern cultures. H. W. Janson’s History of Art tops Wilson’s pile—in

  • Curtis Mitchell

    Much recent art that poses as a critique of commodity culture instead reinforces our collective fetishization of the object world. By fabricating slick, seductive, high-gloss objects, artists with ostensibly subversive intentions play into consumerist demands so adeptly as to collapse opposition into identification. At the other extreme are found-object artists who salvage old, often decrepit items. Such work falls into an adjacent trap, appealing to those drawn to the “nostalgia” of objects with a history.

    Between these two in strategy, but with an end-product entirely off the scale, are the

  • General Idea

    Art about AIDS often focuses on the suffering of individuals caught within the health-care system, and between inadequate government programs, reiterating a by now well-known list of grievances: lack of research funds and of affordable treatment, and artificially elevated drug prices. Rather than thundering polemics or emotional manipulation, the Canadian.collaborative trio known as General Idea attempts an alternative strategy that leaves the door open to multiple interpretations. This deliberate ambiguity has caused some problems for the group. While many viewers praised their transformation

  • Jeffrey Wisniewski

    Maybe the art world is hopelessly jaded, maybe entrenched recession malaise has sent us in search of diversions of any sort, maybe the cyclical revival of interest in ’70s-style radical art has opened long-closed doors. Whatever the reason, it’s been a season of stunts and provocations. Jeffrey Wisniewski’s recent dismantling of an entire suburban house in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.. which he then had fed through a portable stump recycler—reducing the entire edifice to wood chips—and transported to a gallery for exhibition, offers the novelty of an outrageous act strategically reinforced as a

  • Julia Scher

    During the ’80s, many artists expressed paranoia about the ways in which our actions, thoughts, desires, and ultimately fates are monitored, manipulated, and determined by forces beyond our individual control—notably the media, advertising, corporate interests, the government, and the military-industrial complex. One of the most cogent and inspired artistic embodiments of this fear has been Julia Scher’s knowledgeable manipulations of one manifestation of such forces, the security systems now used everywhere from convenience stores to high-tech laboratories to limited-access government institutions.

  • Amy Hauft

    Over the past few years Amy Hauft has used architectural systems, maps, and time lines to examine humanity’s attempts to order and name a world we poorly understand. While in one piece Hauft investigated Southern California water politics, and in another she installed a carpet of sod in a Brooklyn gallery, her concern is not so much ecological as epistemological or even psychological. She asks what our ways of mapping say not only about what we know but about what we want to know. You Are Here, 1990, grappled with the inconceivably short time span of humankind’s stay on earth in relation to

  • Rudolf Stingel

    Rudolf Stingel takes potshots at Minimalism, using the strategies of its historical sidekick, Conceptualism, to point out its pretenses. Creating works that are conspicuously unmarketable and unesthetic, if not just plain ugly, Stingel comments humorously on a movement that produced some of the smuggest, most boring work in the history of art.

    Among Stingel’s past offerings is a booklet with a crossing-guard orange cover that provides instructions on how to make a Minimalist painting. Mimicking the grayed-out photographs of how-to manuals with their enumerated items (electric mixer, compressed

  • Bill Reiss

    Bill Reis’ paintings are variations using a limited number of elements. They have the deliberate character of formal studies. Reis combines groups of rectilinear canvases with carved wooden elements that often serve as partial borders or frames. The typically monochromatic surfaces are painted deep shades of purple, black, turquoise, green, and rust, with the hues mutating into one another. Reis concentrates as much on texture as on color, from the dry-brush layerings of paint to the waxy, scratched surfaces. His techniques at times result in striking transformations of media; in Facade (all

  • Chuck Close

    Chuck Close continues to develop techniques for transforming photographic images into paintings, exploiting highly sophisticated formal strategies to create works of considerable visual and emotional intensity. In less skilled hands, his methods could result in tedium, in works of analytic detachment. But Close seems to use these rigorous ordering systems to control a violent energy that nonetheless seethes from his works.

    The enormous portraits at Pace Gallery were created by the mapping of photographic images onto canvas by means of grids that were then filled in with layers of color. Up close,