Maja Naef

  • Sveta Mordovskaya, Matrjoschka III, 2018, ceramic, toys, bobby pins, 4 3⁄8 × 8 5⁄8 × 5 1⁄2".

    Sveta Mordovskaya

    What is there is not quite what we see. “Suckly Eye,” the peculiar phrase that Sveta Mordovskaya coined for the title of her recent show, encapsulates her creative practice: She conceives of language, like the materials out of which she makes her art, as malleable and amenable to permutation. The neologism suckly is a portmanteau of the idiomatic expression “That sucks,” or the derived adjective sucky, with the verbs to suck and to suckle, and suggests that bodily visual pleasure includes an admixture of aggressive desire. The monstrosity of a single eye thus becomes associated with forms of

  • Sam Porritt, Lost at Sea, 2018, plaster, iron dust, wire, wood, motor, steel, glass, LED bulb, 69 1⁄4 × 23 5⁄8 × 23 5⁄8". Photo: Nici Jost.

    Sam Porritt

    The spatial and conceptual center of Sam Porritt’s show “A Certain Change” is a slender, five-foot-nine-inch-tall wood-and-plaster sculpture that resembles the nineteenth-century Eddystone Lighthouse on the Cornish coast. This motorized artwork, titled Lost at Sea (all works 2018), continually rotates about its own axis, and its beam radiates out into the city: Living up to its name, Vitrine is an entirely transparent glass pavilion. Set around a bridge pier, the gallery and a companion structure that houses a fast-food stand were built as part of the redesign of a former railway-station square

  • Pamela Rosenkranz, Amazon Spirits (Green Blood) (detail), 2018. Installation view. Photo: Gunnar Meier.

    Pamela Rosenkranz

    For the past few years, Pamela Rosenkranz has made works that bring together an engagement with the ecosystems of the Amazon and the story of the business and technology giant of the same name—the paradigm of contemporary consumerism. Taking up both of these threads, the installation in her show at Karma International’s recently inaugurated new gallery in Zurich, Amazon Spirits (Green Blood), 2018, was as subtle as it was stunning.

    Greenish light from ceiling-mounted LED panels picked out various objects: a plastic sheet on an office chair and another one, crumpled up, on a cardboard box;

  • Anj Smith, Sport Luxe, 2016, oil on linen, 19 3/8 x 16 7/8".

    Anj Smith

    Anj Smith’s pictures come in handy formats; a few are so small as to suggest intimate possessions designed for easy transportation. In this exhibition, “If Not, Winter,” thirteen paintings and a suite of seven etchings were spread out over the gallery’s walls with plenty of space between them. The motifs to be discerned in the hermetically closed world that Smith renders in works as precise and luminous as an old masters were as diverse as they were allusive: a crescent moon; what might have been a tattered piece of fabric; a monstrous face; an upwelling of dirt; a no-man’s-land; a fantastic (

  • Yuri Ancarani, The Challenge, 2016, HD video, color, sound, 70 minutes.

    Yuri Ancarani

    Sculture,” curated by Elena Filipovic, was Yuri Ancarani’s first institutional solo show; it featured eight films created between 2010 and 2017. The Italian filmmaker’s early trilogy “La malattia del ferro” (The Malady of Iron, 2010–12) transports its viewers to three very different but equally unusual workplaces. Il capo (The Boss, 2010), shows workers in a marble quarry in Carrara, Italy. The six scuba divers in Piattaforma luna (Moon Platform, 2011) go about their morning routines in a deep-sea capsule, a radio connection to a distant command center their only contact with the outside world.

  • Lara Langer, What Decomposes Is Nature, 2017, photographic transfer, acrylic, and marker on canvas, 43 1/4 x 31 1/2".

    Laura Langer

    The paintings of the Argentinian artist Laura Langer combine virtual images with analog procedures, and she interweaves them with poetry and performance. Her recent exhibition “More” included a group of six pictures titled God’s Speed (all works 2017), based on enlarged cell-phone photographs printed on paper and coated with acrylic medium before being transferred onto canvas. When the paper sheet is peeled off the canvas, some dried pieces of clear acrylic may be left behind along with the image, as if not only these leftovers but also the image itself were an accident, a mere unintended residue

  • Adam Linder, Service No. 5: Dare to Keep Kids off Naturalism, 2017. Performance view, September 8, 2017. From left: Leah Katz, Noha Ramadan, Stephen Thompson, Justin F. Kennedy. Photo: Nicolas Gysin.

    Adam Linder

    FOR SOME TIME NOW, the term choreography has been used in association with a range of practices external to dance itself, activities that span a wide array of aesthetic and social actions involving the body, language, architecture, and the institution—one thinks of Xavier Le Roy, Tino Sehgal, or Anne Imhof. Adam Linder, who was classically trained at the Royal Ballet in London, makes work that fits firmly within this expanded definition. Since 2013, he has been providing exhibition spaces with his “Services,” choreographed works that he and his dancers execute under contractual agreement.

  • View of “Michelle Grabner,” 2017. Three untitled works, all 2017. Photo: Serge Hasenböhler.

    Michelle Grabner

    Michelle Grabner’s multiple roles—as artist, professor, curator, and critic—enable her to approach her artistic practice in a variety of ways. This highly concentrated exhibition included thirteen paintings and two sculptures, all dated 2017 and untitled. Presented as a hanging installation along one wall were eight small-format pictures whose gridded patterns called to mind tea towels or place mats, and were redolent of everyday routines linked to meals and cleaning. Domesticity constituted the frame of reference for these works, as it has for many of Grabner’s earlier pieces. She

  • View of “Wolfgang Tillmans,” 2017, Fondation Beyeler, Basel. Photo: Mark Niedermann.

    Wolfgang Tillmans

    FOR A PREVIOUS EXHIBITION at the Fondation Beyeler in 2014, Wolfgang Tillmans was invited to pair his own pictures with works from the museum’s collection. The artist showed two large, seemingly abstract landscape-format pieces—Ostgut Freischwimmer, left and Ostgut Freischwimmer, right, both 2004—alongside works by Picasso, Matisse, and Max Ernst. That installation was, in a sense, a precursor to Tillmans’s vast new survey at the same institution: Both asked how and why his practice might respond to an architectonic and institutional setting built on modernist claims for the autonomy

  • View of “Joëlle Tuerlinckx: Nothing for Eternity,” 2016–17. Floor: Works from the series “‘ATOMIC AMALGAME ANNÉE 58’ – FLOOR FIGURE ‘RONDs-DE-SOL’” (‘Atomic Amalgam Year 58’ – Floor Figure ‘Floor Discs’), 2002–16. Photo: Gina Folly.

    Joëlle Tuerlinckx

    SEVERAL PIECES OF PAPER in Joëlle Tuerlinckx’s recent exhibition have the words NOTHING FOR ETERNITY stamped on them. To stamp something is to mark it aesthetically, temporally, geographically. A stamp confers a reassessment of that to which it is applied, introducing a reflective moment. And we also stamp objects in order to send them or, more precisely, to circulate them as ideas. The exhibition itself—also titled “Nothing for Eternity”—is concerned with precisely this circulation of ephemeral ideas, moments, reflections: the substance and temporality of a “nothing” that only becomes

  • Vincent Fecteau, Untitled, 2015, acrylic paint, dowel, paper, 8 1/4 × 14 1/8 × 5 1/8".

    Vincent Fecteau

    This exhibition, Vincent Fecteau’s largest yet, featured a selection of sculptures that date back to 2000, allowing connections to be drawn between several strands of his oeuvre. The San Francisco–based artist frequently remarks that his is a slow process; he usually works on several related efforts at the same time, so that maintaining a cohesive ensemble becomes a constraint that guides his creative thinking.

    As the visitor entered the nineteenth-century Kunsthalle Basel’s expansive skylight hall, she encountered seven papier-mâché sculptures, produced between 2000 and 2006, that were poised