Margaret Ewing

  • Janaina Tschäpe, Blue Moon, 2021, casein, oil stick, and oil pastel on canvas, 9' 8" × 12' 11".

    Janaina Tschäpe

    Symphonic constellations of velvety color swirled over and through the six paintings in Janaina Tschäpe’s solo exhibition here. Immediately commanding attention, they constituted the artist’s response to the drama of nature as experienced during the pandemic lockdowns, first in the countryside near São Paulo, and then in the Hudson Valley in upstate New York. Whereas the theme of the elements has run through much of her art, these works, alongside seven accompanying drawings, departed from earlier allusions to the lushness and beauty of the outdoors in favor of a focus on its power, in particular

  • Hans Haacke in Frankfurt, 1976

    IN ADVANCE of federal elections, the interior ministers of the West German states, in cooperation with Chancellor Willy Brandt, who was fighting to be reelected, issued a Radikalenerlass (Decree Against Radicals) in January 1972 as part of an anticommunist agenda to root out security risks. With the country in political crisis, the law made civil-service applicants the targets of domestic intelligence investigation by the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) and was the latest official move to counter fears inflamed by increasingly violent

  • View of “Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt: Tender Love Among the Junk,” 2012–13.
    picks February 28, 2013

    Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt

    In 1968, drag queen Ethel Dull started leading tours of a sparkling fairyland crafted in an apartment-cum-studio on the Lower East Side of New York. Inspired by power collector Ethel Scull, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt’s alter ego gave entrée to a private world brilliantly fashioned from dime store materials—glitter, plastic wrap, tinsel, and foil—a world where being gay and Catholic need not be in conflict. This survey exhibition, Lanigan-Schmidt’s largest to date, offers collages and installations in a sanctuary-like display dominated by vivid color and fanciful ornamentation. Remade in 2012, The

  • Eli Weinberg, Crowd Near the Drill Hall on the Opening Day of the Treason Trial, 1956, gelatin silver print, dimensions variable.
    picks November 05, 2012

    “Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life”

    Some twenty years after apartheid’s unraveling, Okwui Enwezor’s latest curatorial offering proposes a reassessment of the photography of apartheid and explores its key role in the resistance movement. Highlighting the work of South African photographers, the show presents not only familiar scenes of violent oppression (though these remain among the most affecting) but also examines less acute images of the struggle, including early nonviolent street protests as well as the pervasion of race-based separation and inequality in every aspect of South African society.

    With almost five hundred photographs,

  • Alec Soth, 2008_08zl0215, 2008, color photograph, dimensions variable.
    picks March 07, 2012

    Alec Soth

    Alec Soth’s first show at Sean Kelly following his departure last year from Gagosian presents about half of the fifty photographs that make up “Broken Manual,” 2006–10, a series that originated in Soth’s preoccupation with the idea of escape. It is, as he puts it, “about the desire to run away and the knowledge that you can’t.” The “Manual” of the series’ title, a volume supposedly penned by Soth’s alter ego and available as a limited edition catalogue, is a homemade-looking primer on how to disappear and includes instructions ranging from disguise techniques (long hair is preferred) to how to

  • Phil Collins, This Unfortunate Thing Between Us, 2011, still from a live TV broadcast, 60 minutes.

    Phil Collins

    What if the humdrum schlock of home-shopping programs were replaced with offers to participate in actual experiences? What if, for the “special introductory offer” price of 9.99, you could buy a role in a fantasy sequence on live television? Leaving the isolated comfort of your living room, you would travel to Berlin (transportation and accommodation included) to star in one of three scenes: Stasi-style interrogation, queer Victorian-era porno play, or lying in your own hospital deathbed surrounded by family members, whom you tell once and for all how much you really hate them. So went the

  • Larissa Fassler, Place de la Concorde I, 2011, pen on paper, 54 1/2 x 75 1/2".

    Larissa Fassler

    Produced in the wake of Nicolas Sarkozy’s scandalous move in July 2010 to “clean up” France by closing down Roma camps and orchestrating large-scale deportations, Larissa Fassler’s recent exhibition explored inequities in Parisian life by asking how and how freely individuals may navigate public spaces, and investigating the politics of failed urban planning. Sarkozy’s policy was evidence, even before the mass killings in Norway this summer, that Europe is again burdened with xenophobia-tinged questions of national identity. With drawings and sculptures, Fassler foregrounded perspectives on the

  • Dor Guez, Samira, Lod Ghetto, a Year After 1948 (detail), 2010, 23 5/8 x 29 1/2". From the series “Scanograms #1,” 2010.

    Dor Guez

    Coming days after the Israeli cabinet’s vote to require non-Jews seeking citizenship to affirm Israel as a Jewish state, Dor Guez’s artist’s talk on the occasion of his first major European exhibition proved critical to understanding the significance of his work. Even as the Jerusalem-born artist declared his video- and photography-based project to be more historical than political, the audience’s impassioned engagement with questions of identity politics that evening confirmed that a part of this work’s power lies in its capacity to stir conversation and debate. In tracing a narrative of the

  • El Anatsui, Ozone Layer and Yam Mounds, 2010, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks August 26, 2010

    “Who Knows Tomorrow”

    In the competition for a place in public memory, Berlin’s colonial history has lost out to the cold war and the Holocaust. While the city is seasoned in displaying certain shards of its fraught twentieth century, this exhibition of contemporary African art exposes the continual absence of visual traces of Berlin’s colonial ties. Extending across four branches of Berlin’s sweeping museum network, “Who Knows Tomorrow” foregrounds commercial paths between Europe and Africa, with works inspired by the very products of these exchanges.

    Yinka Shonibare’s Scramble for Africa, 2003, reenacts the 1884–85

  • Ellen Harvey, The Room of Sublime Wallpaper, 2008, painted wooden panels, forty-two Plexiglas mirrors mounted to swivels, newspaper, tape, dimensions variable. Installation view.
    picks May 21, 2010

    Ellen Harvey

    Taking its title from William Gilpin’s late-eighteenth-century philosophy of the landscape, Ellen Harvey’s exhibition “Picturesque Pictures” cleverly demonstrates that the now ubiquitous tangle between representation and reality has quite a long history indeed. Gilpin’s measure of beauty—rooted in the tradition of landscape painting—was based on how closely a scene correlated to established landscape conceits, thereby positing preexisting images as the grounds for aesthetic appraisal of the natural world.

    Gilpin’s ideas find new life in Harvey’s parodic Observations Relative Chiefly to Picturesque

  • View of “Auto-Kino!,” 2010.
    picks February 22, 2010


    Responding to the psychic drain of Berlin’s unremitting winter, Phil Collins’s latest project, “Auto-Kino!,” transforms the Temporäre Kunsthalle into a playful drive-in cinema for which viewers reserve spots by the hour via a telephone hotline. The dusky gallery’s spectacular installation—fifteen vehicles facing a screen, complete with refreshment stand in the corner—lures visitors into a participatory realm only to permit an immediate withdrawal into the relative privacy of individual cars. The show is not all surface, however. In collaboration with Siniša Mitrović (his partner in the production

  • Tacita Dean, Palast, 2004, still from a color film in 16 mm, 10 minutes 30 seconds.
    picks November 23, 2009

    “Berlin 89/09: Art Between Traces of the Past and Utopian Futures”

    In Berlin, where the past is omnipresent, and the assimilation of the city’s many histories is still very much in play, this year’s twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall begs for widespread reassessment. Surveying art in and about Berlin over the past two decades, this exhibition affirms the electrifying tension between history’s tenacious grip and the city’s constant regeneration.

    Efforts to preserve material traces of these early post-wall years emerge as a recurring strategy, whether realized through the relics themselves or through their representation. Fred Rubin’s light-fixture