Margaret Sundell

  • Felix Gmelin

    Whether artistic or political, revolution aims at a tabula rasa. Think of Malevich’s quest for painting’s ground zero or the First French Republic’s decree of “year 1.” Paradoxically, though, the leap into post-revolutionary time tends to proceed from a backward glance, from Jacques-Louis David’s nod to ancient Rome in The Oath of the Horatii, 1784, to May 1968’s evocation of October 1917. But as our faith in historical progress—which sustained the idea of a revolutionary break along with its utopian aspirations—appears increasingly on the wane, so, it seems, is our ability to use elements of

  • Gabriel Orozco

    More than a regular on the international group-show circuit, Gabriel Orozco practically invented today’s genre of globe-trotting artist.

    More than a regular on the international group-show circuit, Gabriel Orozco practically invented today’s genre of globe-trotting artist. But Orozco’s at-home-everywhere-and-nowhere persona is less a stylish pose than an extension of his artistic project: a fusion of post-Minimalism's concern for site-specificity and Conceptual art’s reliance on the portable photographic document. Orozco's most recent stops include Venice and Dublin, and summer finds the Mexican artist in London for his first major exhibition in Britain since 1996. The Serpentine Gallery, Orozco’s host


    Liisa Roberts appears this month in the 2004 Whitney Biennial with a project that has emerged, in true Duchampian fashion, definitively unfinished. The Finnish-American artist’s What’s the Time in Vyborg?, initiated in 2000, takes as its starting point that city’s municipal library, designed by Alvar Aalto in 1927 and completed in 1935, symbolizing the modernist aspirations of a newly independent Finnish state (Vyborg, then Finland’s second largest city, was called Viipuri at the time, changing names when annexed by the Soviets in 1944). Severely damaged during the war, the library was subsequently

  • Lothar Baumgarten

    “Ambivalent.” The word flashes briefly on-screen toward the end of Lothar Baumgarten’s 1973–77 film The Origin of the Night: Amazon Cosmos, a lush, ninety-eight-minute meditation on the rain forest inspired by a Tupi myth about the division of night and day. Although active since the early ’70s, the German-born Baumgarten is best known in the United States for his 1993 Guggenheim exhibition in which a stately procession of names of indigenous North American peoples (Inuit, Iroquois, Huron, Crow . . . ) was printed directly on the inner curves of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous rotunda. As critic


    "You should not drink from the dish, but with a spoon as is proper.” So reads a line from a fifteenth-century German book of manners, as cited by Norbert Elias in his classic sociological study The Civilizing Process. But if the spoon figures relatively early in etiquette literature, its use was not widely adopted until the mid-sixteenth century and, even then, only for eating from a communal bowl. The spoon (and the forces of civilization that it represents) comes late as well into the life of Helen Keller, a pivotal figure in the work of Los Angeles–based artist Catherine Sullivan. Keller

  • Work Ethic

    Modern artists have always had a hard time convincing people that their efforts really qualify as “work.” With the advent of Conceptualism, things only got worse.

    Modern artists have always had a hard time convincing people that their efforts really qualify as “work.” With the advent of Conceptualism, things only got worse. Now, in an ambitious survey of post-’60s practitioners, curator Helen Molesworth suggests that the creation of much contemporary art in fact involves precisely those skills most prized in our new information economy. The nearly eighty objects on view range from videos of Bruce Nauman’s obsessive, self-imposed task performance to documentation of David Hammons’s Bliz-aard Ball Sale to a 1976 Sol LeWitt wall drawing in the museum space.

  • Robert Barry

    Among those who pioneered the artwork’s dematerialization, few were as committed in their efforts as Robert Barry. After abandoning painting in 1967, he moved from site-specific installations composed of wire and nylon thread to art that exceeded the realm of the visible entirely: projects employing electromagnetic waves, radiation, and various types of inert gas. Barry’s concession to vision took the austere form of words—written on sheets of paper, imprinted directly on gallery walls, or projected as slides. Barry’s seminal role in Conceptual art’s formation should become better acknowledged

  • JODI

    An innocent visit to brings immediate, alarming results: A hoard of mini browser windows, each completely black except for the standard white menu bar, manically proliferate on your desktop; they’ll persist until you close your Internet browser completely. In a sense, artists Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans (collaborating as JODI since 1994) are the Dadaists of Internet art: Like those early members of the avant-garde, their work employs strategies of rupture and subversion to create an estrangement effect, jarring viewers for a moment out of their everyday lives online. Though I

  • Peter Downsbrough

    In the late ’60s, New Jersey–born Peter Downsbrough dispensed with the production of traditional art objects in favor of a phenomenological exploration of space, through photography, site-specific interventions, and artist’s books as well as audio works and CD-roms.

    In the late ’60s, New Jersey–born Peter Downsbrough dispensed with the production of traditional art objects in favor of a phenomenological exploration of space, through photography, site-specific interventions, and artist’s books as well as audio works and CD-roms. Downsbrough has received numerous solo exhibitions, and now he gets his full due with a two-hundred-odd-work retrospective in his adopted hometown, curated by Marie-Thérèse Champesme. If you can’t get to Brussels, a major monograph (with essays by Champesme, UCLA Hammer chief curator Russell Ferguson, and art historians Christian

  • Douglas Gordon

    Douglas Gordon’s latest video installation, in which an Indian elephant moves silently across two freestanding screens and a monitor installed in the gallery’s cavernous space, has been taken as everything from a comment on man’s relationship with nature to an unlikely instance of abstraction. But Gordon’s Play Dead; Real Time, 2003, is perhaps most effectively read as an allegory of the spectacularization of late-’60s critical practice that has marked the art of the last fifteen years.

    Harking back to the earlier era’s effort to dismantle the artwork’s autonomy by refracting it across multiple

  • Alfredo Jaar

    Few contemporary artists are as attuned to the power of images as Alfredo Jaar. His particular focus: those photographic representations of politically induced instances of human suffering that saturate the media and sear our consciousness with scenes that, paradoxically, can be neither truly remembered nor forgotten. Born in Chile and, since 1982, based in New York, Jaar has been consistently global in scope. Past projects have centered on the working conditions of Brazilian gold miners, the detainment of Vietnamese boat people by the Hong Kong government, and the slaughter of the Tutsi by Hutu

  • Antonin Artaud

    An actor, playwright, film director, and diagnosed schizophrenic, Antonin Artaud advocated the radical dissolution of barriers separating art from life and self from other—most famously in his 1938 manifesto Theater and Its Double. He’s also earned praise from the likes of Jacques Derrida for the paintings and drawings he began making in 1918, during the first of many mental-ward stays. Now Artaud is the subject of a major exhibition organized by MUMOK’s Cathrin Pichler and Hans Peter Litscher, featuring films, drawings, original manuscripts,

  • Douglas Huebler

    A kinder, gentler Conceptualist: This is the honorific curators Mark Godfrey and Jenni Lomax attempt to bestow on Douglas Huebler—one they hope will elevate him from his current status as perhaps the most important overlooked figure in Conceptual art.The first large scale exhibition of Huebler’s work in Britain features thirty-five photo- and text-based pieces from the late ’60s and early ’70s and focuses, to quote Lomax, on the “humane and humorous vein” in Huebler’s work. The back cover of the accompanying catalogue boasts a photograph of the artist flanked by Robert Barry, Lawrence

  • Maciej Wisniewski

    In 1999, Maciej Wisniewski launched his digital-art career with Netomat, a browser that rewires our access to—and hence our perception of—the Internet by circumventing the structures currently used to organize online information. We typically navigate the Net as if it were a series of self-contained sites connected by hypertext links. With Netomat we encounter its contents as an endless, uninterrupted flow, existing in a single virtual space. First presented at Postmasters and featured in the Whitney Museum’s 2001 exhibition “Data Dynamics,” Netomat is also the basis of Wisniewski’s two new

  • Hélio Oiticica “Quasi-Cinemas”

    As a child there are three main things you learn about art. First, it’s supposed to be beautiful. Second, it’s something you shouldn’t touch. And third, if you stand in front of it for long enough, your feet will start to hurt. Certainly, art’s radical transformation in the late ’60s and early ’70s from self-contained object to multimedia installation cannot be ascribed entirely to orthopedic concerns. But their significance should not be overlooked. An interviewer argued to Marcel Broodthaers that the public’s preference for his Jardin d’hiver among the works in a 1974 Brussels show proved its

  • Janet Cardiff

    Works of visual art that rely on sound, site-specific projects that induce an overwhelming sense of physical dislocation, Janet Cardiff’s audio walks chart a terrain that can only be described as interstitial. Visitors to her midcareer survey who pick up a portable CD player and go on the walk created specially for the exhibition are immediately alerted to this fact. The piece begins at a window that affords a breathtaking vista of the Manhattan skyline. “The city looks like a movie set today,” the artist murmurs into your ear, “and the people walking around are like extras.” The blurred line

  • Fernanda Gomes

    On entering Fernanda Gomes’s second New York solo show, the viewer was immediately confronted by a large metal scaffold on which the artist had placed various found objects. By far the most physically imposing work on display, this structure (all works untitled, 2001) nonetheless epitomizes Gomes’s concerns—the most obvious and important of these being the way works of art engage with their surroundings. Standing under a skylight whose rectangular shape it reiterated, the scaffold rhymed perfectly with the beams of the gallery’s exposed wooden ceiling. Moreover, situated as it was directly

  • Rebecca Quaytman

    The Sun is Rebecca Quaytman’s latest work: a group of forty uniformly sized plywood panels, which can be arranged in multiple configurations. In this solo exhibition, they were hung in a grid. (A slightly different version of the piece was presented simultaneously in a single long row at the Queens Museum, as part of the group show “Crossing the Line.”) Quaytman’s title refers to the now defunct newspaper that reported the deaths of her paternal grandfather and great-grandfather in a freak train accident just over sixty years ago. The word “sun” also evokes the metaphoric and literal capacity

  • Edward Weston: The Last Years in Carmel

    Edward Weston is best known for the clinical precision with which he crystallized the sensuous stuff of the natural world into quintessentially modernist form. But in his later years—marked by a failing marriage, the departure of his sons for military service, and the onset of Parkinson’s disease—Weston abandoned a strictly formalist approach. His photographs from the late ’30s and ’40s eschew objectifying distance in what Art Institute curator David Travis considers a quest for deeper psychological engagement. “The Last Years in Carmel” brings together seventy-six of these rarely seen late

  • Liz Deschenes

    First developed in the late ’20s, the compositing technique known as “blue screen” still forms the basis of most cinematic special effects. This is how it works: A subject is filmed against a pure blue, green, or red backdrop. A second film, known as the background plate, is shot at a different location. The two negatives are then sandwiched in an elaborate optical printing process. Thanks to the magic of the blue screen, actors can leap off tall buildings or scale rocky cliffs without ever leaving the soundstage. Rendered more accessible by digital technology, the blue screen has become