Margaret Sundell

  • REPEAT PERFORMANCE: THE ART OF CATHERINE SULLIVAN

    "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

  • Roxy Paine, Paint Dipper, 1997.

    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 www.jodi.org 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

  • Untitled, Charlestown,Massachusetts, 2001.

    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

  • Man Ray, Antonin Artaud, Paris, 1926.

    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 and Neville D’Almeida, CC5 Hendrix-War, 1973, slides, music, hammocks. Installation view.

    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