Martha Rosler

  • THEIR FAVORITE EXHIBITIONS OF THE YEAR

    To take stock of the past year, Artforum contacted an international group of artists to find out which exhibitions were, in their eyes, the very best of 2007. Contributions by ten of those artists have been reproduced below. For the rest, see the December issue of Artforum.

    CATHERINE SULLIVAN

    Daniel Mendel-Black, “The Paintings Are Alive” (Mandarin Gallery, Los Angeles) The eleven paintings in this show seemed to create a place for the palette of Play-Doh to oppress acrylic and oil into some perilous graphic universe of cynical optimism. Looking is like falling in these paintings; your eyes are

  • the Whitney Biennial

    DANIEL BIRNBAUM

    JUTTA, A CHARACTER in the Bernadette Corporation’s exquisite-corpse novel Reena Spaulings (2004), has learned how to sidestep the pitfalls of selfhood, turning her own body into a kind of assemblage: “Books, ideas, movements, figures, photos, data, other lives,” Reena, the book’s protagonist, observes. “I can almost tell the place on her body where she has digested Artaud, Rimbaud.” This elusive, recombinant concept of the self seems close to what Chrissie Iles and Philippe Vergne had in mind when curating this year’s Whitney Biennial, “Day for Night” (titled after the 1973 François

  • Out of the Vox: Art’s Activist Potential

    ART WITH A POLITICAL FACE TYPICALLY gains visibility during periods of social upheaval. “Marxism and art” of the ’70s and “political art” of the ’80s are among only the most recent examples. A good proportion of artists typically aim their work into the thick of things, but institutional gatekeepers try to manage the political dimension of art, blunting artists’ partisanship into a universalized discourse of humanistic ideals and individualized expression. Virtually all avant-gardes and art-world insurgencies, from Constructivism to Dada to Abstract Expressionism and beyond, have suffered this

  • the best books of 2003

    ARTHUR C. DANTO

    Though photography was first believed to entail the death of painting, early photographs presented viewers with a dead world: Objects could be rendered with clarity only under the conditions of nature morte. Unlike paintings, which were able to depict the fact that, say, horses were in motion, the camera could capture animals only when immobile. Eadweard Muybridge’s achievement in 1872—thirty-three years after photography’s invention—was to bring the new medium abreast of painting by depicting the fact that a live horse was in motion. Muybridge had taken an important

  • GLOBAL TENDENCIES: GLOBALISM AND THE LARGE-SCALE EXHIBITION

    When Francesco Bonami, director of last summer’s Venice Biennale, famously wrote in his exhibition catalogue that “The ‘Grand Show’ of the 21st century must allow multiplicity, diversity and contradiction to exist inside the structure of an exhibition . . . a world where the conflicts of globalization are met by the romantic dreams of a new modernity,” it was reasonable to imagine that he was responding to structural and thematic questions posed by Okwui Enwezor in his Documenta 11 of the preceding year. After all, the Nigerian-born curator, focusing on the issue of globalization, had in a sense

  • The Private and the Public: Feminist Art in California

    FEMINIST ART IN CALIFORNIA HAS its own particular features, although it naturally has been influenced by—and has influenced—wider theory and practice in and beyond the art world. Before addressing some specifics of the California “scene” a few general remarks are warranted. From the outset, a distinction between “women’s art” and “feminist art”: obviously, not all women are feminists. Neither does an identification with the women artists’ movement imply any necessary commitment to feminism (which I see as necessitating a principled criticism of economic and social power relations and some

  • Lee Friedlander’s Guarded Strategies

    LEE FRIEDLANDER’S PHOTOS ARE in a sense exemplary. Their cool, gentle disdain places them at a crossing point between photography and high art, where meaning can be made to shift and vanish before our eyes. In 1967, when The Museum of Modern Art showed photos by Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand, and Friedlander, the exhibit was called “New Documents”; at the recent MOMA exhibit of 50 of Friedlander’s photos curator John Szarkowski termed the photos “false documents.” Szarkowski’s rhetoric about Friedlander has undergone the corresponding shift from asserting that the work represents a kind of device