Martha Schwendener

  • Installation view, 2006.
    picks May 30, 2006

    “Grey Flags”

    Seth Price’s “Grey Flags,” a short, free-associative, vaguely millennial text, has appeared in several places in the past year (last summer Friedrich Petzel mounted its own “Grey Flags” exhibition), but it’s been recycled here to positive effect by curators Paul Pfeiffer and Anthony Huberman. In keeping with Price’s genre-bending prose, the show isn’t confined merely to sculpture, and it unfolds in both space and time. Film works by Tacita Dean and Walid Raad flicker in the basement; Liam Gillick’s glitter-covered floor and Allan Ruppersberg’s funny, acerbic photo-and-Post-it installation Honey

  • James Brown

    The 120 objects on display here encompass a quarter century of production and expand on the survey exhibition organized by Bernd Klüsen that toured France and Germany from 1999 to 2001. For the current show, Katz, curator at the Fisher Landau Center, has added to the European-exhibition checklist a substantial selection of pieces made by Brown since 1999.

    The itinerant painter and sculptor James Brown—not to be confused with the godfather of soul—makes art not only in various media but in many locations. His works on paper, which for Brown can mean anything from an envelope to fine Japanese fiber paper, were created in sites as far flung as New York, Tokyo, Paris, Tangiers, Oaxaca, and Naples. The 120 objects on display here encompass a quarter century of production and expand on the survey exhibition organized by Bernd Klüsen that toured France and Germany from 1999 to 2001. For the current show,

  • Kara Walker

    Narrative, as Toni Morrison pointed out at the height of pomo metafiction, might be an exhausted concept for white male writers who regard formal experimentation as a higher calling. But the unmediated African-American female voice is a newer entity both in fiction and in contemporary art, and one for whom narrative is still far from used up. There’s a narrative somewhere in Kara Walker’s second film, Eight Possible Beginnings Or: The Creation of African-America, Parts 1–8, A Moving Picture By: Kara E. Walker, 2005, though it’s resolutely nonlinear, continually wandering off and fetching up at

  • Lina Bertucci

    Lina Bertucci’s photographs of contemporary artists are an irresistible prospect for fans: Who wouldn’t be curious to see his or her favorite painter or sculptor submit to the aesthetic of another? Nevertheless, the images do resonate beyond the recognition factor, since photographic artist portraiture dates back to the dawn of the medium. And the tradition of artist portraiture in the nineteenth century arose concurrently with the nascent mass media, itself facilitated by the invention of photography. As exemplified in the oeuvre of, say, Félix Nadar (who photographed Eugène Delacroix and

  • Mary Mattingly

    In a statement posted on the wall in her recent exhibition at Robert Mann Gallery, Mary Mattingly voiced a few concerns driving her new body of work. “I think about technology,” she writes, “the constant mediator between you and me. . . . As technology expands exponentially, we will reach a point where we exist as wanderers in our own worlds, participants in simulated communities.” She goes on: “I think about mobility—how it will become necessary for us to be able to move freely with no ties to a permanent home, due to environmental changes and the necessity to participate in a global economy.”

  • Still from Muxima, 2005.
    picks February 21, 2006

    Alfredo Jaar

    The trick for an outsider depicting Africa is to not boil it down to a sum of clichés: poverty, violence, the well-rehearsed fallout of colonial rule. Jaar avoids this in his thirty-six minute film about Angola, a former Portuguese colony, by entering through the portal of the region’s music. Muxima, 2005, takes its name from an Angolan folksong whose title means “heart” in Kimbundu. Six different versions of the song help structure the film, which is divided into ten cantos. Moving like a written epic, the film opens with a poem by Agostinho Neto, a poet and first president of Angola (1975–79).

  • Gelitin

    At 10 PM on Wednesday, November 16, 2005, Leo Koenig confined four members of the Viennese art collective Gelitin (Ali Janka, Florian Reither, Tobias Urban, and Wolfgang Gantner), American artist Naomi Fisher, and psychiatrist Gabriel Loebell inside a large, double-insulated plywood box constructed in his Chelsea gallery. Tantamounter 24/7 was outfitted with a kitchen, shower, toilet, and beds fabricated by the artists, as well as three truckloads of art supplies: fabric, stuffed animals, modeling clay, paint, a sewing machine, and magazines (including lots of pornography). Cut off from all

  • Rainer Ganahl

    Rainer Ganahl’s “Seminars/Lectures” is an ongoing series of photographs, begun in 1995, which depicts an august roster of intellectuals—rock stars of academia from Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, and Cornel West to Jacques Derrida, Pierre Bourdieu, and Jacques Rancière—delivering their ideas to audiences across the country. A sampling of images from “S/L” (the title invokes Roland Barthes’s S/Z [1970]) were included in a recent retrospective at Columbia University’s Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery (a very appropriate venue). Also on view were recent photos focusing on the often jarring juxtapositions

  • Still from Legacy, 2005.
    picks January 26, 2006

    Jóhannes Atli Hinriksson

    New York–based Icelandic artist Jóhannes Atli Hinriksson cites a seventeenth-century legend by Brynjolfur Fra Minnanupi about two talking ships as an aesthetic touchstone for his show. Knowing that bad weather is approaching, the ships attempt to stay in port until the captain of one vessel invokes the devil and the ship sets sail, naturally getting lost at sea. It's the nihilism and brutality of this narrative that Hinriksson seems to connect with, rather than the nautical motifs. The show includes, among other grotesque creations, motorcycle helmets smeared with paint and festooned with horns;

  • Louise Bourgeois, Femme Maison, 1994, white marble, 4 1/2 x 12 1/4 x 2 5/8".

    Louise Bourgeois

    Included in this 120-work retrospective are fifteen paintings from 1936 to 1945 that have never been shown, as well as Fillette (Sweeter Version), 1968/1999, a latex-covered phallus based on the original Fillette, and the famous Destruction of the Father, 1974, a spore-covered altar she created a year after her husband’s death.

    Louise Bourgeois has spent the better part of a century riffing off a cast of characters she’s mostly outlived: her family. Space, memory, and the body are incorporated in her notion of family romance and summed up in the term “femme maison,” the housed or trapped body. Bourgeois’s initial “Femme Maison,” a series of drawings fusing architecture and the female figure, appeared in the mid-’40s, and since then she has successfully straddled time periods and absorbed everything from Freudian Surrealism to process art and feminism. Included in this 120-work retrospective

  • Chris Ware

    “Ruin Your Life. Draw Cartoons! And Doom Yourself To Decades of Grinding Isolation, Solipsism, and Utter Social Disregard.” This uninviting come-on heads a recent issue of Chris Ware’s comic book series “The Acme Novelty Library,” 1993–. Such self-deprecation is a mainstay of Ware’s oeuvre, and reminds us that cartoonists have until recently occupied a position previously associated with avant-garde artists of other genres: He (the cartoonist is, like painters in the age of Picasso and Matisse, rarely a “she”) has traditionally been a marginalized, misunderstood provocateur.

    But while it’s true

  • Installation view, 2005.
    picks December 05, 2005

    Mark Dion

    Mark Dion’s latest excursion into the labyrinth of museology takes the form of a modest gray-shingled structure with a homey porch, crammed to the rafters with all manner of junk: crumbling books, rusted gardening tools, statuettes, toys, and so on. The Curiosity Shop, 2005, recalls both a rural museum devoted to the idiosyncratic quirks of its curator and some earlier forms of organized collecting, namely the cabinet of curiosities and the wunderkammer. For Dion, whose specialty is applying Foucauldian concepts of archeology in examining the practices of collecting and exhibiting, the nature