Martin Herbert

  • Agnieszka Polska, I Am the Mouth II, 2014, HD video, color, sound, 5 minutes 45 seconds. From “Suspended Animation.”

    “Suspended Animation”

    Animated film has come a long way since J. Stuart Blackton’s pioneering Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906), with its crude sequences of goofy chalkboard drawings. An evolving palette of digital animation technologies—motion capture, ever more detailed 3-D visualization—shapes not only mainstream culture but, increasingly, the work of artists (and the oft-unsung technicians to whom they outsource their production). “Suspended Animation” brings together Ed Atkins, Antoine Catala, Ian Cheng, Josh Kline, Helen Marten, and Agnieszka Polska, an international hexad

  • View of “Friedrich Kunath,” 2015. Foreground: B.C. (Fraktur), 2015. Background: You Know We Can’t Go Back, 2015. Photo: Roman Maerz.

    Friedrich Kunath

    In Friedrich Kunath’s painting It’s Friedrich (all works cited, 2015), the handwritten title phrase emerges from an old-fashioned, corkscrew-cord telephone held out by an anthropomorphic cartoon tree. The latter—a black-lined overlay, like David Salle for tots—sits on a landscape that runs Romanticism through an Athena-poster filter: above, an empurpled sky full of clouds that themselves resemble craggy mountains; below, aquamarine river water hammering rocks, upon which the tree—smiling—stands. By this point, several suavely vulgarized landscapes into the German-born, Los

  • Laura Owens, Untitled, 2015, oil, Flashe paint, acrylic, silkscreen inks, and gesso on linen, five panels, each 108 × 84". Photo: Jens Ziehe.

    Laura Owens

    The five freestanding canvases that make up Laura Owens’s Untitled, 2015, were arranged in a diagonally angled row, like a scaled-down painterly cousin of Richard Serra’s Promenade, 2008, or a scaled-up line of ready-to-fall dominoes. This setup encourages viewers to walk around and among them, inspecting their lively versos. Still, there is only one technically correct viewpoint. Look down the sequence from its head, fine-tune your position by shuffling your feet, and the visible overlapping fragments of text printed on the frontages—texts whose point size grows as the paintings recede,

  • Andrea Büttner

    Weakness is Andrea Büttner’s strength. For a decade, the Stuttgart-born artist has coaxed often-minor media—inexpert video, casual photography, glass painting, wallpaper, even low-slung planters of live moss—into speaking of humility, poverty, shame, and (the refusal of) judgment. Whether woodcut-printing the text piece I want to let the work fall down, 2005; inviting cloistered Carmelite nuns to film their homespun creative activity (Little Works, 2007); illustrating a 2014 edition of Kant’s Critique of Judgment with sublunary, seemingly chance-determined images

  • Andrea Büttner, Piano Destructions, 2014. Rehearsal view, Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre, Canada,
April 11, 2014. Photo: Rita Taylor. © Andrea Büttner/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.


    “I WANT TO LET THE WORK FALL DOWN.” These words sing out from (and provide the title for) a black-and-white woodcut that Andrea Büttner printed in 2005—and as it was written, so it would be done. Biblical overtones, we’ll see, are pertinent to the Frankfurt- and London-based artist’s oeuvre, which over the past decade has splintered into various media, including screen prints, wallpaper, photography, books, furniture, textiles, paintings on glass, instruction-based works, ephemeral installations involving live moss and wet clay, and videos she variously shot herself, collated from archives,

  • Jos De Gruyter and Harald Thys

    In Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys’s unnerving, darkly comic videos, characters sit mutely, assault one another, or comment glumly on unsatisfactory vacation experiences. These low-watt individuals could have produced the artists’ intentionally pedestrian drawings, depictions of sex scenes, urban views, vehicles, dinosaurs, etc., which feel similarly blank. The Belgian pair’s first US exhibition presents a new video, a work composed for organ (to be performed in a local cathedral), and steel sculptures elaborating on their earlier White Elements, 2012–, masklike white

  • Daniel García Andújar, Not Found, 2014, ink-jet print, 7 1/8 × 5 1/8". From the series “Not Found,” 2014.

    “Daniel García Andújar: Operating System”

    A central figure in Spanish Net art, Daniel García Andújar deploys proposals for imaginary technologies to critique what Gilles Deleuze famously termed “societies of control” and the smoke screens that sustain them. In particular, he takes up the bogus techno-evangelism that suggests information not only wants to be free but will free us, too. Founded in 1994, Technologies to the People, Andújar’s irony-laced pseudo-company, has mooted speculative products—represented by websites, flyers, and posters—that would turn digital have-nots into haves. The iSAM™

  • Pierre Bismuth, Following the Right Hand of Sigmund Freud, 2009, 16 mm, black-and-white, silent, 22 minutes 42 seconds.

    “Pierre Bismuth: Der Kurator, der Anwalt und der Psychoanalytiker

    For a quarter century, Pierre Bismuth has inventively corrupted Conceptualism’s systems thinking with chance, worldliness, and wit—see Things I remember I’ve done, but don’t remember why I did them, 1998, the collection of drawings, objects, films, and photographs he exhibited after he had finally forgotten the rationale behind them, or his series of scribbly abstractions derived from the movement of actresses’ hands throughout a movie, “Following the right hand of,” 2009–. It’s not entirely surprising, then, to find the droll and mercurial French artist tickling

  • “Covert Operations: Investigating the Known Unknowns”

    The Donald Rumsfeld Scale of epistemology, established post-9/11, famously stretches from “known knowns” to “unknown unknowns.” “Known unknowns,” however, occupy the median zone of well-founded anxiety brought on not by being “in possession of all the facts”—the condition of paranoia as wryly defined by William S. Burroughs—but by having enough of them to extrapolate that grim details have yet to emerge about, say, “black ops,” human-rights violations, illegal extradition, and human trafficking. Here, thirteen artists and collaboratives (including Taryn Simon,

  • “Simon Starling: Metamorphology”

    Metamorphology, a term borrowed from Goethe’s protoevolutionary theory, is a persuasive catchall for Simon Starling’s practice, which is postmedium—and multimedia—yet full of research-heavy, labor-intensive, material transformations. This first major museum survey in the US will include, among eleven ambitious works from the past decade, a propped two-ton slab of Romanian steel titled after Brancusi’s 1923 Bird in Space, which Duchamp had likewise shepherded through US customs, duty-free, some eighty years earlier—but only after a

  • Ed Atkins, Ribbons, 2014, three-channel HD video, color, sound, 13 minutes 18 seconds.

    Ed Atkins

    Few young artists so instinctively grasp the zeitgeist as does Ed Atkins. In his films, computer-rendered avatars overflow with emotional monologues, and a virtuoso digital aesthetic is undercut by a fixation on flesh—death and decay are recurrent subjects. Staging near-simultaneous shows in London and Paris, the prolific British artist is set to present new works at the Serpentine alongside Ribbons, which debuted in Zurich this spring. The three-channel installation will also be the main event at the Palais de Tokyo. And yet the work

  • Mike Nelson, Quiver of Arrows (detail), 2010, mixed media, 10' 6" x 36' x 35'.

    Mike Nelson

    Mike Nelson evidently can’t forget the Amnesiacs, the biker-gang-esque posse (lacking the chromed hogs) whose mythology he created and who since 1996 have ghosted the artist’s fiction-rich installations. Two recent works included here are linked to that narrative: Gang of Seven, 2013, came from sessions of Canadian beachcombing, and Eighty Circles Through Canada (The Last Possessions of an Orcadian Mountain Man), 2013, includes 35-mm slides shot on jaunts through British Columbia. Quiver of Arrows, 2010, meanwhile, features midcentury Airstream trailers filled with Charlton