Martin Herbert

  • “Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art”

    The opening chapter of Thierry de Duve's 1998 Kant After Duchamp—which inspired this offbeat group show—is a rare example of art theory as seen through the eyes of a Martian anthropologist. Here, that approach gets refashioned as a curatorial principle: Aliens, we're told, have acquired some 150 works by practitioners as diverse as Cai Guo-Quiang, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Cornelia Parker, and have categorized their artifacts according to presumed function rather than the earthly codifications of contemporary art.

    The opening chapter of Thierry de Duve's 1998 Kant After Duchamp—which inspired this offbeat group show—is a rare example of art theory as seen through the eyes of a Martian anthropologist. Here, that approach gets refashioned as a curatorial principle: Aliens, we're told, have acquired some 150 works by practitioners as diverse as Cai Guo-Quiang, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Cornelia Parker, and have categorized their artifacts according to presumed function rather than the earthly codifications of contemporary art. This sculpture-dominant exhibition—a

  • Il Tempo del Postino

    For a joint commission between the Manchester International Festival and the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist and artist Philippe Parreno orchestrated a series of performances by artists, which premiered last July at the Opera House in Manchester, UK. Artforum asked two of its regular contributors to give their impressions of the works presented onstage.

    MARTIN HERBERT

    FOR “IL TEMPO DEL POSTINO (The Time of the Postman), which took place on three evenings this past July in Manchester, curators Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Philippe Parreno offered contemporary artists not previously

  • Biennale de Lyon

    Some forty curators and critics each have selected an artist who best represents “The 00s” (included are Ryan Gander, Mai-Thu Perret, and Thomas Bayrle); meanwhile, about twenty artists will design, in various media, a system or “set of strategies” to define this decade in progress.

    Past Lyon Biennales have frequently felt like think tanks devoted to how biennials might best operate—a trend this ninth edition, titled “The 00s: The History of a Decade That Has Not Been Named,” looks likely to continue. Promising “a history and geography manual in the form of a gam,” the curators have asked international art-world players to give form to this period: Some forty curators and critics each have selected an artist who best represents it (included are Ryan Gander, Mai-Thu Perret, and Thomas Bayrle); meanwhile, about twenty artists

  • Trisha Donnelly

    What Trisha Donnelly's feels like, though—as her first major UK show, consisting entirely of one large, interlinked installation, will likely evince—is the output of someone who, not content with bookish chatter about the economy of desire, instead strategizes to register its effects on our shortchanged selves.

    Trisha Donnelly tends to deal in displacement, homing in on barely communicable transcendent or liminal experiences. The San Francisco–based artist’s work includes video of herself performing a rain dance and imitating a rock star’s onstage euphoria; blunt, documentary-style photographs of the dancer Frances Flannery enacting a baffling ritual; allusive yet maddeningly obscure semi-abstract drawings; and such interventions as sounding two brief cascades of organ music at the start and finish of gallery hours, thereby opening up a caesura. Accordingly, churls might call

  • Steve McQueen

    FOR THE PAST thirty-five years, the Art Commissions Committee of London’s Imperial War Museum has invited artists to make work responding to the activities of British and Commonwealth troops, whether they be engaged in combat or in peacekeeping missions. This privately run successor to the country’s official war artists’ program (which was created in 1916, partly for propaganda purposes, and dismantled in 1972) has thrown up the occasional attention-grabbing artwork—notably, Langlands & Bell’s interactive digital animation, The House of Osama Bin Laden, 2003, a detailed re-creation of the

  • Lucian Freud

    Eighty-five this December, Lucian Freud remains portrait painting’s point man—even Elizabeth II allowed him to portray her, in 2001, as a fretful housewife in a diamond diadem. Artists canonized in their lifetime risk being taken for granted, however, making a retrospective such as this necessary to remind audiences of Freud’s work’s piercing, undomesticated effect. The exhibition will show seventy works, among them several new canvases, including an intricate view of the artist’s garden. Rehearsing Freud’s progression from finicky pairings of people and plants to

  • Martin Boyce

    Martin Boyce’s shape-shifting art brings back the ghosts of modernism: battered replicas of Eames cabinets; nighttime city scenes evoked in sketchy, shadowy installations of chain-link fences next to trees made from fluorescent tubing; noirish phrases such as OVER YOUR SHOULDER glimmering on the walls in a Saul Bass–esque font. This show, the Scottish artist’s most extensive to date, is loosely inspired by Haruki Murakami’s hallucinatory novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1997). It immerses visitors in a series of six large installations featuring fragments of the

  • OPENINGS: PABLO BRONSTEIN

    PABLO BRONSTEIN KNOCKED DOWN London Bridge and commissioned two architects—ostentatious postmodernist Terry Farrell and eighteenth-century purveyor of Neoclassical elegance William Chambers—to collaborate on its replacement, a passé riot of disharmonious ornament crowned with a giant precariously balanced globe. He seated Filippo Juvarra, Baroque pioneer of illusionistic perspectives for theater sets and designer of basilicas, at a draftsman’s desk beside Michael Graves, architect of Disneyland’s resort hotels, and left them to foment an unholy mix of elegant piazzas and pyramid-topped

  • Gavin Turk

    Gavin Turk notoriously concluded his MFA at the Royal College of Art in London with a cocksure forecast of future esteem, installing in an otherwise empty room an English Heritage plaque, BOROUGH OF KENSINGTON / GAVIN TURK / SCULPTOR / WORKED HERE / 1989–1991.

    Gavin Turk notoriously concluded his MFA at the Royal College of Art in London with a cocksure forecast of future esteem, installing in an otherwise empty room an English Heritage plaque, BOROUGH OF KENSINGTON / GAVIN TURK / SCULPTOR / WORKED HERE / 1989–1991. That Turk has since burned less brightly than many of his YBA contemporaries is possibly the price of being a gadfly: His investigations into how artistic value gets conferred—particularly through the cults of originality and personality, which he evinces through fusions of existing iconographies, from Warhol’s

  • Christopher Stewart

    It’s estimated that there are some twenty-five thousand private military personnel currently in Iraq, collectively comprising easily the second-largest fighting force in the country (the largest being of course the US Army). Employed by firms with names like Custer Battles, Global Risk Strategies, and Blackwater USA, they are mostly funded by US tax dollars and handle everything from training local forces to surveillance, weapons procurement, and on-the-ground fighting. But these mercenaries aren’t trained in US boot camps. They’re drilled in places like the one depicted in Christopher Stewart’s

  • KEEPING DISTANCE: THE ART OF MARINE HUGONNIER

    MARINE HUGONNIER spent September 12, 2001, contemplating the immediate future. As did we all, you might say—but the Paris-born, London-based artist projected forward in a uniquely literal fashion. When the towers fell, she’d been on her way from the UK to the Alaskan village of Cape Prince of Wales, a little settlement notable primarily for its utterly remote location. There, at the narrowest point of the Bering Strait, you can look across the waters—as Hugonnier did, often through the viewfinder of a camera—and see Cape Dezhnev, the easternmost point of Asia, some forty miles

  • Jens Hoffmann

    THREE’S A CROWD. That would appear to be the thinking, anyway, among adventurous international curators at London institutions. For no sooner than Hans-Ulrich Obrist arrived at the Serpentine Gallery and Ralph Rugoff settled into his seat at the Hayward Gallery (see Artforum, Summer 2006), Jens Hoffmann—whose audacious two and a half years as director of exhibitions at the city’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) arguably paved the way for them—announced his departure. In November the Costa Rica–born curator will become director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco.

  • John Latham

    With more than thirty works (including all eleven of his hanging sculptural “clusters” of books, plaster, and wire), this show should illuminate the fiercely individual thinking of one of the key British artists of the past century.

    A decade before John Latham’s death last January at age eighty-five, I worked in his neighborhood bookshop in London, ordering the abstruse tomes on time and quantum mechanics that fed what this show calls his “unified theory of existence.” By then, he had gone from creating largely Conceptual work—like his 1966–67 action in which he literally chewed up Clement Greenberg’s Art and Culture—to making paintings, sculptures, performances, installations, and films, and his openness and iconoclasm had already influenced four decades of British artists. Touring from the UK’s John

  • Jake and Dinos Chapman

    The conspicuous void in this midcareer survey falls where the British brothers’ concentration camp–themed masterpiece, Hell, 1999–2000, should be (it was destroyed in the 2004 Momart fire). But the seventeen sculptures, two installations, and some three hundred paintings and prints made since 1992 will no doubt still offer a brilliantly assaulting display and a measure of our societal hang-ups.

    One putatively verboten move after another, executed with fastidiousness and glee—that’s Jake and Dinos Chapman’s modus operandi. Retrofitting reverenced subjects with insolent supplements—such as giving child mannequins sexual organs for facial features, defacing original Goya prints in comically juvenile fashion, and creating faux-ethnographic displays with hand-carved McDonald’s logos—underscores the artists’ superiority to the scopophiliac hordes via fanatical attention to detail. The conspicuous void in this midcareer survey falls where the

  • picks May 24, 2006

    Tomas Saraceno

    The first in a series of artworks commissioned for the Barbican’s tricky Curve gallery—a 260-foot-long bowed corridor, basically—Tomas Saraceno’s panoramic, thirty-two-screen video installation turns spatial limitation to spectacular advantage. To make the work (part of his ongoing “Air-Port-City” project), the Argentine artist went to the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia—a three-acre salt lake in a desert positioned more than two miles above sea level. There he set up a ring of thirty-two cameras to shoot the sped-up footage of cloud movements, sunrises, and sunsets we see here. After

  • Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Ralph Rugoff

    IT IS MARCH 2006, AND WE’RE IN London—“the beating heart of Europe’s contemporary art scene,” as the New York Times puts it—and we’re touring the commercial galleries. Plush international dealerships hum to the north and west, increasingly slick indigenous operations cluster in the east, and myriad penurious venues percolate determinedly at various distances from the art scene’s main drags. The dynamism—whatever one might think of the art on display—is tangible.

    In order to determine how all this effervescence is aerating the city’s institutional echelons, let’s say we go to the Hayward Gallery

  • Nathaniel Mellors

    The ambiguous finale of the ’60s cult British TV series The Prisoner finds leading man Patrick McGoohan’s character, Number Six, apparently freed from the mysterious allegorical village he’s been trapped in and returning to his former metropolitan life. In Nathaniel Mellors’s 16-mm film (transferred to DVD) MACGOOHANSOC, 2005, a steely young Englishwoman claims to be “the body of Patrick McGoohan”: Not his spirit, not the fictional spirit of Number Six, but the physical form of the actor (who is still alive). Such compound perplexity is typical of Mellors’s gravitation toward points at which

  • Marc Quinn

    What form should portraiture take in the twenty-first century? As this show of thirty recent works by Marc Quinn ought to demonstrate, the human form is multifariously definable: Bronzes cast from chunks of animal meat have us as raw corporeality waiting for the slab; in his “DNA Portraits,” the artist schematizes identity into bacterial colonies in agar jelly using samples of human genomes; white marble representations of the physically handicapped challenge traditional conceptions of heroism and beauty. The last’s ironic interplay with damaged classical sculptures

  • 1000 WORDS: ANGELA BULLOCH

    FROM THE POINTEDLY economical gestures with which she began her career—amps dimming or brightening in the viewer’s presence (Before and After Follow Each Other, 1990); recordings of applause or jeers triggered by visitors’ movements (as in Laughing Crowd Sound Piece, 1990)—to the polyphonic, multihued blend of geometric structures and son et lumière in which she specializes today, Angela Bulloch has progressively deepened a practice fascinated with ordering systems and the subjective processing of information. Inflecting the stringent aesthetics of Conceptualism and Minimalism with destabilizing

  • diary March 06, 2006

    Ruf Trade

    London

    Midway through last Tuesday’s opening of the third Tate Triennial, a substantial percentage of the assembled guests set aside their cocktails and their chicken tikka–filled mini-ciabattas, and trooped out to the Tate Britain’s front lawn to watch one of Cerith Wyn Evans’s characteristic firework texts go up in smoke. As the gunpowder parcels ignited on a pair of metal armatures, fleetingly spelling out in white a two-verse poem by Ian Hamilton Finlay—in which permutations of the phrases “How blue / How sad / How small / How white / How far” are repeated, each ending once with an exclamation