Martin Herbert

  • Khalil Rabah, The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind (ongoing detail), 2003, wood, glass, vinyl text, olive trees, 83 7/10 x 83 7/10 x 25".

    “Museum Show”

    How do you fit several dozen museums into one medium-size art institution? It helps if they’re all at least semifictional and manageably scaled, as in this forty- artist survey of museological mimicries

    How do you fit several dozen museums into one medium-size art institution? It helps if they’re all at least semifictional and manageably scaled, as in this forty- artist survey of museological mimicries. The reflexive finale of the Arnolfini’s year of fiftieth birthday celebrations, the show collates the continuum from Marcel Duchamp’s 1943 monographic trove in a suitcase, the Bôite-en-valise, to Marcel Broodthaers’s grand upending of taxonomic categories, to quixotic present-day examples such as Bill Burns’s Museum of Safety Gear for Small Animals. (Plus, expect turns by Stuart

  • Šejla Kamerić and Anri Sala, 1395 Days Without Red, 2011, color HD video, 60 minutes. Production still. Photo: Milomir Kovačević Strašni

    Artangel’s twentieth anniversary

    IF YOU’VE PAID ATTENTION to contemporary art in Britain since the early 1990s, the chances are good that Artangel—the exemplary, catalytic, London-based arts trust currently marking its twentieth anniversary—has gifted you with some indelible memories. Numerous spikes in the graph of my own spectatorship correspond to site-specific projects that codirectors James Lingwood and Michael Morris have commissioned, financed, and helped conceptualize. 1993: Rachel Whiteread’s House, a spectral plaster cast of the interior of an East London house, last survivor of a demolished terrace and

  • Susan Hiller, Witness, 2000, four hundred speakers, audio tracks, wires, lights. Installation view, 2011. Photo: Sam Drake.

    Susan Hiller

    IN 1974, following several years in which she ritually renounced painting––chopping old canvases into little rectangles and stitching them together into tomblike blocks, preserving the ashes of burned works in vials––Susan Hiller found her enduring subject with Dream Mapping. Articulated via dream diaries (seen at Tate Britain in vitrines) kept by seven people sleeping within “fairy rings” of mushrooms in a supposedly enchanted Hampshire field, this lasting topic was the stubborn, abyssal irrationality of the human mind. On the evidence of Tate Britain’s forty-year survey, curated by Ann Gallagher

  • Armin Boehm, Se Taire, 2008, oil, metal, and thread on board, 21 1/4 x 18 7/8".

    “Secret Societies”

    From Yale’s president-spawning Skull and Bones to that mythical “invisible world government” the Illuminati, secret societies exert a powerful grip on the imagination.

    From Yale’s president-spawning Skull and Bones to that mythical “invisible world government” the Illuminati, secret societies exert a powerful grip on the imagination. The Schirn Kunsthalle’s show isn’t an exposé, though. Rather, it proposes contemporary art itself as a seedbed for clandestine coteries, exacting codes of behavior, and diverse methods of evasion and exclusion. Here, within an appositely labyrinthine display designed by Fabian Marti, more than one hundred works by nearly fifty artists—including Kenneth Anger, Joachim Koester,

  • Mike Nelson, A studio apparatus for Camden Arts Centre; an introductory structure: Introduction, a lexicon of phenomena and information association, futur-objectics, (in three sections), mysterious island*, or Temporary monument, 1998, mixed media. Installation view, 2010. Photo: Andy Keate.

    Simon Starling

    FOUR TIMES SINCE 2005, Camden Arts Centre has crossed its fingers and handed the curatorial reins to an artist. After Tacita Dean, Steven Claydon, and Paulina Olowska, most recently it was Simon Starling’s turn, and it was notable and apposite that this marked the first occasion when the neophyte curator’s name surged above his or her chosen title, because “Never the Same River (Possible Futures, Probable Pasts)”—mounted almost exactly a decade after Starling’s own solo show here—was especially consonant with its selector’s artistic practice: that of resituating and reanimating objects

  • John Stezaker, Marriage (Film Portrait Collage) LXI, 2010, collage, 9 11/64 x 8 7/64".

    John Stezaker

    After forty years of sifting through antique photographs from thrift shops and flea markets—and then cropping and conjoining them to crowbar open their meanings—John Stezaker is finally being recognized at home.

    After forty years of sifting through antique photographs from thrift shops and flea markets—and then cropping and conjoining them to crowbar open their meanings—John Stezaker is finally being recognized at home. The ninety-plus works in his first UK retrospective should appear as a singularly unified whole, for the sexagenarian artist (who is still augmenting series he initiated three decades ago) hasn’t so much evolved as finessed his aptitude for the uncanny. As Stezaker dramatizes the irrational hold that particular images exert on him by, say, a virtuoso

  • Bojan Šarčević, World Corner, 1999, bricks, plaster, wallpaper, wood. Installation view, Carlier/Gebauer, Berlin.

    UNBOUNDED ENTHUSIASMS: THE ART OF BOJAN ŠARČEVIĆ

    “TO WHAT EXTENT SHOULD AN ARTIST understand the implications of his or her findings?” This is the cryptic question that Bojan Šarčević posed to a panel of artists, critics, and curators he’d convened on the occasion of his 2006 two-venue exhibition in Ireland, at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin, and the Model Arts and Niland Gallery, Sligo. The show debuted a group of works—miniature geometries of brass threads dangling almost imperceptibly against an expanse of elegantly distressed wallpaper—that appeared far from the kind of research-based production his query would seem to address.

  • OPENINGS: JOS DE GRUYTER AND HARALD THYS

    FOR ALMOST A DECADE, Jos de Gruyter worked at Ten Weyngaert, a Brussels community center that began as a utopian experiment in the 1980s. Intended as a place that citizens could visit in order to freely express their creativity—a latter-day Esalen—the center is now frequented, de Gruyter says, by disaffected individuals: failed artists, retired yoga instructors, and so on. These denizens often partake in art therapy programs there; when invited to access their imaginative inner worlds through such sessions, they often become confused, angry, or depressed, and the ensuing atmosphere of silence

  • THIRD LIFE: THE ART OF JOHN STEZAKER

    FOR SOME LUCKY PHOTOGRAPHS, there’s an interval between disfavor and disposal—a hiatus that offers a second chance at life. In our disembodied age, this purgatory is usually the wilds of eBay, although prints and reproductions also linger on in actual flea markets, antiquarian bookstores, and thrift shops. Few photographs, however, are discarded and restored more than once—unless they happen to be swept up in the vicissitudes of John Stezaker’s forty-year career. Some of the pictures the artist has used have inhabited this liminal state multiple times, their drift and resurgence tracing an

  • Ceal Floyer, Overgrowth, 2004, medium-format slide, medium-format slide projector, dimensions variable.

    Ceal Floyer

    This survey, collating some twenty works from 1992 through the present, accordingly promises plenty of practiced bait-and-switch, with cerebral pleasure giving way to rippling disquiet.

    Ceal Floyer has a mathematician’s brain, a phenomenologist’s eye, and—belying the apparent reticence of her Minimalist-Conceptualist amalgams—a conjurer’s showmanship. Moving fleetly between formats (sculpture, video, drawing, photography, sound), the Pakistani-born, London-raised, Berlin-based artist specializes in elegant, witty, circular proposals that could almost be one-liners if they didn’t open onto questionings of perceptual habit and expectation. A bucket, seemingly catching a leak, conceals a speaker playing dripping sounds (Bucket, 1999); a performance is

  • Martin Herbert

    MARTIN HERBERT

    1 “Isa Genzken: Open, Sesame!” (Whitechapel Gallery, London) A double event: One of London’s best-loved institutions reopened, and this stellar retrospective—the renovated Whitechapel’s inaugural show—landed in the East End like a disheveled but highly advanced spacecraft. This was a public service to most of us, who had previously been unable to consider Genzken’s achievement at full historical stretch. Curated by the Whitechapel’s Andrea Tarsia and by Kasper König and Nina Gülicher of the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, the show connected the dots (and illuminated the leaps)

  • Gustav Metzger, Historic Photograph Terror and Oppression, 2007, two black-and-white photographs on fabric, 18' 6“ x 14' 7” and 15' 5“ x 14' 7”.

    Gustav Metzger

    Leading off with early paintings, the Serpentine will feature Gustav Metzger’s notable metaphors for our ineluctable journey on the Oblivion Express.

    Capitalism, to Gustav Metzger, has always looked like a handcart to hell—so it’s apt that this extensive survey of the Nuremberg-born, London-based, officially “stateless” octogenarian’s six-decade career follows a global economic upheaval. Leading off with early paintings, the Serpentine will feature Metzger’s notable metaphors for our ineluctable journey on the Oblivion Express—his notorious “auto-destructive” pieces (disintegrating sculptures, acid-splashed canvases) begun in the late ’50s—in addition to