Martin Herbert

  • Donelle Woolford. Photo: Namik Minter and Frank Heath.

    “Double Agent”

    Reflecting the thematic hook of “art in which the artist uses other people as a medium,” this exhibition will be a roll call of key players: Pawel Althamer, Phil Collins, Dora García, Joe Scanlan, Barbara Visser, Artur Zmijewski, and theatrical firebrand Christoph Schlingensief—and behind them, a shadow squad of auxiliary producers.

    Despite the title, put aside thoughts of espionage. In the sense intended by the ICA's Mark Sladen and guest curator Claire Bishop—who has written eloquently on participatory aeshetics for this magazine and elsewhere—“double agent” instead connotes “doubled agency.” Reflecting the thematic hook of “art in which the artist uses other people as a medium,” this exhibition will be a roll call of key players: Pawel Althamer, Phil Collins, Dora García, Joe Scanlan, Barbara Visser, Artur Zmijewski, and theatrical firebrand Christoph Schlingensief—and behind them,

  • Cornelia Parker, Meteorite Lands on Buckingham Palace, 1998, maple-box-framed map of London and burn left by meteorite, 21 1/4 x 27 1/6".

    “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, Satin Operator (12), 2007, color photograph, 62 1/2 x 44".

    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, Queen and Country (detail), 2007–, ink on paper, 23 1/2 x 18". Image of Lance Corporal Benjamin Hyde is reproduced with the kind permission of his family.

    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

  • Pablo Bronstein, Plaza Minuet, 2006. Installation view, Tate Britain, London.

    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, Gentleman Jim, 2005, mixed media, 84 7/16 x 39 3/8 x 39 3/8".

    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