Micah Malone

  • picks November 09, 2011

    MDE11

    “It’s time we thought about the educational role of art.” So says the priest in The Tower: A Songspiel, 2010, a film by the Russian collective Chto Delat that is one of the highlights of MDE11, an ongoing citywide event in Medellín, Colombia. Centered on the recent debates and protests over the controversial Gazprom skyscraper to be built in Saint Petersburg, the comical Songspiel (German for “song-play”) features a variety of impassioned pleas from members of the country’s elite, whose task is to “educate” a diverse range of the populace on the tower’s importance. In turn, the film’s representatives

  • picks May 14, 2011

    Juan Fernando Herrán

    Juan Fernando Herrán’s stair structures meander, stop abruptly, and multiply with an obfuscated internal logic. In his latest exhibition, clues to their idiosyncratic construction are seen in photographs that document various public staircases and ladders found on the outskirts of Medellín, Columbia. The stairs in these barrios are adaptively built for their environments, focused more on “making it work” than on being efficiently designed. Itinerarios (No. 1) (Itineraries [No.1]) and Itinerarios (No. 2), both 2008, depict stairs constructed directly into rolling grassy hillsides. Bifurcación

  • picks November 05, 2010

    Edgar Guzmanruiz

    When approaching Edgar Guzmanruiz’s latest exhibition, “Como les guste” (As You Like It), one is greeted by red curtains that flank the entrance to the gallery. The viewer then moves beyond the curtains to encounter the back side of a wall made of wood and cardboard, which forces visitors to circle the perimeter of the gallery. One is thus led to the center of the space to find the front of the expansive wall, where it becomes apparent that the installation is actually modeling the gallery space itself. Guzmanruiz has playfully transformed the gallery into a set––fabricated to nearly three-fourths

  • picks September 10, 2010

    Nicolás Consuegra

    Modeled after a 1962 photograph depicting a modern domestic interior by the German photographer Paul Beer, Nicolás Consuegra’s latest installation, Room (After Paul Beer) (all works 2010), is an incredibly convincing facsimile. Populated with to-scale furniture and fabricated to mimic the black-and-white tones of Beer’s picture, the work is akin to a photograph transformed into a theater produced in grayscale. On completing the installation, Consuegra took a color photograph of it for Untitled (After Paul Beer), which resembles the elder artist’s original with an uncanny exactitude.

    This photograph

  • picks September 10, 2010

    Rosario López Parra

    The landscapes depicted in Rosario López Parra’s photographs have an uncanny way of resonating with her sculptures. The artist’s pictures are phenomenally static, void of humans, and set in tranquil locations (such as Colombia’s countryside and Bolivia). For her latest exhibition “Lo informe y el límite” (Formlessness and the Idea of Boundary), her predominant tactic is to isolate particular shapes and silhouettes in the photographs and then re-create them in bold materials. For example, the rocks and boulders in the foreground of Lo informe y el límite (all works 2009–10) provide the structure

  • picks July 01, 2010

    “Kurt”

    When approaching “Kurt,” an exhibition about the influence of Kurt Cobain, one may at first feel skeptical. Memorabilia and other artifacts attempting to preserve the late rock star’s legacy, however, are entirely absent, a welcome indication that the pitfalls of sentimental kitsch are far away—which is not to say that sentimentality itself has been omitted. Gretchen Bennett’s video I Don’t Blame You, 2009, features a hand maneuvering a snapdragon flower, and a sound track of Bennett playing a tender Cat Power ballad that is widely considered to be about Cobain. In preparation for the piece,

  • picks April 03, 2010

    Ditch Projects

    “Are You Ready for the Country?,” the first outing by nine artists (Mike Bray, Julie Berkbuegler-Poremba, Damon Harris, Jared Davis-Haug, Tim Meyer, Donald Morgan, Dave Siebert, Rob Smith, and Jesse Sugarmann) who manage the Springfield, Oregon–based gallery and performance space Ditch Projects, extends the self-governing ethos of the venue, which is located in a vacated sawmill that is both physically and culturally removed from the hipster vibe of Portland and the hippie culture of Eugene. When offered a show as part of “Portland 2010,” the city’s latest iteration of a biennial, it was suggested

  • picks January 20, 2010

    “Vantage”

    The best works in “Vantage” urge viewers to rethink how perspective is visually and conceptually constructed, and how each artist’s simple yet clever manipulations confound how an object is viewed and made. Isaac Layman’s “Drawers,” 2008, for instance, consists of photographs of the interior of kitchen drawers. Ziploc bags, Saran Wrap, and aluminum foil appear as straight documents until the viewer slowly notices the impossible depths of field and color shifts in his remarkably saturated and high-resolution composites. However technically impressive, Layman’s work leaves one with the banal

  • picks November 10, 2009

    Arnold J. Kemp

    It is tempting to view Arnold J. Kemp’s new work strictly in formal terms: modest collages with black paint, glitter, and googly doll eyes that form abstract patterns and pleasant landscape arrangements. Yet the paint used in each piece seems not simply an aesthetic choice and suggests further musings on the elasticity of Black representation, as well as the personal biography of Kemp, an African-American artist. In several small monochromes, such as Vampire (Titled), 2009, one can see evidence of bright primary colors that were applied prior to the surface coat, a black “skin” of paint. In

  • picks October 27, 2009

    “Broadcast”

    “Broadcast” brings together artists who have, according to the exhibition’s press release, “engaged, critiqued, and inserted themselves into official channels of broadcast television and radio.” Whether attempts to engage with mainstream media are hostile, indifferent, judgmental, passive, or proactive (all of which attitudes are documented in the exhibition), the strategies employed say much about the political potential of art but also about each artist's proclivity for confrontation.

    For The Amarillo News Tapes, 1980, Doug Hall, Chip Lord, and Jody Procter became “artists-in-residence” at

  • picks June 09, 2009

    “Black Market Type and Print Shop”

    Creating fonts can be a touchy subject, raising issues of intellectual property—touchier still when the fonts in question sample hand-drawn lettering from well-known works of art. However, for the exhibition “Black Market Type and Print Shop,” font generation becomes a clever game of connoisseurship. Curator Joseph del Pesco appropriated mostly handwritten texts from single pieces of art (or series of works) as source material for his exhibited typefaces, without seeking permission from the sampled artists.

    Ironically, John Baldessari’s Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell, 1966–68, was originally

  • picks April 13, 2009

    Matt King

    Matt King’s idiosyncratic sculptures flaunt a diverse array of seemingly unused consumer items: a belt, ant poison, hair ties, and an umbrella bag, to name a few. Although his new works appear to offer a reconsideration of such everyday objects as a critique of our voracious consumption, self-conscious art-historical winking abounds in this exhibition. King’s works seem more about the connoisseurship of the critique of consumer culture than an actual critique of consumption.

    Most of the works in “Science Diet” utilize elongated steel tubing carefully painted in stripes, a clever nod to André

  • picks February 20, 2009

    Modou Dieng and Damien Gilley

    Since the advent of relational aesthetics and the proliferation of DJ culture, the gallery space has often served as both backdrop for art and site for its production. At the opening reception for “Shoot You—Shoot Me,” artists Modou Dieng and Damien Gilley spun records on turntables in front of a Mylar backdrop, while Gus Van Sant’s Mala Noche, 1985, played on a television nearby. The environment—by all appearances hastily assembled—was a slight reconfiguration of ephemera remaining from a photo shoot staged in the gallery beforehand. In the jumbled and tightly cropped photographs that now adorn

  • picks October 15, 2008

    “Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art”

    “Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art” boasts a wide array of functional goods: a structure made from cardboard and plastic soda bottles, garment bags equipped with solar panels, and commercially produced disaster-relief objects presented as ready-made minimalist sculptures, to name just a few. However, it is the works of Michael Rakowitz and People Powered that best interrogate art and design, augmenting the two fields’ cultural capital and potential both to offer pragmatic solutions and to focus attention on social problems. In Rakowitz’s “paraSITEs” series, inflatable temporary structures

  • picks August 17, 2008

    Marc Dombrosky

    Embroidery has been finding its way into contemporary art for some time now. Karen Reimer’s stitched detritus and Ghada Amer’s sexual images embedded in abstract fields are just two examples of the craft’s appearance in recent practices. Marc Dombrosky’s current exhibition uses embroidery in an attempt to connect with what has been discarded, to archive lost messages, and to identify with the anonymous. Dombrosky is a collector of found notes and signs. Love notes, a message to an apartment janitor, and simple affirmations—YOU ARE HAPPY—all find their way into his work. His process is straightforward:

  • picks May 24, 2008

    Amanda Wojick

    Amanda Wojick creates work with a humble economy of means. She likewise deploys cheap materials—wooden dowels, bright yellow Band-Aids, polystyrene—to achieve an odd balance between solidity and impermanence. In After (all works 2008), clusters of brightly painted thin wooden dowels are held together with rubber bands, which form makeshift joints and create a flimsy, drooping, tentlike structure. The tenuous arrangement seems to have established its current configuration by itself, as if Wojick had only gently urged it into being. With no fixed order to its colors or spatial arrangement, After