Michael Tarantino


    SVB VOCE,” curated by Suzanne Mészöly, featured 16 installations by 18 Hungarian artists using video or related media. Yet I hesitate to refer to it as a show of video artists. The distinction is crucial to an understanding of what separates this particular exhibition from many of those of the last decade that (purposely or not) ghettoized the video artist. Would anyone organize an exhibition described as “18 Oil & Canvas Artists”? This exhibition does not entirely escape this trap; a number of installations seem to use video as an excuse. Yet the overall impression that one gets is that many

  • Joseph Kosuth

    In Charlotte Brontë’s novel, Shirley (1849), we read, “Order forbids details in a picture; she puts them tidily away, but details give charm.” I suspect that very few observers have used the term “charm” with regard to the work of Joseph Kosuth, but Brontë’s detailing of the antipathetic relationship between order and detail, between the general and the particular, seems appropriate as a means of approaching this artist’s continued attempt to strike a balance between language, pictorial effect, and the process of description. Ex Libris, J.F. Champollion (Figeac), 1991, commissioned by the French

  • Remy Zaugg

    Situated between an analysis of perception and painting, Rémy Zaugg’s series, A Sheet of Paper I & II, 1973–90, may be seen as an endless permutation of works, wherein each painting, each view, implies another.

    Zaugg refers to his five-year journal, Constitution of a Painting, 1963–66, as a “student work,” which took a reproduction of Paul Cézanne’s La maison du pendu (House of the hanged man, 1873), as a starting point. In this exhibition, we follow his progress as a painter, after he has assimilated the knowledge of Cézanne’s concept of figuration. Thus, we find a series of approaches to

  • Michel François

    Stretching from one end of the gallery to another is a series of objects. They include a gourdlike shape, covered in wax, with a figure of Saint Gregory emerging from the top; sponges; a tightly wound role of paper interspersed with black wax filling; a black hat, a balloon covered in white wax, a bicycle chain wrapped around a red form resembling the African continent, etc. Entitled Instruments de la passion (Instruments of passion, all works 1990), this collection of individual works, in which function, volume, and shape are turned inside out, reveals the sculptural strategies of Michel

  • La Captive du Désert

    A caravan passes in the desert. From its low, stationary angle, the camera records this procession of men and women, dressed in turbans, sandals, and robes. Some are wearing sneakers. Periodically, a camel passes by loaded down with materials. At the end of the group, a woman dressed in Western garb is followed by a man with a machine gun.

    This is the opening shot of Raymond Depardon’s La Captive du désert (The captive of the desert, 1990), a film inspired by the experience of a French schoolteacher who was taken hostage by guerrilla groups during the civil war in Chad. Although Depardon is known

  • Pedro Cabrita Reis

    Rainer W. Fassbinder once said that he hoped to “build a house with his films. . . . Some of them are the cellar, some are the walls and some are the windows. But I hope in time there will be a house.” This additive sense that gives so much meaning to his work also seems to operate in the case of Pedro Cabrita Reis, where each successive manifestation may be seen as both an autonomous work and as a part of a cumulative effect that is a result of previous pieces. Formally, these pieces are linked by the use of gesso, as well as by the recurrent repetition of the word “casa” (house) in the titles.

  • Krzysztof Kieślowski

    KRZYSZTOF KIEŚLOWKI'S “THE DECALOGUE,” 1988, is a series of investigations into the question of choice, both esthetic and moral. The director and his scriptwriter, Krzysztof Piesiewicz, based this series of ten one-hour television dramas on the Ten Commandments. (Two of the films, A Short Film about Killing and A Short Film about Love, have been expanded to feature length for cinema release.) The works have a number of constants: each is based on one of the commandments, some more directly than others. Each takes place in a bunkerlike apartment complex in Warsaw. And characters reappear from

  • Matt Mullican

    In The Archaeology of Knowledge, Michel Foucault writes, “History now organizes the document, divides it up, distributes it, orders it, arranges it in levels, establishes it in series, distinguishes between what is relevant and what is not, discovers unities, describes relations.” In a sense, one can view Matt Mullican’s work in these terms, with his concept of the city taking the place of Foucault’s document. With his intricate, personalized system of signs and images drawn from the observable world, Mullican’s project seems infinite.

    When faced with the immense size of the Magasin, there has

  • Hermann Pitz

    In this show entitled Travaux récents (auto-portraits y compris) (Recent Works [including self-portraits]), Hermann Pitz has assembled a series of pieces that reveal his fascination with the way in which art can reflect various ways of seeing. Reflection is the operative concept animating Pitz’s work, given his particular emphasis on materials used to produce optical distortions.

    In Selbst (Self, 1990), a group of clear, glasslike resin forms displayed on the floor resemble teardrops or raindrops. Describing an earlier version of the piece, Pitz explains, “Since I was a child, I’ve thought of

  • Jan Vercruysse

    In this exhibition, Jan Vercruysse, primarily known for his photographs and sculptures, presented an extraordinary set of books and prints, which he produced with the Belgian publisher, Yves Gevaert. Informed by the work of Marcel Duchamp and Marcel Broodthaers, Vercruysse’s photographs explore the conventions of posing and portraiture. Together with his sculptural series entitled “Atopies” and “Tombeaux” (Tombs), they have rigorously examined the relationships between art, architecture and design.

    Here we find a striking manipulation of graphic space. Through the choice of paper, color, and the

  • Jan Fabre/Eugeniusz Knapik

    A singer meticulously makes his way across a stage riddled with upright scissors, stuck into the floor; grabbing a pair, he hurls them into the air where they pass through a beam of light, sparkle briefly, and disappear.

    Das Glas im kopf wird vom Glas, 1990, is the first part of a projected trilogy entitled The Minds of Helena Troubleyn, written and directed by Jan Fabre, with music by Eugeniusz Knapik. Indicative of the strengths and weaknesses of the production, the scene described above constitutes a stunning visual image, but the effect is spoiled when we realize that the singer will continue


    THE 44TH BIENNALE has left many visitors with mixed feelings. Director Giovanni Carandente had the laudable goal of returning the institution to the artists, and imposed no central theme for them to conform to as the exhibition’s core. But though it’s true that the prepackaged themes of the ’80s Biennales were realized all too predictably, in this version one misses a critical idea, if only as something to disagree with. In the Central Pavilion, in the place of a strong critical or historical subject, is the “Ambiente Berlino”show, a display of (West and East) Berlin artists. Unfortunately this