Michael Tarantino


    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

  • Michael Tarantino

    WHAT IT REALLY comes down to is the difference between the erect and the limp cock. The installations by Jeff Koons and Gran Fury at “Aperto 90” have provided, predictably enough, the controversy at the 1990 Venice Biennale. Both are organized around the phallus. Yet their use of it as a symbol is telling: on the one hand, works by Koons that seem stripped of any power to engage the viewer, the artist’s sex waving in the wind like a pathetic symbol of a failed gambit; on the other, the disembodied, erect penis utilized by Gran Fury, positioned between a text advocating the use of condoms and

  • Christian Philipp Müller

    “The city is no longer an arid crust divided by the deep gutters of the streets; it is an immense park, a ’Green City.’ It is constructed along the lines of the ’Radiant City,’ that is to say, the constituent elements can now accommodate the ’spare time activities’ which are a phenomenon of the machine revolution of modern times and the subject for which urbanism must, at all prices, offer solutions.”
    Le Corbusier, 1933

    For Le Corbusier, the solution, at least in terms of his projected series of “Radiant Cities,” was to incorporate elements of city and country, work and leisure, into a single

  • Maria Anna Dewes

    The gallery is empty, except for a small table placed in the center of the space. Ten plaster-of-paris heads are arranged in an oval, facing inward toward each other. At first glance they seem to be exactly alike. In fact, their faces are exactly alike, made from the same mold. The only difference between the ten heads are their haircuts. Each face is topped by an individual coiffure: parted down the middle, on the side, Julius Caesar-style, mop-cut, etc.

    Maria Anna Dewes is a young German artist, currently living in Düsseldorf. In one sense, her piece, entitled Eine Arbeit (A work, 1990), can


    The difference in scale should normally produce a disequilibrium in the spectator and, possibly, enable him/her to see those things which might pass by unseen at a smaller scale, a little bit like close-ups, slow-motion or fast-motion cinema, where they are able to have a revealing effect, and thus illuminate those things which normally would rest hidden.
    —Geneviève Cadieux, “Écrans de réflexion”1

    Quel dommage que le cinéma possède le gros plan. (What a shame that the cinema possesses the close-up.)
    —Marcello Mastroianni, “Le Danseur et son double”2

    THREE PHOTOGRAPHS: A BLACK and white image of

  • Hannah Collins

    The large-scale photograph tacked to the wall seems to picture a woman with hair covering her entire body. Her bare feet step over shafts of wheat. Here Hannah Collins portrays a scene which is both more and less than it appears to be. The photograph is a piece of evidence rather than documentation, demonstrating process rather than definition. In Hair (all works, 1989), reflection reveals that the subject is not necessarily a woman; by denying the viewer a glimpse of the face—covered with hair and photographed from the back—Collins puts the question of gender up for grabs. Collins focuses on

  • Cildo Meireles, Tunga

    This exhibition of works by two Brazilian artists, Cildo Meireles and Tunga, illustrated the ways in which strategies of displacement and substitution can be used to produce works of multiple, sometimes contradictory, meanings. Meireles has been an important figure in Brazilian art for the past 20 years. He has incorporated tactics from conceptual and performance art, in order to underscore the series of political upheavals that have characterized his country’s tumultuous recent history. His installation here was entitled A traves (Through, 1989). It represented both a conceptual and physical


    According to [Bergson’s] first thesis, movement is distinct from the space covered. Space covered is past, movement is present, the act of blue covering. The space covered divisible, whilst movement is divisible, indeed infinitely is indivisible, or cannot be divided without changing qualitatively each time it is divided. This already presupposes a more complex idea: the spaces covered all belong to a single, identical, homogeneous space, while the movements are heterogeneous, irreducible among themselves
    —Gilles Deleuze

    I don’t believe in chance.
    —Lili Dujourie

    BETWEEN 1968 AND 1972, Lili

  • Guillaume Bijl

    An integral part of the work of Guillaume Bijl is a kind of cognitive reversal that must be effected in the viewer. The “formula” revolves around the transformation of the gallery space into a different kind of site, often one with a patently commercial connotation; in this way, Bijl elides the art gallery’s economic determinants. Over the course of the past five years, the artist has mined this conceptual lodestone to produce numerous self-critical spaces. These installations, complete down to the most minute detail, are all linked together by their insistence on the transposition of contexts.

  • Krysztof Kieslowski, Thou Shalt Not Kill

    The first shot is of a dead rat in a murky puddle. It is followed by a shot of a cat that has just been hung by a gang of children. Eventually, we realize that the animals represent the fates of two of the film’s characters: one is senselessly murdered and the other is killed by the state for his actions. The title of Krysztof Kieslowski’s film, Thou Shalt Not Kill, 1988, is bluntly explanatory. Its emphasis is on two violent acts, one condoned and one condemned by the state. They are not mere pretexts on which to base a film; they do not trigger a police story, a whodunit, or a series of

  • Thierry de Cordier

    Thierry De Cordier has produced a number of works that illustrate the manner in which quotation may be used to initiate a dialogue with the spectator. Throughout this exhibition, De Cordier refers, both implicitly and explicitly, to the work of James Ensor, René Magritte, Marcel Broodthaers, and others. These artists rejected simple classification; any finite evaluation of their work still proves to be illusory. Similarly, De Cordier’s work seems both historically-based and utterly contemporary.

    For L’egale de dieu (God’s equal, 1988–89), which stood in the center of the gallery, De Cordier

  • Jean Marc Bustamente

    Jean Marc Bustamente presented here a series of works structured around the notion of the game, or play. Each of the six works (all are untitled, 1989) is organized according to a set of rules. It is in the transgression of these rules that Bustamente alters the parameters within which the works are perceived.

    Four pieces were on view in the large gallery. Similar in their uses of color (orange) and material (steel), all four employ strategies of both painting and sculpture. Each plays with notions of depth, scale, and perspective. In one work, a rectangular box of painted orange steel is bisected