Michael Wilson

  • Laurent Grasso

    A sonic slab of rumbling bass can imbue almost anything with an aura of mystical portent. Artists know this as well as anyone, and the French Conceptualist Laurent Grasso pulled out all the stops for his 2018 video OttO to lend an awe-inspiring quality to his portrayal of sacred sites. Commissioned for the Twenty-First Biennale of Sydney—and produced in consultation with the Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation and the community of Yuendumu in Australia’s Northern Territory—OttO arrived with all the right stamps of approval. Yet it felt, if not actively exploitative, then deeply superficial.

  • “Early Snow: Michael Snow 1947–1962”

    Curated by James King

    Having established a reputation with his series “Walking Woman” (1961–67) before effectively birthing structuralist film with 1967’s Wavelength (described by Manny Farber in these pages as “probably the most rigorously composed movie in existence”), Michael Snow has produced a large and diverse body of work that still casts a long shadow. Devoted to the lesser-known first fifteen years of the artist’s visual practice (he was originally a professional jazz musician), this exhibition surveys the ninety-one-year-old Canadian’s output during his formative years in Toronto, before

  • Samuel Levi Jones

    The art of Samuel Levi Jones is one of wholesale material reconstitution, in which the artist physically deconstructs conceptually and emotionally loaded objects to the point of abstraction. He presents his quasi-painterly remakings as metaphors for the cut and thrust between warring—or, perhaps, just differing—perspectives on the social and the artistic. His creative alchemy doesn’t have the narrative complexity of, say, Dario Robleto’s, as Jones is more concerned with a consistent and easily digestible look and feel—he doesn’t strike one as somebody who eagerly dives into the rabbit holes of

  • Nicolás Guagnini

    If, as Nicolás Guagnini opines in the set of notes that accompanied “Asociación Psicoanalítica Argentina” (Argentine Psychoanalytic Association)—his third solo exhibition at Bortolami—“all paranoia begins in the ear,” then his cast of characters must be a nervy one indeed. In the artist’s glazed ceramic figurines, the organ of hearing is often swollen to cartoonish proportions. Sometimes it’s also repeated over and over again in individual works, echoing itself at the expense of other facial features. But one doesn’t get the sense that auditory sensitivity has been enhanced by this mutation;

  • Andrea Geyer

    For many viewers, the 35-mm slide projectors of Andrea Geyer’s Feeding the Ghost (all works 2019) evoked darkened college seminar rooms. Her use of multiple such devices was entirely consistent with the studious tone that they connote. In fact, Geyer’s project, shown as an installation at Hales Gallery, was originally presented as a performance lecture at Manhattan’s Dia Art Foundation in October 2018. It consisted of several functioning but empty projectors—some perched on stands, others teetering atop stacks of books—surrounded by wooden tables and chairs. It also featured an audio recording

  • diary May 07, 2019

    Brain Frieze

    THE PURE WHITE TENT of Frieze New York is all too readily seen as a temple to the quasi-religion of contemporary art’s makers and markets, so it made a kind of sense that at least one of its satellite events took place in an actual church. Presented by avant designer Grace Wales Bonner at the rigorously modernist Saint Peter’s Church in midtown Manhattan, last Thursday’s Devotional Sound evening continued the concert series organized by Serpentine Galleries that was inaugurated at London’s Saint John’s Church this past January. Framed as an accompaniment to Wales Bonner’s Serpentine exhibition,

  • N. Dash

    The comfort blanket, or “transitional object”—transitional because it typically accompanies an intermediate developmental phase—is most commonly associated with early childhood, but the adjustment period extends into adult life with striking frequency. A 2010 survey conducted by the British budget hotel chain Travelodge found that 35 percent of England’s adults still slept with a teddy bear. The phenomenon shades easily into grown-up fetishism, too—think of Frank Booth’s masochistic use of a well-loved scrap of fabric in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986). So while the small pieces of white cotton

  • David Robilliard

    WELCOME TO MY OPENING. Outwardly polite, the announcement takes on a cheeky second meaning when rendered by the late British artist and poet David Robilliard. Daubed in childlike dirty-yellow capital letters on a small framed sheet of paper, it ushered us into his first New York solo exhibition in nearly thirty years and immersed us in the queer London milieu that he inhabited throughout most of the 1980s. Championed by Gilbert and George, who anointed him “the new master of the modern person,” Robilliard pursued a disarming combination of image and text that found its most distinctive expression

  • Davina Semo

    Davina Semo’s sculptures have an unvarnished quality that can make them tough to love. Of course, she’s well aware of this condition, and based on the evidence of “ALL THE WORLD,” her solo exhibition at Marlborough Contemporary, she’s not much inclined to alter it. The artist’s stated aim is to reflect the present-day urban environment with all its awkward disjunction and waste, so the objects she engineers are supposed to be visually grating. But they come up short—the patina of modish roughness combined with an attempt at a refreshing honesty feels a little too stage-managed for (dis)comfort.

  • Helen Mirra

    “In the context of this exhibition, there will be backwards walkings every morning the week of 5 November.” Those familiar with the oeuvre of Helen Mirra will recognize this odd announcement—appended as a note to the show’s mostly blank press release—as entirely consistent with a life and practice for which the act of walking (backward or otherwise) has long played a crucial role. (On the artist’s website, she dubs herself a “walking experiment.”) For Mirra, as for Stanley Brouwn, Douglas Huebler, and a handful of other artists before her, this routine, while outwardly simple and repetitive,

  • Olga Chernysheva

    City dwellers are able to shield themselves from the hell of other people with little more than a pair of earbuds and a scowl. Their psychic defenses must be honed to perfection, and any opportunity for privacy, however brief or restricted, must be seized without hesitation. Being from Moscow, Olga Chernysheva understands this condition; the artist’s quiet but affecting new paintings and drawings focus on men and women who are at once caught up in the flow of a busy urban center and at pains to detach themselves from it, even as everyone else is doing the same thing.

    Chernysheva’s “Autoradio,”

  • “GILBERT & GEORGE: THE GREAT EXHIBITION (1971–2016)”

    Curated by Daniel Birnbaum and Hans Ulrich Obrist

    Subtitled with characteristic modesty—and a nod to the epochal London Expo of 1851—this full-bore touring retrospective samples some five decades of Gilbert & George’s work. Embracing everything from the duo’s earliest forays into their now long-established gridded-and-tinted photo format, such as 1977’s Bent Shit Cunt, to their recent “THE BEARD PICTURES” series, 2015–16, curators Birnbaum and Obrist survey the living sculptures’ factory-like output in the run-up to the 2020 opening of their private museum in London. While reliably

  • Urs Fischer

    For those of us who work in offices, the very sight of a swivel chair can be enough to launch a raft of anxieties. So the sight of nine of them, seemingly gifted with independent life and, worse still, attempting to interact with viewers like something out of Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1940), was uniquely alarming. For his installation PLAY, 2018, Urs Fischer worked with artist and choreographer Madeline Hollander—plus a crew of animators and programmers—to produce furniture that wheels around the gallery, responding to body heat and motion in such a way that the viewer and

  • Glen Fogel

    On the day my parents moved out of the London house in which I grew up—I was in my twenties and had already moved away for college, but still thought of it as home—I realized with a jolt that I had precious little documentation of the place. In something close to panic, I grabbed my camcorder and made a rapid, tearful circuit of the place, by then mostly stripped of furniture and other belongings, but still infused with years of memories. I may still have the tape somewhere; I’ve certainly never watched it.

    To make the multichannel video With You . . . Me, 2014–18, the centerpiece of

  • Peter Fischli

    “Two different types of glue have been used: wallpaper glue and white wood glue. All sculptures and pedestals have been painted first with a mixture of indoor emulsion paint and champagne chalk. Additional layers of color were applied using acrylic, silicate paint, gouache, or enamel, and in this way a variety of surface effects, patinas, and sculptural looks have been achieved.” The resolutely deadpan style of the press release for Peter Fischli’s debut exhibition here (a version of the show was installed at the gallery’s sister location in Los Angeles earlier this year), with its steadfast

  • Andreas Slominski

    High on the list of a novice art lover’s mistakes must surely be wandering into a Chelsea gallery and asking to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, the portable toilets installed by Andreas Slominski in his recent exhibition at Metro Pictures did not function in the conventional sense—unless some gutsy viewer decided to take a tip from Jackson Pollock, who, during the 1943 unveiling of his commissioned painting Mural, notoriously urinated in Peggy Guggenheim’s fireplace—so a full-bladdered visitor’s needs likely remained unresolved.

    Slominski’s fourth exhibition at the gallery suggested a punchy

  • diary July 06, 2018

    Breathe In

    “STOP TALKING.”

    “Stop talking.”

    “Stop talking.”

    “No, really, stop talking.”

    Unusually for an auctioneer—albeit a very part-time one—White Columns director and chief curator Matthew Higgs isn’t one to raise his voice. And his English wit is sufficiently dry that American ears often have difficulty in distinguishing a genuine word from an ironic one. So it took him a few attempts to convince the crowd at the nonprofit institution’s recent benefit auction that his characteristically affectless request was meant to be taken seriously. Eventually, however, things settled down and bidding on

  • Cyprien Gaillard

    “I was born a lo-ser.” Whether indicative of a profound lack of self-esteem or of an unflinching fatalism, this wrenching declaration loops throughout the first three acts of Cyprien Gaillard’s 3-D film Nightlife, which made its American debut at Gladstone Gallery this spring. (It was first released in Europe in 2015.) Sampled from Alton Ellis’s 1969 rocksteady single “Blackman’s Word,” which itself sampled the line from Derrick Harriott’s 1967 track “The Loser,” the keening vocal is immersed in a fuzzy dub pulse that makes for a suitably hypnotic accompaniment to the film’s oneiric visuals. In

  • diary May 15, 2018

    Bad Madeleines

    IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (primary school to this Brit), when candy was currency, anyone who showed up with some new or unusual confection ruled the roost—at least until the prize was shared, stickily, among a dozen instant mates or wolfed down defensively by its owner. So it was particularly impressive when a classmate arrived one Monday morning with three never-before-seen treats. The brands were familiar, but the bars themselves were prototypes—experimental trial runs for yet-to-be-released products. To our sugar-addled minds, they were gold. The source of the bounty? A parent’s visit to a food

  • picks April 27, 2018

    Anne Collier

    Jerry: “What is this salty discharge?”

    Elaine: “Oh my god, you’re crying.”

    Jerry: “This is horrible. I care!

    Jerry Seinfeld’s puzzlement at his own tears in this snippet from his “show about nothing” offers a reminder that crying is still too often dismissed as a feminine weakness, a marker of emotional release that men are supposed to find embarrassing. In the midcentury romance comics that Anne Collier excerpts in her new photographic series, “Crying (Comic)” and “Tears (Comic)” (both 2018), we understand with very little context that the “salty discharge” depicted comes from the eye of a