Michael Wilson

  • Steve McQueen

    It was the ultimate curatorial head-scratcher: Assemble a portfolio of images to represent to aliens what life is like on Earth. Addressing an unknowable audience, a team of NASA researchers, chaired by astronomer, educator, and author Carl Sagan, set themselves this unusual brief back in 1977. More recently, their choices—which are still hurtling through space aboard the Voyager II probe—formed the basis of British artist Steve McQueen’s Once upon a Time, 2002. Seventy minutes long, this slow-motion computer-simulated slide dissolve of all 116 well-traveled pictures reveals a fascinating time

  • Stephen Vitiello

    In Stephen Vitiello’s World Trade Center Recordings: Winds After Hurricane Floyd, 1999–2002, developed during a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council residency, the eerie creaks emitted by the twin towers as they swayed in the breeze recall the tortured contractions of a sixteenth-century galleon as much as the constrained flexing of a modern skyscraper. And while the work’s emotional impact has undoubtedly been amplified by the buildings’ fate, it does not depend on that catastrophe for its continued resonance. For if recording sound might be considered a rather passive method of observational

  • diary March 16, 2005

    Beers for Peers

    New York

    The opening of P.S. 1’s locals-only megasurvey “Greater New York 2005” marked the climax of a protracted and, for some, rather fraught selection procedure. Doleful also-rans nursing lukewarm beers in P.S. 1’s courtyard reported having had up to five studio visits with the show’s curators and still not making the cut; others complained of having had their initial invitations to participate humiliatingly revoked. Some of those who did secure a spot on the roster were not informed of their inclusion until mid-February and were then asked to make new work in time for the opening. Even the official

  • Jesper Just

    It begins with a ringing phone. A middle-aged man picks up the receiver and begins, not the expected conversation, but a delicately sung duet with a much younger man on the other end of the line. Their facial expressions are difficult to read and their performances are highly mannered, but the exchange is obviously charged with emotion. The strangeness of the episode is amplified by its details: The protagonists are not only seated within earshot of each other in the same dimly lit club lounge but also surrounded by other men, each sitting by his own phone and apparently awaiting a similar call.

  • Adam McEwen

    “History is a Perpetual Virgin endlessly and repeatedly Deflowered by successive generations of Fucking Liars.” One hell of a title, so it’s doubly unfortunate that the exhibition it was appended to, British artist Adam McEwen’s New York solo debut, was neither as analytically incisive nor as bullishly confrontational as the hard-boiled moniker implied. Instead, McEwen served up a warmed-over selection of conceptual witticisms that, while slickly executed and superficially appealing, ultimately settled into a holding pattern of comfortable irony and self-satisfied gimmickry. It was the kind of

  • Gabriel Vormstein

    In a startlingly literal attempt to connect his works and anchor them to their context, Gabriel Vormstein, in his recent New York debut at Casey Kaplan, went so far as to bind his delicate paintings together with wire and dot the gallery floor with rocks. With just a handful of exhibition appearances to his name, the young Berlin-based artist is sufficiently inexperienced that the gesture might have signaled a lack of confidence were it not consistent with a lyrical aesthetic informed by a web of cultural references, chief among them the material experiments of arte povera.

    In giving this show

  • “Universal Experience: Art, Life, and the Tourist's Eye”

    “So sorry to hear that you are still not over us. Come back to Vietnam for closure!” It’s estimated that, by 2010, the number of people who travel internationally will reach one billion, but, as Dinh Q. Lê’s sardonic poster implies, the relationship between traveler and destination remains unsettled. This show aims to illuminate our mediated interaction with the wider world, exploring the complexities of the tourist attraction. Bonami, who contributes to the accompanying catalogue-cum-guidebook, leads us through the work of some seventy disparate artists, from Kyoichi

  • Dionysiac: Art in Flux

    The French have an unmatched record when it comes to wine and women (if not, perhaps, also to song), so this uninhibited celebration of devil-may-care excess and subversive laughter is opening in exactly the right place. With work by fourteen international artists including Thomas Hirschhorn, Fabrice Hyber, Keith Tyson, Paul McCarthy, and ubiquitous prankster Maurizio Cattelan, the show aims to evoke the hedonistic spirit of the ancient Greek deity by way of mostly brand-new installations, films, performance, and a sound room. Oh, and a conference. In addition to

  • Ricci Albenda

    The loose-knit French literary/mathematical collective OULIPO (l’Ouvroir de la littérature potentielle, or Workshop of Potential Literature) applied a variety of constraints to the composition of poetry, drama, and fiction in an effort to investigate the outer limits of language. Among the bizarre products of their rigorous approach are cofounder Raymond Queneau’s book Cent mille milliards de poèmes (1961)—which contains ten pages each split into fourteen strips, one for each line of text, that allow the reader (in theory at least) to construct the hundred trillion poems of the title—and

  • Brian Calvin

    An unofficial poll conducted on the opening night of painter Brian Calvin’s New York solo debut found several visitors prefacing their responses with an identical qualifier: “I wanted to like it, but . . . ” This raises a couple of questions: Why were so many so eager to buy into the hype surrounding this laid-back Californian, and why were they so disappointed? An appreciation of Calvin’s work has always depended on a tolerance for what the gallery’s press release terms “bi-dimensionality”—a flatly undemonstrative mode in which very little “happens” and ambiguity of mood and meaning

  • James Rielly

    Death Makes Living Fun; We See a Darkness; In the Darkness Let Me Dwell: To judge from British painter James Rielly’s self-consciously maudlin titles, the music of downbeat singer-songwriter Will Oldham, aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy, has been in heavy rotation on his stereo over the past year or so. But just as there is humor (albeit avowedly dark) and even an occasional glimmer of optimism to be found in Oldham’s lyrics, so Rielly’s canvases are not all doom and gloom. In fact, an overdependence on the sight gag ultimately proves to be their undoing, overshadowing the graver aspects of the painter’s

  • diary November 19, 2004

    Artists Only

    New York

    Touted as the “artists’” evening, Tuesday’s reception at the Museum of Modern Art’s revamped midtown digs also boasted scores of curators, dealers, and collectors, with gallerist Gavin Brown being the first to flip a roving Artforum paparazzo the bird. But while Creative Time curator Peter Eleey reported having overheard architect Yoshio Taniguchi’s atrium blithely condemned as “Japanese Fascist,” most attendees basked contentedly in the expanded schmoozing arena. The installation received mixed notices, with the contemporary wing in particular felt by many to be padded with mediocre work (though

  • “Curious Crystals of Unusual Purity”

    Gratuitous references to the seventeenth-century wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, are a recent curatorial and art-historical touchstone, so Bob Nickas and Steve Lafreniere’s decision to build an exhibition around the idea hardly came from left field, and promised, well, nothing in particular. So it was fortunate that their title, borrowed from a song by English folk balladeer Bridget St. John, was considerably more evocative, augmenting this most open-ended of structural models by suggesting a methodology—formally investigative—and a mood—awestruck—well suited to what emerged as a rangy

  • “Just Pathetic”

    In the ’90s stretch of a time line featured in the handy primer Art Since 1960, the steady march of mini-movements—YBA, “art post-medium,” “live art,” “context art”—is rudely interrupted by an upstart newcomer, “abject/slacker art.” As the volume’s author, Michael Archer, plots it, the tendency first showed up at the butt end of the ’80s and burned out by about ’96, though the influence of its lax affect is felt still. Centered stylistically around a shabby-chic variant of Pop, abject art marked a transition (at least in the art world) from the ’80s careerism of American Psycho (Bret Easton

  • Cerith Wyn Evans

    “I’m interested in evoking polyphony, superimposition, layers, levels, the occluded and the visibility of the mask,” remarks Cerith Wyn Evans on his commitment to an uncommonly erudite artistic practice. This first American museum survey features about fifteen objects and installations and a new project to be shown concurrently at the MIT List Visual Arts Center.

    “I’m interested in evoking polyphony, superimposition, layers, levels, the occluded and the visibility of the mask,” remarks Cerith Wyn Evans on his commitment to an uncommonly erudite artistic practice. A former assistant to director Derek Jarman, Wyn Evans completed several experimental films before returning to sculpture in the ’90s. Employing fireworks, mirrors, and neon—and notably commissioning a remake of Brion Gysin’s “Dreamachine”—he investigates the phenomenology of language and perception with a romantic touch. Wyn Evans has achieved recognition in Europe and Japan but is rarely seen

  • Formalism: Modern Art, Today

    Tracing the legacy of modernism through the work of young artists—Tomma Abts, Carol Bove, David Lieske, and Cathy Wilkes, among others—“Formalism” follows up the Kunstverein’s 2002 foray into institutional critique.

    “After all, is it so bad? What is it anyway? Nobody knows.” One suspects that Matthew Collings’s bafflement at the power of formalism might be resolved by this survey of the territory currently shared by aesthetes and conceptualists. Tracing the legacy of modernism through the work of young artists—Tomma Abts, Carol Bove, David Lieske, and Cathy Wilkes, among others—“Formalism” follows up the Kunstverein’s 2002 foray into institutional critique. A comparatively subdued evocation of theoretical-historical bugbears, this show argues for a chummier relationship between style and content. The

  • Joe Andoe

    “All of us had police records, some more than me. But still, before I was sixteen, I got busted for acid and was put in jail over night on two hits of it. Then I got arrested for driving under-age and had to work at the zoo. At sixteen I got a car that I totaled and went on to total three more and was charged with DWI, DUI, and reckless driving and busted for drugs three more times before I was done being a teenager.”

    New York painter Joe Andoe’s confessional short story “Out on the Perimeter” (2004), reproduced as an introductory wall text, set the stage for a collection of suitably rough-hewn

  • Glenn Brown

    As an appropriationist painter whose technique is as close to perfect as one could imagine, the challenge for Glenn Brown has often been simply to choose the most interesting source material. And while he has emphasized the extent to which he manipulates rather than merely reproduces his selections, he has yet to unveil a genuinely radical act of transformation. That this is Brown’s first solo exhibition in New York comes as something of a surprise—after all, he’s been on the YBA list since it was first typed up—but this show ultimately points to an artist happy to remain comfortably within a

  • Olafur Eliasson

    Olafur Eliasson’s radiant Weather Project, which transformed Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall last year, rightly landed on more than one of Artforum’s “Best of 2003” lists and prompted Daniel Birnbaum to declare the rebirth of the sublime.

    Olafur Eliasson’s radiant Weather Project, which transformed Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall last year, rightly landed on more than one of Artforum’s “Best of 2003” lists and prompted Daniel Birnbaum to declare the rebirth of the sublime. Meteorological elements—light, heat, moisture—have long been Eliasson’s tools and inspiration. From his emergence in the late ’80s to his inclusion in the 2003 Venice Biennale, the artist has introduced everything from rainbows to lava into the insulated space of the gallery. The first museum survey of his photographic work displays serial

  • Piotr Uklanski

    Dividing his time among New York, Warsaw, and Paris, the Polish-born artist consistently interrogates the boundary between art and entertainment while experimenting across sculpture, photography, collage, performances, and film.

    Readers who have propped up the bar at Passerby, Gavin Brown’s hip New York lounge, are familiar with Piotr Uklanski’s Dance Floor, 1996, a heady blend of Minimalist aesthetics and maximalist good times that illuminates the space from underneath. Dividing his time among New York, Warsaw, and Paris, the Polish-born artist consistently interrogates the boundary between art and entertainment while experimenting across sculpture, photography, collage, performance, and film. Best known for his controversial series of images culled from American and European