Michael Wilson

  • picks September 24, 2002

    Jim Shaw

    If Kenneth Noland had ever sat down with Brigham Young, together they might have arrived at something like Jim Shaw’s puritanical doctrine of “O-ism.” Centered around an anonymous female deity and a ban on representational painting, this absurdist fictitious religion provides Shaw with a new angle from which to approach the mythology of the Great American Artist. His installation at the Swiss Institute visualizes the dilemma of forgotten O-ist painter Adam O. Goodman, a man of abstraction forced, in violation of his aesthetic and spiritual convictions, to work as an illustrator. “The Goodman

  • picks September 12, 2002

    Michael Joo

    Perched atop a series of plinths that occupy the center of Anton Kern Gallery’s barnlike interior, the vaguely threatening figures of fifty plasticine coyotes announce the departure of Michael Joo’s latest expedition to the land of weird science. Their collective title, The Pack, a nod to Beuys, is consistent with Joo’s interest in shamanism and suggests the intersection of spirituality and anthropology with more formal concerns. The combination of prosthetic teeth and tongues with the animals’ more patently unnatural fur pulls us in two directions at once, clearing a space for interpretation

  • 1000 WORDS: OLIVER PAYNE AND NICK RELPH

    Short-listed for this year’s Beck’s Futures award, British filmmaking duo Oliver Payne and Nick Relph put their prize money straight to work. The result is Mixtape, 2002, twenty minutes of “wild, trance-inducing loops” designed to infect viewers with humor and headaches alike. Structured around Terry Riley’s mesmerizing Motown cutup “You’re No Good,” the film weaves a set of tangentially related vignettes into footage of a teenage hardcore band’s spasmodic writhing. As the title suggests, it is an idiosyncratic compilation of perfect moments or, as Relph offers with a chuckle, “a really good

  • picks August 09, 2002

    “Mexico City: An Exhibition about the Exchange Rates of Bodies and Values”

    “Mexico City: An Exhibition about the Exchange Rates of Bodies and Values”

    Just as contemporary Mexican society is characterized by extreme economic polarization, so its art is colored by a heightened awareness of status and overshadowed by the threat of its violent transgression. In this context, Daniela Rossell’s photographs of her conspicuously well-heeled family friends may be asking for trouble. Miguel Calderón and Yoshua Okon’s video of themselves breaking into parked cars ushers the viewer into similarly ambiguous moral territory. Exactly who is the criminal here, and who is the victim? it seems, is the question. Ivan Edeza may have fuzzed up his black-market

  • picks June 27, 2002

    “Sunday Afternoon”

    “Sunday Afternoon”

    The noise is mechanical yet human, familiar yet difficult to place: a regular, hypnotic metallic rattle that turns out to be the sound of a stick being dragged along a fence in Francis Alÿs’s two-track video loop Time is a Trick of the Mind, 1998. Like many of the actions performed, recorded, or alluded to in this exhibition, it is simple yet unending—a modest, semiprivate gesture writ unavoidably large. Alluding to personal and religious ritual, to the routines of work and the working-through of ideas, Patricia Martin’s cross-generational assembly of the art of repetition bears multiple viewings.

  • picks June 27, 2002

    “Remarks on Color”

    “Remarks on Color”

    This elegantly staged exhibition takes its title from Gary Hill’s 1994 video, which is in turn named for Wittgenstein’s classic investigative text. As Hill’s young daughter reads the philosopher’s words out loud, struggling valiantly with their elliptical complexities, we are reminded that color may be both a subject of serious study and joyously beyond reason, at once hermetic and seductive. Joseph Kosuth plays on the conceptual end of the subject in his neon text No Number #16 (On Color/Red), 1989, which reads “IF I EXPECT TO SEE RED, THEN I PREPARE MYSELF FOR RED.” Callum Innes and Dan Flavin

  • picks May 24, 2002

    Maurizio Cattelan

    Maurizio Cattelan

    Today, to function as a kind of neorealist working in a geographically and culturally specific context but thriving in a global art world takes some luck—but, more importantly, it takes an understanding of what is geographically topical. Maurizio Cattelan possesses both. Where his installation of Pope John Paul II struck down by a meteorite, La Nona Ora (The ninth hour), 2000, seemed quaintly Old World (or Italian) a couple of years ago, it seems presciently American in today’s climate, with the Catholic church embroiled in a major sex scandal. Cattelan’s latest piece, Frank & Jamie, 2002, a

  • picks May 09, 2002

    Roe Ethridge

    Roe Ethridge

    Roe Ethridge compares the structure of his new series of photographs, “The Bow‚” 2002, to that of a monthly magazine with a list of regular sections, a unifying theme, and a lead story. It certainly seems like a decent working model for a show, suggesting both a consciously and clearly designed arrangement and a casual mode of looking. The cover, of course, is graced by the artist himself, pictured with a very real yet perfectly black eye suffered while rock-climbing at Montauk Point. The rest is a hodgepodge of pigeons in flight, bucolic country landscapes, and an oceangoing cargo ship subjected

  • picks May 08, 2002

    Julião Sarmento

    Julião Sarmento

    A book lies open across a young woman’s bare legs; two snails wrap themselves around each other in a glistening mass; a car idles outside an anonymous house: The images that make up Julião Sarmento’s slide installation Flashback, 1999, appear at first to be a free-floating selection of snapshots and cutouts. On closer scrutiny, however, it becomes evident that they possess a subtle yet deliberate erotic charge, which slowly reveals itself as the sequence unfolds to the accompaniment of a languorous pop sound track by Arto Lindsay. Along the way, we glimpse a small universe of sensation in which

  • picks May 07, 2002

    Gabriel Kuri

    Gabriel Kuri

    The most outwardly modest of Gabriel Kuri’s recent works also proves to be the most affecting. In this exhibition, an artificial bush peeks through an opening in a high-tech silver foil emergency blanket, while plastic bunting overflows from a battered, splattered wheelbarrow and a sheet of yellowing newsprint is held to the wall by a multicolored constellation of pins (all works Untitled, 2002). Incongruous juxtapositions of commonplace objects, these improvised sculptural sketches elude strict conceptual logic, aligning themselves instead with a poetic lineage running from arte povera through

  • picks May 07, 2002

    Thomas Struth

    Thomas Struth

    The disinterested stance and steady gaze of Bernd and Hiller Becher, Thomas Struth’s mentors at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, remains as indelibly apparent in his work as in that of former fellow students Andreas Gursky and Thomas Ruff. Five interior views of Berlin’s Pergamon museum form the latest additions to Struth’s ongoing museums project, begun in 1989. Built to house a reconstructed altar dating from the second century BC, this institution’s monolithic juxtapositions of the very old and the very new are made all the more striking by the deadpan veracity of Struth's images. Unlike many

  • picks March 08, 2002

    Karen Kilimnik

    Karen Kilimnik

    Sometimes it feels as if the world has gone Kilimnik. A collection of snapshots of a snowy Central Park ringed by horse-drawn carriages captures just such a moment, making for a perfect introduction to the artist’s seventh solo outing at 303 Gallery. While visitors to the Armory Show were treated to her willfully unreliable guide to contemporary New York in the catalogue, here Kilimnik reaches into the city’s past for inspiration. Five sugary mock-Impressionist cityscapes are credited to a fin-de-siècle alter ego but remain distinguishable from the real deal by their slippery surfaces. The rest

  • picks February 26, 2002

    Simon Starling

    Simon Starling

    British artist Simon Starling takes the legacy of modernism as his raw material, appropriating and reworking objects of established significance in such a way that their functionality is altered and the complexity of their origins and references exposed. Inverted Retrograde Theme, USA (House for a Songbird), 2002, is a topsy-turvy homage to modular systems developed by two Austrian émigrés: architect Simon Schmiderer and composer Arnold Schönberg. Built in Puerto Rico in the 1960s, Schmiderer’s concrete houses were technologically innovative, but their open-plan design left them vulnerable during

  • picks February 25, 2002

    Saint Clair Cemin

    Saint Clair Cemin at Cheim & Read

    Employing a near-schizophrenic range of media, techniques, styles, and scales, Saint Clair Cemin takes the birth of his daughter as the starting point for a new series of sculptures. Collectively titled “The Mind,” these are in fact very far from an overly intellectual conceptualization of the event in question. Rather than illustrating the processes of growth and learning, Cemin seeks to embody them in the idiosyncratic shapes and hand-crafted surfaces of his work. Though Cemin writes about his own art with a wearisome earnestness (his statement is brief but demands considerable patience),

  • picks February 25, 2002

    Stephen Vitiello

    New Work by Stephen Vitiello

    New York sound artist Stephen Vitiello may have a hi-fi geek’s love of equipment (this is the only exhibition I know of in which a Moogerfooger ring modulator plays a critical role), but fortunately he’s not too precious about it. In fact, several of the works here are based around acts of violence committed against stereo components and vinyl albums, not to mention the eardrums of the audience. As if in inverted homage to Robert Morris’s Box with the Sound of its Own Making, 1962, Vitiello takes an ax, a canon, and a bow and arrow to his speakers and treats us to the recorded sounds of their

  • picks February 21, 2002

    Munro Galloway

    Munro Galloway

    The heavy, sweet aroma of innocence is perhaps not the first thing one expects to come wafting down the hall from the open entrance of a gallery, but Munro Galloway's current exhibition, “The Floating World,” is a truly mystical experience with all the trimmings. The fragrance in question emanates from three portly, laughing Buddhas, each one surrounded with fresh lotus petals. Cast in resin and inflated with an admixture of assorted cure-alls, including Tylenol, ecstasy, ginseng, and vitamin C, Everything Goes Up in Smoke, 2001, encapsulates the chemical nausea of the culture clash between East

  • picks January 16, 2002

    Guy Richards Smit

    Guy Richards Smit at Team

    “I’m shaking hands like a pro yo / both at group shows and solos / and my jaw is a wreck / from talking, smiling, and cheap blow.” Guy Richards Smit’s Passerby, 2001–2002, named for Gavin Brown’s bar, is a tough-cute promo for a pop song about the collapse of the New York art market. Thoroughly immersed in the milieu they parody, Smit’s videos transmit a classically adolescent fusion of ironic cool with the near-hysterical desire for acceptance. Zoë Come Home, 2001, assigns each of his group’s five members their own individual screen, uniting them in their alienation from both self and scene.

  • picks January 16, 2002

    Clara Williams

    Clara Williams's Panoramic Sculpture

    Clara Williams finds an effective second use for a few of those surplus Christmas trees recently discarded in “Something Like This,” her first solo show in New York. In a gallery heaped with Styrofoam snow and furtively occupied by small stuffed animals, Williams conjures a pared-down winter panorama. Modeled after Edouard Castres’s sweeping 1881 panorama L'Arrivée de l'armée de General Bourbaki, her transformation of a nondescript interior is equal parts natural history museum and tableau vivant. Wandering past the cliffs and ridges, peering into the glassy eyes of raccoons, weasels, and small

  • picks January 16, 2002

    Jonathan Monk

    Jonathan Monk at Casey Kaplan

    “1. The artist may construct the piece. 2. The piece may be fabricated. 3. The piece may not be built. (Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.)” Lawrence Weiner’s classic credo from 1968 is perhaps familiar to the point of invisibility, but its inclusion here is more unexpected. Each letter of the text is perched atop the head of a figure in an anonymous group photograph, introducing Jonathan Monk’s preoccupation with combining the names and strategies of Conceptual art with an endearing

  • picks January 10, 2002

    Kristin Oppenheim

    Kristin Oppenheim's Black Sabbath Karaoke

    It does the heart good, especially at this time of year, to walk into a gallery and see half a dozen small children in silver dresses whirling around the room to the overamped rumble of Kristin Oppenheim’s Black Sabbath. Even if it’s not exactly the band we know and love but rather a haunting, high-energy tribute, this death disco described as a “theatrical light-sound installation,” consisting of no more additional input than strobe lighting, the artist’s karaoke vocals, and an assortment of ominous special effects offers scant satisfaction to those (surely a precious few?) not enamored of