Michael Wilson

  • 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

  • picks December 17, 2001

    Knut Åsdam

    Åsdam Explores the Psychopolitics of the City

    Informed by the notion of “psychastenia,” a dynamics of subjectivity and space derived from french critic Roger Callois's eccentric theories about insect camouflage, New York-based Norwegian Knut Åsdam presents a meandering exploration of the political and psychological space of the city. Contained and concealed by two black tent-like structures are a trio of installations in which Åsdam marshals slides, video, and sound to evoke a complex pattern of influence haunted by the ghosts of Paris ’68. The themes and aesthetic of Notes Towards a Dissipation of Desire, 2001, Cluster Praxis, 2000, and

  • picks December 07, 2001

    “Widely Unknown”

    A Work in Chaos at Deitch Projects

    “Widely Unkown” is exactly the kind of show that looks best in Jeffrey Deitch’s rough-cut Grand Street barn. Chaotic, flawed, very much a work in progress, it oozes the same strain of infectious energy as last year’s “Street Market” exhibition. The dozen artists included here work with a wide variety of themes and approaches; perhaps the most intriguing are those of buZ Blurr and Bill Daniel. Blurr, a “rail/mail artist,” has spent the past three decades marking railroad boxcars with an enigmatic combination of image and text. Daniel’s atmospheric film installation The Girl on the Train in the

  • picks December 07, 2001

    Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg

    A Sideways Glance at Recent Art

    Brooklyn-based duo Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg have been collaborating since 1987, but their practice retains a lively and endearing eclecticism. On view in this show are three new works, the most striking of which is 40.744829, -074.006484 (all works 2001). Taking its title from the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates of the gallery, this sprawling installation comprises a thousand handmade pillows. Modeled into a rough crater and extending into every nook and cranny of the main space, it forms a witty, domestic take on Earthworks and scatter sculpture. Show and Tell (Naked and

  • picks October 31, 2001

    Jeremy Blake

    • The Gelatinous Fantastic

    The narrative that Jeremy Blake employs to introduce his new DVD projections is necessarily convoluted. At the entrance to the gallery, a suite of drawings tells the story of fictional mod architect “Slick” Rhoades who, banished from his native England for demolishing a castle in order to construct a home for “stylish vampires,” arrives in California to realize a vision of the future. This tale helps Blake’s still-experimental methodology, preventing his flowing animations—gelatinous, digitally-animated textures and shapes—from becoming too indulgently wayward or ornamental. Aiming for a hypnotic,

  • picks October 22, 2001

    Miroslaw Balka

    • Miroslaw Balka at Gladstone

    In the wake of September 11, Miroslaw Balka’s new work takes on added significance. The artist’s preoccupations with history and death find formal expression here in a suite of austere and elegant installations. Adhering to a spare and muted palette, Balka employs a variety of materials—water, salt, soap—that possess a symbolic resonance rooted in his Catholic upbringing in Poland. Their quiet solemnity demands that we approach them, if not with reverence, then at least in a patient and reflective mood. The use of two sounds—footsteps echoing through a gas chamber in the concentration camp at

  • picks October 22, 2001

    Jason Middlebrook

    • A Sedimentation of the Museum

    If dystopian novelist J.G. Ballard had been a model-railway enthusiast, he might have arrived at a vision of the future something like that of Jason Middlebrook. In a series of unnervingly gleeful drawings and sculptures, this Brooklyn-based artist lays waste to four important museums. Scale models of the Guggenheim Bilbao, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Getty Center, and the Tate Modern are depicted covered with graffiti, strangled by weeds, and strewn with rubble. The prediction is clear and uncontestable: Buildings, art, the reputations of the contemporary great and good—all will

  • picks October 04, 2001

    Oliver Payne and Nick Relph

    • Payne and Relph's Rough-Hewn Beauty

    Oliver Payne failed his degree course at Kingston University. Nick Relph went one better and actually got kicked out. Since then, the young British duo has gone from strength to strength. Their American debut, “Essential Selection,” presents three rough-hewn but ravishing videos. Driftwood, 1999, is their impassioned take on the physical and psychic terrain of contemporary London as mapped by Iain Sinclair and Patrick Keiller, from the lycanthropic youth who coat the city with graffiti to the lingering ghosts of old Soho. The grimly funny Jungle, 2001, sees them take a trip to the not-so-great

  • picks October 04, 2001

    Ree Morton

    • Ree Morton's Homemade Aesthetics

    While Ree Morton considered her transition from nurse, Navy wife, and mother of three to artist a feminist gesture, her work was never didactic. In a career cut short by a fatal car accident at the age of forty one, just as it was starting to blossom in the 1970s, Morton helped put personal history and the decorative impulse on the map as credible ingredients in contemporary art practice. This rare, beguiling show includes Bozeman, Montana, 1974, Morton’s first experiment with the resinlike material Celastic, and a series of studies and maquettes leading up to her 1976 magnum opus Signs of Love.

  • picks September 28, 2001

    Francis Cape

    • Francis Cape's Magical Realism

    Those overly familiar with the generic gallery interior will find Francis Cape’s transformation of Murray Guy’s space refreshing. Cloaking the entire back wall is 453 West 17th Street (all works 2001). A lovingly crafted surface of painted wood apparently imported from an English country house, it was actually built by the artist over an intense ten-day period. A trained carpenter, Cape marshals every trick of the trade in an effort to disturb our sense of place by conjuring up hermetic formal simulation. Cape is fond of suggesting functionality only to snatch it away, but he also invests the

  • picks August 28, 2001


    A Few Gems in “Screen”

    Football pitches, mattresses, empty swimming pools, and blank sheets of paper: All become spaces onto which ideas and images are projected in Irena Popiashvili’s understated selection of recent video and photography. Ellen Harvey’s I Am a Bad Camera, follows the progress of a portrait sketch to the accompaniment of its subject’s appraisal of the likeness, while Fabio Kacero takes a leaf out of Douglas Gordon’s book by presenting a feature-length rundown of everyone he has ever met, their names listed as credits to a nonexistent movie. In a summer of group shows assembled, often, around the most

  • picks August 28, 2001

    Uniform: Order and Disorder

    Many Surprises in “Uniform”

    The memory of P.S. 1’s summer line of technical, formal, and military wear should linger long into the fall. Installed with suitable style by Italian architects Gruppo A12, “Uniform: Order and Disorder” takes in punk rock and Star Trek, Prada and Mao, Joseph Beuys and Sarah Lucas. Surveying the utilitarian/totalitarian look and its persistent reappearance in postwar art, design, and popular culture, curators Francesco Bonami, Maria Luisa Frisa, and Stefano Tonchi find it hard to resist the conclusion that evil is more elegant than good—and that boots and epaulettes are as sexy as they are

  • picks July 12, 2001

    “Mies in America”

    “Mies in America” Details a Master's Career

    Presented concurrently with “Mies in Berlin‚” on view at MoMA, this exhibition details the master architect’s career following his emigration from Germany in 1938. A former Bauhaus director, Mies arrived in the United States ready to combine new technology with a radically transformative approach to structure. Beginning with his plans for the Resor House, 1937–38, and concluding with his work on the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, 1962–68, “Mies in America” traces the development of an influential freedom in building, involving the fusion of spatial poetry and practical concerns. Exhibition

  • picks June 26, 2001

    Fabrice Gygi

    Fabrice Gygi Offers a Lesson in the Art of Election Polling

    With America still smarting from its recent electoral debacle, Fabrice Gygi’s new installation should tweak a few raw nerves. Outfitting the gallery with the unmarked fixtures and fittings of a generic polling station, the Swiss artist conjures a mute but politically charged arena. His deadpan arrangement of unoccupied wooden bench, blank steel notice board, empty voting booth, and transparent plastic ballot box also make for cool, formally elegant sculpture. But Gygi’s first solo exhibition in the US is no one-liner, as each individual element hums with its own associations. Most of these have