Mira Dayal

  • Lauren Bakst, Private Collection, 2018. Performance view, Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, New York, New York, 2018. Lauren Bakst. Photo: Ian Douglas.
    performance June 06, 2018

    Self and Others

    PRIVATE COLLECTION is a phrase charged by museum tombstones, which display information about an artwork that is otherwise inaccessible to anyone beyond the “private” owner. It connotes a kind of exclusivity, a proprietary right to viewership, a generosity in extending that privilege to the viewer. The term also echoes private recollection, memories and personal experiences replaying in fragmented form. As the title of Lauren Bakst’s recent performance at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, the phrase and all of its associations formed a framework for something that, as Bakst declared, was “not a

  • Fia Backström, Fossil; x4.5 View (Food remains, unknown content, extracted from gap between teeth), December 14, 2017, 2018, ink-jet print on Plexiglas, 17 1/2 x 20 1/4".

    Fia Backström

    Despite its title, “A Vaudeville on Mankind in Time and Space” was more of a poetic observation of our strange present moment on earth. To the right of the gallery’s entrance hung two shelves lined with Plexiglas plates that appeared to be smeared with a white substance, as if they were slides of bacteria being prepared for laboratory testing. These “smears” were in fact engravings, each spelling out a prefix or suffix for describing intersections of the body, politics, and the environment: SOCIO-, -ROTIC, E-, -ZONE, POLY-, -TICAL, BIO-, and –DEMIC. This installation, flexible fragmentation-compression

  • Zoe Leonard, You see I am here after all (detail), 2008, 3,851 vintage postcards, 11 x 10 1/2 x 47'.
    picks April 13, 2018

    Zoe Leonard

    Part of the elegance of Zoe Leonard’s work lies in its straightforward concepts: For instance, in 1961, 2002–, one blue suitcase for each year of the artist’s life is arranged into an undulating line. Over one thousand copies of Kodak’s instructional guide to photography are stacked up by year of publication in How to Take Good Pictures, 2018. And for You see I am here after all, 2008, thousands of postcards of Niagara Falls are organized by the vantage point of the photographer. These premises entail laborious processes, and the resulting visual accumulations relish those tacky fingerprints of

  • Constance DeJong and Tony Oursler, Relatives, 1988. Performance view, The Kitchen, New York, 2018. Constance DeJong. Photo: The Kitchen.
    performance April 09, 2018

    All In the Family

    THE SETUP of writer-performer Constance Dejong and Tony Oursler's performance Relatives is simple: a large boxy television sits on a stand at center stage, flanked by two stools. As the TV plays a video created by Oursler, DeJong delivers a fragmented monologue, gesturing to the screen as one would a PowerPoint presentation, or a friend, following its movements, touching its surface, talking to it, finding in it familiar faces of relatives, real and imagined: DeJong’s great-grandmother, mother, uncle, older sister, and younger sister, all representations of family buried just under the glass,

  • View of “Laure Prouvost,” 2018.
    picks March 30, 2018

    Laure Prouvost

    Laure Prouvost’s travel agency has all the right fixtures: desks with padded office chairs, brochures and getaway magazines taped over with the company name (Deep Travel Ink), paper posters and maps in various stages of decay pasted to the wall. The extensive transformation of the gallery serves an elaborate punch line about the imagined white Western male traveler who goes on expeditions to “exotic” destinations. The agency is supposedly the artist’s uncle’s, and her newest video piece for the exhibition, Monteverdi ici, 2018, predominantly features imagery of a nude woman’s back as she conducts

  • Lionel Maunz, In the Sewer of Your Body (detail), 2018, cast iron, steel, glass, 82 x 36 1/2 x 36 1/2".
    picks March 09, 2018

    Lionel Maunz

    Lionel Maunz finds flesh to be malleable in the most torturous sense. It is rendered not in soft resins and pink plastics but black iron, closer to the torqued bronze of Rodin than the gleeful puttiness found in MoMA PS1’s 2017 exhibition “Past Skin.” A condition report for one of the sculpted figures on display, In the Sewer of Your Body (all works 2018), the show’s titular piece: Hand like a glove, flesh creased at the wrist; knobs of malignant tumors; facial tissue webbed; gaping wound above right breast. The creature—for it seems not quite human, haunches hugging sunken chest—is encased in

  • Paul Stephen Benjamin, God Bless America, 2016, forty-six monitors with three-channel video (color, sound, indefinite duration). Installation view, 2017. Photo: Adam Reich.


    "FICTIONS” marked a set of endings: It was the fifth in the Studio Museum’s “F-show” series, which began with the landmark 2001 exhibition “Freestyle” (curated by Thelma Golden, the show proposed the contentious, generative term post-black), and was the last to be on view in the museum’s current home in Harlem. (A new, David Adjaye–designed building is due to open in 2021.) But the show, curated by Connie H. Choi and Hallie Ringle, was also a space for beginnings: None of the nineteen artists, all of African and Latin American descent, had previously shown at the venue, and the exhibition focused

  • Christie Neptune, She Fell from Normalcy, 2017, digital video, color, sound, 7 minutes 37 seconds.

    Christie Neptune

    Three boxy Sony televisions sat on white pedestals of diminishing heights, positioned along a diagonal axis within the white cube of the gallery. On each screen, looping video segments depicted another white cube, inside of which two women were trapped. Dressed in white undergarments that contrasted starkly with their dark skin, they moved in sync within their confines, looking alternately up at the ceiling, around at the surrounding walls, or out at the viewer, who was made conscious of her position within a comparably claustrophobic space.

    The video piece, She Fell from Normalcy, 2016, is the

  • View of “Cathy Wilkes,” 2017–18.
    picks January 05, 2018

    Cathy Wilkes

    The air is cold and heavy with desperation: Witness the tattered cloths, the dirty dishes. A 2006 painting with an overturned saucer affixed to its jejune surface spells out its title in thin pencil strokes: “She’s pregnant again.” The piece is a womb and a void. Look at the children: Their legs are thin or absent, their toys worn, shredded (see the brown Beanie Babies bunny whose velvety ears lie a little too close to that tarnished Swiss Army knife, in Non Verbal, 2005/2011). Their TV is turned off, with a faded red towel thrown on top of it—did it put out a small fire? Cathy Wilkes’s show is

  • Sage Sohier, Bleaching Ritual, Washington, DC, 2003, archival pigment print, 28 x 34".
    picks December 15, 2017

    Sage Sohier

    Sage Sohier’s “Witness to Beauty” opens with a portrait of a woman at a vanity, looking at herself in a handheld mirror. This is the artist’s mother, Wendy Morgan. She looks at herself, Sohier looks at her mother, and the viewer looks at the artist looking at her mother. There are, therefore, a series of frames—in a literal sense, too, as framed paintings, mirrors, and family photographs seem to adorn every wall in the pieces’ domestic settings. These backdrops often feel highly staged: Magazines are arranged just so on the coffee table, and the subjects’ outfits mimic those in the family portrait

  • Justin Berry, Palisade, 2017, ink-jet print, 15 x 12".

    Justin Berry

    “My first impression was of a dusty distant untouched space, ”begins Lucy Lippard’s text in Cracking (1978), an artist’s book that she co-authored with Charles Simonds and that served as an exhibition catalogue for a show of Simonds’s sculptures in 1979. The black-and-white images in each spread depict the tiny dwellings—small structures, mounds of mud, heaps of rocks—of an imagined group of what he called Little People, for whom Simonds constructed diorama-sized site-specific villages that were nested in and around art institutions and crumbling buildings in New York and in other

  • Vivan Suter, Untitled, 2017, oil and pigment on canvas. Installation view. Photo: Bill Orcutt.

    Hudinilson Jr., Jessica Mein, Vivian Suter

    The original 1938 Xerox machine transferred images from one surface to another using a six-step electrographic process that required fixing a negatively charged powder to a positively charged piece of paper. That powder, today known as toner, is adhered with heat and was originally made of moss spores.

    Like that of photography, the advent of xerography (“dry writing”) had far-reaching repercussions, unsurprisingly facilitating office productivity but also precipitating government leaks and aids activism. Advertisers soon took up the technique, as did artists. In America, Pati Hill was perhaps