Monica Westin

  • Robert Zhao Renhui, Changi, Singapore, 1970s, color photograph, 47 1/2 x 33".
    picks December 05, 2014

    “Landscape: the virtual, the actual, the possible?”

    A collaboration between the YBCA, the Kadist Art Foundation, and the Guangdong Times Museum in Guangzhou, the ambitious group show “Landscape: the virtual, the actual, the possible?” defamiliarizes an influential trope in recent cultural theory: the Anthropocene as a new global era characterized by fundamentally new human/nature relations and even by a new conception of “nature” itself. The curators shrewdly present works that, rather than serving as evidence of this changed world, treat the Anthropocene as a hypothesis meant to engender exploratory thinking.

    “Landscape” offers a careful balance

  • Matt Lipps, Untitled (Women's Heads), 2010, C-print, 40 x 53".
    picks October 21, 2014

    “Secondhand”

    In its first several rooms, “Secondhand” appears to embody a diligent curatorial argument about notable trends in contemporary photographic practices surrounding found images, with by canonical work from Richard Prince and John Baldessari, as well as Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel’s Evidence (1977), the groundbreaking conceptual book culled from massive police and science archives. The show quickly moves to a noteworthy group of recent photographers working with Photoshopped, decontextualized, vernacular images—in particular Matt Lipps’s collaged archive from the now-extinct magazine Horizons and

  • Lisa Ross, Fertility, 2006, archival pigment prints on cotton paper, 42 x 28".
    picks August 06, 2014

    Lisa Ross

    Lisa Ross’s large-scale photographs of found shrines nestled among the sand dunes of the Taklamakan Desert in the Chinese region of Xinjiang waver between landscapes and portraits of their absent creators. Made from branches and fabric remnants, baby cribs and ladders, the subjects could be boundary markers for imaginary kingdoms, the skeletons of temporary shelters, or sculptural armatures. Impossibly bright scraps of cloth fly like pennants or hang in huge bouquets, leaning into the constant wind that has abraded all wooden surfaces smooth. The shrines’ incongruous presences in the starkness

  • Amie Siegel, Winter, 2013, S-16 mm transferred to HD video, 33 minutes.
    picks May 03, 2014

    Amie Siegel

    Amie Siegel’s film Winter, 2013, opens with mysterious people drifting around a white biomorphic building that seems vaguely like a commune. They perform bird calls, weave the husks of plants, and, in a comical moment, patiently sit in front of an old broken music player as they pose for an unseen audience—us. The humor darkens when it dawns on us that while the film is set at an unknown future time, what we now think of as new technology hasn’t survived at all. A young woman reads a worn book on birds that was first checked out in 1961 (and in 2070); we later see her wandering through a display

  • View of “Walead Beshty: Selected Bodies of Work,” 2014.
    picks March 15, 2014

    Walead Beshty

    The photographs, sculptures, and assemblages in Walead Beshty’s “Selected Bodies of Work” derive from three series that span a wide range of approaches to the evidence of labor in artistic production—from the almost purely formal to the explicitly political.

    Installed throughout the show, the first series evinces Beshty’s key interest in the photograph as a physical index that moves through space and time, and in the role of the laborers who circulate them. Collectively titled “Copper Surrogate,” 2014, the group features six monumental folded sheets of industrial copper, which are stippled with

  • Tracey Snelling, Zombie Island, 2013, wood, paint, lights, fake landscaping and water, LCD screens, media players, speakers, transformer, 20 x 33 x 24".
    picks January 15, 2014

    Tracey Snelling

    The large-scale posters and elaborate architectural models that make up Tracey Snelling’s exhibition “Mystery Hour” depict imaginary B movies whose premises are as facetious as they are seductively lurid: “She was married to a walking dead man!” declares the oversize poster Forbidden (all works 2013) in LED lights against a bodice-ripper tableau. Using sculptural assemblages and miniature models, the artist creates archetypal worlds from middle- and lowbrow genre films, like the horror movie setting of Danger Mountain, complete with a run-down motel situated precariously atop a winding hill and

  • Regina Mamou, Harmonist Cemetery, 2012, C-print, 40 x 32”.
    picks November 20, 2013

    Regina Mamou

    Regina Mamou’s latest architectural and landscape photographs depict bygone attempts to create utopian communities in America. Each work serves as a reminder that utopia literally means “no place.” Despite the large scale and clarity of the photographs, their evasive titles keep many of the depicted houses, monuments, and terrains teasingly unknown.

    Even the compositions of the scenes formally contribute to this mysterious quality; most are angled upward, as in Site (Community Vineyard) (all works 2012), so that subjects (in this case, a barn overgrown with living and dead foliage) are partially

  • Nicole Six and Paul Petritsch, Spatial Intervention I, 2002, still from a color video, 28 minutes.
    picks October 15, 2013

    “Suicide Narcissus”

    In the group exhibition “Suicide Narcissus,” curator Hamza Walker untethers the trope of the vanitas from historical still life paintings and, politicizing death with visions of environmental apocalypse, uses human self-extinction as a conceptual thread uniting the works presented here. Anchoring the show through both its magnitude and its central mystery, Lucy Skaer’s Leviathan’s Edge, 2009—a whale skeleton only partially made visible through several narrow wall openings—at first appears to be an imaginary creature or perhaps a lesser-known dinosaur, revealing our paltry understanding of the

  • Owen Kydd, Windows and Walls, 2013, looped digital video.
    picks July 08, 2013

    Owen Kydd

    It can be startling to remember that only in the past decade have we had the capability to choose, on a single instrument, whether to capture a still or moving image; perhaps one of the most overlooked side effects of digital mediation is its convergence of machinery. Owen Kydd’s durational photographs, as he calls them, take advantage of this meeting and of the ambiguities of perceiving digital documentation, deftly occupying a third space between the static and the narrative and suggesting new potentials for hybrid documents.

    In “Regular Colors,” three of Kydd’s gradual, sometimes imperceptibly