Murtaza Vali

  • L'avenir (Looking Forward)”

    Under its new artistic director, Sylvie Fortin, La Biennale de Montréal is undergoing an ambitious reboot; fittingly, futurity will be the subject of the 2014–15 edition. The biennial will bring together some 150 works by fifty artists and collectives, who will consider “what is to come” via historical, economic, technological, and environmental perspectives. Influenced by the utopian ethos of 1960s Montreal and Expo 67, the biennial will feature an installation by Étienne Tremblay-Tardif exploring the Échangeur Turcot, one

  • Mithu Sen, Border Unseen (detail), 2014, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks July 02, 2014

    Mithu Sen

    Commissioned by the museum, and conceived of as a tongue-in-cheek “collaboration” with the museum’s architect, Zaha Hadid, Mithu Sen’s playful but unsettling Border Unseen, 2014, opposes the brutally rigid and abstract geometry of Hadid’s building by tracing a soft, fleshy line in the space. Rising up gradually from the floor, the eighty-foot-long hanging sculpture consists of a narrow ridge made from carefully poured pink dental polymer that is topped with a seemingly unending row of false teeth, which are held in place by drips of gooey, hot glue, and sits atop a thin metal beam. In a

  • Reza Aramesh, Action 136: Put this in your record: I am Present!, 2014, three-channel 35-mm slide projection, color, silent.

    Reza Aramesh

    Although Reza Aramesh draws on an extensive archive of media images of wartime atrocities for representations of male bodies in moments of pain, suffering, and forced submission, his performances, large-scale black-and-white photographs, and, most recently, sculptures (all of which he refers to as “actions”) are never strictly mimetic. The London-based Iranian artist extracts victims’ poses, gestures, and expressions from documentary images and then enlists amateurs—young, fit, and dressed in everyday street wear—to reenact them. These reenactments, carefully choreographed tableaux

  • Ingrid Hora, Positions for leading, 2013, ink-jet print, 18 7/8 x 26 3/8".

    Ingrid Hora

    A photograph of the torso of a modestly dressed woman greeted us in the vestibule of “Dear Leader,” Ingrid Hora’s elegant solo debut in Dubai. Titled Positions for leading, 2013, it shows the Berlin-based Italian artist facing the camera and making a determined gesture with both hands—elbows jut out, arms come back in toward the chest, palms face into the body, thumbs press against two fingers. The terse gesture, that of a conductor at the beginning of a performance, is an apt introduction to Hora’s practice, which can be characterized as an ongoing investigation of orchestration and

  • Heidi Bucher, Jetzt fliesst das Wasser aus der Vase (Now the Water Flows Out of the Vase), 1986, pearlescent pigment, latex, acrylic, 60“ x 21' 3/4” x 25".
    picks March 13, 2014

    Heidi Bucher

    Heidi Bucher began using liquid latex in the late 1970s upon her return to Zurich after a spell living in Southern California. She most famously used the medium to produce what she called Häutungs or “skinnings.” Applying it atop fabric that had been carefully pasted onto the surfaces of buildings—most often but not exclusively the interiors of structures she had inhabited—Bucher would let the latex dry and then peel it off, producing a supple rubber sheath literally embedded with traces of the past, a physical transcription of the memory and history of the space. Somewhat presciently, Bucher’s

  • View of “Knot Not Nought,” 2014.
    picks February 26, 2014

    Sreshta Rit Premnath

    An unlikely art-historical accident anchors Sreshta Rit Premnath’s mind-bending exhibition. On a pair of windows of an apartment turned gallery and then studio in Warsaw two artistic signatures—Daniel Buren’s 8.7-centimeter painted vertical stripe and Edward Krasinski’s 20-millimeter horizontal band of blue Scotch tape—overlapped. Both artists envisioned their interventions as conceptual gestures and not artistic objects, pointing to the surrounding architecture while maintaining their own material and semantic neutrality. But what happens to the simple equation between gesture and object when

  • Giuseppe Penone, Rovesciare i propri occhi (To Reverse One’s Eyes), 1970, chromogenic print, dimensions variable.
    picks February 04, 2014

    “I Look to You and I See Nothing”

    Though simply worded, the title of this thought-provoking exhibition succinctly maps its complex conceptual, phenomenological, and philosophical terrain. By asserting a distinction between looking and seeing, it introduces distance between the sensory act and perceptions it evokes, allowing for the possibility of seeing without looking and inner vision gained without or despite external visual stimuli. The seventeen works by sixteen artists included here activate this universal but subjective faculty in distinct ways.

    Gino de Dominicis’s Cubo Invisible (Invisible Cube), 1967, and Michelangelo

  • Sara Naim, Red, Yellow, and Blue, 2012, C-type digital print, 67 x 45 1/2".
    picks September 20, 2012

    Sara Naim

    Twenty-first-century Dubai is a true simulacrum. Before the 2008 recession sent its high-flying real estate market into a sharp nosedive, the city’s ever-evolving urban form was largely experienced not through physical encounters with built structures but as a series of digitally rendered future projections looming large on the billboards that barricade countless construction sites. Unsurprisingly, then, much of the art that goes on view in this city can be similarly image-driven, rarely pausing to reflect on the specific processes, material conditions, and histories of any given medium. Sara

  • View of “Better Energy,” 2012.
    picks September 04, 2012

    Esther Kläs

    Esther Kläs’s mangy monoliths, two of which welcome visitors to her latest exhibition, “Better Energy,” subtly reveal her intimate process while cannily synthesizing many current trends in sculpture. Human-scale, like Rachel Harrison’s anthropomorphized totems, these new works are largely abstract, their dimensions determined not by subject matter or relationship to the viewer but by the physical limits of their maker, who casts them alone in her studio. Also, like Huma Bhabha’s hardware-store ruins, Kläs’s archaic forms are often fabricated from nontraditional materials; resting on a short

  • Alwar Balasubramaniam, Lines in Fold, 2012, granite and sandstone, dimensions variable.
    picks July 14, 2012

    Alwar Balasubramaniam

    Alwar Balasubramaniam’s Link, 2009, a simple black string stretched taut across a corner of this gallery, is easy to miss. The string is anchored to a wall on one side, with its other end attached to a sharp metal fishhook that hovers an inch or so from the opposite wall. Held in place by a hidden magnet, the hook digs deliciously into nothingness, emphasizing what is usually invisible and immaterial—air, energy, force, spirit. Straddling the threshold between presence and absence, materiality and immateriality, the physical and the spiritual, object and space, Balasubramaniam’s deeply philosophical

  • Sheila Hicks, Oracle from Constantinople, 2008–2010, linen, 96 x 68 x 10”.
    picks May 11, 2012

    Sheila Hicks

    Sheila Hicks, whose venerable oeuvre has expanded the potential of thread and cloth as artistic material, is finally getting the attention she justly deserves in New York. On the heels of a traveling retrospective, this solo show is anchored by a selection of her wonderful “minimes” from the past fifty years—small textile studies that demonstrate Hicks’s creativity and openness to experimentation within her chosen medium.

    The most conventional of these works, made using a variety of natural, synthetic, and metal fibers, reveal Hicks as a triumphant colorist. Others irreverently introduce

  • Virginia Overton, Untitled (pedestals), 2012, wood, paint, 56 x 144 x 33".
    picks April 25, 2012

    Virginia Overton

    Given free reign of the Kitchen for her solo exhibition, Virginia Overton presents a suite of pithy post-Minimalist sculptural installations that deftly repurpose various salvaged building materials found on-site. Monumental yet tentative, Overton’s understated constructions pulse with tension between careful design and random accident; they are site-specific without being limited to or by it.

    Held in place by a bracket at each end, a black steel pipe diagonally bisects a wall in Untitled (schedule 40) (all works cited, 2012). While the subtitle refers to a thickness standard for pipes and not