Nick Mauss

  • Bibi Borthwick and Mai Aurell model RUN 11 outside Susan Cianciolo’s RUN Store, New York, 2001. Photo: Anette Aurell.


    HOW DO YOU MAKE FASHION that’s not fashion? That’s not simply or only aspirational, trending, the eternal return of the new? In New York just before the turn of the millennium, artist Susan Cianciolo responded to this conundrum with RUN, a line of de- and reconstructed “costumes” that she produced in collaboration with a makeshift atelier of friends and relatives and presented in shows that turned the conventions of the runway upside down (literally, in the case of the aerialist models who dangled among ropes while showing off the looks from Cianciolo’s third collection). Offering craft instead of couture and affect instead of laconic cool, expanding into housewares and perfume, and producing collages, videos, performances, and archival “kits” that both documented and destabilized her brand, Cianciolo deftly created a different kind of culture industry, lending a fresh resonance to Diana Vreeland’s famous claim that elegance is refusal. As a series of exhibitions bring new visibility to her work, NICK MAUSS proposes Cianciolo’s costumes as one element of a singular artistic project. And in a special portfolio for Artforum, Cianciolo presents snapshots of her recent time in rural Maine and New York, experiences that are being woven into innovative materials, textiles, and a film—still another twist in her unfolding involutions of labor, form, and style.

    tofu kequishe
    CORN muffins
    SeaSOR Salad
    Reflections of ouRself
    lMAntations of ouR life
    Dream of Different tomorow

    —from a drawing by Susan Cianciolo for RUN Restaurant’s menu

    I WENT TO RUN Store in the fall of 2001. I didn’t know what to expect. The shop had been set up for one day in a storefront on Eighth Avenue near Fourteenth Street, and its opening was preceded by rumors and fantasies, the sense of private anticipation that remains the ineffable emblem of Susan Cianciolo’s brand of agitprop. This was way before pop-up shops were everywhere, and though it

  • Nick Mauss, 1NVERS1ONS, 2014. Performance view, Frieze Projects, Frieze London, October 16, 2014. Kim Gordon (center) with dancers from the Northern Ballet.


    “EACH CLUB vies for the position of ‘favored art club,’ as a yet newer alternative to the art world’s alternative spaces. It seems to be what the art world wants.” Penned during the rise of Danceteria and Raymond Pettibon, Wild Style and No Wave, KIM GORDON’s early-’80s analysis of the intersections of the club scene and the art world seems as resonant today as it was on its publication in Artforum in 1983. Gordon wrote as a participant-observer, having cofounded the legendary band Sonic Youth two years before. And as a musician, artist, designer, and author—her memoir, Girl in a Band, is out this month—Gordon has always chosen her points of entry into various worlds with precise timing and equipoise, finding inspiration in a Karen Carpenter single or a holiday wreath as much as in the art of Mike Kelley or Gerhard Richter. In her exchange here with NICK MAUSS, another dizzyingly peripatetic artist, who enlisted Gordon to perform in his dance work 1nvers1ons, 2014, this past autumn, Gordon reflects on an omnivorously interdisciplinary practice in which knowing “what the art world wants” is a material in itself, something to be shaped, reconfigured, and redeployed.

    NICK MAUSS: I THINK PROBABLY THE FIRST—I wouldn’t even call it a performance—but appearance of yours that I saw in an art context was “The Club in the Shadow” [2003]. New York still felt relatively new to me, but I could tell that this was all wrong—it was just so bizarre and off the mark. And yet you and Jutta [Koether] managed to create such a celebratory suspension of disbelief. Despite the context and because of it, you created this framework for people to be in, but nobody seemed to have any idea what was going on. At one point, I saw Chuck Nanney playing a Theremin and people

  • Carlo Scarpa, preliminary drawing, ca. 1970, for the Brion Tomb and Sanctuary, 1969–78, San Vito d’Altivole, Italy.

    Nick Mauss

    CARLO SCARPA’S WORKS are permeated by a certain attentive empathy toward objects, materials, and artworks. This feeling materializes in real but irrational apertures, thought vectors, and processional spaces gauzily layered in the mind—so that architecture becomes a garland unraveling, rather than a discipline governed by exigencies of production or consumption. With its Venn-diagram display windows, the pressed-concrete facade of the former Gavina furniture showroom in Bologna, Italy, for example, breaks radically with the centuries-old house it invades, while paying homage through

  • Katharina Wulff, Untitled, 2011, oil on canvas, 31 1/2 x 24 1/2".

    “New Work: Katharina Wulff”

    Despite their apparently unfinished, or mute, passages, Katharina Wulff’s paintings tend to brim and overflow, like an actor’s complex delivery of a particularly overwrought line.

    Despite their apparently unfinished, or mute, passages, Katharina Wulff’s paintings tend to brim and overflow, like an actor’s complex delivery of a particularly overwrought line. The German idiom durch die Blume sprechen, which refers to criticism couched in a veil of politesse (literally, “speaking through a flower”), begins to describe the mode of her paintings’ rhetoric. Their impact is warped, brutal—and delayed. Extremely distilled and serene landscapes seem to have all the air sucked out. The painted terrain conceals as it describes a topography somewhere

  • View of “Madame Grès, la couture à l’œuvre,” 2011, Musée Bourdelle, Paris. Photo: Pierre Antoine.

    Madame Grès at the Musée Bourdelle

    EACH GARMENT IS AN EXACT FORMULATION. The inner logic of the clothes—made visible on their surfaces in asymmetrical puckers, bandaging, floral detail, lashings, exhalations, interpenetrations, knife pleats, bulbous involutions, starbursts of folds, slashes, rhythmic poufs, pleated rolls, and impossibilities—dissolves, or anticipates the dissolution of, inside and outside. The textile operations are themselves a poetic syntax: robes poèmes. A black viscose jersey dress from winter 1942 is ruched along a virtual line over the sternum, so that the millimetric pleating emits an irrational

  • View of Nina Könnemann, The Apple in the Eye of the Worm, 2000, color video (on monitor). Apple Car Service, Hull, UK.


    NINA KÖNNEMANN’S VIDEO M.U.D., 2000, surveys a bizarre landscape suffused with mist and smoke, littered with bottles and trash bags, and peopled by youths of varying identity styles and the occasional anonymous, refugee-like figure staggering about wrapped in a blanket. It’s not clear whether it is dawn or dusk, the past or the future, or whether this scene is “real” or orchestrated for the camera. Straight, neutral shots track the hapless meanderings of the characters in this scenario, who appear reluctant to resurface from the delirium and the ruins of whatever riot or festivity brought them

  • Lorraine O’Grady, Mlle Bourgeoise Noire, 1980–83. Performance view, New Museum, New York, September 1981. Photo: Coreen Simpson.


    WHEN LORRAINE O’GRADY would burst into art openings during the early 1980s in the character of Mlle Bourgeoise Noire, she sought to bring aesthetic issues to life—and, more specifically, to challenge both the art world’s entrenched (and often overlooked) conservatism and its presumptive avant-gardism. Ever since, O’Grady has forged a multidisciplinary mode of disruption and criticality, working on a broad social stage while hewing to an intensely personal vision. In the May issue, artist NICK MAUSS looks closely at this history that is, he says, “both concussive and elegant”; and O’Grady herself, reflecting on this same history in context, reprises “The Black and White Show,” which she organized as Mlle Bourgeoise Noire in 1983. Conceived as an artwork that deployed curating as medium, the exhibition took place at Kenkeleba House—a gallery in the burned-out precincts of the East Village in New York—and featured twenty-eight artists, of whom half were black, half white. (The precise balance bluntly underscored the absence of such parity elsewhere in art.) In both physical location and critical orientation, the show situated itself outside the ambit of the mainstream art world. Revisiting it now and superimposing present-day reflections on the works she gathered together then, O’Grady offers counterhistory as visual and textual palimpsest. Mauss’s contribution has been reproduced below; as a special online-only component, O’Grady’s article “A Day at the Races,” from the April 1993 issue of Artforum, has also been included. For “A Day at the Races,” click here.

    I HAVE NEVER SEEN A PERFORMANCE BY LORRAINE O’GRADY. Yet even their documentation communicates a moment in time that was and still is a severe interruption. I can’t claim to fully understand what I’m looking at. The continual internal refraction in O’Grady’s work forbids assimilation, yet the struggle to come to terms with the work’s implications—the inability to fix O’Grady’s art in a framework that is already known—strikes at the core of her major artistic contribution.

    O’Grady, who first gained visibility in the art world in the early 1980s through her invasions of openings at venues


    What is that lovely thread of
    water running through this
    soft land?
    It is so shy.
    It hides under the ground.
    Is it a smile from the landscape?
    Is it an anonymous gift of
    Is it an exquisite tear, wrung
    from the rocks?
    I do not think so: it is the main

    —Erik Satie1

    EVEN THOUGH THE SMALL REPRODUCTIONS of Jochen Klein’s paintings that I saw many years ago, in a catalogue loaned to me by a friend, nestled themselves obstinately in my mind, I am always surprised by these inimitably weird and touching works when I see them in person. They do not age, and to stand in front of them brings

  • The Best Exhibitions of 2005

    To take stock of the past year, Artforum contacted an international group of artists to find out which exhibitions were, in their eyes, the very best of 2005.

    “Edward Munch by Himself” (Royal Academy of Arts, London) This show gave me butterflies, screwed me up, and made me cry.

    John Baldessari, “A Different Kind of Order” (Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna) I rarely go to exhibitions these days. Perhaps I’m too jaded. But the Baldessari retrospective was something else. Focusing on his production from 1962–84, it was notable for its curatorial indifference to the marketplace—so