Nico Israel

  • Jonah Freeman

    Jonah Freeman examines American living spaces as though he were an anthropologist noting surprising details of an alien tribe’s dwellings. For his recent exhibition, Freeman created works inspired by the fact and idea of gated communities, those dreary locations pervaded by class-conscious hermeticism and the ecology of fear. In video, installation, and photographs, he explored issues surroundmg the poetics of place—the kind of dystopic place where comfort is infused with a sense of isolation.

    Bring the Outside In (all works 2000) consisted of two looped videos projected onto the walls in

  • Laylah Ali

    LAYLAH ALI'S LATEST “Greenhead” paintings, on view recently in the young Boston-based artist's first solo show in New York, look spare and cool with their blue backgrounds and cartoony figures in gouache on paper. The almost identical Greenheads, each with bulging white eyes, a thin brown body, and an oversize, round, dark-green head, make mechanical gestures: They wave their thin arms, run in a row, or offer objects to one another. Like superheroes, they wear simple uniforms, yet their actions are anything but heroic or simple. Throughout the small-scale scenarios appear tiny, pointed

  • Catherine Opie

    In one of Catherine Opie’s best-known photographs, an unsettling 1993 self-portrait, a scene of two stick-figure women standing next to a little house under a puffy cloud has been scratched into the skin of the artist’s back. The image of the body with its reddish cicatrix suggests a compelling ambivalence between domestic bliss and self-wounding. For her latest series, it is as though Opie blew up the scarified scenario to life size and animated it. Over a three-year period (1995–98), she visited lesbian acquaintances around the country and photographed them at home doing everyday things.

  • “Translation/Seduction/Displacement”

    This exhibition of work by contemporary South African artists derived its title from some of the implications of the word “translation” in several of that nation’s languages: translation as libidinal, spiritual, or cartographic displacement and as an act of seduction, enticing, or leading something or someone astray. Gesturing toward the slippages and the communicative potentialities of language, curators Lauri Firstenberg and John Peffer clearly wanted to avoid mounting a regional survey show (“South Africa Now” or “Young South Africans”) that would claim to be definitive or exoticize practices


    “SOMETIMES I SEE [AN ARTWORK] SO MOVING I know I’m not supposed to linger. See it and leave. If you stay too long, you wear out the wordless shock. Love it and trust it and leave.” It was this kind of feeling (expressed by Nick Shay, one of the narrators of Don DeLillo’s Underworld) that I had when I first saw Sandra Cinto’s art, at the 1998 São Paulo Bienal, and it has stuck with me, as if some silent warning, through subsequent encounters with her work. Something about Cinto’s precisely executed, almost unbearably intimate drawings and installations feels perishable.

    At the Bienal, in the superb

  • Daniela Rossell

    Daniela Rossell’s repugnant yet alluring photographs of nouveaux riches theatrically posed in the tacky opulence of their homes expose a lack that gnaws at the heart of wealth. In “All the best names are taken,” her first solo show in New York, the young Mexican artist combined large color prints (all untitled, all 1999) from two series. The “Ricas y famosas” images feature Mexico City’s super-rich looking seductive, uncomfortable, or simply bored amid their garish chandeliers, Jacuzzis, “glorious” views, and bad art. Most of these subjects are light-skinned women, members of the country’s elite

  • Ceal Floyer

    Ceal Floyer’s work sits on a cusp between Minimalism and Conceptualism. This is a vexed spot where literality and truth to form, pushed to their logical and rhetorical conclusions, metamorphose into something elseneither object nor concept but a hybrid of both. Ink on Paper (video) (all works 1999) consists of a closely cropped shot of the artist’s forearms and hands framing a white piece of paper on a small table. Floyer wears a shirt with white sleeves; in her right hand is a black marking pen, which she holds upright on the center of the white sheet, so that it bleeds a black circle. The hand

  • XXIV Bienal de São Paulo

    The recently concluded Bienal de São Paulo was notable both for its frequently stunning work and its elaborate theoretical apparatus. Curator Paulo Herkenhoff, assisted by Adriano Pedrosa, conceived of anthropophagy (a recurring theme of Brazilian aesthetic and cultural theory since the ’20s) as the Bienal’s organizing principle. Herkenhoff suggested that such cannibalism—a model of eating and actively incorporating the other—was a novel way to reassess traditional art historical narratives and approach contemporary global artistic production.

    The Bienal consisted of four overlapping sections.

  • Zhang Peili

    For a Chinese-born artist who still lives in his hometown of Hangzhou, Zhang Peili has been represented in a remarkable number of international exhibitions. In just over two years, his work has been seen in several high-profile Asian-themed group shows—including “Cities on the Move” and “Inside Out: New Chinese Art”—as well as at the Basel art fair and the most recent Sydney and Venice biennials. He also bears the distinction of being the first Chinese artist to have an installation piece collected by MoMA (where he had a project show last summer). Yet while other “avant-garde” Chinese artists

  • “The Clubs of Bamako”

    “The Clubs of Bamako” bore witness to the euphoria and optimism that accompanied the emergence of postcolonial Africa, with thirty black-and-white photographs by Malick Sidibé running along all four walls of the main gallery. In the center of the room were fourteen sculptures—inspired by the photographs and commissioned by Jeffrey Deitch—created by African artists Emile Guebehi, Nicolas Damas, Koffi Kouakou, and Coulibaly Siaka Paul. Between 1962 and 1976, Sidibé took as his subject the nightclubs and dance parties in Bamako, capital of Mali, the West African republic that won independence

  • Melissa Gwyn

    Melissa Gwyn’s paintings look like enlarged slides of microscopic organisms whose apparent bloblike simplicity is belied, under closer scrutiny, by their teeming busyness. With titles invoking the body and its peculiar materiality and images suggesting growth, disease, and regeneration, Gwyn reveals the thin membrane separating the beautiful from the abject.

    Gwyn began most of the six works that comprised her recent exhibition by pouring oil paint on horizontal wood panels. The paint formed puddles, which she manipulated by pushing the paint and tipping the panel. After the paintings began to

  • Mike Bidlo

    For almost two decades, Mike Bidlo has engaged in a strict simulation of the work and practices of iconic figures of twentieth-century art. Pollock and Picasso in the ’80s, de Chirico, Léger, and Warhol in the ’90s—these august precursors have served as models for Bidlo to muse about and make mischief with the modernist canon. Far from being mere acts of discipleship, Bidlo’s tactics were self-consciously strategic: The exact copy putatively rendered the notion of the original suspect, thereby (again putatively) undermining the axiological system that makes “great” art great. Sherrie Levine

  • Laura Letinsky

    “Couple”: the word carries a certain ambivalence. Deriving from the Latin copula, meaning “bond” or “link,” it suggests two items of the same kind, but also the thing that joins the two. It can be both a noun and a verb, and, as noun, can be followed by either a singular or plural verb—my dictionary offers the cloying example “The couple are spending their honeymoon (or is spending its honeymoon).” Physics deploys the word in a surprisingly apposite way: “a pair of forces of equal magnitude acting in parallel but opposite directions.”

    Laura Letinsky’s photographs reveal the intimacy and indeterminacy

  • Mona Hatoum

    What is perhaps most striking about this survey of Mona Hatoum’s work is the way it distinguishes her from her slightly younger peers, the “Young British Artists.” Unlike the parochialism of YBA art-school discourse, in which a mix of ad-savvy sensationalism and schadenfreude presents itself as something hard and daring, Hatoum’s delicate but powerful work is cosmopolitan in the best sense of the term, neither espousing universal humanism nor resting easily with preconceived notions of difference. Hatoum is highly cognizant of art-historical traditions, generous to a fault in acknowledging her

  • Josiah McElheny

    In “Non-Decorative Beautiful Objects,” his first solo show in New York, Josiah McElheny carefully placed his astonishingly elegant blown-glass pieces into the rickety frame of art-historical discourse. All too aware of the relegation of his metier to the status of mere craft, McElheny confronts some of the philosophical and historical sources of aesthetic distinction, and, in his modest fashion, blows them away.

    The show comprised five mini-installations or projects, each of which elaborated on a real or invented scenario laid out in an accompanying text. In Verzelini’s Acts of Faith, 1996, for

  • Gillian Wearing

    “I’M DESPERATE,” proclaims a small, handwritten poster held up by a young man in a business suit. A woman with her face covered by bandages makes her way down a crowded London street, attracting the startled reactions of passersby. Two long-haired dudes play furious air guitar to a thrash-metal song. In these previous photographs and video works, Gillian Wearing has explored the flexible contours of “self”-expression and the ambivalent predicament of witnessing and recording it. In this, her first US solo show, she turned her quasi-documentary gaze upon young adolescents, who confess to her some

  • Ernesto Neto

    Piff, Paff, Poff, Puff—these titles of Ernesto Neto’s 1997 sculptures, onomatopoeic renderings of the sound powdered spices make upon hitting the floor, suggest both a certain light ephemerality and a plosive thud of surprise. Indeed, the assemblage of various piquant puff pieces that constituted the Brazilian artist’s recent New York exhibition explored tensions between a number of states: raw and cooked, seductive and repulsive, transitory and permanent, raised and dropped.

    Neto poured different spices into nylon stockings that he stretched into various shapes. Some of these he pulled diagonally

  • Meg Cranston

    Even after poststructuralism’s contestation of subjectivity and conceptualism’s demolition job on the art object, a stubborn residue remains. For lack of a better term, Meg Cranston calls this residue “soul,” and works at its contours with lyrical wit. Two recent sculptural installations illustrated how Cranston continues to push the bodily envelope of the type of conceptual California scheming with which she has been associated for over a decade. Mind, Body, Soul, 1997, consisted of a large rectangular block of wood, some rope, and a handcart. It was as if everything depended on this red-painted

  • Steven Pippin

    Coolly orbiting questions of a technological and existential nature, Steven Pippin’s recent exhibition “Terrestrial TV” charted paths from root to antenna, earth to world, and place to space. The show’s eponymous central installation consisted of an early ’70s color television mounted inside a spherical wooden frame, resting on a tripod-shaped pedestal—a fixture that would normally house a large globe. Instead of a three-dimensional representation, we were shown a flat video image of the earth as seen from space. It was a moving picture, the television itself hooked up to a mechanism that caused

  • Zingaro

    Zingaro’s Chimère (Chimera, 1996) the recent large-scale “equestrian theater” production presented as part of BAM’s “Next Wave Festival,” sought to stage a hybrid cultural form combining circus act, dance, and performance art. Held in a tent erected in Battery Park City at the margins of Manhattan (much as Renaissance London theaters, prisons, and hospitals were built outside the city’s walls), the production immersed itself in the cachet of exclusion, precisely in order to elevate a mass-cultural form to the arena of high culture.

    Distinctions between high and low, center and margin, nature and