Nico Israel

  • VII Bienal de La Habana

    Since its inception in 1983, the Bienal de La Habana has tenaciously promoted itself as an alternative biennial—less cookie-cutter-commercial and more genuinely representative of the art of the developing world. And yet as Cuba’s economic situation has changed—dramatically even in the three years since the last biennial—so have the aspirations of Cuban artists and the ambitions of the exhibition’s curators. The discreet charms (and harms) of globalization, it seems, are hard to resist. The theme of the seventh installment, “Más ma uno del otro” (“Closer to the other”), was designed to allow “a

  • Sarah Sze

    As if painting in space with everyday objects, Sarah Sze endows her elaborately theatrical installations with a delicately humorous poignancy that counteracts all the gee-whiz grandiosity. In their logic of clutter and accumulation, the artist’s earlier Venice-Carnegie-Whitney projects earned comparisons to the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink installations of Judy Pfaff, Jessica Stockholder, and Jason Rhoades. In this show, her first solo gallery exhibition, the work was more reminiscent of the sculpture of Cornelia Parker or Tom Friedman, if one could imagine their obsessive Minimalism maximalized;

  • Joseph Kosuth

    In an interview a couple of years ago, Joseph Kosuth lamented that although his work is “in the collections of all the major museums,” he has “never had the support of collectors.” Instead, he said, his art had become “dissertation fodder,” more frequently studied than bought. Despite his concern about this “predicament” (a situation many artists would envy), Kosuth’s new work somehow manages to be more pedantic than ever. The Conceptualist recently presented his “Essays” series, 2000, large color photographs of his own earlier works, to which he had added snippets of text by some of the more

  • Rachel Berwick

    Rachel Berwick’s art is haunted by extinction. For previous exhibitions she has cast animal death masks in amber and taught parrots a defunct Amazonian language. In her most recent show, “Hovering Close to Zero,” Berwick focused on the Tasmanian tiger, a creature that survives only in a few bones and in a sixty-second film made in the ’20s documenting the disappearing beast. The exhibition consisted of stills from the film, a series of computer-aided forensic re-creations of the tiger in resin, and a group of crystal models cast from tigers’ skulls.

    Berwick approaches questions of loss, collection,

  • 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

  • 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