Noemi Smolik

  • slant December 30, 2020

    Impostor Syndome

    WHAT HAPPENS when a painting is unmasked as a forgery? The colors, the forms, and the brushwork remain the same, and yet, everything has changed. The spell of authenticity, related to what Walter Benjamin called an artwork’s “aura,” has broken. A taboo-shattering exhibition organized by Rita Kersting and Petra Mand at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, titled “Russian Avant-Garde at the Museum Ludwig: Original and Fake” and on through February 7, seeks to pick up the pieces, provocatively pairing its works of questionable provenance alongside authentic loans in order to contextualize the challenges

  • Berenice Olmedo

    Can there be a human body without organs? That is the question Mexico City–based artist Berenice Olmedo pointedly raises with her installations and objects. Laid out across the floor in her recent exhibition “CsO, haecceidad” were pneumatic splints made of translucent plastic—orthopedic devices used in poor countries such as Mexico or India to immobilize broken legs or arms. Commonplace medical devices, they nonetheless have something organic, even human, about them. Here, weighed down by bags filled with sand, they were connected by tubes to a machine that slowly inflated and deflated them.

  • Henrik Olesen

    What a surprise! Born in Denmark and long based in Berlin, Henrik Olesen is well known as a Conceptual artist whose objects, installations, and collages, which often focus on marginalized groups, interrogate the ways in which dominant power structures and social norms shape human identity, language, and the body. This show, however, did not feature collages or installations made up of photos, handwritten notes, pages torn from books, and newspaper clippings, but predominantly comprised paintings in oil and other materials on wood or canvas. Nevertheless, the starting point for Olesen’s new works

  • siren eun young jung

    It all started with a photograph of a wedding party. There was nothing unusual about the scene at first glance: the bride and groom, the family. . . . Yet as South Korean artist siren eun young jung examined the picture more closely, it gradually dawned on her that the people depicted in it were all women, including those whom one might initially have thought were men. They were members of a troupe of performers of yeoseong gukgeuk, a variant of traditional Korean opera sung exclusively by women. Established in South Korea in the 1940s, the art form remained popular until the 1960s. Delving into

  • Thao Nguyen Phan

    Thao Nguyen Phan’s “moving images”—as she prefers to call her video projections—are gorgeous and profoundly disturbing at once. Dare to watch them with unguarded eyes, and they will worm themselves into the deepest recesses of your memory, rising up time and again as a reminder that beauty is sometimes inextricably alloyed with sorrow. Born in Vietnam in 1987 and based in Ho Chi Minh City, Phan was studying painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago when she started to experiment with film. An encounter with the work of Joan Jonas, who would later become her mentor, encouraged her

  • Anna Gaskell

    Anna Gaskell first became known in the late 1990s for enigmatic photos of young women and girls—images that imply a narrative yet elude attempts to give them a meaningful interpretation beyond their evident but nonspecific allusions to Alice in Wonderland. The throughline to these pictures is almost impossible to describe but has to do with what one might call their latent pedophilia-tainted aura, which makes them at once seductive and disturbing.

    Gaskell’s most recent works, all made in 2019, are drawings that likewise have a disturbing effect although one can’t immediately say why. They, too,

  • Edith Dekyndt

    Composed of everyday objects such as refrigerators and a sofa, Edith Dekyndt’s new installations often suggest a sober-minded approach to artmaking in the tradition of Minimalism. They even resemble some strains of Minimalism in their engagement with the space around them and the playful irritation of our relation to the objects on view. The comparison ends there, however. Dekyndt’s works are not neutral artifacts made of industrially manufactured staples placed in arrangements that emphasize form and the interaction between a work and its setting. On the contrary, the artist charges—indeed,

  • Zhanna Kadyrova

    Communist-era statues remain a divisive issue in the former Soviet empire. In Prague, for example, a controversy recently flared up over the monument to the Soviet general Ivan Konev, who liberated the city from the Nazis in 1945 but also led the brutal suppression of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and was involved in preparing for the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops in 1968. The municipal administration had the statue veiled to protect it from vandals, then voted to have it removed this past September. Supporters and opponents of Konev have held rallies at his feet. To avoid

  • Anna Daučíková

    What makes Anna Daučíková’s work so fascinating is its severe, even acerbic lucidity on the one hand, and its poetic refinement tinged with eroticism on the other. Both qualities were on display in the new piece that Daučíková, the recipient of the 2018 Schering Stiftung Art Award, created for the exhibition of her work at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art. Titled Expedition for Four Hands and Accompaniment, 2019, it consisted of several sheets of engraved glass, a publication commemorating the late Greek human-rights activist and drag queen Zak Kostopoulos, and a three-channel projection.

  • Susanne M. Winterling

    An almost magical radiance filled this exhibition. Susanne M. Winterling’s color photographs are luminous—yet what do they show? Cosmo Algae, 2019, for instance, depicts a hand with what appears to be a marble resting in its open palm—a magical sphere? And yet her recent show “Schwerkraft und Atem” (Gravity and Breath), subtitled “Contra-points,” had a fairly mundane theme: nature. It’s one that Winterling has explored for years. She has worked with scientists, delving into the eerie world charted by marine biologists, and trained her attention on the tiniest microorganisms, such as dinoflagellates.

  • Nil Yalter

    Half a century ago, Nil Yalter broached issues that others dare not touch even today—female genital mutilation, for example. Her video The Headless Woman or the Belly Dance, 1974, shows her writing on her body, the text spiraling over her naked belly an excerpt from the French poet and historian René Nelli about the clitoris as the center of female sexual pleasure and the persistent practice of cutting it. Then the artist, a native of Cairo who was raised in Istanbul, performs a belly dance, her marked-up torso epitomizing the contrast between the oppression of female sexuality and the aggressive

  • Trisha Donnelly

    The invitation Trisha Donnelly designed for her show exemplified what her art is about: One side was taken up by an image showing a composition of colorful splotches with a yellow bar at its center, looking like a piece of masking paper streaked with splotches of watercolor. The other side was black, with red bundles of rays in the upper half; a luminous pink emblem near the bottom-right corner resembled an intricate neon logo that compressed the details of the exhibition to the verge of illegibility. The card’s aesthetic was undeniably cool, but it demonstratively didn’t cater to our curiosity.