Nuit Banai

  • Wang Xin, I Am Awake and My Body Is Full of the Sun and the Earth and the Stars, I Am Now Awake and I Am an Immense Thing (detail), 2022–, still from the digital animation component (color, sound, 20 minutes 3 seconds) of a mixed-media installation additionally comprising a Web camera, speakers, reflective tape, projection light, and a mini PC.

    Wang Xin

    “In the Flow of Becoming–An Awakening Art Log from a Fictional AI Artist” was a conceptually ambitious exhibition that was partially defeated by the glitches of digital technology—and by simple skepticism. The conceit had Wang Xin, a “human artist,” cede the gallery to WX, an invented artist who is an artificial intelligence. This avatar, according to the artist’s statement, was trying to achieve consciousness and required assistance in this mission from the public’s performance of creative tasks. The resulting participatory experiences, the artist claimed, would produce digital data to feed

  • Sin Wai Kin, Preface/Looking Without Touching, 2017, HD video, color, sound, 1 minute 2 seconds.

    Sin Wai Kin

    In “It’s Always You,” Sin Wai Kin (formerly known as Victoria Sin) cast a dazzling cross-cultural dragnet to celebrate the plurality of possible identities in a world where binaries still dominate our collective imagination. The multimedia exhibition, with works made between 2016 and 2021, was an ode to disassembling preconceived notions of being in favor of the open-ended journey of becoming.

    The itinerary began with Preface/Looking Without Touching, 2017, a single-channel video installation showing the artist in a diamanté choker, red lingerie, and matching thigh-high boots stretched out on a

  • Alice Wong and Aryan Javaherian, US & THEM, 2019, multichannel video installation, gauze, dimensions variable.
    picks January 12, 2022

    “Spinning East Asia Series I: A Compass in Hand”

    Showcasing fifteen individuals and collectives working within an expanded notion of textiles, “Spinning East Asia Series I: A Compass in Hand” explores the titular region as a sociopolitical, geographic, and cultural construct.

    Locally, Lau Chi Chung’s installation The Dayspring of Eternity, 2021, gathers mementos from Hong Kong’s North Point neighborhood: A hand-embroidered panorama of Shanghai’s Bund evokes the settlers of the 1940s and ’50s who brought with them cosmopolitan mores, while photographs of the derelict State Theater Building, built by George W. Grey and Lun So-Fo in 1952 and closed

  • Isabella Isabella Death is the calling of a seashell witch, October 2021.
    picks November 06, 2021

    Katie Ho and Isabella Isabella

    Katie Ho’s “Domestic Landscape” and Isabella Isabella’s “Death is the calling of a seashell witch” may be billed as dual solo exhibitions, but together these two shows offer a cohesive meditation on the disjointed and lonely search for intimacy in conditions of confinement.

    Clustered in a single custom-built room, Ho’s installation Domestic Landscape, 2021, echoes the artist’s experience “tackling endless tedious things, day and night,” after becoming a full-time mother. Rendered in acrylic on watercolor paper mounted on wood, the brightly colored compositions of tightly wound abstract forms—I

  • Radenko Milak, Drone delivers aid to people amid the lockdown measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Catapilco, Valparaiso Region, Chile, April, 2020, watercolor on paper, 13 3/4 × 9 3/4".

    Radenko Milak

    The black-and-white watercolors in Radenko Milak’s exhibition “Sideratio” were made between February and April of this year, while the artist was confined to his home in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, watching the Covid-19 pandemic unfold globally via the screen. As the exhibition’s emotional compass, the Latin title—referring to the malign influence of a particular configuration of the stars, and, more recently, as explained in the press release, a state of numbness resulting from a traumatic event—suggested a personal starting point for broader reflection. To document and potentially

  • Liesl Raff, Palm 3, 2020, palm leaf, latex, talcum, aluminum wire, 55 x 12 x 4".
    picks July 27, 2020

    Liesl Raff

    To enter this exhibition requires crossing the physical and symbolic threshold of a steel, latex, and palm leaf structure resembling a hastily constructed cabana roof and suspended at a forty-five-degree angle to the gallery’s front facade. For this work, titled Transition 3 (all works 2020), Liesl Raff rubbed silicone oil into the tensile latex and sprinkled talcum powder onto the brittle palm fronds, taking care to modulate the materials’ hue and moisture. Framed by this mise-en-scène, the exhibition explores how a post-Minimalist lexicon might create intermediary states in daily life. 

    Take,

  • View of “Milica Tomić,” 2020.

    Milica Tomić

    In her research-based practice of the past twenty years, Milica Tomić has delved into various historical and national contexts in which the suspension of laws and civic culture became a long-term strategy to manage the life and death of populations. Opening just before the Austrian government enacted strict measures to confront the Covid-19 pandemic, her exhibition “The Small Letter ‘a’” was a poignant intervention in this attenuated time.

    As a focal point, her installation The Museum in Suspension, 2020, paid tribute to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade, a modernist icon designed in 1960

  • Luisa Kasalicky, Synonym for Group Seven, 2019, tempera, gouache, and oil on canvas, 78 3⁄4 × 74 3⁄4".

    Luisa Kasalicky

    It was difficult to approach Luisa Kasalicky’s “Tiefschlaf in der Stadt” (Deep Sleep in the City) without thinking of Adolf Loos, the preeminent Viennese architect of modernity. His polemic “Ornament and Crime,” published in 1913, was a seminal denunciation of the Secessionist idiom: the Art Nouveau style still associated with the city’s turn-of-the-century avant-gardism. Arguing on both moral and economic grounds, Loos claimed that “the evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornament from utilitarian objects.” Just over a century later, in works dating from between 2014 and

  • The Prater, Leopoldstadt, Vienna. Photo: Nuit Banai.
    slant April 02, 2020

    Letter from Vienna

    LAST MONTH WAS SUPPOSED TO MARK the grand opening of the Albertina Modern in Vienna. Instead, the city’s last public gathering took place just days before the museum’s scheduled opening, on March 8, when the Croatian curatorial collective What, How, and for Whom (WHW) inaugurated their exhibition at Kunsthalle Wien with nearly two thousand visitors who hugged, kissed, drank, and sang songs of solidarity with the self-organized anti-fascist polyglot choir Hor 29. Novembar. Since then, the habitually sleepy capital of the Alpine state has gone into a state of near-total social and civil hibernation.

  • Ilit Azoulay, Forget Me Not, 2019, ink-jet print, 33 1⁄8 × 92 1⁄2". From “Transferumbau: Liebling” (Transfer Rebuild: Liebling).

    “Transferumbau: Liebling”

    A collaboration between the Liebling Haus in Tel Aviv and the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation in Dessau, Germany, “Transferumbau” (Transfer Rebuild) was the outcome of a three-year research project conducted by the curator Hila Cohen-Schneiderman and the artists Ilit Azoulay, Lou Moria, Nir Shauloff, and Jonathan Touitou. The exhibition, appearing concurrently in both cities, took its cue from the Haavara Agreement, a controversial deal made in 1933 between Zionist organizations and Nazi Germany that allowed the most affluent of the country’s Jewish population to leave for Mandatory Palestine and

  • Adrian Paci, Prova (Test), 2019, HD video, color, sound, 10 minutes 16 seconds.

    Adrian Paci

    Spending time in Adrian Paci’s survey exhibition “Prova” (Test) in the days following the earthquake that shook Albania in November 2019 felt both strange and apt. The artist, who was born in the northern Albanian city of Shkodër and is now based in Milan, presented a range of works dating from 1999 to 2019. Among them were two pieces from the photographic series “Back Home,” 2001, showing individuals and families who emigrated from Albania placed before depictions of the homes they left behind; Home to Go, 2001, a white marble-dust and resin sculpture of a hunched man weighed down by the tiled

  • View of “Dina Shenhav,” 2019. From left: Merkava (Chariot), 2019; Soldier #3, 2018.

    Dina Shenhav

    Developed by the Israeli Defense Forces in the 1970s, the Merkava is a battle tank used widely in Israel’s military operations. It was recognized by the American conservative magazine The National Interest as one of the five deadliest tanks in the world. Dina Shenhav’s sculpture Merkava (Chariot), 2019, appearing in an exhibition of the same title, occupied a vast portion of the gallery space with its impressive scale and meticulously detailed surfaces. Yet this model had been hand-fabricated entirely of foam (with a wood armature) and thus deprived of its lethal force. The malleability of the