Pamela M. Lee




    The financial crisis of fall 2008 is one symptom of a transition in the nature and form of global order. The most important question this transition raises is what new possibilities it is opening up; but before asking that, one has to understand also what the transition is closing down. Two of the best books I have read in the past year, Giovanni Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century (Verso) and Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Picador),

  • Gordon Matta-Clark, Clockshower, 1974, still from a color film in 16 mm, 13 minutes 50 seconds.

    Gordon Matta-Clark

    One of the most comprehensive Matta-Clark surveys ever to be staged in Europe, this exhibition aims to rescue the artist from the tendency to “musealize” his practice, according to the curators.

    If exhibitions on Gordon Matta-Clark seem a bit thick on the ground these days, at least the inaugural outing at the Palazzo delle Papesse–Centro Arte Contemporanea's new home promises a different approache. One of the most comprehensive Matta-Clark surveys ever to be staged in Europe—showcasing roughly seventy sculptures, photographs, drawings, video, and films from 1969 to 1978 as well as re-creations of some of the artist's best-known interventions—the exhibition at the Santa Maria della Scala, a renovated, thirteenth-century hospital, aims to rescue


    OVER THE COURSE OF THEIR COLLABORATION, Dutch artists Jeroen de Rijke and Willem de Rooij produced a highly reflective and elliptical body of work tracing the recursive economy of the image: its affective power, its capacity to seduce and organize perception, and its mediation of time and subjectivity. In 16- and 35-mm films, as well as in photographs, objects, and installations, de Rijke/de Rooij—who worked in tandem from 1994 until de Rijke’s untimely death, at the age of thirty-five, in 2006—methodically parsed the mechanics of the image, deploying a wealth of radically heterogeneous sources


    WHERE QUESTIONS OF MEDIUM and making are concerned, most art criticism seems patently uninterested in (if not fundamentally incapable of) dealing with issues of production. Why obsess over the stuff of MFA curricula and fabrication trade manuals, goes the rationale, when more urgent issues are at stake? Given the choice between a meditation on aesthetics and politics, say, or on the latest shoptalk about rapid-prototyping technology, the decision seems made in advance.

    Perhaps it’s a decision worth reconsidering. We should hardly need convincing that questions of production are continuous with

  • Jeroen de Rijke–Willem de Rooij

    Dutch duo de Rijke/de Rooij (sadly divided by the untimely death of Jeroen de Rijke last year) gained acclaim for their 16- and 35-mm films—intensely concentrated studies of landscapes, interiors, and human interactions, as crystalline in their focus as they are nearly static in their presentation. These decisively non-narrative films, which might take a church interior, a graveyard, or a nineteenth-century carpet as their putative subject matter, offer slow-mo reflections on the role of filmic and photographic images in contemporary culture.

  • View of “A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s,” 2007, University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA. Photo: Ben Blackwell.

    “Bruce Nauman in the 1960s”

    SOME FORTY-ODD YEARS after Bruce Nauman began tweaking the conventions of studio practice and the hallowed persona of the artist-as-seer, his station in postwar art history rests secure. His influence—whether through his affectless, task-based performances, his sculptural castings of negative space, or his intermedia mash-ups of language, video, and noise—is everywhere apparent in contemporary art. Nauman’s reputation is, in short, not at issue today; what remains unsettled is the specific nature of his contribution. Recent scholarship has made significant developments in complicating

  • Christian Philipp Müller, Ein Balanceakt (A Balancing Act), 1997. Performance view, Documenta 10, Kassel, Germany. Christian Philipp Müller.

    Christian Philipp Müller

    Since the mid-1980s, Christian Philipp Müller has produced mixed-media work indebted in various ways to the site-specific art of the ’60s and ’70s.

    Since the mid-1980s, Christian Philipp Müller has produced mixed-media work indebted in various ways to the site-specific art of the ’60s and ’70s. His well-known 1993 piece Green Border, for instance—consisting of illegal border crossings into all the countries surrounding Austria—recalled the performance-driven practices of Land art while invoking more recent geopolitical themes. This midcareer retrospective documents Müller’s work from 1986 to the present. It also features an extensive project, developed specifically for this exhibition—an exploration of Basel’s St.

  • the 2006 Singapore Biennale and the 6th Gwangju Biennale

    IF THERE IS ONE THING more predictable than the inexorable expansion of the global biennial circuit, it’s the litany of complaints that trails in its wake. Whether in Berlin or São Paulo, so the refrain goes, these exhibitions routinely suffer from a fatal bout of sameness: same high-profile curators, same artists, same blather about the “world-class” status of the host city, same jaded audiences. Critics have ample reason for their disaffection, no doubt. With biennials serving as yet more layovers in the ever-lengthening itinerary of the international art market, it has become increasingly

  • the World Social Forum

    “ANOTHER WORLD is possible”: Since 2001, the World Social Forum, an international summit of social movements, NGOs, and activists, has rallied behind this slogan in its efforts to combat the advance of neoliberalism and its welter of geopolitical ills. Envisioned as a grassroots/populist counterpoint to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the WSF describes itself as an “open meeting place” and a “permanent world process,” an antidote to “dominion of the world by capital and any form of imperialism.” Such unbridled utopianism is paradoxically bolstered by hard-nosed tactics. This is

  • the best books of the year

    Twelve scholars, critics, and artists choose the year's outstanding titles.


    A book like Alastair Wright’s Matisse and the Subject of Modernism (Princeton University Press) is enough to rekindle my faith in the future of art history as a discipline. (Here I could also mention two other such rare pearls from 2005: Maria Gough’s The Artist as Producer: Russian Constructivism in Revolution [University of California Press] and Christina Kiaer’s Imagine No Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism [MIT Press]). The first amazing trait of Wright’s book is that it manages


    IN MATHIAS POLEDNA’S 16 mm black-and-white film Version, 2004, silence is deafening. The Los Angeles–based, Austrian-born artist’s most recent film features a dark space in which a group of young dancers sway languidly, their movements registering an unhurried and tranquilizing rhythm. The setting is strangely airless, a spatiotemporal vacuum that indicates nothing of its location; the music is audible only to those on screen as they weave about in a kind of trance-induced shuffle, an affectless ten-minute performance that loops repeatedly when projected. Poledna trains his camera on the dancers:

  • “Odd Lots: Revisiting Gordon Matta-Clark's 'Fake Estates'”

    Also on view at the Queens Museum of Art

    Between 1973 and 1974, Gordon Matta-Clark bought fifteen tiny, oddly shaped fragments of land from the City of New York at auction, a meditation on property rights he called “Fake Estates.” In what promises to be the definitive statement on this project, “Odd Lots,” jointly organized by Cabinet magazine, the Queens Museum of Art, and White Columns, will both revisit the sites Matta-Clark purchased and invite nineteen artists—including Isidro Blasco, and Mierle Laderman Ukeles—to respond to the plots