Pamela M. Lee

  • Andrea Fraser

    WHEN ANDREA FRASER’S VIDEO Untitled was first shown in 2003, the reactions across the media spectrum were all too predictable. A silent, sixty-minute tape shot at New York’s Royalton Hotel, it captured a sexual encounter between the artist and an anonymous collector, who paid nearly twenty thousand dollars for the privilege. The real performance, arguably, took place well in advance, when Fraser negotiated a detailed contract of stipulations the collector had to meet. If art-world cognoscenti variously claimed they found the taped proceedings boring (which, given the delicate nature of the

  • Remote Possibilities: A Roundtable Discussion on Land Art’s Changing Terrain

    TIM GRIFFIN A number of artists have recently executed high-profile projects in remote places—“remote,” at least, from traditional art-world centers. In fact, we can count three individuals participating today among them: Pierre and his recent voyage to Antarctica, Rirkrit and the Land in Thailand, and Andrea with her High Desert Test Sites near Joshua Tree. Realizing, of course, that there are significant differences among these projects—and I hope we’ll shed good light on a few of these—working in a “remote” location seems to be a broader trend (think also of projects by Carsten Höller, Tacita

  • Dike Blair, Untitled (Mexico Airport), 1997, gouache and pencil on paper, 24 x 18". From “Vanishing Point.”

    “Vanishing Point”

    In his influential volume Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity (1995), Marc Augé writes of those uncanny sites—supermarkets, airports, and freeways—that seem at once everywhere and nowhere. This peculiar vision of architecture is the focus of “ Vanishing Point.” Comprising sixty-six works from the past decade, the show reveals that the “non-place” is familiar stomping ground for art-world stalwarts and relative newcomers alike—among them Ed Ruscha, Dike Blair, Luisa Lambri, and e-Xplo, an artist collective that has created an installation based

  • Gordon Matta-Clark, Anarchitecture, 1974, black-and-white photograph, dimensions variable. From “Open Systems.”

    Open Systems: Rethinking Art c. 1970

    For some, the “System” of the 1960s evoked images of a nameless and monolithic authority. For artists, however, the notion of “systems aesthetics” referred broadly to works of art conceived as open and expanding networks, a concept in dialogue with popular discourses around cybernetics. Former Tate curator Donna de Salvo takes up the importance of structures and systems in movements from Fluxus to Neo-concretism, Minimalism to Conceptualism. Spanning the mid-’60s through the ’70s, “Open Systems” features art in a range of media by over thirty artists—Bas Jan Ader, Marcel

  • Pamela M. Lee

    1 “A Minimal Future? Art as Object, 1958–1968” (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles) With massive, awe-inspiring cubes by the likes of such stalwarts as Tony Smith and Donald Judd, Ann Goldstein’s expansive exhibition of Minimalist sculpture and painting gave new meaning to the museum “blockbuster.” Yet who knew how funny, lush, and downright weird much of this supposedly austere work really is, as in the extraterrestrial-meets-surfer aesthetics of John McCracken’s gorgeous vermilion plinths?

    2 The Bontecou Effect This year saw a spate of important retrospectives by women artists (Lee Bontecou,

  • the demise of the slide projector

    IN THE EVER-EXPANDING universe of art engaging technology, an encounter with light seems a no-brainer: an absolute in those histories that begin with Renaissance optics, reach a crescendo with the emergence of photography, and of late, dally with the light-emitting diode. The historical roll call of these developments—which typically includes Vermeer and Moholy-Nagy, Flavin, Turrell, and Holzer—stresses the role of light as a medium no less secure or self-evident than oil paint, clay, marble, or canvas. Less discussed, but no less important, is the oblique contribution light plays in the evaluation

  • Ant Farm, House of the Century, 1971–73, Angleton, TX. Photo: Richard Jost, Chip Lord, and Doug Michels.

    Ant Farm

    The picture that emerges from the Berkeley Art Museum’s fascinating retrospective of Ant Farm, the experimental architecture collective founded by Chip Lord and Doug Michels in 1968, is one of relentless flatness. Co-organized by Constance Lewallen, senior curator of exhibitions, and Steve Seid, video curator at the Pacific Film Archive, the show overwhelms as an endless horizon of two-dimensional stuff: All matter of ephemera, expansive wall texts, and publicity material test the audience’s readerly skills as much as their visual inclinations. This quite literally superficial gestalt may at

  • Pamela M. Lee


    1 Marine Hugonnier, Ariana (Venice Biennale) In the hothouse laboratory that was “Utopia Station,” French-born, London-based artist Marine Hugonnier’s 2003 film Ariana, a spare, poetic meditation on a trip to Kabul, might now be read as a fitting riposte to the blague and bombast of the “embedded” reporting of America’s other unfinished war. In attempting—and failing—to film a panoramic view of the city, Hugonnier assembled footage that was quotidian where mainstream media images of Kabul were traumatic, and reflective where others were reactive. Ariana represents a


    You could call it a pathology of self-definition. Either that or a severe case of “boundary issues.” For close to ten years now, that ambient phenomenon known as the art world has been hit by what amounts to an identity crisis, more often than not figured under the sign of globalization. Flip through the catalogues and magazines, survey the principal actors and bit players, track the ever-proliferating biennials—from São Paulo to Shanghai to Istanbul—and witness the art world’s struggle to rethink its audiences and range of influence, its norms and procedures. But just how precisely has the art

  • Christian Marclay, Footstompin’, 1991, album covers and thread, 17 1/4 x 36". From the series “Body Mix,” 1991–92.

    Christian Marclay

    Karlheinz Brandenburg is a name that would probably ring few bells for visitors to Christian Marclay’s midcareer retrospective at the UCLA Hammer Museum, but in critical respects, he stands as a kind of shadow figure to the artist’s investigations into the intersection between sound and visual culture. Surveying Marclay’s output of the last two decades—collaged album covers, altered vinyl, and musical instruments retooled into sculptural objects, as well as video and photography—one confronts a host of musical references as a matter of course: John Cage, Sonic Youth, any number of mixmasters

  • Eva Hesse, Untitled, 1969; Untitled (Rope Piece) (detail), 1969-70. Installation view.

    Eva Hesse

    Eva Hesse remains a strangely undecidable figure. Since her death at a premature age thirty-two years ago, critics and historians have been unanimous in their acclaim for her art but with little consensus as to what makes it important. Much of the debate rests, no doubt, on the fact of Hesse’s too brief life and the broken-record narration of her biography: Hers is a career endlessly reduced to art-historical boilerplate, all morbid excess and spectacular tragedy. She has been variously treated as a protofeminist reckoning with the Art World Boys Club; a childhood survivor of the Shoah; a patron