Philip Auslander

  • Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio

    Students in Auburn University’s Rural Studio program, founded in 1993 by architect Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee (1944–2001), confront the problem of building for the residents of the Alabama counties known as the “Black Belt,” one of the poorest areas in the United States. The students act not as caseworkers but as architects seeking to understand the needs and desires of their clients, and the resulting structures, developed in stages by successive groups of students, have taken the form of private residences, cafés, meeting halls, and churches. All are constructed at the lowest possible cost from

  • Mélik Ohanian

    It all started promisingly enough. While surfing the Web, Armenian-French artist Mélik Ohanian discovered someone with the same name as his living on Long Island. This reminded him of a family story, typical of the Armenian diaspora: After the Turkish genocide of 1915, family members of his grandparents’ generation traveled in three different directions: to the United States, to France, and to Argentina. Unable to find evidence of a Mélik Ohanian in Buenos Aires, Ohanian imagined collaborating with his American namesake on an art project for which the two of them could work together to fabricate

  • Darren Murray

    Need a vacation? Maybe Darren Murray can help you out. The titles of all but one of the six paintings in his exhibition “Constructed for Leisure” contain words or phrases like PEACEFUL, SERENE, and GET AWAY-FROM-IT-ALL: the rhetoric of travel brochures. The works offer glimpses of tranquil destinations presented in a highly conventionalized style that reminds us of the extent to which our concepts of peace, serenity, and escape, as well as the things we do in pursuit of them, are now defined by standardized representations and reliably homogeneous encounters.

    Murray’s uniform formats (medium-sized

  • “Il Respiro nascosto delle cose”

    An armoire, a mattress, a few stools, some plates, a steel table, and a mirror—the objects almost add up to a household, or at least a room. One could imagine living in the world of “Il Respiro nascosto delle cose” (The secret inspiration of things), though it would be very modest living—the simple white dress in the armoire was made of paper; the stools were old and worn; the plates were mismatched and lay on the floor.

    An air of quiet mystery suffused these objects. Inside Lena Liv's Senza titolo (armadio) (Untitled [wardrobe]), 2001, a white dress, possibly a hospital gown, hung next

  • Bertozzi & Casoni

    The gallery seemed to be piled with garbage—dead car batteries, torm boxes, kitschy animal statuettes. and feces—with snails crawling all over. It was only when you realized that what seem to be assemblages of found objects are actually ceramic sculptures that the work revealed itself as a tour de force of a medium pushed in unexpected directions. By playfully describing themselves as a ceramics production company operating in an art context, Bertozzi & Casoni locate their work in the gray zones between artwork and product, fine art and craft, exhibition and decoration. It is entirely

  • Jim Waters

    Jim Waters paints in series: Each group of works on shaped panels explores a single form, such as a star burst. In this case, all the panels are shaped like the letter O, in many colors and sizes but always in the same font (narrower on the top and bottom). The front and sides of each O are generally painted in a single color mixed with glitter, while the back is coated with a contrasting color. The repetition of the scheme makes slight variations rather dramatic, as when the painted outer rim of a work provides a flat counterpart to the glitter on its front. The paintings are mounted a few

  • Beatriz Milhazes

    Beatriz Milhazes's acrylic paintings have the surging, breathtaking rhythm of a good fireworks display. Explosions of intense color combine and overlap without losing their own distinctive character. The efflorescence of hue in each painting is dramatic; it builds and develops. A small bouquet of flowers at the bottom of O Cravo e a Rosa (The clove and the rose), 2000, becomes the base of a vertical composition built of ever-larger petaled shapes, culminating in an ethereal, silvery blue cloudlike pattern that occupies nearly a third of the canvas. Milhazes captures that paradoxical moment when

  • Gretchen Huppel

    In Gretchen Hupfel’s recent black-and-white photographs, horrifying things are happening to airplanes: One plows into the side of a building; another crashlands on a factory roof; still another is about to collide with an enormous needlelike structure. The photographs’ laconic titles evoke an expert’s shorthand evaluations of the black-box tapes from these accidents: Spatial Disorientation (pilot error, induced); Touchdown (premature); Wind Shear (unforeseeable) (all works 2000). But the events in the photographs turn out to be fictional. With broad (if somewhat dark) humor, Hupfel photographs

  • Jessica Diamond

    For this show, Jessica Diamond invited the public to come to the museum and watch her make monumental wall paintings. It might seem that such an offer would seek to reinforce the mythology of creative expression by suggesting that the value and authenticity of the work depend on the artist’s physical production of it, but in Diamond’s case, to see exactly how the paintings are executed is to see the artistic process, at least in part, demystified.

    The paintings are realized from drawings projected onto the wall; for all their gestural immediacy, the final process itself is more akin to working

  • Cathy de Monchaux

    It is entirely fitting that Cathy de Monchaux creates sculptural constructions specifically to be installed in comers of rooms. Her objects do not just hang on the wall or sit on the floor: They lurk, lying in wait to trap the viewer’s gaze in lush, velvety folds or to impale it on spiky latticework. Because most of de Monchaux’s pieces are hung at eye level, they invite dose inspection. Surrendering to the impulse to approach for the near view, however, is often rewarded with the unsettling feeling that you have gotten too close to something you shouldn’t be seeing.

    The hallmarks of de Monchaux’s

  • Kojo Griffin

    IN KOJO GRIFFIN'S NEW mixed-media panels, enigmatic figures enact scenes redolent with anger, desire, sadness, pain: A man shakes a screaming child; two men face off, one holding a knife; a woman's joyful play with a toddler is shadowed by the sadness of an excluded male figure in the distance. The characters are strange creatures—people with animals' heads or patchwork effigies that look like the offspring of a teddy bear and a crash-test dummy. Because they are engaged in human interactions but aren't exactly human, they become emblematic of emotional states and interpersonal tensions

  • Laurie Anderson

    In the opening of Laurie Anderson’s newest performance, Songs and Stories from Moby Dick, 1999, a single shaft of light illuminates a large, black-bound book, its pages turning and fluttering. Although Anderson observes in her program note that only “approximately ten percent” of Melville’s novel appears in her piece, she does faithfully retell the tale of Captain Ahab’s monomaniacal pursuit of the white whale. Anderson’s efforts to capture the novel’s atmosphere noticeably affected her musical style: Much of the score is in the form of sea shanty–like songs for three male voices singing in