Rachel Churner

  • Squeak Carnwath

    I walked into Squeak Carnwath’s exhibition just after hearing Carolee Schneemann had died. Raw from the loss of an artist who refused to smooth out her contradictions in the service of easy consumption, I was particularly receptive to the stimulating and unapologetic mixture of fatalism, anger, and humor that characterizes Carnwath’s work, much as it does Schneemann’s. Certainly, I had underestimated the Oakland, California–based artist’s ferocity.

    Carnwath builds her paintings on grounds of milky white, cream, beige, and light gray, layering alkyd oil colors so that the surface becomes a dense

  • Erica Baum

    Via close-ups of found language on partially erased chalkboards, View-Master discs, and newspaper clippings, Erica Baum has established herself as an insightful and nimble poet-photographer. Lists in particular yield an unexpected beauty under her gaze. Take Untitled [Suburban Homes], 1997, a picture of an old-fashioned library card catalogue that cleverly isolates a pair of consecutive tabs marked suburban homes and SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES; or How Long, 2011, which features bits of dialogue along the diagonal fold of a dog-eared page. Even when Baum spotlights an image rather than a text (her

  • Martha Rosler

    Martha Rosler doesn’t suffer fools. Pointedly and with blunt humor, the artist has delivered biting critiques of the misogyny, racism, and exploitative economics that characterize American capitalism and its hypocrisies. Yet the sheer volume of works in “Irrespective,” the Jewish Museum’s potent survey covering roughly fifty years of Rosler’s artmaking, resists any attempt to pigeonhole her art as purely “about” feminism or gentrification. The museum’s cramped first-floor galleries—in which photographs, videos, installations, and sculptures had been wrangled into unruly sections—work to reinforce

  • Hedda Sterne

    In Nina Leen’s iconic photograph The Irascibles, painter Hedda Sterne stands on a table behind a group of fourteen abstract painters, all men, who confront the camera with somber expressions. In her coat and hat, with a shiny purse dangling from folded arms, she towers over Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, and the rest. When it was published in the January 1951 issue of Life magazine, the picture bestowed upon the enigmatic Sterne a mythic status. She was posed at a slight remove from the group, her role unclear: Was she a fellow artist or a muse? Despite her extraordinary life

  • ANNETTE MICHELSON

    WHAT COMES WITH VERY OLD AGE, Annette Michelson often told me, is a necessary pragmatism—and being pragmatic, she’d add with a wry smile, was never something that interested her. For almost thirty years, Annette had intended to publish a collection of her writings on film, but there always seemed to be a more compelling project vying for her attention. Sometimes it was her own: She was researching Ivan Pavlov and Mechanics of the Brain, the 1926 documentary Vsevolod Pudovkin made on the physiologist’s experiments, for a new essay until just a few months before her death. Sometimes she was

  • Juliana Cerqueira Leite

    During the inaugural Antarctic Biennale in 2017, held aboard research vessels surrounded by icy desolation, the artist Juliana Cerqueira Leite met the architect Barbara Imhof while working on shee (Self-Deploying Habitat for Extreme Environments), inflatable housing for inhospitable terrain. Funded in part by the European Union’s Seventh-Framework Programme, the shee comes fully equipped with a kitchen, sleeping quarters, and working areas to provide one week of shelter. The artist obtained plans for a shee and built a cardboard-and-wood three-quarter scale replica in

  • Gravity and Grace

    FOR MAREN HASSINGER, uncertainty is both the origin and the destination of artmaking. “I don’t know where I come from and I don’t know where I’m going,” she wrote for the exhibition catalogue accompanying “Maren Hassinger . . . Dreaming,” her 2015 retrospective at Atlanta’s Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. But while some artists burrow into mystery’s solitudes, Hassinger is inspired by solidarity. “This is the life I share with everyone. We are equal in this predicament. We are all passing through. From this untenable place, I make things.”

    Her modesty echoes the restraint of her elegantly

  • Judith Eisler

    Judith Eisler paints from film stills. This fact is often the first thing you hear about the artist, as if the conceit, which she has productively mined for more than two decades now, is sufficient to explain the formal qualities and conceptual underpinnings of her work. Snapping pictures while pausing movies on her DVD (or, in another age, VHS) player, Eisler freezes moments meant to be fleeting—capturing headlights in the fog, for example, or exhaled cigarette smoke, a backward glance—and renders them in oil. Blurry and slightly distorted, the resulting paintings are explications of

  • Diana Moore

    Diana Moore’s eleven-foot-tall Head of Justice, 1991, commands a plaza in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Building & Courthouse in Newark, New Jersey. And the artist’s stainless-steel statue of Figure of Justice, 1998, at nine and a half feet tall, towers over the foyer of another courthouse in Concord, New Hampshire. Working as a figurative sculptor since the late 1960s, Moore gained prominence with these and other 1990s commissions by the US General Services Administration—they are touchstones of her practice. Intended to stand as universal figures, the monuments nonetheless

  • Maren Hassinger

    Maren Hassinger’s stunning exhibition “As One” covered more than forty years of the artist’s elegant and unassuming productions, and left me wanting more. (Thankfully, the Studio Museum in Harlem is presenting her sculptures in Marcus Garvey Park through 2019, and a large-scale exhibition organized by Los Angeles’s Art + Practice and the Baltimore Museum of Art opened at the latter this past summer). The eight works on view were spun from everyday materials, such as pink plastic bags (inflated with the breath of the artist and gallery staff) and strips of muslin dyed with tea and coffee to

  • “CECILY BROWN: WHERE, WHEN, HOW OFTEN AND WITH WHOM”

    After an exhilarating show at the Drawing Center in 2016 that highlighted the immediacy and erudition of her works on paper, Cecily Brown doubled down on gestural painting, debuting several massive pieces—one of them thirty-three feet long—at Paula Cooper Gallery the following year. This fall, audiences in Denmark will get to see thirty of Brown’s paintings, many of them large-scale, exhibited alongside an extensive selection of her drawings and monotypes, most from the past twenty years. Curated by the Louisiana’s Anders Kold, “Where, When, How Often and with Whom” emphasizes

  • Zoe Leonard

    THE TITLE of Zoe Leonard’s exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, “Survey,” immediately positions both her practice and this presentation as elusive and defiant. Even the word itself freely slips between noun and verb. Organized by Bennett Simpson with Rebecca Matalon of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and debuting at the Whitney under the guidance of Elisabeth Sherman, the show is billed as the “first large-scale overview of the artist’s work in an American museum.” In both its austerity and its refusal of chronological order, the installation suggests that this is not

  • “For Us”

    Years ago, when I first moved to Brooklyn, my downstairs neighbor told me he was having a party. I was welcome to come, he said, but I should understand that if no one engaged me, it wouldn’t be personal. “The party’s for us,”was how he put it. I never forgot the precision of his message: As a white woman in a predominantly African American neighborhood, I wouldn’t be excluded, but my inclusion wasn’t a priority. I remembered this as I walked into “For Us,” a group show of eight female artists of color under thirty, curated by Kiara Ventura at BronxArtSpace. And while the particulars of who

  • Pam Lins

    Three years ago, Pam Lins exhibited a series of sculptures made after photos of sculptures, including a group of ceramics based on late-1920s images of spatial models by students at the Vkhutemas (Higher State Artistic and Technical Studios) in Moscow. It was a conceptual conceit well suited to her rigorous explorations of the ways in which reproduction tends to dominate our experience of objects. More specifically, those works addressed how we often perceive sculptures as flat and frontal, even when we know full well they are dimensional, and how we prioritize their contours at the expense of

  •  “Chloë Bass: The Book of  Everyday Instruction”

    Like the social-practice equivalent of Charles and Ray Eames’s 1977 film Powers of Ten, the work of artist Chloë Bass conceptualizes a steady pan outward from the individual (The Bureau of Self-Recognition, 2011–13) to the pair (The Book of Everyday Instruction, 2015–17) to the family (Obligation to Others Holds Me in My Place, 2018–). At Knockdown Center, her eight-part study of one-on-one interactions will be shown in its entirety for the first time. Through photographs, videos, installations, and interviews at sites across the US, Bass has documented what she

  • O PIONEER!

    TWO THOUSAND SEVENTEEN was a milestone year for the irrepressible Barbara Hammer. In October, the seventy-eight-year-old pioneer of experimental queer cinema, who has produced almost ninety films over the course of her five-decade career, was the “first living lesbian” to receive a retrospective at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York. Titled “Evidentiary Bodies,” the exhibition was a testament to the singular combination of sincerity and irreverent humor that characterizes her sex-positive feminism. Featuring an impressive range of films and videos, early drawings,

  • Carissa Rodriguez

    The production quality of Carissa Rodriguez’s twelve-minute 4K video The Maid, 2018, is as impeccable as its main characters—Sherrie Levine’s crystal and black-glass “Newborns,”1993–95. Commissioned for Rodriguez’s first solo exhibition at a New York museum and projected onto a screen suspended at a tasteful diagonal in the center of SculptureCenter’s cavernous main gallery, The Maid tracks Levine’s sculptures over the course of a day, with brooding shots of the works in several upscale homes. In one scene, white-gloved attendants delicately remove a pristine, protective cloth from the

  • UP THE ANTI

    Dada: Art and Anti-Art, by Hans Richter, introduced and annotated by Michael White. London: Thames & Hudson, 2016. 376 pages.

    IN HIS INTRODUCTION to Dada: Art and Anti-Art (1964), a book that fifty years later still frames much of our understanding of the movement, Hans Richter claims that without a few vigilant ants among the “carefree grasshoppers” who constituted most of Dada’s main characters, proof of its uninhibited provocations might not exist. Richter’s allusion to the classic fable suggests at least some respect for the diligent ants, and perhaps even—contra Aesop—a rapprochement

  • Maryam Jafri

    I confess I’ve always secretly lusted after the giant, wall-hung crossword puzzles sold by such estimable purveyors as SkyMall and Hammacher Schlemmer. Measuring seven by seven feet and containing tens of thousands of squares, this is the kind of crossword that would require true commitment and would provide an unrivaled source of procrastination. Imagine my delight, then, upon seeing Maryam Jafri’s crossword installation Where We’re At (all works cited, 2017). Built within a one hundred-inch-square wooden frame in collaboration with New York Times puzzle maker Ben Tausig, Jafri’s thirty-six-clue

  • Anna Conway

    With their brooding tones, stark settings, and elusive narratives, Anna Conway’s paintings are the visual equivalents of spy novels. Like the best works in the genre (books by John le Carré, for example), Conway’s oils on canvas are marked by the abundance and clarity of their details—and by the thrill of trying to decipher which details are significant and which are merely mundane. Every object—from river-rock-paneled trash can to Castiglioni Arco lamp to safety-orange extension cord—is rendered with such precision that it can be difficult to figure out where the meaning resides.