Rachel Churner

  • Jenny Perlin

    The Child of the Cavern, or Strange Doings Underground is one of more than fifty novels in Jules Verne’s Extraordinary Voyages series from the late nineteenth century. In the story, a miner discovers a young woman in a pit and takes her to the earth’s surface for the first time. Despite her wonder at the world above, she returns happily to her subterranean home, astutely declaring that darkness is as beautiful as light. Artist Jenny Perlin named Verne’s book as the point of departure for her exhibition “The Long Sleepers,” but it was clearly more than that: Like a spirit guide, the narrative

  • On the Eve of the Future

    MIT PRESS has just published On the Eve of the Future, a collection of essays on film written by scholar Annette Michelson over the course of three decades. Art historian Rachel Churner, the editor of the volume, spoke with Michelson to reflect on the development of this body of writing, from Michelson’s early encounters with avant-garde cinema in Paris in the 1950s and ’60s to her pioneering work establishing film as a subject of criticism and scholarship in America, first at Artforum and then as a founding editor of October.

    RACHEL CHURNER: On the Eve of the Future is a collection of essays

  • Brian O’Doherty

    Nearly twenty years after Barnett Newman’s second exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery—the now-canonical show at which he presented Vir Heroicus Sublimis, 1950–51; The Wild, 1950; and Here I, 1950, to widespread critical disdain—and only a few months after his death, the Irish artist Brian O’Doherty debuted a series of sculptures in the same space. Six feet tall and under three inches wide and thick, these works were each made from two strips of polished aluminum that had been joined together at angles to form a V- or W-shaped groove and then “framed” by strips of painted wood. On

  • Susan Lipper

    As Susan Lipper laconically tells it, a “series of chance events” led her from New York to Grapevine Branch, West Virginia, in the late 1980s. There, in this tiny Appalachian community at the southwestern tip of the state, she “was immediately adopted by most of the inhabitants and, in particular, by a certain family.” She lived among the residents of Grapevine off and on for several years, taking a series of black-and-white photos whose immediacy and intimacy made it clear that she had, indeed, become part of the fold. The images that form “Grapevine,” 1988–92, are mostly of hard-living

  • Cecily Brown

    Cecily Brown’s exhibition at the Drawing Center, the first devoted exclusively to her works on paper, delivered everything we expect from the artist: sex, violence, prurient gestural marks, and bursts of garish color. Organized by Claire Gilman, the show included nearly eighty drawings, including works based on paintings by Bruegel, prints by Hogarth, photos by nineteenth-century pornographers, and even the cover of a Dover paperback of “copyright-free” animal figures. Brown created the works over twenty-some years using a variety of mediums (ink, colored pencil, watercolor, pastel) and sizes

  • Sara VanDerBeek

    “Pieced Quilts, Wrapped Forms” may have marked the first exhibition Sara VanDerBeek has explicitly devoted to her research on textiles, but the metaphor of weaving has shaped her practice for the past decade. The seductive C-prints that were on view in the show, most often images of objects built specifically for the camera, deftly interlace image and object, analogue and digital technologies, historical precedents and contemporary production, and easily consumed beauty and labored research. Even as the sense of transgression that may have once motivated such combinations has waned—we are,

  • Jennie C. Jones

    Gray dominates Jennie C. Jones’s paintings, seven of which comprised her exhibition “Amplitude.” Cool and crisp, it is the color of the sound-absorbing panel layered atop canvas in Dark Tone, Red Pause, Gray Hush; warm and woolly, it is the color of the rectangular panel that she uses as her base for steely stripes of acrylic in Gray Measure with Muted Tone Burst; light and tinged with blue, it streaks a ground of white in Emanating Hum (all works 2016). But it is never just a color. Gray, Jones has written, is a “non color all color mixed together with a drop of light,” a “reflection of

  • Martha Rosler

    The inescapable feeling of weariness that permeated my visit to Martha Rosler’s packed exhibition was likely intensified by the summer’s political climate, in particular the improbable, disgusting rise of Donald Trump. With row upon row of protest posters, photographs, maps, videos, archival material, and artworks by more than forty-five contributors, “If You Can’t Afford to Live Here, Mo-o-ove!!” comprised an unwieldy exhibition and series of town-hall meetings organized by Rosler and the shadowy Temporary Office of Urban Disturbances. As a reprise of her monumental three-part exhibition “If

  • Larry Bell

    To hear Larry Bell tell it, it was all so simple: In the early 1960s, he stopped painting geometric forms on shaped canvases, what he calls “illustrations of volume,” and began to “make the volumes themselves.” This move from painting to scultpure—which is to say, the move from the representation of three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface to the production of those three-dimensional objects—was, he claims, the obvious next step. “From the ’60s,” Bell’s first exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, succinctly presented this transition with three monumental paintings (the stacked squares of

  • Carrie Moyer

    The Hall of Minerals at the American Museum of Natural History in New York is a kind of subterranean romper room: Frayed carpet covers the steps, platforms, and walls of the darkened spaces; geodes and samples of petrified wood are spotlit in circular hollows, open to touch by roaming toddlers; and the minerals are displayed in dusty backlit glass cases. In several vitrines, the specimens have started to crumble under the halogen spots, and a trail of powder has left its trace against the back of the display. The exhibition is mysterious, absorbing, and intimate. Standing before the fourteen

  • “Looking Back: The 10th White Columns Annual”

    Yesterday’s Newspaper, 2007, by Dave McKenzie, is just what its title announces: a folded issue of a day-old local paper resting on a low wooden platform. The piece provides a pause, a reminder of the headlines that earned our brief attention, one step out of sync with the nonstop twenty-four-hour news cycle. But it also repeats the pitiable fate of those above-the-fold stories: discarded one day past relevance, the paper on the pedestal must continually give way to time: another day, another yesterday. McKenzie’s piece, which appeared at the forefront of the White Columns Annual, also served

  • Tauba Auerbach

    When considering Tauba Auerbach’s work of the past few years, I am often sent down a rabbit’s hole of unfamiliar mathematical and scientific terms: entheogen, the Sierpiński curve, metamaterial, oscillator fret. I order books like The New Ambidextrous Universe and The Shape of Space and print out early-twentieth-century treatises like Projective Ornament. It is with great pleasure that I dive into her world, but also with a bit of trepidation: not only because—just between us—I don’t really understand the fourth dimension, a theme that has fascinated Auerbach for several years now,

  • H. C. Westermann

    Lined three deep on a massive table, the H. C. Westermann sculptures in this exhibition were stunning in their craftsmanship, blistering in their satire, and sometimes, as in the case of Walnut Box, 1964—a walnut box filled with walnuts—just plain funny. These small-scale constructions, some of the best that Westermann made, were accompanied here by forty-seven prints and drawings, two paintings, and eleven life-size assemblages.

    Colored by his time as a marine on the USS Enterprise (called the “Grey Ghost” because of Japan’s multiple claims to have sunk it) in World War II, and later

  • Brigid Berlin

    “Everyone, absolutely everyone, was tape-recording everyone else,” Andy Warhol noted about the Factory days. Everyone, perhaps, but no one as avidly as Brigid Berlin. From the 1960s through the ’70s, Berlin made thousands of tapes, recording everything from her morning calls with Warhol to the late-night local news. The droning audio of these tapes formed the backdrop to Berlin’s remarkable exhibition “It’s All About Me,” a collection of twenty-three Polaroids, more than forty “Tit Prints,” 1966–96, and a selection of journals and albums. The barely audible snippets of banal conversation seemed

  • Silvia Bächli

    Silvia Bächli has invoked the words of the late Danish poet Inger Christensen several times throughout the past decade, taking inspiration and installation titles from the renowned writer, and even dedicating her presentation for the Swiss Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009 to her. This exhibition, Bächli’s first in New York in four years, continued the Swiss-born artist’s deliberate, durable engagement with the poet: Its title, “further. evolves,” comes from Christensen’s 1969 masterwork it. Because most of Bächli’s works—like all those that were shown here—are untitled, language

  • Ulrich Rückriem

    For his first solo exhibition in New York in almost twenty years, Ulrich Rückriem quietly confounded the expectations of those familiar with his monumental sculptures. After all, it would not have been unreasonable to expect a spectacle like the one Michael Heizer presented at Gagosian earlier this year, that of an aging artist (now in his late seventies, Rückriem has been working consistently since the early 1960s) going bigger and brasher than ever before. But though Rückriem, like Heizer, is known for massive stone blocks, permutative methods, and an uncompromising, even contrarian personality

  • Harry Dodge

    When Harry Dodge speaks, he does so profusely: Why, his artworks suggest, let one example serve when six will make the point more vibrantly? Thus the superlative video Love Streams, 2015, a four-part, fourteen-minute riff on quantum physics, object relations, automatons, and “an extra-long extender-thing for the tray that holds your keyboard,” a device that spreads as fancifully as its prolix description. Dodge’s staggering, stuttering descriptions are accumulative rather than taxonomic; examples are amassed and oppositions, images, and narratives are stacked atop one another rather than used

  • Jutta Koether

    The paintings in “Fortune,” Jutta Koether’s cogent show at Bortolami, were hung flush against the gallery walls and lit from above. For audiences familiar with the German artist’s practice, such an arrangement is enough to warrant an exclamation point, or at least a parenthetical gasp. That’s how strongly this relatively conventional hang runs counter to Koether’s installations of the past several years, in which paintings were suspended from the ceiling, placed against glass panels, positioned on angled partitions and columns, and illuminated by whatever natural light the gallery could muster.

  • Claudia Comte

    On a frigid day in March, Claudia Comte’s exhibition “NO MELON NO LEMON” provided a welcome respite from the gray of overcast skies and concrete construction. The yellow-and-white-striped paintings hanging on yellow-and-white-striped walls made the room feel sun blasted, the burnout effect pleasingly tempered by charred plywood panels banded by vertical cuts. Lustrous wood totems à la Jean Arp and Brancusi stood on plinths that seemed to have folded out from the panels, revealing the white wall beneath. These plinths, the strongest component of the exhibition, reinforced the tactility of both

  • Jan Schoonhoven

    Writing in 1965 about his friend and fellow cofounder of the Dutch Group Nul (Zero), Henk Peeters recalled the words of Jan Schoonhoven’s supervisor at the Dutch postal service, where Schoonhoven was employed from 1946 until his retirement in 1979: “There are no better bureaucrats than Schoonhoven, who pursues his work with such scrupulous precision.” For an artist committed to removing both content and intent from his work, such praise was high indeed. As the selection of handmade reliefs and drawings at David Zwirner made clear, Schoonhoven, who died in 1994, never strove for an aesthetics of