Sarah Lookofsky

  • Paulina Olowska, On the Bridge, 2020, oil and acrylic on canvas, 78 3⁄4 × 39 3⁄8".

    Paulina Olowska

    A painting shows a close-up shot of a woman’s face: Dark makeup rings her staring eyes. She wears multiple necklaces and a dark-pink shirt, 1960s boho style, and her hair is a shower of red curls. Around her mouth, faint inked lines compose a stylized mustache and goatee. She clutches a small barn owl to her face. Another work depicts a woman on a broken bridge. In the surrounding area, we see what looks like a decrepit manor house and a torn flag hanging from a pole. The woman has feathers in her hair and wears 1980s-style high-heeled boots and a long white scarf. She looks down; her lips are

  • Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Every Moment Counts (Ecstatic Antibodies), 1989, C-print, 24 × 20 1⁄4". From “Every Moment Counts: Feelings of AIDS.”

    “Every Moment Counts: Feelings of AIDS”

    How to tell the story of how art has been touched by a global epidemic? “Every Moment Counts: Feelings of AIDS” takes on the immense task of charting the impact of a disease that has lasted four decades and claimed more than thirty-six million lives worldwide. The show’s title—itself borrowed from a group of works by Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955–1989), who has received belated acclaim for staged photographs that combine Black bodies with objects that reference intersectional identity, desire, and spirituality—calls forth the urgency with which many artists in the exhibition made work while facing

  • Sissel Tolaas, SelfLifePortrait, 2005–, sink, fountain, pipe, ocean water, soap, dimensions variable.

    Sissel Tolaas

    Musty. Stinky. Floral. Vegetal. The critic is impoverished when it comes to the language of smells. In a heroic effort to make up for the absence of the olfactory in our understanding of the world, Sissel Tolaas has worked with smell for more than thirty years. Her practice spans and merges the aesthetic and the scientific through, for instance, an archive of smell molecules, a lexicon of smell-specific terms, and a research lab in Berlin.

    Rarely has a museum show felt so intense to me as did “RE,” Tolaas’s largest exhibition to date. (It will travel to the ICA Philadelphia in August.) Not only

  • Danielle Dean, Pleasure to Burn, 2012, HD video, color, sound, 7 minutes 42 seconds.
    picks May 19, 2017

    “Soft Skills”

    Martha Rosler’s text and image work Know Your Servant Series, #1: North American Waitress, Coffee Shop Variety, 1976, includes a list of remarks concerning the ideal female server, suggesting that she should be forthcoming but in the background, kind but impersonal, and a hard worker who never breaks a sweat. This group exhibition plays up such contradictions of feminized work while emphasizing its performative aspects and the real labor it requires to produce pleasure for others. Here, pieces associated with second-wave feminism such as Rosler’s are positioned alongside younger artists’ output

  • Kalle Brolin, Jag är Skåne - förbindelser mellan skånska kolgruvor och sockerindustrin (I Am Scania - Connections Between Coal Mines in Scania and the Sugar Industry), 2016, digital video, black-and-white and color, sound, 22 minutes.
    picks January 17, 2017

    “The Society Machine”

    The Swedish welfare state is internationally famed as egalitarian and progressive. Less acknowledged is the fact that it was co-constituted with the birth of industrial society in the country, which lifted it out of poverty and created the wealth necessary for redistribution but also engendered a multitude of political, cultural, and ecological changes. This exhibition’s title, “The Society Machine,” furtively evokes the churning of gears behind social cohesion, while the curation juxtaposes contemporary artworks with objects from various collections—normally separated into natural-, industrial-,

  • KwieKulik, The Monument Without a Passport (Police), 1978/2016, ink-jet print, 35 3/8 × 25 5/8".


    Mobility—of both people and art—was the primary focus of a recent show of the Polish team KwieKulik, composed of Zofia Kulik and Przemysław Kwiek, who collaborated between 1971 and 1987. Several works in this show, “The Monument Without a Passport,” referred to travel restrictions imposed on the couple by the Polish government. The ban was occasioned by documentation, in a Swedish exhibition catalogue, of works (A Bird of Plaster for Bronze – Malmö, 1974, and Man-dick, 1968–74) by both artists that, like other works for which KwieKulik are well known, found the pair using their official

  • Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled, ca. 1975, ink and graphite on paper, 9 1/2 × 9 1/2".
    picks April 08, 2016

    Nasreen Mohamedi

    In her landmark essay on the grid, Rosalind Krauss outlined the form’s reductive modernist ontology, and its exemplary capacity to align the work of art with its material support. In several diaries presented in Nasreen Mohamedi’s inaugural exhibition here, some of the artist’s supports are commercial notebooks, whose ready-made matrices she used to create linear inked compositions sometimes interwoven with strings of words that read like poetry.

    The strong showing of Mohamedi’s signature drawings, which have been steadily gaining international attention, however, departs from Krauss’s reading.

  • View of “Barbara T. Smith: The Smell of Almonds: Resin Works, 1968–1982,” 2015.
    picks March 13, 2015

    Barbara T. Smith

    There was a time when the words “Orange County art scene” did not summon images of Real Housewives and dolphin statuary. In the 1960s and ’70s, Southern California was a hotbed of experimentation, resulting principally from the preponderance of art schools there that fostered a multiplicity of practices, ranging from the ephemerals of Conceptual and performance art to the endurance of sculptural form. Barbara T. Smith—who attended two of the most defining institutions in the region during that period, Pomona College and University of California, Irvine—has consistently engaged both ends of the

  • Cristiano Lenhardt, Pintura–escalador (Painting–Escalator), 2014, two ink-jet prints, each 15 1/4 × 11 1/4".

    Cristiano Lenhardt

    The idea that an object exists only because the force holding it together is stronger than the force pulling it apart was the stated subject of Cristiano Lenhardt’s recent solo show “Matéria Superordinária Abundante” (Superordinary Abundant Matter). Citing this entropic premise as fundamental to the cultures of the indigenous inhabitants of Brazil, Lenhardt composed a show concerning the precarious balance between the made and the unmade that nothing and no one can achieve except temporarily.

    In a departure from his prior preoccupations with film and printmaking, Lenhardt culled commonplace

  • Judith Scott, Untitled, 2004, fiber, found objects, 29 x 16 x 21".
    picks December 23, 2014

    Judith Scott

    In Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince, the narrator recounts testing grown-ups by presenting them with a drawing of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. Most adults recognize it as a hat, causing the drawing’s maker to never again discuss “boa constrictors, or primeval forests, or stars” with them, but instead “bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties.”

    Judith Scott’s sculptures give a sense of shape-shifting between things like hats and processes like boa constrictors swallowing elephants. They are typically amorphous forms—mostly large yet small enough that they could still be

  • View of “Mariana Castillo Deball,” 2014. Floor: Vista de ojos, 2014. Walls: All works Untitled, 2014.

    Mariana Castillo Deball

    The visual techniques of colonialism—and their tenacious legacy in the present—were the focus of the Berlin-based Mexican artist Mariana Castillo Deball’s recent show “Vista de ojos” (View of the Eyes). Three larger-than-life photographs propped against the walls of the main gallery space all bore the title UMRISS (Outline), 2014. Each photograph depicts a mask, either facedown or in reverse, on a brightly colored gradated background. The images were inspired by an international advertising campaign from the 1980s for the antipsychotic drug Stelazine that featured masks from a variety

  • View of “Harun Farocki: Parallel,” 2014.
    picks September 12, 2014

    Harun Farocki

    In the rear gallery, a film documents a young, naked woman with a billowy 1980s hairdo and slip-on heels who reclines stiffly, her back arched, on a small stage. She has pillows below and around her, but they don’t provide support. Photographers and assistants dart around the platform, adjusting her body parts and the pillows while providing running commentary of the scene. The edges of the platform are rough and unpainted; at its periphery are big lights and a camera, tools, other people, and a dog. After the shoot, the girl has trouble standing again as the lights are shut off. The film is