Sarah Lookofsky

  • View of “After History: Alexandre Kojève as a Photographer,” 2013.
    picks April 22, 2013

    Alexandre Kojève

    In a present where posthistorical, postpolitical, and, in the field of art, postmodern ideas prevail, looking back at a past theorization on the end of history hints at what retrospective reflections on our own contemporary might look like one day. Russian-born French philosopher Alexandre Kojève is best known for arguing that ideological history had come to a close with the French Revolution. From lecturing the likes of Bataille, Camus, Lacan, Merleau-Ponty, and Sartre in Paris during the 1930s to becoming a statesman instrumental in laying the foundation for what would become the European

  • View of “Double Crossings,” 2012–13.
    picks January 25, 2013

    “Double Crossings”

    Hans Schabus’s Los Angeles River Crossings, 2005, entailed walking the entire fifty-two-mile length of the waterway, documenting the more than one hundred overpasses that cross it. In a configuration of large tables in the gallery, this exhibition features a continuous map of the river from the desert to the sea, composed of isolated pages from the Thomas Guide—the ubiquitous map for getting a grip on the unwieldy sprawl of LA. Schabus has also installed a slide show featuring all the crossings, from pipelines to vehicular bridges. In a parallel venture displayed next to the first, the Center

  • View of “Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos,” 2012.
    picks December 11, 2012

    Rosemarie Trockel

    Rosemarie Trockel’s retrospective at the New Museum gives the German artist, celebrated in Europe but less known in the US, the thorough showcase she deserves. It is also a beautifully installed exhibition that finally and properly understands and utilizes the architectural frame that SANAA created for the institution five years ago.

    “Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos,” the title of the exhibition, alludes to a universe of too many parts that, though forming a system, cannot be coherently comprehended and interiorized by the mind. The futile museological model for attempting to grasp a material infinity

  • Thomas Kilpper, Pavilion for Revolutionary Free Speech, 2012, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks July 25, 2012

    Thomas Kilpper

    During the so-called cartoon crisis in 2005, the then Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen characterized the publishing and support of the caricatures of the prophet Mohammed as exemplary of Denmark’s signature defense of free speech. It was clearly this nationalist branding of speaking freely that prompted the German artist Thomas Kilpper’s contribution to the internationally curated Danish pavilion at the last Venice Biennale.

    Made up of large woodcuts—engraved with the likenesses of politicians, cultural personalities, businesspeople, and clergy from around the world, most of whom have

  • Mary Ellen Carroll, Federal (detail), 2003, twenty-four color photographs, each 20 x 24”.
    picks March 30, 2012

    Mary Ellen Carroll

    It is unclear what constitutes the public sphere in the United States—and even more so in Los Angeles. Apparently engaged in investigating this question, Mary Ellen Carroll’s current solo show presents Kruder and Dorfmeister, 1999–2000, Polaroids of every public library (at the time) in LA. The pictures are small, not always sharp, and black-and-white, thereby creating a formal conversation with the buildings themselves, which are also slight, forlorn, and generally rather unremarkable. Thus these structures are at pains to represent ideas of the public good out of which they were ostensibly

  • View of “Mary Kelly,” 2012, Postmasters, New York. From left: MIMUS: Act I-III, 2012, compressed lint, 83 1/2 x 61 x 2“; Mary Kelly and Ray Barrie, HABITUS: Type I, 2010, laser-cut acrylic, mirror, wood, 48 x 96 x 96”.
    picks March 05, 2012

    Mary Kelly

    Mary Kelly’s seminal works operate as much as intellectual inquiries as material exercises, consistently probing the liminal bond between the subjective and the collective. Over the past decade, she has assembled large framed works composed of multiple lint sections, each one produced in her dryer’s filter screen. During repeated loads of white and black garments, vinyl letters (which are subsequently removed after the cycle is finished) in each screen are surrounded by millions of tiny felted fabric particles, resulting in a feminized cryptogram that––rather than engaging in the futile capture

  • Sanja Iveković, Mihaela, 2002, ink-jet print, 55 1/8 x 39 3/8".
    picks February 28, 2012

    Sanja Iveković

    “Is this crumpled cockamamie on the floor supposed to be art?” Sneeringly uttered by a woman at Sanja Iveković’s retrospective, these words could not be more pertinent. The cockamamie is in fact the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, endorsed by 187 nations, with the exemption of a select few, among them Iran, Sudan, and the United States (which signed but did not ratify the document). Literalizing this sanctioned disregard, the artist has strewed throughout the exhibition crushed copies of the agreement, which yield a subtle sound track of scrapes and

  • View of “Über die Grenze: May Not Be Seen or Read or Done,” 2012.
    picks February 03, 2012

    Peter Fend

    The question of whether art is capable of changing the world continues to spark polarizing debate. Common arguments against art’s capacity for such change usually do not make explicit the underlying directives of such pronouncements. If art cannot change the world, a typical subtext runs, it should withdraw from social and political arenas altogether. Peter Fend, known for melding the spheres of Conceptual art and science since the 1980s, situates himself squarely in the opposing camp, fermenting the link between saying and doing, and thereby providing a test case for the relationships between

  • James Nares, Untitled (Pendulum and Gravity Drawing), 1976, pencil on paper, 8 1/2 x 11”.
    picks January 17, 2012

    James Nares

    Manhattan is an odd tabula rasa. In the press release for his latest exhibition, James Nares is quoted as saying that Lower Manhattan “nurtured the talent of a generation inspired by its vast emptiness.” While his statement of course misconstrues the centuries of building and demolition that preceded this artist’s arrival to the metropolitan site, such a willful denial of precedent is not uncommon in an emerging generation of makers. That said, the citation has a certain resonance with the works on view, which include drawings, photographs, diagrams, and objects that depict a Lower Manhattan

  • Trisha Brown, Untitled (Montpelier), 2002, charcoal on paper, 130 x 106 3/4”.
    picks January 10, 2012

    Trisha Brown

    Imagine Jackson Pollock’s toe prints in the midst of one of his most epic drippings. Viewing Trisha Brown’s works on paper instantly brought this image to my mind. Such a thought is not intended to suggest that every female artist needs a male precedent to garner relevance, but rather to ask how Brown’s practice might productively raise questions that complicate the received wisdom about the works of Pollock and other such “greats.” The show features Pollock-size vertical sheets of paper that contain black and gray charcoal and pastel markings—the inscriptions of a dance performed on each surface.

  • View of “Andrea Bowers,” 2011.
    picks December 05, 2011

    Andrea Bowers

    The content and forms of the women’s movement make up the stuff of Andrea Bowers’s latest exhibition. But it is form that overwhelms as one enters the gallery. Bowers has compiled a book consisting of materials collected from the past four decades of women’s struggles, and she has papered the materials onto two of the gallery’s walls as well. Many of the historical resources are drawn from a 1974 zine titled The New Woman’s Survival Guide, also the show’s namesake, which constituted an effort to disseminate information about organizations and services across the United States run by and for

  • Ann Lislegaard, TimeMachine, 2011, mirrored box with video projection, sound, dimensions variable.
    picks November 23, 2011

    Ann Lislegaard

    What is the ontology of science fiction? This seems to be at least one of the questions posed in Ann Lislegaard’s latest body of work. In one room, a computer-animated foxlike being with rolling eyeballs and a floppy tongue chatters in a stuttering and repetitive fashion: This cartoonish figment of human imagination has been created with a speech impediment. “And the mystery is not whether I have been in the future, but to believe what I actually found there,” it stammers, as part of a disjunctive account of time travel partially drawn from H. G. Wells’s 1895 Time Machine, often considered the