Stephen Squibb

  • Laura Poitras, My Country, My Country, 2006, digital video, color, sound, 90 minutes.


    WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE to look up at the night sky and know that a Predator drone might be directly overhead? In her documentaries—most famously, the explosive CITIZENFOUR—LAURA POITRAS unsparingly sheds light on the post-9/11 world, from the chaos of occupied Iraq to the outrages perpetrated by a rampant NSA. With her first solo museum exhibition, “Astro Noise,” opening February 5 at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, the artist-filmmaker exchanges illumination for immersion, deploying cinematic tactics in real space to convey the experience of life at the mercy of the security state. Here, STEPHEN SQUIBB considers the significance of both facts and affect in Poitras’s ever-provocative work.

    ON FEBRUARY 25, 2013, five weeks after she received her first message from an anonymous NSA whistleblower, and two weeks after her mysterious correspondent went radio silent for reasons unknown, Laura Poitras wrote in her diary:

    I think waiting for Citizen Four is distracting me from being able to focus. I’m at the point in 1984 where they have been arrested. I’m dealing with really dark forces.

    The next day, she recorded the idea for what would become her exhibition at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art:

    Why the fuck am I making long-form documentaries when other ways of working are so much

  • David Levine, WOW (work in progress). Performance view, BRIC House, Brooklyn, NY, January 24, 2014. Fab Morvan (Randall Smith) and Rob Pilatus (Joey Kipp). Photo: Ryan Muir.

    David Levine’s WOW

    “WHEN YOU INVENT THE PLANE, you also invent the plane crash,” Paul Virilio once observed. Every technology carries the seed of its inevitable failure and, as Virilio’s aphorism also suggests, there might be collateral damage when the flameout occurs. And so we can imagine a line running from the beginning of recorded sound—the initial, scratchy separation of voice from body—down to one fateful live MTV broadcast on July 21, 1989. It was then that the CD to which Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus were lip-synching skipped, exposing Milli Vanilli, the ridiculously ubiquitous pop duo, as just

  • Josiah McElheny, Czech Modernism Mirrored and Reflected Infinitely, 2005, hand-blown mirrored glass, transparent and industrial mirror, chrome and metal laminate, wood, electric lighting, 30 1/2 x 18 1/2 x 56 1/2".
    picks September 25, 2012

    Josiah McElheny

    “Some Pictures of the Infinite,” Josiah McElheny’s latest exhibition, begins with Collection of Glass Concerning the Search for Infinity, 1998–2011, a work consisting of glass plates bearing different Renaissance patterns inspired by the idea of infinity. Next are pristine reproductions of historical objects—historical both in the sense of replicas, for example re-creations like The First Glass Loving Cups, 1994–2007, glasses linked by a delicate chain and formerly produced for wedding ceremonies in a previous century, and in the sense of artifacts, as in Theory of Tears, 1995. Here, two dozen

  • Brody Condon, Future Gestalt, 2012, still from a color video in HD, 38 minutes 30 seconds.
    picks March 30, 2012

    Brody Condon

    “You are you, and I am I,” Fritz Perls wrote in 1969, in what became known as the Gestalt prayer, “and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped.” Brody Condon is less willing to leave things to chance, having recently built performances around historical group therapy techniques at the Hammer Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In his current show, both works appear as videos. The first, Future Gestalt, 2012, makes use of Perls’s Gestalt therapy, as its exercises are inflicted on a group of five performers appearing to dwell under Tony Smith’s

  • Michael Cooper, Trainer Tricycle III, 1993, wenge, sycamore, 29 x 30 x 26”.
    picks March 27, 2012

    Michael Cooper

    The line drawn between art and craft is in some sense analogous to the one drawn between theater and sport. Where the latter terms promise the visceral thrill of technical facility and execution—often within an immediately clear interpretative frame—the former are thought to be naturally more hermeneutic and resistant. Different expectations are ascribed to each, and as a result we often find ourselves marveling at the unexpected presence of the one within the other—as when a good game is praised as “great theater,” or an artist is noted, almost incidentally, as a craftsperson. Thus, though it

  • Althea Thauberger, The Next 78.6 Years, 2011. Performance view.
    picks November 01, 2011

    “Terms of Belonging”

    One quiet irony of the international art world is the persistence of national identity; rare is the wall text or label that does not denote an artist’s nationality alongside his or her date of birth. “Terms of Belonging,” a group show currently on view at Overgaden, is less a focused investigation of nationalism, however, than a series of interpretive frames, each revealing the edges of another.

    The eleven graphic posters from Johan Tirén’s series “Epilogues,” 2009–11, shift the official language used in reports by the Office of Regional Planning in Stockholm into the past tense. It’s a subtle