Sven Lütticken

  • Werner Herzog

    WERNER HERZOG HAS SPENT decades deconstructing the ossified categories of documentary and fictional film, incorporating real feats into feature films (most famously, of course, hauling a ship over a mountain in Fitzcarraldo [1982]) and introducing fictional elements into documentaries. This would seem to make him of great interest to contemporary art circles, which have for the past decade and more been deeply invested in such endeavors. But although he has a large following among artists, Herzog’s status in the art world has always been shaky. He has never spoken a language, either verbal or

  • Mario Garcia Torres

    The work of Mario Garcia Torres traces and restages half-hidden histories and lost moments. For example, the slide piece What Happens in Halifax Stays in Halifax (In 36 Slides), 2004–2006, explores the aftermath of a “secret piece” by Robert Barry, executed by students in Halifax in 1969; neither the black-and-white images nor the subtitles give direct clues as to the nature of this piece, which only exists, if at all, in the participants’ memories. Even while taking part in the current wave of reinvestigation, and sometimes fetishization, of historical Conceptualism, Garcia Torres is noteworthy

  • Gerald Raunig

    REVOLUTIONS ARE SHORT-LIVED, ephemeral events that shatter the continuity of history yet persist in acts of remembrance—official or alternative, pro or contra, systemic or incidental. However, the recent surge in “revolutionary” pop-cultural iconography, from the ubiquitous Che to the imagery and slogans of May ’68 and the Red Army Faction, seems designed to sabotage, rather than perpetuate, remembrance. In contrast to the nostalgia culture of the ’70s and ’80s, as analyzed by Fredric Jameson, which focused on pilfering the popular culture of earlier decades, today’s nostalgia industry also

  • Sven Lütticken

    THE TWO COMPONENTS of Thomas Demand’s exhibition at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini—part of the Venice Biennale’s ever-widening slipstream—constituted something of a study in contrasts. One presented a new photographic series, and the other combined a single photograph with documentation and, for the first time, one of the artist’s sculptural models.

    The series, “Yellowcake,” 2007, is business as usual for Demand, whose methods are by now well known: Working from found images, the artist creates cardboard replicas of real-world settings, which he then photographs; he exhibits the photos but typically

  • “After Neurath”

    The last few years have seen a growing interest in the work of Austrian philosopher Otto Neurath (1882–1945), who, after World War I, developed a system of “pictorial statistics” that he later dubbed ISOTYPE (International System of Typographic Picture Education). In collaboration with the artist Gerd Arntz, who executed the graphic symbols as linocuts, Neurath devised a method for making complex statistical information more easily accessible. Neurath was convinced that statistics could help enlighten people as to their social conditions, and that they were an essential tool for progressive

  • In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni

    THE FIRST and until now only major retrospective of the Situationist International was organized by the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1989. Hotly contested, it was hindered by Guy Debord’s boycott and by the withdrawal of his films from circulation. Now, almost thirteen years after the strategist’s demise, a show currently in Utrecht and traveling to the Museum Tinguely in Basel next month brings to light some interesting new materials, courtesy of Debord’s old allies and his widow. The exhibition addresses the history of the SI with an assortment of objects, collages, printed matter, and a few

  • BLACK BLOC, WHITE PENGUIN: RECONSIDERING REPRESENTATION CRITIQUE

    IN HELL FROZEN OVER, 2000, a video by the artistic collective Bernadette Corporation, images of fashion shoots replete with languishing, vacant-eyed models alternate with footage of Sylvère Lotringer—theorist and founder of the influential press Semiotext(e)—standing on the banks of a frozen lake and holding forth on Stéphane Mallarmé. Quoting from the poem “Le Vierge, le vivace, et le bel aujourd’hui” (The Virgin, the Vivid, and the Beautiful Today), with its evocation of flight arrested or frozen (“the lost hard lake haunted beneath the snow / by clear ice-flights that never flew away!”),

  • Aernout Mik

    Aernout Mik’s exhibition “Raw Footage/Scapegoats” consisted of two projects. Raw Footage (all works 2006), a two-channel video installation, is the artist’s first work employing found footage. Mik edited material shot during the war in the former Yugoslavia, gathered from the archives of Reuters and Independent Television News (ITN), into a 39-minute double projection. We always see more or less related footage on both screens; in one segment, for instance, dead bodies are dragged and carried in different ways by one or more people, resulting in a perverse typology of corpse displacement. In

  • Barbara Visser

    The title of this survey, “Vertaalde werken/Translated Works: Barbara Visser 1990–2006,” refers to the Dutch artist’s adaptation of her site-specific works to a new venue and format. Working with the Swiss designer Laurenz Brunner, Visser rethought the presentation of numerous photographs, videos, posters, installations, and ephemera from throughout her career. Perhaps the most eye-catching of these translations are the enormous black-and-white images that wallpapered one of the former Documenta 9 pavilions that house Museum De Paviljoens. One of these wallpaper blowups showed a poster from

  • THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

    ELEVEN SCHOLARS, CRITICS, AND ARTISTS CHOOSE THE YEAR’S OUTSTANDING TITLES.

    JOHN BALDESSARI

    Kierkegaard once said that his goal in writing was to make life difficult for people. I read Edward Said’s On Late Style (Pantheon) because its title suggested that it might offer insights into my life’s pursuit of trying to understand art. The subtitle of the book is Music and Literature Against the Grain. The photo of Said on the back cover shows his shirt collar slightly askew, which I chose to understand as an unintended message.

    There are no artists (in the narrow sense) discussed, but the book contains

  • Joep van Liefland

    Since 2002, Berlin-based Dutch artist Joep van Liefland has installed more or less ephemeral franchises of his Video Palace in places ranging from parking lots to art galleries. Although no two incarnations are identical, they always include shelves of old VHS cases for films from a variety of exploitation genres, as well as monitors or projections that show either a montage of appropriated footage or an “original” Video Palace production, usually some sort of quasi-porn starring van Liefland. Each Video Palace is accompanied by posters and slogans that tirelessly proclaim the stunning quality

  • Ryan Gander

    In much modern art, the beholder is “given” suggestive elements—such as a waterfall and illuminating gas—without much guidance toward an authoritative interpretation. Ryan Gander presents himself as a fervent proponent of this open-ended aesthetic: In a catalogue text accompanying his 2005 installation The Alpinist, Gander explained that the visitors were “given” a year (in the future), a character (an Alpinist), five hundred “completely alien” objects (seemingly made from concrete), and, lastly, moonlight. Gander closed his statement by asking “What would you give in return?” It is a question

  • “The Subversive Charm of the Bourgeoisie”

    Like many European and American museums, the Van Abbemuseum was founded by a wealthy industrialist. In “The Subversive Charm of the Bourgeoisie,” artworks and documents from the museum’s collections were combined with recent works that are said to contain “bourgeois elements.” In a Europe beset by discussions about (the need for) a renewal of bourgeois values or of a bourgeois lifestyle, such an exhibition is timely, although it turned out to be at least as confused as those discussions. In the media, the historical—and by now largely defunct—bourgeoisie is often turned into a caricature; various

  • Jean-Luc Moulène

    Jean-Luc Moulène’s 2005 project Le Monde, Le Louvre (which lent this show its title) took the form of a color supplement to the Parisian daily Le Monde and a small presentation at the Louvre. Stacks of Moulène’s supplement lay in front of the excavated walls of the medieval “Ancien Louvre,” as pointers to an adjacent exhibition space. Here, prints of the photographs reproduced in the paper were exhibited along with a video, Plus d’ordre, moins d’ordre (More Order, Less Order), 2005, that functions like an absurd making-of documentary: a ballet of hands with white gloves carefully handling

  • Melvin Moti

    Melvin Moti’s 16-mm film on DVD The Black Room, 2005, is a montage of two apparently disparate elements: footage of wall paintings from a village near Pompeii and a sound track consisting of an imaginary interview with the Surrealist poet Robert Desnos. In the interview, based on a variety of historical sources, a female voice interrogates “Desnos” about the famous/infamous “période des sommeils” just before the official launch of Surrealism, in 1922–23. During this period, the group around Breton experimented with hypnotic sleep, or trance. The interviewer voices her concern that the

  • “Populism”

    A SPECTER is haunting Europe—the specter of populism. In 2003, when curators Lars Bang Larsen, Cristina Ricupero, and Nicolaus Schafhausen were first making plans for a group of exhibitions dealing with the question, Europe was just reeling from the rise and murder of the populist right-wing Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn. By the time their “Populism” project finally appeared in various European venues last summer—the endeavor featured coinciding group shows in Vilnius, Oslo, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt—populist movements in opposition to (and sometimes within) traditional political parties had become

  • Nicholaus Schafhausen

    GERMAN-BORN CURATOR Nicolaus Schafhausen has been newly appointed as director of Witte de With in Rotterdam, replacing interim director Hans Maarten van den Brink and taking a position held by Catherine David from 2002 to 2004. Until recently, Schafhausen headed the Frankfurter Kunstverein, where he instigated a focused program of exhibitions, lectures, and publications that turned the Kunstverein into one of Europe’s most interesting art spaces. Among his achievements in Frankfurt were shows by Liam Gillick (1999), Gerard Byrne (2003), and Cerith Wyn Evans (2004), as well as exhibitions for

  • Lisa Oppenheim

    In Lisa Oppenheim’s show “Parallax View” there was a constant tension between easily readable images and those that are utterly indecipherable and entropic. The gallery’s back room contained photographs from the series “Upside-Down Portraits” (all works 2005), consisting of images printed directly from daguerreotypes in the US Library of Congress. The enlarged black-and-white prints of these oxidized, scratched, and generally degraded daguerreotypes are informe surfaces that can no longer be related to titles such as Unidentified Elderly Woman with Cap—all the more so since they are upside

  • Johan Grimonprez

    Johan Grimonprez’s new project Looking for Alfred, which centers on Alfred Hitchcock, is a work in progress. What was shown at Bozar—the quasi-hip new name of the Palais des Beaux-Arts or Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, whose only redeeming feature is that it is the same in French and Flemish—was a six-minute video, dated 2004–2005, accompanied by footage and photos of casting sessions as well as storyboards. The casting sessions show the artist looking for the perfect Hitchcock look-alike and sound-alike; video footage of the sessions is overlaid with a Hitchcockian voice telling a version of the

  • Roy Villevoye

    Starting out as an abstract painter interested in the cultural and political connotations of colors, Roy Villevoye began working with photography, installation, and video in the mid-’90s, often making works based on his stays in the Asmat region of New Guinea. Villevoye confronted his position as (potentially) neo-colonial outsider by taking frontal photographs of Papuans holding sheets of paper in magenta, cyan blue, and yellow—the primary colors used in printing. In fact, Villevoye often turns his photographs into monumental four-color prints, consisting of countless dots of magenta, cyan,