T. J. Demos

  • Guy Tillim

    In this show documenting colonial devastation, one photograph stood out for its optimism. Entitled Residents of Goma salute Laurent Kabila after his army’s takeover of the city from Mobutu’s troops, 1997, it depicts an urban plaza swarming with cheering people. This photograph—the axis around which the show turns—captures an ecstatic moment of frenzied energy between dark passages of Congolese history: the joyous end of the dictatorial command of Mobutu Sese Seko, vicious inheritor of the colonial rule of Belgium’s King Leopold II, but also the commencement of the country’s splintering

  • the 9th International Istanbul Biennial

    In the face of the remarkable glut of biennials that attends the current evolution of globalization in art, a number of questions still remain unanswered: To what degree does the biennial act as a force of transnational gentrification, creating a market of elite consumer goods and rarified experience in far-flung places (often playing on earlier avant-garde tropes of exoticism) in order to tender the ground for the subsequent onslaught of corporate imperialism? How might the biennial function as a vehicle for a city’s self-promotion—as a quick fix to generate marketable uniqueness through cultural

  • “SlideShow”

    With a nod to Kodak’s recent decision to discontinue production of the slide projector, “SlideShow” marks a transition in visual culture—from analog to digital media—and looks back at forty years of slide-projection art. But the remarkable quality of work presented here, including compelling contemporary selections and rarely seen pieces by such artists as Dan Graham, Robert Smithson, Jan Dibbets, and James Coleman makes it less a commemoration than a provocative curatorial achievement—though warranting one caveat. Organized by the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Darsie Alexander, the show may still

  • “Experiments with Truth”

    In their two-channel video Solid Sea 03: Road Map, 2003, the Milan-based collective Multiplicity dramatize the geopolitical stakes of Mark Nash’s curatorial examination of the status of truth in contemporary film and video. The work documents two road trips of equal distance, with each projection showing the path ahead: on the left, an Israeli’s one-hour journey between settlements in the West Bank; on the right, a Palestinian’s five-and-a-half-hour slog from Hebron to Nablus. The crucial difference is speed. The first trip is fast, straight, and smooth, gliding over clean Israeli highways that

  • Katharina Sieverding

    Katharina Sieverding, born in Prague in 1944, worked in Düsseldorf from 1967 until 1972. Known chiefly for large-scale photography that pushes its subjectivist dimensions, she often focuses on her own body, submitting her visage to various forms of photographic dissolution.

    While inundated with photography by students of the Bechers, we are less familiar with those, like Katharina Sieverding, who studied with Joseph Beuys. Sieverding, born in Prague in 1944, worked in Düsseldorf from 1967 until 1972. Known chiefly for large-scale photography that pushes its subjectivist dimensions, she often focuses on her own body, submitting her visage to various forms of photographic dissolution. This survey of roughly a dozen works—multimedia installations, photographic series, and film and slide projections—is accompanied by a catalogue with essays by, among others, Brian

  • “The Big Nothing”

    “MAKE A SILHOUETTE, BUT FILL THE INSIDE, which is nominally empty, with something—something that should be as nothing as black, but something,” says Richard Artschwager of the blps he’s been making since the ’60s. Intermittently stuck on peripheral wall space at Philadelphia’s ICA, these black lozenge shapes—here, made of vinyl—succeeded in conjuring something out of nothing: Unobtrusive bordering on nonexistent, they punctuated the gallery architecture, highlighting the institutional infrastructure that confers artistic status on otherwise meaningless objects. “The Big Nothing,” curated by the

  • “Work Ethic”

    Curator Helen Molesworth’s “Work Ethic” ambitiously argues for a new approach to evaluating post–World War II artistic practice. Rather than organizing contemporary art around a focus on style or content, avant-garde secession, or medium-based investigation, the exhibition measures changing conditions of artistic labor since the 1950s. The rich array of work by nearly fifty artists demonstrates how they have adopted administrative capacities and managerial identities, and favored conceptual processes over manual production, enacting modernity’s paradigmatic shifts in labor. These include the