Tim Griffin

  • NOTES ON JOKES

    JOHN BALDESSARI, RADICAL PHILOSOPHER? You’d be forgiven for laughing out loud at the question, since the generally affable septuagenarian artist who some thirty-five years ago could be found humbly waving goodbye to sailboats (as they came into port) is not usually the first person authorities cite as an unruly element. And yet when looking at the current issue of Artforum—and, more specifically, at Paolo Virno’s 2005 treatise Jokes and Innovative Action: For a Logic of Change, a selection of which appears here for the first time in English—one inevitably gravitates toward Baldessari’s

  • Waiting for Godot: Paul Chan In New Orleans

    AT THE CLOSE OF 2007, one gets the sense that art—like the ever-forgetful Estragon of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot—is once more struggling to take off its boot. In light of a booming market whose culture of investment is continually eclipsing any sense of art’s speaking meaningfully to society at large, and against the backdrop of political developments whose increasing gravity only underscores that diminished relationship, many artists are seeking venues beyond the conventional circuitry of the art world (and scuttling any vestiges of the myth of art’s autonomy) to obtain a

  • CUSTOM MADE

    REMEMBER KING TUT? Some thirty years ago, critics of the art world’s institutional workings ominously forewarned that the rise of the blockbuster exhibition—the showcase designed for mass appeal, able to draw immense throngs into the gilded tombs of history by taking up such iconic subjects as the ancient Egyptian ruler or Impressionism—would be attended by the dilution of historical discourse and the artistic community’s public sphere. After all, how could a meaningful, nuanced synthetic analysis of often profoundly ambiguous contemporary concerns take place when exhibition spaces

  • SIGNS AND WONDERS: MARY HEILMANN CURATES

    TIM GRIFFIN: We got the images you sent, but you’ll still probably have some conversations with our designer, Joseph Logan, in the next few days—just about how you see the different pictures sort of working with one another, how you want to see them laid out, what sorts of pairings you’d like to see. Even how many you imagine on a page.

    MARY HEILMANN: OK, um, I’m good with that.

    TG: And I might even ask you that right now, if you have any feelings about that.

    MH: Uh, I haven’t thought about it too much, but I’m interested in doing that. I might even be able to . . . well, we’ll talk. And I’ve sent

  • Haim Steinbach

    It perhaps should come as no surprise that Haim Steinbach’s practice has seemed increasingly relevant during the past decade, a period in which the rituals around commercial objects have become all the more pervasive and resolved in their choreographies of desire. Indeed, the heightened attention to design in mass culture—its near-total application in commerce, from the making of products to the construction of display space, at the service of rendering life itself more a matter of lifestyle—would seem an immediately resonant context for an artist long interested in the ways in which our

  • "Mike's World: Michael Smith & Joshua White (and other collaborators)

    Well before the lackadaisical sublime came to pervade the art of the 1990s, there was Mike, the everyman alter ego who, created in the mid-’70s by artist Mike Smith, may have been the first to inject true pathos into the pathetic.

    Well before the lackadaisical sublime came to pervade the art of the 1990s, there was Mike, the everyman alter ego who, created in the mid-’70s by artist Mike Smith, may have been the first to inject true pathos into the pathetic. In countless videos and performances, Smith’s character has occupied a bland landscape of sitcom sets, rock ’n’ roll lighting salesrooms, and downstairs rec rooms, delivering deadpan attempts to embrace the ad-copy tropes by which most people live their lives, his demeanor blending embarrassment and Beckett with stand-up comedy. At the

  • Tim Griffin

    AT FIRST, to me, it seemed a civic project, the kind of celebratory tableau one imagines a branding agency might dream up at the behest of a few municipal officials’ casting a desiring eye toward cultural-tourism revenue. On a broad, open slope of lawn along the promenade in Münster was arranged a selection of miniature replicas of artworks produced for the city’s Skulptur Projekte since the once-a-decade event’s beginnings some thirty years ago: Here, for instance, was a dollhouse-size octagonal pavilion fashioned after one created by Dan Graham in 1987; somewhat distant on the grounds behind

  • IN CONVERSATION: DOMESTICITY AT WAR

    IN HER NEW BOOK, Domesticity at War, published by MIT Press this spring, architectural historian Beatriz Colomina writes that “war does not end but evolves, and so does architecture”—as does our fundamental experience of space, she might have added. Colomina’s study looks specifically at the cold-war era in the United States, where domestic environments in the wake of World War II were, she says, made totally modern both in material and mind-set—inscribed by military technologies being assimilated into daily life and by a changed awareness of global geopolitics requiring a normalization (or “

  • “Tracing Roads Through Central Asia”

    Berin Golonu and Elena Sorokina’s “Tracing Roads Through Central Asia” considers the beginnings of contemporary artists’ self-representation as nationalism gradually takes hold of societies in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse.

    As an exhibition usefully considered in tandem with Viktor Misiano’s “Time of the Storytellers” (at Kiasma in Helsinki, Finland), which features artwork emerging from the same general region, Berin Golonu and Elena Sorokina’s “Tracing Roads Through Central Asia” considers the beginnings of contemporary artists’ self-representation as nationalism gradually takes hold of societies in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse. The subsequent and often radically disjunctive meetings of ideological, ethnic, and economic pasts and possible futures in the creation of one’s own identity find expression

  • Chris Marker

    “In Marker’s work, the face as irreducible mystery has been a gravitational force, from the country-keyed cover girls of the Petite Planète travel books onward into his films—the fathomless Koumiko; the haunting woman standing on the jetty at Orly,” wrote Horrigan in these pages last summer, introducing a portfolio of the French filmmaker’s photographs of protesters against his country’s First Employment Contract of 2006. On view among the two hundred photographs here will be some of the same, in addition to Marker’s images of historical demonstrations ranging from those

  • Time of the Storytellers: Narrative and Distant Gaze in Post-Soviet Art

    When Misiano organized the Venice Biennale’s first-ever Central Asian Pavilion in 2005, his exhibition was revelatory for works evincing a geopolitical context in which modernism’s legacy was anything but consigned to the history books. Indeed, artists negotiated the double jeopardy of a stolen indigenous past and a lost Soviet future, producing intense work that—crystallizing at a remove from Western commerce—put in high relief the problem of contemporary art’s disconnect from a coherent public sphere. Misiano here seems set to continue the story, expanding its scope

  • FIRST THOUGHT BEST THOUGHT: ALLEN RUPPERSBERG CURATES

    TIM GRIFFIN

    IF EVER THERE WERE AN ARTIST whose practice seemed premised on Jacques Rancière’s idea of the spectator who “makes his poem with the poem that is performed in front of him,” it is Allen Ruppersberg. So much of his work takes the act of transposition as its substance, as when, for example, cinema provides a model for sculpture or literature the subject for drawing. In this way, the artist himself can seem a distanced viewer who creates parallel narratives for the works before him, ruminating openly on educational movies of the past or on the writings of Raymond Roussel—putting on

  • THERE I WAS . . . A PORTFOLIO BY COLLIER SCHORR

    COLLIER SCHORR’S PHOTOGRAPHY rests on the surface of the lens, where subject and object engage in a play of perspective. One culture, for example, might be seen through the eyes of another, as when Schorr photographs German youths wearing the apparel of American (or Israeli, or Swedish) armed forces—an embedding of cultural signs that inevitably triggers a consolidation of commonalities, distinctions, and connections among social and political histories. Alternatively, one gender might be viewed through the filter of another, as when Schorr took up Andrew Wyeth’s “Helga pictures” as the model

  • David Lynch

    If the films of David Lynch teach us anything, it is not to trust conventional narratives, even of the self. So one looks forward to parsing the stories told by this extensive exhibition of the Montana-born auteur’s parallel practices in painting, drawing, and photography, shown alongside a number of Lynch’s short films, including Six Men Getting Sick, 1965, made when he was an MFA student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

    If the films of David Lynch teach us anything, it is not to trust conventional narratives, even of the self. So one looks forward to parsing the stories told by this extensive exhibition—curated by Hervé Chandès—of the Montana-born auteur’s parallel practices in painting, drawing, and photography, shown alongside a number of Lynch’s short films, including Six Men Getting Sick, 1965, made when he was an MFA student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Environmental sound works will knit the installation together, meaning that the junky chic of fellow

  • Christopher Williams

    The visual elaboration of systems—of industrial society, say, or his own artistic production—is a staple of Christopher Williams’s practice, and his installation for Bologna’s GAM is no exception.

    The visual elaboration of systems—of industrial society, say, or his own artistic production—is a staple of Christopher Williams’s practice, and his installation for Bologna’s GAM is no exception. Some forty recent photographs will be hung throughout the institution, from gallery spaces to service areas, all evoking the original architecture and cultural context of the building, which opened in 1975, cradled by the radicalisms of ’70s Bologna. Entwined with this sociophotographic endeavor is an aural one: Williams is organizing (with artist and

  • Tim Griffin

    A TEMPLATE FOR Zidane, a 21st Century Portrait may be found in the film’s very first moments, when the opening kick of a championship football match in Madrid, Spain, appears on the grainy screen of a television monitor. Slowly the film’s frame closes in on this broadcast image to focus on a single player, his figure increasingly vulnerable to televisual distortion until, finally, he dissolves into the very mechanism of his reproduction and dispersion—a grid of pixels. Paired in turn with an ambient sound track and the hushed tones of what seem to be French talk radio and the animated

  • 1000 WORDS: CATHERINE SULLIVAN

    HEINRICH VON KLEIST tells the story of a famous dancer who, praising the marionette theater, suggests that a mechanical figure could be designed to “perform a dance that neither he nor any other outstanding dancer of his time . . . could equal.” For this marionette’s every movement, he claims, would be more graceful than any person’s—akin to that of a pendulum, whose insentient motion is determined solely by an unwavering center of gravity.

    Kleist’s legendary discourse comes to mind when considering Catherine Sullivan’s most recent work, The Chittendens, 2005, whose evolution also began with a

  • the Lyon Biennale

    “FOR US, TACKLING THE IDEA of time is a way of taking stock of the 1990s,” write Nicolas Bourriaud and Jérôme Sans at the outset of their brief catalogue essay accompanying “Experiencing Duration,” the eighth installment of the Lyon Biennale, which closed on December 30. And perhaps this retrospective tack was to be expected, given that the timing of the show roughly coincided with the duo’s departure from the Palais de Tokyo in Paris this winter. Under their joint directorship, the institution became strongly associated internationally with many artistic practices that emerged during the final

  • Jean-Luc Godard

    Jean-Luc Godard rolls the dice in organizing his own career retrospective by moving beyond the museum’s usual theater-bound, film-program format reserved for celluloid luminaries to design nine galleries, each devoted to a single theme (unannounced at press time).

    How best to approach your own institutionalization when you’ve previously skewered no less a figure than Mick Jagger as a tool of the entertainment industry—the countercultural equivalent of a toothpaste salesman? Jean-Luc Godard rolls the dice in organizing his own career retrospective by moving beyond the museum’s usual theater-bound, film-program format reserved for celluloid luminaries to design nine galleries, each devoted to a single theme (unannounced at press time). The French auteur, who turned seventy-five last year, has made seven new short films for the

  • Olafur Eliasson

    Also on view at Lunds Konsthall

    Clearly preferring to take things day by day, Olafur Eliasson follows up his installation at the Venice Biennale—a dark jewel of a pavilion on San Lazzaro island that duplicates and then distills the Mediterranean sun’s effects from dawn to dusk into a fourteen-minute cycle—with a series of rooms in Malmö presenting gradations of natural and manmade light. Here, the solar and synthetic accumulate into one seamless spectrum, even becoming indistinguishable—such that Eliasson’s usual probing of perception, by underscoring our