Tina Rivers Ryan

  • Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, Material Want (detail), 2016. Rendering. From “Open Codes: Living in Digital Worlds.”


    Organized by ZKM in collaboration with multiple German research institutes, this historical survey traces the developments in math and physics that led to the invention of digital code, ushering in the many technologies that shape our culture and society today. Spanning three hundred years, the show places scientific and technological documents and artifacts in conversation with artworks, suggesting an affinity—if not a direct connection—between the ways in which these objects frame the world. The stakes of this interdisciplinarity are high: Over the past several

  • Pipilotti Rist, Pixelwald (Pixel Forest), 2016, mixed media. Installation view. Photo: Maris Hutchinson.

    Pipilotti Rist

    It was Heraclitus who said that you never step in the same river twice: The world is fluid, and the only constant is change. The metaphor is a fitting one for the challenge of organizing an artist’s retrospective—especially if that artist is Pipilotti Rist, whose works submerge us in the aesthetics of the aqueous and the currents of technological advancement.

    The earliest works in this show, which was organized by Massimiliano Gioni, Margot Norton, and Helga Christoffersen and remains on view until January 15, date to the mid-1980s, when the Swiss-born Rist was a musician and student, first

  • View of “Simon Denny,” 2016.
    picks September 16, 2016

    Simon Denny

    “Imagine a world where trust is guaranteed—a world without borders.” These words, spoken in the confident, masculine voice of authority, open Simon Denny’s video What Is Blockchain?, 2016. With slick graphics and soaring music, this infomercial-cum–TED talk promotes decentralized network technology (which serves as the basis for Bitcoin) as a high-tech solution to social problems ranging from the loss of privacy to geopolitical conflict. Projected onto the gallery’s back wall, the video bookends the show’s first room, which introduces us to Bitcoin’s pioneers, embodied by Plexiglas cases

  • Ed Atkins, Happy Birthday!!!, 2014, HD video, black-and-white, sound, 5 minutes 55 seconds.

    Ed Atkins

    Turin is a fitting setting for the work of Ed Atkins. While his tragicomic videos of HD avatars express the alienation that permeates contemporary (white hetero cis-male) life, they also—like the famous Shroud of Turin before them—render the body strange, as the mutable object of endless mediations. Just as the shroud’s configuration of marks is either an ancient hoax or the indexical trace of the body of Christ, the artist’s representations may or may not register the existence of an entity that hovers

  • Abraham Palatnik, Kinechromatic Device, 1969/1986, wood, metal, acrylic, lightbulbs, motor, 44 x 28 x 8''. From the “Kinechromatic Device” series, 1951–2004.
    picks June 24, 2016

    Abraham Palatnik

    One of the highlights of Frieze New York last month was this gallery’s presentation of Abraham Palatnik, an octogenarian Brazilian artist whose “Kinechromatic Devices,” 1951–2004, helped to pioneer kinetic light art during the mid-twentieth century. Though included in venues such as the first Bienal de São Paulo in 1951, and the Venice Biennale of 1964, coming across one outside the artist’s studio today is rare: as with other kinetic works, their delicate mechanisms and elision from art-historical narratives keep them from view. Happily, they can be seen again in this show, where they are

  • Lauren Seiden, Reflections in a Void, 2016, marble, plastic, water, graphite, 6 × 52 × 52".

    Lauren Seiden

    In the Western tradition, drawing, or the use of line as the primary vehicle for shaping form on a two-dimensional surface, has long been the scaffold on which the more rarified practices of painting, sculpture, and architecture are built. It enjoys the paradoxical privilege of being at the root of all art—and, as Michelangelo pointed out, at the root of all sciences, too—but not necessarily an end in itself. Especially since the 1960s, artists have valorized drawing by reinventing it: Projects as diverse as Sol LeWitt’s wall pieces, Richard Long’s walks, Kara Walker’s cut silhouettes,

  • Ward Shelley, Extended Narrative, v.1, 2014, oil and toner on Mylar, 24 x 56''.
    picks April 15, 2016

    Ward Shelley

    Buried in Ward Shelley’s Extended Narrative, v. 1, 2014—a chronological taxonomy of Western art since the Enlightenment—is a reference to its forebear: Alfred Barr’s famous 1936 diagram of the evolution of abstraction. While expressing modernism’s penchant for positivist, even teleological narratives, the comically swerving arrows of Barr’s history also point toward the absurd oversimplifications and elisions on which they are premised. This same ambivalence informs all the charts here, painted on Mylar and gathered under the exhibition title “The Felicific Calculus.” Named after Jeremy Bentham’s

  • View of “David Hammons,” 2016.
    picks April 01, 2016

    David Hammons

    In the catalogue that accompanies this show, there is a photo of the artist David Hammons in Harlem in 1980. From behind a pair of sunglasses, he is reading Tales of Power (1974), a volume in Carlos Castaneda’s account of the teachings of an indigenous Mexican shaman. Though presented without comment, the photo is a winking nod to Hammons’s reputation as a kind of art-world sorcerer and also to his own anthropological interests: For five decades he has deployed conceptual jokes and everyday materials to reflect on the paradoxes and complexities of African American life. Although by no means

  • Norberto Gómez, Untitled, 1967, painted wood, 83 x 78 x 11''.
    picks March 18, 2016

    “The Illusive Eye”

    At the end of the catalogue for “The Responsive Eye”—the infamous survey of contemporary Op art that opened at MoMA in February 1965, marking the movement’s simultaneous debut and apogee—curator William Seitz asked, “What are the potentialities of a visual art capable of affecting perception so physically and directly? Can an advanced understanding and application of functional images open a new path from retinal excitation to emotions and ideas?”

    These fifty-year-old questions, which Seitz did not venture to answer, have been taken up anew by “The Illusive Eye.” On its face, the show aims to

  • Gabriel Dawe, Plexus A1, 2015, thread, wood, hooks, steel, 19 x 48 x 12'.
    picks January 13, 2016


    The nine large-scale installations for this show prompt us to “wonder” at the alchemical transformation of fairly quotidian materials into art. Though the labor of producing these works leaves a few visible traces, the emphasis here is less on process than on the result: a conversion of the Renwick’s galleries into sensual environments.

    It’s a fitting way to reopen this museum, which houses the Smithsonian’s craft and decorative arts collection, after a two-year renovation. In the first gallery, Gabriel Dawe’s Plexus A1 (all works 2015)—two ethereal planes of rainbow-colored thread—hang between

  • Victor Brauner, La découverte de la conscience (Discovering Consciousness), 1956, oil on canvas, 45 5/8 × 35 1/4". From “Life Itself.” © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

    “Life Itself”

    Though motivated by the question What is life?, “Life Itself” will look beyond the science undergirding recent bio-art, favoring more oblique approaches to understanding organic forms and processes. So in lieu of genomic sequences, cell cultures, and high-tech bodily prosthetics, we will find some seventy works from the early twentieth century onward in a variety of surprisingly traditional media. These include Katja Novitskova’s post-Internet sculptural fauna (Approximations, 2012–) and Pierre Huyghe’s postapocalyptic video investigation

  • Marta Minujín, Bastidor psico II , 2013, fluorescent paint on canvas, 13 3/4 x 10 5/8".
    picks June 12, 2015

    Marta Minujín

    A pioneering Argentinian artist who contributed to Happenings and Pop as well as Art and Technology in the 1960s, Marta Minujín is once again ubiquitous. Last fall, her work appeared in the Guggenheim’s reconsideration of Latin American art, “Under the Same Sun,” and this fall, it will be included in MoMA’s “Construction to Transmission.” In the meantime, this show offers a deeper view of the artist’s avant-garde oeuvre.

    The exhibition encompasses several bodies of work, the oldest of which comprises documentation of her actions. In Kidnappening, 1973, partygoers were abducted from a cocktail