Tom McDonough

  • Anne Collier

    OVER THE PAST DECADE OR SO, Anne Collier has developed a photographic practice that straddles the romantically emotive and the conceptually cool. She performs this balancing act by making images of psychologically laden clichés: motivational and self-help guides, album covers, posters, photographic landscapes, celebrity portraits. This survey, tightly selected and elegantly presented in Bard’s CCS Galleries, may not have been complete enough to call a retrospective, but it nevertheless offered a welcome opportunity to assess Collier’s accomplishments across approximately forty works, all made

  • OPENINGS: AGNIESZKA POLSKA

    AT THE BEGINNING of Agnieszka Polska’s video Future Days, 2013, we see two figures in the middle distance, a man and a woman, walking away from us toward a craggy shoreline. They are exchanging cryptic catchphrases in heavily accented English: cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s “I see no God up here”; Oscar Wilde’s “Time is a waste of money”; Goethe’s “Stay awhile, while thou art so fair!” These two contemplators of time and the infinite, it turns out, are artists Charlotte Posenenske (1930–1985) and Włodzimierz Borowski (1930–2008)—their identities indicated, eerily, by masks that transform their

  • 1000 WORDS: MARIO GARCÍA TORRES

    MARIO GARCÍA TORRES’S 2004 slide show Shot of Grace with Alighiero Boetti Hairstyle might not seem indicative of an especially profound interest in the titular Italian Conceptualist. The thirty-seven black-and-white photographs capture García Torres in the act of running down a street, away from the camera, as if fleeing the visual field. Beyond the title, clear references to Boetti are nowhere to be found—the haircut, itself a tenuous connection at best, is little in evidence, since we only see the artist from the back, and even that at some distance.

    In fact, Shot of Grace might more easily

  • “Ecstatic Alphabets/ Heaps Of Language”

    If over the past forty-odd years “language in art” has become a commonplace of artistic production and discourse.

    If over the past forty-odd years “language in art” has become a commonplace of artistic production and discourse, a new form of integrating writing and typography into visual art has recently emerged—one that, by returning to experimental poetry’s concentration on the material qualities of language, works to pulverize contemporary speech and loose it from received meaning. MoMA takes note of this development in an exhibition assembling sixty-four works by twelve contemporary artists and artists’ groups—from the concrete lettering of Tauba Auerbach to the activist

  • THE PARALLAX VIEW: THE ART OF ADAM PENDLETON

    . . . the continuous present of and or of either or experience of e.g. history

    —Joan Retallack, Memnoir (2004)

    If [history] were the past, it would not matter. . . .History is the present.

    —James Baldwin, A Rap on Race (1971)

    WE USED TO THINK OF HISTORY as the realm of the settled, as an inalterable past, as a nightmare. That was the legacy bequeathed us by the past century’s catastrophes, and we are still inclined to adopt its melancholic responses—to gaze back, like Walter Benjamin’s angel of history, on the ruins as they have piled up, as on the inexorable logic of some tragedy. But while

  • OPENINGS: IÑAKI BONILLAS

    IN 1998, IÑAKI BONILLAS was a young assistant at a Mexico City photography studio when he began a series of projects that would come to be collectively titled Photographic Works. A dry label, certainly, but that factual tone accurately captures the deadpan delivery of the entire body of work: Each project aimed to document a particular aspect of photographic technology or procedure, from camera to film to developing lab and so on. Having shot through a complete roll of film, for example, Bonillas had each print developed at a different lab for Documenting Thirty-Six Photography Labs, 1998, while

  • CONCRETE POETRY: THE ART OF SHANNON EBNER

    IF YOU’VE EVER CROSSED A STREET, driven on a highway, or visited a public restroom, you’ve likely encountered those little stylized icons that guide us through public space, abstracted human figures that help to identify functions and direct our movements. They have become so omnipresent, so nearly naturalized, that they hardly seem to have been designed or to have a history. But of course, like all cultural artifacts, they do. These ubiquitous images are descendants of the Isotype communication system, developed by Austrian sociologist Otto Neurath in the years following World War I as a kind

  • Philippe Parreno

    A LARGE CANOPY OF PLEXIGLAS, neon, and rows of twinkling lights—the kind of thing typically found above the entry to a movie theater—announced Philippe Parreno’s retrospective at the Centre Pompidou. Only after passing beneath Marquee, 2009, the latest in a suite of similar works begun in 2006, did one enter the vast, almost empty space of the exhibition. But if Marquee immediately invoked film, or the filmic imaginary, as the key to a reading of the artist’s work, this was no ordinary cinema. The lighted signage at the entrance bore no movie titles; instead, neither quite a readymade nor an

  • “The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now”

    IN NOVEMBER 1980 artists Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz inaugurated their project Hole-in-Space, a live two-way telecommunication event or, as they termed it, a “public communication sculpture.” Installed at Lincoln Center in New York and at a department store in Century City in Los Angeles, Hole-in-Space, which took place over three evenings, enabled passersby on opposite coasts to see, hear, and speak to one another in real time via life-size television images. On their website, Galloway and Rabinowitz describe the work in terms of immediacy and spontaneous interaction; it was a literal

  • AUTHORIAL INTERVENTION: THE ART OF JACQUES VILLEGLÉ

    AT THE HEART OF JACQUES VILLEGLÉ’S EXHIBITION this past fall at the Centre Pompidou—the first major French retrospective devoted to this influential eighty-two-year-old artist—was a relatively small décollage called Carrefour Algérie-Evian, 1961. In it, we find the fortuitous juxtaposition of two posters: In the one on the left, the words ALGERIE and ASSASSINS! are barely visible, revealed only where subsequent layers of paper have been partially ripped away, while the one on the right is an advertisement for Evian mineral water. In the spring of 1961, when Villeglé tore these tattered broadsides

  • “1968: The Great Innocence”

    Hot on the heels of last spring’s nostalgic fortieth-anniversary commemorations of May ’68 comes this attempt to assess its impact on the world of art.

    Hot on the heels of last spring’s nostalgic fortieth-anniversary commemorations of May ’68 comes this attempt to assess its impact on the world of art. Gathering together works in various media by approximately two hundred artists, Thomas Kellein’s “1968” deems that year a watershed, from the development of Land art and Conceptual strategies to the rise of photography, film, and video as legitimate vehicles of artistic production. Whether we can so easily map the artistic neo-avant-garde onto the era’s political contestations remains to be seen: Joseph Beuys and Andy

  • INVISIBLE CITIES: HENRI LEFEBVRE’S THE EXPLOSION

    ONE THING THAT COMMENTATORS across the ideological spectrum could agree on—one thing that they would repeat like a mantra on editorial pages and evening news programs in France and around the world—was that November 2005 was not May 1968. When the poor, ethnically mixed suburbs of major French cities were set ablaze by their inhabitants for several consecutive weeks that fall almost three years ago, it appeared, for a brief moment, that something like civil war was breaking out between this marginalized population and the forces of the state. But “responsible” analysts were united in