Travis Jeppesen

  • “Study of Things”

    Things are so sexy. That’s because they are dead. Or fundamentally useless. According to Heidegger, a thing is an object fallen. An object has use, real use, functionality; it becomes a thing when it is broken down and we can no longer use it—at least not for the purpose for which it was designed. A thing is therefore kind of like art, which, in some classical-modernist sense, is meant to have no function other than to impel reflection.

    But objects have been asserting their thingness a lot as of late, thinging all over the place, in a hylozoic revivalism presented to us by twenty-first-century

  • Guan Xiao

    Guan Xiao works in both sculpture and video and often finds ways of linking the two mediums in unexpected ways. At the same time, her work is language- and narrative-heavy, though language always comes after the fact. For the videos, she amasses her footage first, then sculpts her narrative out of it, content directing form. For her latest exhibition of eight freestanding sculptures (complemented by seven wall sculptures of palettes), the artist cast 3D-printed anthropomorphic beings in bronze; attached to them a mixture of industrial, handcrafted, ready-made, or natural objects; then wrote

  • picks September 24, 2020

    Alec Soth

    Alec Soth’s first solo exhibition in China has come at the lowest point, politically, in US-China relations in several decades. That “The Space Between Us” has proven to be immensely popular—crowds lined up in Shanghai’s searing summer heat to see it—is indicative less of local interest in Soth as an artist than of an intense fascination with the vision of America his work presents. Along with LaToya Ruby Frazier, Soth marks the twenty-first century continuation of the tradition established by the likes of Walker Evans, documenting the lives of those Americans destined to dwell in the lands

  • Clifford Prince King

    Clifford Prince King is a photographer who documents black gay male desire. Given that artists such as James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Marlon Riggs are among his canonical forebears, his approach might seem a daunting gambit for any young artist to pursue. But as the six works featured in his online exhibition at Launch F18 attested, King very much has his own voice, which both harmonizes with and distinguishes itself from this esteemed lineage.

    In Jug of Change, 2019, a nude man sits in a swivel chair, his foot extended onto beige, wall-to-wall carpeting. The upper half of his head is wrapped

  • diary April 16, 2020

    Zooming Out

    WHO KNEW 2020 WOULD END UP THIS WAY, with someone asking me to stare at American flags on my laptop screen and write about it for Artforum? But that’s precisely what I’m doing on day thirteen of my fortnight of mandatory home quarantine in Shanghai, having recently returned from a post-Wuhan COVID-19 evasion tour. It’s eight o’clock in the morning: I’m wiping sleep out of my eyes with my hand-sanitized fingers and pouring gratuitous amounts of black coffee down my throat, keeping an ear out for the body-condom-ensheathed volunteer from my neighborhood committee who bangs on my door twice a day

  • Zhang Ding

    Zhang Ding’s work to date has centered on immersive installations that feel less like discrete artworks than intangible experiences. “Opening,” at ShanghART in 2011, waived the art in favor of spectacle, re-creating a nightclub interior in the space of a gallery. “Buddha Jumps over the Wall,” in 2012, turned Shanghai’s TOP Contemporary Art Center into a kitsched-out banquet hall for the nouveau riche, recalling the kinds of interiors that have become increasingly common in China’s coastal cities over the past decade. In London in 2015, “Enter the Dragon,” named after the iconic Bruce Lee movie,


    TIANZHUO CHEN’S PROJECTS and personae radiate a new animism: His chthonic protagonists carry ancient feelings, yet arrive like fresh symbols to our world. His performances—whether in theaters, museums, or nightclubs—are neo-Taoist hallucinations in which anarchy is joyfully permitted to take over, to override and overwrite the horrific banalities of the present. Chen invites the audience to wander through these spaces: to gaze, to daze, to, as in last year’s Trance, dance and meditate to hazy beats as they glide past diapered bodies. This immersive protocol is suffused with Chen’s own yearning

  • Zheng Bo

    Botanists and gardening enthusiasts have debated whether playing classical music helps a plant grow. But how about licking it? What if one starts to fellate the plant or, rather, one of its leaves? Nature abhors a vacuum, but does it really object to a nice long suck?

    A young man moves his tongue up and down the length of a frond, tonguing the curled green bud at the end as though it were the head of an erect penis. Simultaneously, he moves his squatted ass crack up and down along another stem, groaning all the while, essentially being spit roasted by these two leafy exemplars of nature’s finest.

  • Karla Black

    Curated by Alison Ferris

    Surprisingly, given her many European fans, Karla Black has not yet had a major museum exhibition in the United States—until now. This show will feature fifteen of Black’s famously ethereal sculptures from the past decade—composed from such materials as makeup, cellophane, powder, petroleum jelly, and sugar paper—alongside two new works created specifically to accommodate the architecture of the Des Moines Art Center’s I. M. Pei building. In addition, paintings and sculptures selected by the artist from the museum’s collection (including works by Louise Bourgeois, Helen

  • Haroon Mirza

    The highlight of Haroon Mirza’s first solo exhibition in China, “Tones in the Key of Electricity,” is a new work, Copy of 9/11–11/9, 2019, a maximalist four-channel video and sound installation that attempts to encapsulate the maximal insanity of the period we have just lived through and whose consequences we continue to endure: that is, the era stretching from 9/11/2001, the day of the attacks on the World Trade Center, to 11/9/2016, the day Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. The room is partitioned into two, with the four freestanding screens in one space and a circle of

  • “An Opera for Animals”

    I once had a cat who sang. His name was Atmos, and he became quite famous. His meow was pure and tender but was also capable of different registers, allowing him to express a wide range of emotions. He also had quite a tonal range, preferring to greet arriving guests with a high-pitched yelp, but when engaged in conversation at more intimate moments, or when receiving physical affection from a human creature, he might yawp in a subtler tenor whose affirmation could quickly put the most troubled and confused spirit at ease. His success in the opera was naturally aided by the black coat of fur he

  • Kim Inbai

    Kim Inbai titled one of his monographs Eliminate Points, Lines, and Planes (2014). That would be a bold commandment for any artist, but for one who works in the traditional media of sculpture and drawing, it reveals a truth so wise that very few ever grasp it, and those who do can rarely accept it: that to align yourself with the impossible is the only position worth considering.

    Much of Kim’s work has taken the form of sculpture, but it has often been fed by drawing. He selects drawings to be turned into three-dimensional objects, and then as often as not draws upon those objects. The resulting