Travis Jeppesen

  • picks March 28, 2018

    “The Presence of Absence, or the Catastrophe Theory”

    The first iteration of “The Presence of Absence, or the Catastrophe Theory,” curated by Cathryn Drake, was shown in 2016 at Izolyatsia in Kiev, where the art space moved from Donetsk after the Russian occupation of the city in 2014. Nicosia, the world’s last divided capital, seems a fitting site for an expanded version of that exhibition, in which the notion of place proved to be never secure. That Cyprus is currently experiencing an unusual artistic renaissance, with a proliferation of largely artist-run initiatives blooming across the small island in spite of its highly complicated 1974 division

  • film March 02, 2018

    It Gets Worse

    IN THE TOTAL ABSENCE OF ANYTHING RESEMBLING A COHERENT AESTHETIC POSITION for most of this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, one turned to its “Forum” section for some vestige of curatorial integrity. Here, viewers could take in such promising marvels as the almost four-hour feature An Elephant Sitting Still (2018), the first and last film by Chinese novelist Hu Bo, who took his own life last year at the age of twenty-nine; Grass (2018), yet another feature by the endlessly prolific Hong Sangsoo, who also had a film in Rotterdam (and will likely show work at Cannes and Venice); and, in

  • picks February 27, 2018

    Louis-Philippe Scoufaras

    Louis-Philippe Scoufaras’s “Trilogy of Terror,” 2014–16, consists of single-shot videos, each ninety minutes in length, that stage confoundingly prolonged meditations on events from ancient mythology. The title of Omphalos, 2016, the final part and the subject of this exhibition, is rife with symbolic meaning; in ancient Greek, it means “navel,” the center of the world; an object or a place with great power.

    To rule over the earth, King Cronus first had to castrate and murder his father, Uranus. Later, Cronus would eat his own children in order to avoid a similar fate. Scoufaras’s distillation

  • film February 26, 2018


    LAST NOVEMBER, A GROUP OF LOCAL FILMMAKERS PUBLISHED AN OPEN LETTER in Der Spiegel criticizing the Berlinale as the weakest of all international film festivals and calling for “a new beginning”: a clear reference to festival director Dieter Kosslick, whose contract runs out next year. Given the poor programming he has overseen and the subsequent general decline of the festival’s stature, the Berlinale is no longer at the level of Venice or Cannes as a serious forum for a rigorous assessment of the state of the art. Rather than listening to his critics with an open mind, Kosslick and his sycophants

  • film February 19, 2018

    Mixed Messages

    “HAVE YOU HEARD OF ‘AFROFUTURISM’?” responds the young artist, when her photographer asks why she’s hanging that ridiculous arrangement of electrical sockets over her painted face. “It’s this thing . . . It’s really big right now . . . and white people really like it for some reason.”

    With the international premiere of the brief, bold, and hilarious art-world satire This One Went to Market?, 2018, from Nairobi-based filmmaker Jim Chuchu’s brilliant new Web series We Need Prayers (2018–), produced together with the twelve-member strong Nest Collective, the Forty-Seventh International Film Festival

  • film February 15, 2018

    Lazy Sunday

    APICHATPONG WEERASETHAKUL ONCE JOKED in an interview that he made films for his audience to fall asleep to. Well, perhaps it was more like a half-joke. The director’s SleepCinemaHotel (2018), one of the highlights of this year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam, puts this idea into practice. Installed in the Zaal Staal of the city’s Postillion Convention Center WTC, the twenty beds on platforms of varying heights could be booked by guests for an overnight stay to take in the 120-hour-long film—featuring footage Apichatpong compiled from the archives of the EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam

  • picks February 07, 2018

    “sign just under the skin”

    It is in the nature of language to be disembodied. Whether spoken or written, the word has no real form. Language, then, widely believed to be concrete, is actually the most abstract entity that exists—caught up in a perpetual struggle to cohere into meaning and failing, through its ambiguities, every time. The only art form that exists, then, is interpretation.

    Cocurated by Àngels Miralda and Catherine Parsonage, “sign under the skin” anthologizes this tension between disintegration and cohesion in the work of four young artists. Rosana Antolí’s Chaos Dancing Cosmos, 2016–17, the largest work

  • picks January 25, 2018

    Bjarne Melgaard and Sverre Bjertnes

    Sverre Bjertnes and Bjarne Melgaard have collaborated intermittently throughout the past few years while simultaneously pursuing their own solo visions—two Norwegian ships that occasionally crash in the night. The shards of their latest sparring stretch across two galleries. Both exhibitions, though different in media and style of display, take inspiration from the writings of another Norwegian, the late Stig Sæterbakken, who authored a number of novels, volumes of poetry, essays, and short stories before taking his own life in 2012 at the age of forty-six.

    At Rod Bianco, the show is divided

  • picks November 11, 2017

    “Perception Is Reality”

    This brilliant and at times frightening exhibition offers multifaceted insight into virtual reality as praxis. On the ground floor, Manuel Rossner’s Wetware, 2017, reproduces the institution’s interior exactly, allowing reality trippers the uncanny experience of walking through the space when, suddenly, it is flooded with a sea of blue sludge. In the basement, gamers will find solace in David OReilly’s Everything, 2016, inspired by the writings of philosopher Alan Watts, which allows visitors to constantly change perspective by becoming different animals or inanimate objects, with no final goal

  • picks November 09, 2017


    Immodesty has perhaps never appeared so putrefying as it does in 2017, year of the pretentiously sweeping curatorial gesture. Following a now near-universal trend, curators—more like mystical Band-Aid applicators—of this summer’s verifiably grotesque Grand Tour spectacles attempted to pass their sludgy discourse off as genuine, to a chorus of yawns comprising the more honest critical reactions. Thankfully, there were other, immersive pathways to wander on this season, the most important one being “Intuition,” organized by a team led by Axel Vervoordt and Daniela Ferretti. The very notion of this

  • picks October 30, 2017

    Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Cao Guimarães

    Ants are so great. Besides their obvious admirable qualities––such as their strength––they are unique in their ability to recognize the true value of human detritus. They take it—literally—and make it their own. Though few notice. Among the handful of people who do is Cao Guimarães, who cast a Brazilian species as his stars in a video made in collaboration with Rivane Neuenschwander, Quarta-feira de cinzas (Epilogue: Ash Wednesday), 2006. The film was shot the day after Carnival in Belo Horizonte, and there’s all this junk on the ground, confetti that’s been thrown. The human inhabitants don’t

  • picks October 27, 2017

    “Spectrosynthesis: Asian LGBTQ Issues and Art Now”

    This is the first major museum exhibition focusing on LGBTQ issues in Asia, and it is apt that it is being held in the capital of the first Asian country to move toward legalizing same-sex marriage. Taiwan is a complex and ever-evolving society—remarkably more open to the progressive values of the global Left than its surrounding nations in East Asia, while at the same time wedded to traditional notions of what constitutes family, as could be expected in a country molded by Confucian values.

    The local polarization of cultural values is addressed directly in many of the works and makes itself felt

  • picks September 26, 2017

    Irma Blank

    As seen in her famous large-scale works rendered in ballpoint pen, writing, in its occasionally unvarnished instrumentality, is Irma Blank’s greatest subject. Here, in an exhibition devoted to what she calls her “Global Writings,” the artist attempts to excavate the seismic universality of grammatographical expression from its semantic commitment. In the five pages of Global Writings, Lineare, 2005, for instance, the handwritten textual markings recall Bengali or Sanskrit. Step away to compare the arrangement of paragraph clusters on each page, and the sculptural dimensions of the project become

  • picks September 13, 2017

    Olga Chernysheva

    Russian photographer Olga Chernysheva’s latest exhibition consists of never-before-shown works spanning from 1996 to 2014. Also on view is the large-scale pigment print Before Closing, 2017, which was captured at Tallinn’s Central Market, a leftover relic from the Soviet era replete with mostly Russian vendors, allowing visitors to step back in time. Here, we see one of the shopkeepers, minus her head, unceremoniously dumping water from a bucket of flowers into a drain. Chernysheva, a Muscovite, was brought up in that world, and her eye seems to seek out those persistent remnants of the twentieth

  • picks September 11, 2017


    With its focus on live art—including works representing virtually every analog and digital medium as well as a fair share of crowd-drawing interactive pieces—this exhibition brings together an assortment of Korean and Taiwanese artists who have little in common other than a will to defy the merely visual and engage the widest audience possible.

    While its curatorial theme and commissioned works may invite any number of heated disquisitions on the museum in the age of the selfie stick—here Michael Fried’s old gripe with “theatricality” in Minimalist art seems absurdly quaint—the show’s revolving

  • picks September 11, 2017

    Lucian Freud

    Throughout his long career, the painter Lucian Freud rarely experimented with other media. Among the chosen few was printmaking, but even that was limited to etchings. The current exhibition is devoted to this side of Freud, presenting fifty-one prints, plus three paintings, produced over a span of twenty-seven years.

    Even in this seemingly incompatible medium—his etchings, after all, are composed wholly of lines, whereas oil painting allows one to work with viscous areas of color—the figurative essence of Freud’s style is conveyed. Some of the prints are quite demented—A Couple, 1982, depicts

  • film September 07, 2017

    Only the Lonely

    TSAI MING-LIANG is one of the great charters of human loneliness. This month’s retrospective at the Kino Arsenal in Berlin allows you to consider Tsai’s cinema in its entirety (excluding his shorts and television features). You can watch the city of Taipei through the final decade of the twentieth century and to the present, as it begins to resemble the scripted expectations of a twenty-first-century metropolis, or the development of his small ensemble of players, notably Lee Kang-sheng, the handsome and mysterious leading man whom Tsai discovered working in a video-game arcade and has cast in

  • film June 27, 2017

    Shock and Awe

    BUSAN MIGHT BOAST the bigger international reputation, but among South Korean cineastes, the Jeonju International Film Festival is respected for its scrappy integrity and unapologetic penchant for experimental and independent cinema. In a year rife with political uncertainty—not only in the southern half of the peninsula, with its recent election and media-exaggerated tensions with the North, but across the globe—it is unsurprising that this year’s edition favored strong, polemical visions entrenched in the present sociopolitical quagmire.

    Among the local entries, the boldest statement was offered

  • film March 01, 2017

    Substance and Style

    DIEGO (JORGE MARTÍNEZ) has been reduced to the status of permanent patient. Dying of AIDS, he lies in bed in the apartment he shares with Miguel (Patricio Wood), a friend with whom he has little in common other than that Miguel once defended him from bullies when they were adolescents. In the depressed environs of contemporary Havana, Miguel has gone into a sort of internal exile. By day, he scrapes by as a dishwasher at a restaurant; at night, he gazes at a map of the United States in the kitchen, dreaming of escape, while in the bedroom, Diego holds court with his ferocious wit in gossip

  • film February 17, 2017

    Desert of the Real

    THE DESERT IS A LIVING ENTITY, a beast that threatens to consume all trespassers. Many who attempt to cross it on the journey from Mexico to the United States fail, leaving a trail of corpses—if the victims don’t disappear altogether. El mar la mar, one of the few highlights so far of the Sixty-Seventh Berlin International Film Festival, takes us beyond rhetoric and to the place itself: that vast, shadowless landscape littered with the detritus of those who have braved its hostile climes.

    El mar la mar was made by J. P. Sniadecki, who, together with Joshua Bonnetta (who also has a desert-themed