Travis Jeppesen

  • 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

    “Intuition”

    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

    “Arena”

    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

  • picks August 03, 2016

    “Myth and Nature. From Greece to Pompeii”

    Examples of ancient Greek painting are exceptionally difficult to come by. That “Myth and Nature. From Greece to Pompeii” opens with one of the more exemplary extant works alone makes it worth a visit. Tomb of the Diver dates from the early 5th century BCE and the fresco depicts a young man diving into the sea, symbolizing the transition from life to death. As in other works of Greek art from the period, the movement of nature is evoked through the barest of inferences: a wavy line for the sea, a few brushstrokes referencing the ground. It’s a testament to the idea that a lot can be said using

  • picks July 26, 2016

    Lukas Duwenhögger

    This is a big, museum-survey-style exhibition, long overdue. Lukas Duwenhögger is of course best known for his oil paintings, rendered in mustardy, muted pastels that never overstate, exercises in high kitsch that simultaneously operate as postcolonial takes on Firbankian faggotry, with cultural references to Duwenhögger’s adopted homeland of Turkey often woven in. In Garten am See (Lakeside Garden), 1995, a smartly dressed man leans against a tree on a hill, staring seductively outward at the viewer. Coming up the path behind him is a mustachioed man, who cruises him with a languishing stare.

  • picks July 13, 2016

    Lesley Vance

    To judge by size alone, you’d think these watercolors on paper were what is often described as modest, but they’re actually not. Gesture plays too great a role; instead, there is a dazzling viscosity—a sexiness, even. In one blue-and-yellow piece (all works untitled and 2016), the yellow is deployed sparingly, articulating petal and stem shapes against the blue background. The bumblebee shade stays true to the liquid nature of the medium, congealing and swimming in the center of the composition, while the cerulean that allows it to flourish has been disciplined into strict swaths.

    In other

  • picks June 30, 2016

    Andrew Dadson

    Seven large white monochrome canvases, all in portrait format. The paint is molded into shapes that jut out from the canvas, intersecting lines that imply letters. It’s as though the painting wants to speak, to form a word, yet it hasn’t fully fathomed how and so it sings instead. In Cut It, 2016, it’s a giant lower-case N taking up the entire body; elsewhere, an S and a T . . . stop? Or still, step, stay? We certainly don’t want to go away. These paintings compel, their loudness blares out at us. We can hear them becoming, even as we move past.

    To call them monochromes is wrong, too. Or at

  • picks June 29, 2016

    Joe Bradley

    Joe Bradley continues to push the medium of painting into new semantic territories. Many of the works here consist of pieces of canvas stitched together, affixed to larger, stretched canvases. In Biddeford, 2016, four bits of stained off-white canvas cling to a cleaner, white one. Each hosts a colony of stains: red, pink, and green splotches, the aftereffects of painting, stretched to become painting itself.

    Then there’s Eric’s Hair, 2016: an AbEx waterfall for the neon age. The work is vertically split into two sections; the left side is further divided, horizontally, with a purer brighter white

  • picks June 27, 2016

    Mitchell Anderson and Jon Rafman

    Titled “Posthumous Lives,” this is an exhibition of work by two artists who are very much still alive. Mitchell Anderson contributes High Zest, 2015–16, a stack of trading cards from Operation Enduring Freedom—the name of US military operations in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014. The packaging reads: “A portion of proceeds from this product will be contributed to charities related to the war against terrorism.” I’m sure glad we won that war and can finally stop enduring all this freedom; the sales from the cards were no doubt a major contributing factor. Elsewhere, Anderson shows a series of

  • picks June 06, 2016

    Yi Dai

    By the end of the century, the Marshall Islands will no longer exist. Owing to the rapid pace of sea level rise, they will be submerged underwater and more than seventy thousand inhabitants will be displaced. Yi Dai’s current exhibition is rooted in both the nefarious past––a couple of the islands were used as testing grounds for the nuclear bomb by the US military––and the uncertain fate of the country, where the artist worked as a volunteer five years ago. The series “Catalogue of Light,” 2016, serves as the recurring motif throughout the exhibition; it consists of sixty-three small wood

  • diary May 27, 2016

    Creative Writing

    FOR THIS YEAR’S London Craft Week, one of the clear highlights was a live performance by Wang Dongling, perhaps the greatest, or at least most famous, living Chinese calligrapher. Having caught about half an hour of sleep after the opening of my own exhibition of calligraphic works at Exile in Berlin, I hopped on an early morning flight to the city on the Thames to see the master’s first public performance in London in more than twenty years.

    Wang is a professor of calligraphy at the Fine Art Academy in Hangzhou and one of the foremost contemporary practitioners of the ancient art. His style is