Travis Jeppesen

  • picks July 22, 2015

    “My Wife Does the Dishes, I Do the Revolution”

    Guy Debord’s famous slogan, Ne travaillez jamais (never work), is scrawled in Nicolás Guagnini’s painting Work No. 4, 2014, among a mishmash of intersecting T-lines and square shapes, all in varying shades of gray—an apt start to this David Rimanelli–curated extrapolation on the dick vibe that has historically, and some might say continuously, underscored so much modern painting. It is hard to be funny and critical at the same time, to get the balance just right, but this show is a rare example. Formalists will get their pickles tickled by the squares and dots bouncing off each other in paintings

  • picks July 17, 2015

    Sean Scully

    There is a soothing calm to Sean Scully’s way with color—his paintings glisten with a new-car sheen. This current exhibition, “Land Sea,” focuses on the painter’s output from the past seven years, with more of an emphasis on the sea than land—an apt choice considering the show’s location in Venice. It is easy to be persuaded, as well as delighted, by the sludgy brushwork of paintings like Blueland (all works cited, 2014), sexy in its stilled sloppiness, which ideally would have had its colors scooped up from the water of the Grand Canal, shimmering directly beneath the palazzo here. That is,

  • picks July 15, 2015

    Gustavo Pérez Monzón

    Gustavo Pérez Monzón is a somewhat mythic figure among Cuban artists. He officially stopped making art in the late 1980s before leaving Cuba for Mexico in the 1990s, opting to dedicate himself to teaching. This current retrospective in Havana thus brings meat to the myth, showcasing an extraordinarily prolific career to a new generation. The bulk of the works on display, dated between 1979 and 1980, were executed on cardboard and are weighted down by the heaviness of the materials applied to them. Silver is the recurring hue, though there is great variation throughout Pérez Monzón’s abstract

  • picks July 01, 2015

    Cy Twombly

    Cy Twombly was the greatest American painter of the twentieth century, and the greatest painter after Picasso, period. Such seemingly hyperbolic assertions are necessary, and even understated, in that they can only infer the myriad ways in which Twombly’s century could not wholly contain him. His works are as enduringly elegant in their wretchedness as ever, and thus an exhibition of the artist’s work, no matter how large or small, is always a welcome event.

    This current one, housed in the airy rooms of a baroque marble palace on the Grand Canal, brings together a career-spanning selection of

  • picks June 11, 2015

    Nathalie Du Pasquier

    Nathalie Du Pasquier’s current exhibition serves as a miniretrospective with a focus on her works on paper. Those who only know of her from the Memphis Group will likely expect to find an aesthetic similar to that of the 1980s po-mo interior-design mavericks, whose furniture was once described in The Guardian as a “shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price.” While the show will certainly help viewers discern her individual contributions to the overall Memphis look, the focus is rightly on the development of Du Pasquier’s independent artistic work, rather than her design sketches, over

  • picks June 05, 2015

    Renzo Martens

    In a world that treasures and rewards gestures of good will—and I am talking about the art world here—Renzo Martens is one of the few artists who puts his money where his mouth is. When an artist shows a work about poverty in underdeveloped nations in typical art-world locales such as New York, Berlin, or the Venice Biennale, the effects—such as the generation of capital—are only felt in those places; it does nothing to benefit or appease the suffering of the distant subjects of the work.

    Through his Institute for Human Activities, Martens has worked to establish an artists’ colony on a former

  • picks May 29, 2015

    Otto Zitko

    Otto Zitko’s artistic project has been very consistent: He paints lines and he doesn’t need anything else. In this way, his art is a kind of asemic writing. Usually his works are done on walls in interiors, occasionally permanent but often only temporary, which induces a kind of melancholy when one realizes that after the exhibition ends they will be painted over by a dull and oppressive white. But while it lasts, the scene is wild snakes dancing and going mad in an ecstatic orgy, with colors oh so bright.

    Here, Zitko offers ten canvases, which are all actually cardboard, dated 2015, and untitled.

  • diary May 28, 2015

    Altered States

    YEAH YEAH, by now we’re well aware that the outside is the inside, that we all exist within this giant urtext that we can never really get out of. Well, for some of us, that just isn’t enough: The lure of a beyond, if only as a conceptual inference, with all its potentialities and numinosities, is simply too great to be cast into the aside of passivity. Altering one’s consciousness—chemically or via other means—can become the noblest of pursuits; away from the hippie rhetoric and the narcissism of self-enlightenment, the psychedelic experience might also be considered as a research methodology

  • picks May 25, 2015

    “Satellite Affects and Other Lines of Flight”

    Situated on the southern edge of the city center in a disused factory, the current exhibition at District showcases work from the space’s past five years of exclusively female artist grantees and is titled after the on-site studio in which each spent six months working. Not coincidentally, the projects exhibited revolve around issues that themselves seem to be in orbit. In Diving Through Europe, Klara Hobza documents her ongoing explorations of the continent’s canals, rivers, and seas, for a project begun in 2010 with an expected completion date of 2035—by which time part of today’s Europe might

  • picks May 01, 2015

    Dieter Roth

    The fascination around Dieter Roth is not so much about the work he produced but the model of artist and making that he put forth, which I have come to think of as one of “vehicularity.” For Roth was an automatist in the true sense of the word—an artist who was always working at every waking hour, fueled by a seemingly limitless source of energy. Automatism is relegated by a vicious self-programming of the body-mind machine, wherein body yearns to take precedence over mind in a privileging of motion and making over cerebral stasis. For Roth, this yielded a joyously and intentionally bad art that

  • picks April 29, 2015

    Greer Lankton

    Serving as a sort of sequel to or continuation of her celebrated retrospective last year at Participant Inc., in New York, Greer Lankton’s European premiere consists largely of documentation of her work in an array of formats such as Polaroids, contemporaneous magazine articles, black-and-white photos, and postcards, as well as a smattering of her original dolls, which include likenesses of Divine and Jackie Kennedy. My favorite is Albino Hermaphrodite in a Baby Carriage, 1984, modeled after a hermaphroditic demigod from Fellini Satyricon (1969) but resembling nothing so much as a baby transvestite

  • film April 24, 2015

    Only the Lonely

    EXIT IS FIRST OF ALL an arresting and unbearable portrayal of loneliness, which is fast becoming one of the early twenty-first century’s chief motifs. The debut narrative feature of renowned Taiwanese cinematographer Chienn Hsiang, the film could be classified as a collaboration with its main actress and vehicle, Chen Shiang-Chyi, a veritable auteur’s actress, best known for her work with directors Tsai Ming-Liang and Edward Yang.

    Ling, the character Chen portrays, is an abandoned person. Her husband has gone to Shanghai, leaving her behind in a stifling nameless second-tier Taiwanese city. She

  • picks April 08, 2015

    Revital Cohen and Tuur van Balen

    Revital Cohen & Tuur van Balen’s latest exhibition posits works of art in the age of bioengineered reproduction. The playful and speculative nature of their projects leaves the less-scientifically-informed viewer to wonder what is real and what is a hoax. In Pigeon d’Or, 2011, a series of interventions has been filmed in which biologists work together with pigeon fanciers in order to develop bacteria that will modify the birds to make them shit soap. Sterile, 2014, gives us goldfish that have been engineered so as to hatch without reproductive organs; each of the forty-five specimens was produced

  • film February 26, 2015

    Outside In

    SADLY IT HAS BECOME A TRUISM that any feature film with LGBT content, no matter how bad, will be accepted at the Berlin International Film Festival, and most likely featured in the art-house-friendly Panorama section. This was the case again this year with entries like Sebastián Silva’s Nasty Baby, awarded the Teddy for Best Feature, a spiteful celebration of New York City gentrification whose petty and charmless characters become increasingly unlikeable as the film wears on. Put them together with the types depicted on the HBO series Looking and you have solid evidence for John Waters’s argument

  • picks February 23, 2015

    Louise Bourgeois

    Tit and phallus are much the same. For instance, consider how both offer the purifying comforts of a white liquid substance rich in life-giving protein, nurturing our anguished doubts and returning us to an ideal, infantilized state. Those life-giving parts become the landscape of a series of watercolors on paper by Louise Bourgeois on view in this exhibition, all produced late in her life, circa 2003 and 2004. These breast-cocks are hills, and their only texture is dots, unhurriedly applied.

    Add to that the pregnant belly, as there are also two sculptures—one untitled, the other Pregnant Woman

  • picks February 12, 2015

    Ruth Campau

    Ruth Campau’s current exhibition begins and ends with two large-scale installations. In the first room, an array of shiny, sharp, and angular painted acrylic panels litter the floor. Campau has been painting colorful lines across these panels for the past decade, and here they are arranged in a pond of shards called Between the Past and the Coming (Eismeer) (all works cited, 2015), with an elevated gangway that allows you to walk around this geometric fuckfest for a multiplicity of views. The second major piece, Between the Past and the Coming, is very different in appearance. A monochromatic

  • film February 10, 2015

    All Relative

    WITH NEW FILMS from Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Terrence Malick, Guy Maddin, Peter Greenaway, Margarethe von Trotta, and brand new documentaries on Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Jia Zhang-ke, it would seem that one of the central theses of the sixty-fifth edition of the Berlin International Film Festival is that auteur filmmaking is far from dead. Of course, a close look reveals that some of these filmmaking giants are in better form than others. What’s more, the numerous glances into the margins afforded by the festival’s megalithic program—with several hundred films from all over the globe on

  • diary February 08, 2015

    The Thief’s Journal

    AFTER SPENDING THE PREVIOUS TWO WEEKS isolated in a borrowed apartment in Copenhagen, hammering out some five thousand words a day on an endless novel, me and my brain were ready for a thaw. So when the offer came to journey even further north to snowy Oslo, for the opening of “Melgaard + Munch” at the museum named after the latter, it seemed like the most counterintuitive move I could make at that moment. I instantly said yes.

    I’ve known Bjarne Melgaard for a little over a year now. We’re mutual admirers of each other’s work. His art adorns the cover of my last novel, The Suiciders, and we shared

  • film January 05, 2015

    Top of the Poppers

    ONE OF THE TAWDRIER ENTRIES on the schedule of this year’s inaugural Berlin Art Film Festival was a screening of Ebo Hill’s Bonking Berlin Bastards, with live dubbing by a duo (critic-programmer Toby Ashraf and filmmaker Telemachos Alexiou) calling itself “White Boys in Crisis.” In the universe of gay porn, a strong argument could be made for Bonking Berlin Bastards’s status as a millennial cult classic. When it came out in 2001, it put Berlin on the map for gay sex tourism and endowed the city with a reputation as a place where you could do nearly anything and get away with it—a bit like

  • Olafur Eliasson

    Ever since Olafur Eliasson debuted his Green River project (in which he introduced a nontoxic substance into a stream so that the water temporarily glowed a bright-neon green) in Berlin in 1998, rivers have been an obsession for him. Now, on a typically grand scale—I wonder whether anyone has ever challenged Eliasson to produce a work on a small scale, and whether he would be able to manage?—the Danish-Icelandic artist has created an entire riverbed in a wing of the Louisiana Museum. You walk down a long hallway with sterile white walls along a wooden floor, a sort of plinth, before