Valérie Knoll

  • picks September 04, 2007

    Sabina Baumann

    In her latest solo show, Zurich-based artist Sabina Baumann explores links between sculpture and painting, using simple materials and gestures to intervene in larger dialogues around art history and gender. The sculptures, each dated from this year, are largely made from unfired clay, which is either carefully molded or left raw and unprocessed. In many works, the artist has appended fragments of faces—such as lips, hair, mustaches—or gendered items of clothing. On the floor sit two clay squares shaped like pedestals, Gendered I and Gendered II, their identical forms barely differentiated by a

  • Cory Arcangel

    Slash’s famous guitar riff from the 1987 Guns N’ Roses song “Sweet Child o’ Mine” follows you throughout this solo exhibition by New York artist Cory Arcangel, whose work Sweet 16, 2006, floods the exhibition space with sound. The piece underscores that Arcangel has expanded his focus beyond the manipulation of old computer-game systems. Three of the six works here revolved around music, making it the thematic linchpin of the exhibition.

    Over the last several years, Arcangel has developed a reputation for his hacked computer games—he reprograms their consoles and alters the graphics. For his

  • picks August 20, 2007

    Annette Messager

    Eschewing a conventional chronological framework, this exhibition of major works by French artist Annette Messager employs a complex organizational concept to present an extensive survey of the artist’s practice, ranging from her intimate art from the ’70s up through works from the present day. The exhibition begins with her dynamic installation La Ballade des pendus (The Ballad of the Hanged Ones), 2002, in which anthropomorphic figures hang from a track attached to the ceiling, fitfully moving around in a quietly creaking spectacle that simultaneously recalls a macabre procession and a fairground

  • David Thorpe

    A work of strange beauty, David Thorpe’s installation The Defeated Life Restored, 2007, was co-commissioned by three institutions: Kunsthaus Glarus and the work’s successive venues, the Camden Arts Centre, London, and Museum Kurhaus Kleve, Germany. At Kunsthaus Glarus, the work was presented in a room with two long walls of windows and a tiled floor, a setting more like a church community hall than the white cube of a museum. Here the artist built an environment of screens, crowned by zigzagging tops, whose intricate wood supports create geometric patterns paned with green and blue glass. The

  • Christian Philipp Müller

    This first major retrospective of Swiss artist Christian Philipp Müller brought together central works of the last twenty years of the artist’s steadily context-specific practice, and also featured a new site-specific project, “Basics,” 2007, produced specially for the exhibition. The representative selection of older works was presented in thematically arranged groupings and constituted a synopsis of Müller’s main topics and projects. Grüne Grenze (Green Border), 1993, his work for the Austrian pavilion at the Venice Biennale, for instance, is a rubric of its own: Disguised as a tourist, Müller

  • picks April 23, 2007

    “Onamatterpoetic”

    “Onamatterpoetic,” the homophonous title of MAMCO’s current exhibition, is a neologism taken from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake—as is “Rolywholyover,” the title of the exhibition cycle it inaugurates. The novel’s unusual language, no-linear narrative, and open interpretability all inform the patchwork, work-in-progress nature of the exhibition, which contains solo presentations by Siah Armajani, Bujar Marika, Christian Robert-Tissot, Jean-Claude Silbermann, and Joëlle Tuerlinckx, alongside pieces by John Armleder on extended view. The French artist Jean-Claude Silbermann draws from an individualistic

  • “Cluj Connection”

    Until recently, the art scene in the West has been fairly indifferent to work from Central and Eastern Europe. A few artists have made names for themselves internationally, but for many years any analysis or art-historical interpretation of work from these regions has been carried out in a very piecemeal fashion. Now cultural theorists, curators, gallerists, and the artists themselves are engaging in a more critical discourse, and the entry of several Eastern European countries into the EU has facilitated communication. For the exhibition “Cluj Connection,” the British art critic Jane Neal

  • picks March 13, 2007

    “Role Model”

    The John Institute aims to promote detailed and meaningful debate on subjects rarely investigated in contemporary European art discourse. This exhibition is the first of three that, in combination with other events, will constitute the institute’s meditation on the theme of male role models. The project can be seen as, in part, a response to many recent exhibitions on the subject of female role models, often examined from a feminist point of view. “Role Model” brings together nine artists and artist duos who investigate stereotypes and definitions of masculinity in innovative ways. The 16-mm

  • picks March 05, 2007

    Jutta Koether

    In the museum’s entrance hall, visitors are welcomed by Jutta Koether’s large-format black paintings, whose effervescent, chaotic fields create an energetic atmosphere of subconscious darkness. This is Koether’s cosmos, and a black flag (Untitled, 2006) has been hoisted above the entrance, a symbol not only of the relentless urgency evident in all of the artist’s work but also of her self-confidence, the way that she seems to take over the entire museum. This solo show, her first major exhibition in Switzerland, offers a densely installed retrospective look at the artist, including works exhibited

  • picks February 21, 2007

    Jochen Kuhn

    Jochen Kuhn, born in 1954 in Germany, makes short animated films that operate along the border between film and painting and are regularly shown on the festival circuit. This is his first solo exhibition in Switzerland, and it includes three films—Sonntag 1 (Sunday 1), 2005; Neulich 5 (Recently 5), 2004; and Die Beichte (The Confession), 1990—that display his artisanal precision, as well as a selection of paintings, drawings, and photographs that document the inspirations of his filmic art practice. All of Kuhn’s unmistakable films have a poetic and melancholy beauty, generated in part by his

  • Lucy Skaer/Anita Di Bianco

    The work of Lucy Skaer and Anita Di Bianco is connected by the artists’ strategies of appropriation and by their decontextualization and defamiliarization of appropriated materials. The two artists occasionally collaborate on projects; Skaer tends to use photographic materials as sources for works in various media, while Di Bianco’s film and video work is frequently based on literary texts and figures. This show, “Minor Characters,” was an elegant presentation not of collaborative work but of five autonomous pieces.

    Skaer often makes use of drawing and sculpture, and her four works here, all