Valerie Mindlin

  • Jan St. Werner with Michael Akstaller, Oliver Mayer, and Jürg Andreas Meister, Robodynamic Diffusion (RDD), 2021, mixed media, dimensions variable. From the Sixth Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

    Sixth Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art

    Chalk it up to the fatidic power of art (or is it curation?) that the conceptual title for the Sixth Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art, “Thinking Hands, Touching Each Other,” along with its motto, “A time to embrace and to refrain from embracing,” were originally formulated long before the global age of Six Feet Apart and obsessive hand sanitizing—yet in beautiful synchrony came to take on a whole new level of complexity by the time the show’s fruition brought around endless reckonings with pandemic border politics and distancing protocols. In the end, the exhibition succeeded in

  • GES-2 House of Culture. Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff, AFP via Getty Images.
    diary December 11, 2021

    Stranger in Moscow

    “WHO THE FUCK told you to put up the barricades?! They look terrible! Remove those barricades NOW!” I am eating breakfast at KHLEB-2, GES-2's in-house bakery, half an hour prior to the official opening’s scheduled time. So high are the histrionics that I momentarily wonder if I’m witnessing some kind of special guerilla performance portion of the inaugural program. Housed in a historic power station just across the Moskva River from the Kremlin, the serially-delayed GES-2 House of Culture represents the crowning jewel and biggest permanent footprint of the V-A-C Foundation’s international, and

  • Daria Makarova, Hanged 2, 2021, hypoallergenic silicone, drawing, cheesecloth, rust, screw-nuts, ground, oil traces, looped sound, 9 х 7".
    picks November 23, 2021

    Daria Makarova

    A sense of futility permeates the exacerbated physicality of the deeply allegorical work in Daria Makarova’s solo show “In Hopes but often in a Contradiction. Allegro Agitato.” More than anything, the exhibition is redolent of Andrei Tarkovsky’s vision of the future as a version of our own present but put through the wringer, with the materiality at its core stripped bare, confounding us with the same old questions.

    Standing in the middle of the exhibition space is Tripod (all works 2021), a Frankensteinian construction assembled out of an old-fashioned disused radiator and myriad torsional tubes

  • Katerina Lukina, Greedy Seance, 2020, acrylic and UV print on multilayered plywood relief, 19.5 x 30".
    picks November 08, 2021

    Katerina Lukina

    The first thing you register when confronted with the seductive impenetrability of Katerina Lukina’s delirious, multilayered tableaux is an impulse to identify, trace, and decode the myriad reference points and visual quotations tucked into the sculptural recesses of her reliefs. The second thing you register is the realization that you never could.

    The title of Lukina’s first solo exhibition at the Alisa Gallery is “Concert at the Seeds Club.” Each one of its densely palimpsestic, acrylic-and-UV-print-on-plywood reliefs operates as a separate act of an epic opera. 9th performance: “Greedy séance

  • Nastia Zhegal, from the series “Brod Lik,” 2019–21, bread, found objects, plants, clay, dimensions variable. Photo: Maksim Arkatov.
    picks September 27, 2021

    Nastia Zhegal

    There seems to be a tendency among contemporary Eastern European artists toward a specific Surrealist operation that, in his time, Georges Bataille termed “base materialism”: the destabilization of the dichotomy of high and low in favor of material that escapes all definition. What distinguishes Nastia Zhegal’s engagement with this idiom as especially astute is the way she approaches its early-twentieth century origins through an awareness of the critical space that took shape in the decades that ensued. If you ever wondered, What if Alina Szapocznikow, but after Jane Bennett?, Zhegal’s work

  • Anna Andrzhhievskaya, Dawn, 2021, oil and acrylic on canvas, 79 × 71".
    picks August 23, 2021

    Anna Andrzhievskaya

    Zerograd, the USSR’s unsuccessful submission to the 1989 Academy Awards, tells the story of a Moscow factory engineer who is sent on a bureaucratic errand to a small town deep in the bowels of the Soviet empire only to find himself stuck in a nightmare of Kafkaesque absurdity: His own head is served to him as cake, the town’s top chef commits suicide, all the secretaries are naked, and going back home is never again an option. I first saw Zerograd at a disconcertingly early age, and the dark phantasmagoria of the film’s coupling of a surrealist dystopia with the bleakness of a high-rise-studded

  • Koka Ramishvili, Light Machines, 2017, digital Print on Epson Baryta Traditional, Dibond, 24 x 24 ".
    picks June 22, 2021

    Koka Ramishvili

    Born in 1956 in Tbilisi, Koka Ramishvili began his artistic career studying cinematography. This background exerts an unmistakable influence on the central concern of his photographic practice: the dichotomy of stillness and movement within an indexical impression of light.

    “Light Machines,” the title of Ramishvili’s compact solo exhibition at the Multimedia Art Museum, derives from an eponymous series of not-quite-still lifes from 2017. The artist’s careful staging of sculptural objects vaguely recalls the nature morte compositions of Brancusi and Morandi, but Ramishvili has taken the added step

  • Taisia Korotkova, “Dark Forest, (1),” (detail), 2018, black liner on tablecloth, 9' x 2“ × 21' 4”.
    picks May 19, 2021

    Taisia Korotkova

    The word stalker comes into the Russian language from the Strugatsky brothers’ 1972 sci-fi classic Roadside Picnic. In the book, the neologism refers to those who enter the forbidden zones of bygone alien visitations. These days, the term has come to mean an “explorer” or “seeker” and, more specifically, those who engage in a certain, legally dubious practice of exurban exploration: trespassing on and documenting the abandoned sites of Cold War–era top-secret paramilitary science-research facilities.

    Exhaustively chronicled on blogs and social media accounts, the results of these “stalkings”

  • David Claerbout, the “confetti” piece, 2015–2018, double-channel video projection, 3-D animation, silent, color.
    picks April 19, 2021

    David Claerbout

    The supplanting of the lens-based practices by the digital, David Claerbout proposes in his essay for the exhibition “Unseen Sound,” sealed the fate of photography’s claim to indexicality. What enters in its place, negating light-reliant media’s promise of transparency, are what Claerbout refers to as the Dark Optics—an atavistic return to a pre-photographic Dark Ages when visual culture had no purchase on objectivity or veracity. The four video works that make up the exhibition test the vagaries of that early claim as much as the dangers of its successor.

    An ambiguous pastiche of digitally

  • Tanya Akhmetgalieva, Labored breathing, 2018, watercolor on paper, 40 x 29 1/2.
    picks October 10, 2020

    Tanya Akhmetgalieva

    The blurred edges of reality form the center of Tanya Akhmetgalieva’s practice, in which weighty metaphysical issues are handled with a light, neo-Pop touch. Visitors to this exhibition, which spans the last five years of the artist’s diverse work, may draw comparisons to the environments of refracted DNA found in the novels of Jeff VanderMeer. Indeed, sci-fi tropes crop up throughout Akhmetgalieva’s paintings—from robotic arms and interspecies mutants to laser beams and Day-Glo fauna, part ’70s-era vaporware paperback cover art, part VR futurist cyborgian fantasy. Its core motifs, however,

  • Jacolby Satterwhite, Reifying Desire 3: The Immaculate Conception of Doubting Thomas, 2012, HD video, color, sound, 17 minutes 4 seconds. From the series “Reifying Desire,” 2011–14.
    picks March 26, 2017

    Jacolby Satterwhite

    Influenced in equal parts by Picasso, Disney, Bruce Nauman, and Janet Jackson, Jacolby Satterwhite’s videos take place in a domain where human self-orientation loses its social and biological distinctions. The work exhibited here, third in the six-part series “Reifying Desire,” 2011–14, is titled The Immaculate Conception of Doubting Thomas, 2012, and there isn’t a party left in it with a position of stable certainty.

    Satterwhite builds his disorienting videographic environments around drawings made by his mentally ill mother—often supplemented by over- or underlying captions and comments—that

  • Charles Avery, Untitled (Pool, Onomatopoeia Zoo), 2016, pencil, acrylic, gouache, watercolor, and ink on paper
84 x 59".
    picks February 01, 2017

    Charles Avery

    Charles Avery is an omniscient creator whose world-building is compassed with a healthy sense of humor. He lives in his own land, named Onomatopoeia, and populates it as he damn well pleases, often in a manner reminiscent of a Thomas Struth panorama—were it to be created by a petulant child. The works on display here are the latest installment of his project of twelve years and counting, The Islanders, 2005–.

    The island’s zoo is quite a big deal, apparently, and the lavish prospects of its pool, Untitled (Pool, Onomatopoeia Zoo), and piazza, Untitled (Inner Circle, Onomatopoeia Zoo) (all works