Wendy Vogel

  • Noah Purifoy, Earl “Fatha” Hines, 1990, mixed media, 53 × 39 × 4".

    Noah Purifoy

    The art of Noah Purifoy (1917–2004)—political, avant-garde, outsider—defies easy categorization, as did his way of working. In an essay for the catalogue that accompanied “Junk Dada,” Purifoy’s 2015–16 retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Franklin Sirmans described him as both an “artist’s artist” and an “artist-activist.” The terms would seem to contradict one another—the first suggesting a hermetic disposition, the second an inclination toward direct action. Purifoy, however, shifted between the two. In addition to being the first full-time African American student at LA’s

  • Bang Geul Han, Warp and Weft #05, 2022, woven paper tapestry, thread, 20' x 6' 9". From the series “Warp and Weft,” 2021–.
    picks April 28, 2023

    Bang Geul Han

    Bang Geul Han’s exhibition here, “Land of Tenderness,” addresses how language can be both embodied and obfuscating—an abstract tool of power that, nonetheless, struggles to encompass the full weight and breadth of personal experience. Her subject matter is emotionally charged: US immigration policy, anti-abortion statutes, and sexual violence. By contrast, the texts she uses as artistic material is often flat or opaque, culled from class-action lawsuit cases, Supreme Court justice opinions, and state laws, among other sources.

    Han’s show includes two VR works that remix cruel immigration stories

  • Mary Frank, Woman Looking at Us, 2020, oil, acrylic, collage, and stone on board, 48 × 33 1⁄2".

    Mary Frank

    A longtime environmental activist and artist, Mary Frank underscored her impulse toward creative reuse in her latest solo show at DC Moore Gallery. Even the show’s title, “What Color Courage?,” which hearkened back to an older work—her multipanel painting What Color Lament?, 1991–93, owned by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York—functioned as a kind of optimistic refrain. That piece was included in Frank’s 2022 retrospective at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York in New Paltz. Yet her one-woman exhibition here rivaled the scope of a formal institutional

  • Lisa Oppenheim, Miroir entouré d’oiseaux, 1943/2022, ten-part suite of collaged gelatin silver prints, each 35 × 24 7⁄8".

    Lisa Oppenheim

    Lisa Oppenheim’s show “Spolia” extended her investigations into the reproduction and occlusions of cultural memory, this time by diving into the documentation of art that was looted by the Nazis from Jewish citizens in occupied territories during World War II—and that then went missing. Though the exhibition’s title—Latin for “spoils of war”—conjures thoughts of carnage and cultural plunder, many of the show’s works were based on anodyne photographs of stolen still-life paintings. As in her past works, Oppenheim complicated her appropriations, altering her source materials by way of fragmentation,

  • Portia Munson, Today Will Be AWESOME, 2022, found objects, synthetic fabric and cloths, mannequin, salvaged bar table, deconstructed secretary cabinet, 72 × 60 × 70".

    Portia Munson

    In the 1990s, Portia Munson’s scatter-art installations hit a collective nerve. Her manic assemblages of secondhand objects—often organized around a single color, such as pink—critiqued both the politics of consumerism and the reproduction of gender norms through mass-produced items. Over the years, the balance between feminist and ecological concerns has fluctuated in the work. Yet this triumphant show set her preoccupations with gender and commodification on equal footing.

    The exhibition’s largest installation and namesake, Bound Angel, 2021, is a cutting take on patriarchal order and feminine

  • Doreen Lynette Garner, Here Hangs the Skins of a Surgical Sadist! To be physically assaulted by those who identify as Black women, those who formerly identified as Black women, and those who were identified as Black women at birth, 2022, silicone, resin clay, steel, steel pins, rope, raffia, punching bag, cowrie shells, 7' 6“ x 10' 2 1/2” x 7'. 
    picks September 08, 2022

    Doreen Lynette Garner

    As artists returned to figuration in the 2010s, Doreen Lynette Garner burst onto the scene with sculptures that unflinchingly catalogued histories of medical racism. Her solo show here, “REVOLTED,” finds Garner examining the ongoing effects of the slave trade and exemplifies what theorist Christina Sharpe defines as “wake work”—the notion that contemporary Black life must continually affirm itself against the negation of chattel slavery.

    The sculptural installation Feast of the Hogs (all works 2022) connects the dangers of life in the Middle Passage with today’s pandemics. Here, Garner has

  • Kiyan Williams, How Do You Properly Fry an American Flag, 2022, nylon flag, flour, paprika, acrylic fixative, 4 × 6".

    Kiyan Williams

    Smoke literally and metaphorically suffused Kiyan Williams’s solo exhibition “Un/earthing” at Lyles & King. Also lingering in the air were the smell of soil, vegetable oil, and flour, along with assorted seasonings used for summer cookout dishes. Channeling rage and a desire for representation at this turbulent moment in history, the show opened only weeks before the commencement of the January 6 select committee hearings into the Trump-instigated insurrection. Just inside the gallery’s entrance, Williams had installed a dozen four-by-six-inch nylon souvenir American flags that had previously

  • Valerie Solanas in the Village Voice newsroom, 1967. Photo: Fred W. McDarrah/MUUS Collection via Getty Images.
    books August 22, 2022

    Scum As You Are

    UP YOUR ASS. BY VALERIE SOLANAS. Sternberg/Montana, 2022. 104 pages.

    “MY ONLY CONSOLATION’S that I’m me—vivacious, dynamic, single, and a queer,” quips Bongi Perez, the intrepid antiheroine of Valerie Solanas’s Up Your Ass. Written between 1962 and 1965, the play features a wisecracking masc lesbian panhandler and sex worker who sounds a lot like the writer herself. Notorious for shooting Andy Warhol and his associate Mario Amaya in 1968, Solanas’s best-known text is her SCUM Manifesto (1967), outlining a program of male elimination. But it was Up Your Ass, a lesser-known dramatic work, that lay

  • Carlos Motta and Tiamat Legion Medusa, When I Leave This World, 2022, 4K video, color, sound, 10 minutes.

    Carlos Motta and Tiamat Legion Medusa

    Fixing a set of emerald-green and darkly mesmerizing eyes on the camera for a 2022 video in this exhibition, Tiamat Legion Medusa, the titular subject of the piece, asserts, “I don’t want to die looking like a human.” During the past two decades, the Bruni, Texas–based performer has achieved legendary status in the body-modification community for undertaking a simultaneous transition in gender (male to female) and species (human to reptile). Medusa—who prefers it/its pronouns—positions its reptilian metamorphosis as a protest gesture, refusing identification with the onerous breed of mammal that

  • Jill Freedman, Family disputes are dangerous for cops, ca. 1978–81, gelatin silver print, 11 × 14".

    Jill Freedman

    All cops are bastards! This antiauthoritarian rallying cry originated in England about a century ago and pervaded certain pockets of New Left activism during the 1960s and ’70s, a period when Jill Freedman (1939–2019) found her footing as a self-taught documentary photographer. She picked up a camera for the first time in 1966; two years later, following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., she participated in the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, DC, and documented the Resurrection City protest camp around the National Mall. Having witnessed mass arrests and police brutality, Freedman

  • Marina Leybishkis, Ode to the Sea (detail), 2021, concrete, life jackets, cell phones. Installation view. Photo: Emily Sieler.

    Marina Leybishkis

    After receiving a Fulbright Fellowship, Marina Leybishkis visited various refugee camps in Lesbos, Greece, between 2018 and 2019, including Moria Reception and Kara Tepe. At the time, these sites were the largest settlements for displaced people fleeing war-torn countries, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. In September 2020, asylum seekers set fire to Moria, perhaps as a reaction to Covid-19 quarantine restrictions, resulting in even more desperate circumstances for the island’s exiles. In her exhibition here, “Archeology of Loss,” Leybishkis—a 2020 artist-in-residence under Baxter Street

  • Ping Zheng, Luminous Night, 2020, oil stick on paper, 25 3⁄4 × 19 3⁄4".

    Ping Zheng

    For “Reflection,” Ping Zheng’s intimate exhibition of fourteen oil-stick-on-paper paintings at Kristen Lorello, the artist created dreamlike, supersaturated pictures of nature. Zheng, who was raised in China and is now based in Brooklyn, made all the works in 2020, our pandemic year. The pieces in this show were based on observation and memory, combining the different stages of day and night the artist tracked from the rooftop of her studio building in New York with images of waterfalls, lakes, and expanses of night sky she recalled from childhood. An extraterrestrial incandescence suffused many