Zack Hatfield

  • performance December 05, 2018

    Off the Record

    ADVICE: IF YOU DECIDE TO ADAPT Joan Didion’s writing for the theater, downplay its literary origin. Her sentences inhere most naturally on the page, where they can be underlined, annotated, queried, immediately reread. Didion’s own theatrical presentation of The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), her meditation on mourning for her husband, the novelist and screenwriter John Gregory Dunne, whittled mazy streams of consciousness into a stark monologue performed by Vanessa Redgrave. The actor’s gravitas was compelling but at odds with the literary persona Didion has over decades so carefully honed

  • Jeff Whetstone

    If Jeff Whetstone’s recent photographs of the American South call to mind other kinds of light writing, it may be because the region’s literature, like Whetstone, reveals light to be history’s medium. William Faulkner observed that Mississippi rays seem to arrive “not from just today but from back in the old classic times.” Even California native Joan Didion mused that the air of New Orleans “never reflects light but sucks it in until random objects glow with a morbid luminescence.” Whetstone’s pictures channel the anomalousness of time and radiance in the South, how the land remains at a

  • picks November 09, 2018

    Denise Scott Brown

    Vegas was her idea. In 1968, architects Denise Scott Brown and her husband, the late Robert Venturi, chaperoned thirteen Yale students—nine of them studying architecture—to the city for a field trip. Four years later came Learning from Las Vegas—their landmark, somewhat trollish retort to the fusty grade of International Style then ascendant. That treatise’s so-called populist championing of vernacular modes and classical allusions remains relevant and divisive, though Scott Brown’s immense legacy still often serves as a footnote to Venturi’s. This small exhibition of research photographs—and

  • interviews November 05, 2018

    Jeffrey Gibson

    For nearly two decades, Jeffrey Gibson has sought to complicate ideas of identity and heritage through multiform work rooted in modernist abstraction, indigenous traditions, and queerness. His art is currently on display in a retrospective at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson; a survey at the Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York; the inaugural exhibition at the Maria & Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery at Georgetown University in Washington, DC; and a solo show of new paintings at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. in New York City, which is on view through November 27, 2018.  

  • diary October 10, 2018

    Picture People

    A COLLECTOR OF FAMILY PORTRAITURE was telling me that these days nobody wants to prove Mark Twain right. “You do know the Twain quote, don’t you?” It was Sunday morning, and the nonchurchgoing milled about the Mercantile—Cincinnati’s toniest library—waiting for Teju Cole to begin a talk. The collector of family portraiture and I were discussing the city’s ascendency as a cultural hub. I said yes (“Of course!”) but I had sort of forgotten. Later, I Googled the full quote: “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always twenty years behind the times.”

  • picks October 01, 2018

    Sam Anderson

    “Does anybody need my love?” one of New York’s nine million strangers murmured on the street as I walked to this exhibition. His inquiry felt out-of-nowhere, gentle but rather threatening: descriptors that also apply to the show in question, Sam Anderson’s “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing.” Here, other lovesome/lonesome things—a harp, an outsize cake-topper bride, a grinning tube of sunscreen—become stripped-down monuments to withheld affection. Anderson’s fragile, frugal sculptures often appear hurried to the point of incompleteness, as if to stress that her work is not a product of impassioned

  • Roy Newell

    Roy Newell taught himself how to paint at the New York Public Library on Forty-Second Street in Manhattan, working day after day for ten years in the 1930s and ’40s. During this period, he met Willem de Kooning by chance in the library’s art reference room—a popular haunt for many artists at the time. Not long after, Newell was swept into the orbit of soon-to-be AbEx stars including Franz Kline and Arshile Gorky. When they scaled up their canvases and gestures, so did he. Then, in what would remain his most dramatic creative act, Newell destroyed everything he had ever made. Afterward, he

  • Julia Phillips

    Blinder, Intruder, Distancer, Muter, Aborter: Julia Phillips titles each of her sculptures after its purpose. Who carries out these functions? Ambiguity menaces the German-born, New York-based artist’s work, in which intimacy, race, and power are interrogated—to use one of art criticism’s most trite verbs, but one that aptly captures the spirit of Phillips’s first museum solo exhibition, “Failure Detection,” whose austere rooms conjure both torture chambers and medical facilities.

    Ceramic utensils meant to sunder and separate flesh lie grimly on a hospital trolley with white handle grips in

  • interviews August 27, 2018

    Jennifer Steinkamp

    The Los Angeles-based artist Jennifer Steinkamp’s Blind Eye, 1, 2018, a roughly three-minute-long animated loop, depicts a life-size grove of birch trees cycling through the seasons, their ocular scars delivering an uncanny, plural gaze. The video is included in a survey of the artist’s work at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, titled “Blind Eye,” which comprises the first video installations shown at the museum and is on view through October 8, 2018. Here, Steinkamp talks about inspirations for “Blind Eye,” the limitations of vision, and learning to decide.

    THERE’S A FEELING

  • film August 15, 2018

    Lost and Found

    NOT LONG AFTER HER HUSBAND, the philosopher and Resistance leader Robert Antelme, was ambushed by the Gestapo in Paris in 1944 and deported to Buchenwald, Marguerite Duras logged the ensuing period of uncertainty in a diary that would spend the next four decades yellowing in a cupboard, supposedly forgotten. In 1985—one year after Duras enthralled the world with The Lover, a slim, fathomless autofiction of scarring desires too often misread as one of brave romance—the journal was finally published, alongside other memoir-like vignettes and two fictions, as La Douleur (Pain). The word is euphemistic.

  • diary July 21, 2018

    Down in Front

    BEFORE THE CUYAHOGA RIVER CAUGHT FIRE, searing into the public’s imagination an unfair but dogged metaphor for a Cleveland in decline, Tennessee Williams is rumored to have delivered a sicker burn: “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” The claim isn’t entirely without truth. In 2018, Cleveland—with its deindustrialization, police violence, segregation, and purple politics—is a microcosm for “The American City,” which is in fact the subtitle of the inaugural edition of FRONT, a multimillion-dollar international triennial that

  • picks March 23, 2018

    Amelie von Wulffen

    Those in search of art’s foulest perversions and most ruthless cruelties must turn to the fairy tale. Amelie von Wulffen knows this. In the dozen paintings here, the German artist takes on many a grim matter—including childhood repression and national remorse—by casting foxes, goblins, damsels, and other creatures in folkloric vignettes of unexplained distress. Neglected children lie on the floor as monsters romp nearby; siblings neck before a rapturous bouquet; Bavarian exteriors are imbued with eerie stillness. One doesn’t know whether to pity or dread the misfits that haunt these paintings,

  • picks January 26, 2018

    Terry Adkins

    The words “alternate history” evoke hypothetical extremes, such as unfought wars and imagined technologies infused with the possibility of global havoc. But the phrase might also describe subtler narratives forgotten, effaced, or thwarted by the vicious authors of history. Consider Terry Adkins a chronicler of alternate pasts. The late artist’s performances and sculptures, steeped in the power of music and the music of power, send echoes into the chasms of black history—and so, at first, it feels mildly disappointing that for its debut exhibition of Adkins’s work, this gallery has, in lieu of

  • picks December 22, 2017

    Raha Raissnia

    “All a blur”: We describe monotony the same way we describe chaos. Raha Raissnia’s drawings, despite their quiet consistency, have their genesis in revolution. Amid the 1979 uprising in Iran against Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the artist, then a child, accompanied her father to the streets of downtown Tehran, where he would photograph demonstrations. She inherited his interest in the medium, and in “Alluvius”—her debut solo museum show—Raissnia reckons with tensions of identity and form by rephotographing and then drawing found archival imagery amassed over time. Rather than contest the notion that

  • picks November 17, 2017

    Arthur Ou

    Arthur Ou’s photographs here were taken during a single day, from sunup to sundown, at the Point Reyes, California, coast last year. After making a sequence of exposures from the same aerial vantage, the artist tinted each nearly identical analog print with waxed pigment, so that gradations bloom across what would otherwise be an unspectacular seascape. Despite such a deliberate technique, there is a narcotic uncertainty to the photographs, a feeling deepened by the press release’s epigraph from Ludwig Wittgenstein, who remarks that the future “moves not in a straight line, but in a curve, and

  • picks October 20, 2017

    Keith Mayerson

    A famous photograph taken in 1970 depicts Elvis Presley—caped in black velvet, his mouth slightly agape—shaking Richard Nixon’s hand: an enduring spectacle of fading Americana clasped with disastrous politics. It’s no wonder Keith Mayerson chose to paint the encounter, Elvis Nixon (all works 2017), for “My American Dream: Mystery Train (in loving memory of Daniel Tinker Knapp),” a show whose nostalgia is menaced by the tensions of an increasingly fractured country. Here, American landscapes often threaten to implode into abstraction, as in the monumental Paso del Norte: the US/Mexico Border,

  • picks August 25, 2017

    Cortney Andrews

    Like the Joan Didion book it’s named after, Cortney Andrews’s exhibition “Play It as It Lays” is a feat of emptiness, alert to the threats posed by fragile things. If Didion’s characters skirted the moral void of Hollywood—an inner blankness represented by white space on the page—the absence in this show is even more overt, manifested in hundreds of unfilled glasses that cover the gallery floor, an installation titled Play It as It Lays, 2017. Chalices and tumblers, flutes and grails—the shadows don’t play on the wall, they just loom. The work is darkened so that viewers are brought to the main

  • picks July 28, 2017

    Myoung Ho Lee

    In 2015, environmentalists rejoiced after a new study estimated that there are three trillion trees on Earth—an unexpectedly immense tally. Meanwhile, the few remaining photography critics learned of a less joyous abundance: By the end of 2017, we will have collectively shot more than one trillion digital photos in one year—a glum statistic to reckon with in the campaign against a bumbling, illiterate image culture where photographs are taken, not made.

    Myoung Ho Lee attends to both of these profusions with deceptive simplicity. For his “Tree Abroad” series, 2011–17, the artist enlisted industrial

  • picks July 21, 2017

    Megan Marrin

    If the art world had to be reduced to a single smell, the pungent fumes of freshly slathered white paint would make a strong candidate. Its redolence plays an unwitting foil to Megan Marrin’s latest show, “Corps,” a septet of Photorealist paintings that take as their muse the Amorphophallus titanum, or corpse flower. Thousands of people descend upon botanical gardens to bask in the flower’s languid bloom—which occurs every seven to ten years—that is celebrated for a rancid fragrance often likened to that of a spoiled carcass.

    This pageantry is transformed into sexual farce on Marrin’s large oil,

  • picks June 23, 2017

    Wendy Red Star

    In previous photographs, Wendy Red Star has posed amid inflatable elk, creased mountain backdrops, and AstroTurf to lampoon the manufactured authenticity of indigenous culture evident in, say, an Edward S. Curtis postcard. That ironic approach is traded for a more genuine one in Um-basax-bilua, “Where They Make the Noise” 1904–2016, 2017, a photographic timeline of Montana’s yearly Crow Fair—a parade originally installed by the US government in 1904 to assimilate the Apsáalooke into white culture—that spans two rooms and a century in its depiction of Crow customs. A cavalcade of tribe members