Zack Hatfield

  • Performance view of Meschac Gaba’s Perruques Architectures Émirats Arabes Unis.
    diary March 15, 2019

    Into the Echo

    THE SHEIKH WAS RUNNING LATE. It was 10 AM—the official opening time of the fourteenth Sharjah Biennial. Although a nice, durable red carpet had been rolled out in front of the Sharjah Art Foundation’s Al Mureijah Square, and a crew of cameramen in dishdashas was on standby, the planefuls of artists, curators, press, gallerists, and junketeers who had descended upon the Emirate last Thursday were told they might as well wander the grounds and see some art. We would be alerted when Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi finally arrived (his daughter and the biennial’s director, Sheikha Hoor Al

  • Hilary Berseth, Cleaved Slates Stacked, 2017–18, graphite and fixative on paper, 23 x 18 x 18".
    picks March 01, 2019

    Hilary Berseth

    With paper and pencil, Hilary Berseth has drawn in exacting detail life’s less charismatic roadside attractions—rocks, sticks, bones—and fashioned sculptures mistakable for what they depict. Inspired by the scenery of Pennsylvania’s Tohickon Creek, they possess a rugged whimsicality, like a dust-bowl pop-up book. On plinths or suspended by string, the artworks appear parched and brittle, unable to withstand a human sneeze. Behold how the heaped, lichened stones of Cleaved Slates Stacked, 2017–18, attached with tiny notch joints, elude gravity. Peer inside the stippled cave of Model 5, 2012, a

  • OPENINGS: JULIEN NGUYEN

    SOME DECLARE the end of the world; others make new worlds. Julien Nguyen does a bit of both. Shuffling allusions from the Renaissance, anime, and the artist’s own life, his paintings reliably broach the familiar tropes of the powerful. You may remember Executive Function and Executive Solutions, both 2017, his contributions to that year’s riling Whitney Biennial: Subdivided into panels and tondi, they boasted satanic nymphs, skeletons, and nudes while evoking artists like Sandro Botticelli and Giorgio de Chirico—all portrayed as the front page of the New York Times. Here was the paper of record,

  • Roy Arden, Hoard 2, 2018, cyanotype on cardboard packaging, 12 × 6 3⁄4". From the series “Hoard,” 2018. From “Anna Atkins Refracted: Contemporary Works.”

    “Anna Atkins Refracted: Contemporary Works”

    Anna Atkins, the Victorian botanist widely considered the first female photographer, created thousands of cyanotypes depicting white negatives of flora, often seaweed, suspended in atmospheres of Prussian blue. She made the pictures in the service of science, each one a spectral ode to the bounty of life and to what was then an innovative photographic technique. Like those of so many women of the time, Atkins’s breakthroughs fell into obscurity; she was “rediscovered” in the 1980s. The New York Public Library’s exhibition “Anna Atkins Refracted: Contemporary Works”—curated by Joshua Chuang and

  • Lars Jan, The White Album. Performance view, BAM Harvey Theater, 2018. Mia Barron. Photo: Stephanie Berger.
    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, Still Life with Catfish, 2016, ink-jet print, 39 × 52".

    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

  • Denise Scott Brown, La Concha Motel, Las Vegas, ca.1966, giclée pigment print on Hahnemuhle archival paper, 17 x 21."
    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

  • Jeffrey Gibson, I Was Here, 2018, digital still, color, sound, 8 minutes 40 seconds.
    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.”

  • View of “Sam Anderson: A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing,” 2018.
    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, Lifelines, 1995, oil on board, 10 1⁄4 × 9 3⁄8".

    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 Philips, Extruder (#1), 2017, partially glazed ceramics, nylon screws, metal struts, metal pipes, concrete tiles, lacquer, 33 7⁄8 × 51 1⁄4 × 68 1⁄8".

    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