COLUMNS

  • Bah Lumbung

    Kristian Vistrup Madsen at Documenta 15

    DURING THE PREVIEW DAYS, riders on the international art circuit seemed excited about Documenta 15, mostly on the grounds that it was not the Berlin Biennale (“too depressing”) or because they were relieved to no longer be paying ten francs for water at Art Basel. Having gone to neither, I remained unenthused. “But it’s fun!” people said, in reference to the “relational” food offerings, generous beanbagged chill-out zones, and never-ending jam sessions. There were even “quiet rooms” where the fatigued could go and collect themselves, though the only occupied one I saw was being used by a

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  • Reborn this Way

    Andrew Berardini at the RenBen 2022

    “THE SLEEPER MUST AWAKEN.”

    On a banner trailing an airplane circling the South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago, this message read mysteriously to all who spied it in the soporific sunset heat, including those like me coming to the Renaissance Society’s first benefit under its new director Myriam Ben Salah and orchestrated under an impresario, the grandly sly Italian artist Piero Golia.

    After too many buses and trains from the airport, I walked through the deepening dusk under rounded terracotta arches alongside the long drive leading up to the front doors of the 1909 Mediterranean Revival former

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  • Italian Job

    Laura McLean-Ferris at the reopening of the Pinacoteca Agnelli

    I WATCHED as a battered gray car sailed off the Umberto I Bridge and into the hot spring air before landing with a terrific crash in the Po river below. Last Saturday in Turin, a large American and Italian crew had closed off part of the city to film Fast X, the tenth and finale installment in the Fast and Furious series, featuring a suite of muscular A-listers including Vin Diesel, Ludacris, Charlize Theron, Cardi B, Brie Larson, and Jason Momoa, among others. These are, for readers unfamiliar, lucrative and patently idiotic movies which celebrate fuel, family, and franchise with technically

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  • Normal People

    Kristian Vistrup Madsen at Berlin Gallery Weekend

    PEACHES SERENADED HEATHCLIFF from atop a table at the Julia Stoschek Collection last Wednesday after Caique Tizzi’s “singing dinner,” where, in the name of art, I ate a raw leek and was triggered by a live rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Next door at Sweetwater, Luzie Meyer read her Lacanian poetry to hundreds of Städelschule alumni, and across town at CFA, Francesca Facciola distilled all the sex and kitsch of Catholicism into a deranged painting of Jesus certain to appear in my nightmares. As for celebrities, in lieu of Kanye or Keanu, over the weekend someone somewhere spotted Wolfgang

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  • Eyes Wide Shut

    Andrew Berardini at the 59th Venice Biennale

    WE SLIP INTO REVERIE. 

    The traditional death notices along the passages and vaporetto stops around Venice have more faces than usual. The blue and yellow flag of Ukraine flaps in the cold breeze blowing off the lagoon. The carnival masks stare from shop windows at the face masks of those on the other side of the glass. Mingling with the throngs of holiday tourists, an art world sweeps in on boats and trains, buses and planes into the Most Serene Republic for the professional days of the fifty-ninth Biennale di Venezia after a long pandemicked wait of three years, and amid a war of aggression in

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  • Floating Feasts

    Linda Yablonsky around the 59th Venice Biennale

    WHEN IT COMES TO ART, there is no such thing as a glutton. Not in Venice, where one can never get enough, certainly not during the VIP preview of a Biennale. The current edition, the fifty-ninth, has brought such a cornucopia of material from so many parts of the world to so many places around the lagoon that one might think every appetite would be sated. Alas, no! The social deprivations of the pandemic created a hunger for the IRL company of others in numbers that Covid protocols continued to repress. As Pinault Foundation curator Caroline Bourgeois told me, “Monsieur Pinault did not feel that

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  • Sweet Dreaming

    Kate Sutton at the 59th Venice Biennale

    THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE in this world: those who really listen when they hold a seashell to their ear and those who don’t. Cecilia Alemani’s exhibition “The Milk of Dreams,” the main project of the Fifty-Ninth Venice Biennale, is for the former. Titled after a whimsical children’s book by Leonora Carrington, the show harbors a dark-kerneled exuberance, embracing sensuality, sentimentality, and spirituality to yield a surprising light, even joy.

    Alemani’s biennale was delayed due to Covid, and she clearly spent the extra time wisely. You can feel the research saturating the rooms. Of the

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  • Addicted to the Shindig

    Max Lakin around the 2022 Whitney Biennial

    THE GLASSINE LOBBY OF THE WHITNEY was thick with Comme des Garçons “Floriental” on Tuesday morning, overwhelming, even through a surgical mask. Adam Weinberg, the Whitney’s director, asked for a show of excitement, as if ginning up the crowd at a Dua Lipa concert and not a room of journalists at 10 AM after the coffee service had run dry.

    The 2022 Whitney Biennial is really the 2021 Whitney Biennial, waylaid a year for obvious reasons. The exhibition is a curious ritual, a stress test of American art production, but also a kind of debutante ball for young artists, and an act of trust on their

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  • Kingdom Comeback

    The spectacular return of Benin’s looted art

    LAST MONTH, when Benin’s Palais de la Marina in Cotonou opened its doors, a belated history class swung into session. Organized by the president’s office and titled “Benin Art from Yesterday to Today, from Restitution to Revelation,” the exhibition paired work by thirty-four contemporary Beninese artists with a trove of twenty-six royal objects pillaged by the French military from the Dahomey Kingdom’s capital of Abomey in 1892. Beninese people remain closely linked to their ancestral culture, they had just been prevented from seeing and interacting with (some of) it for over a century. Not

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  • Like a Virgin

    Andrew Berardini at Frieze Los Angeles

    I FELT LIKE I was artfairing for the very first time. Was it always this distracting, so disorienting? The return of FOMO is particularly weird. Between the Super Bowl and the Oscars, Los Angeles had its first major art week since February 2020. Though centered around the Frieze Art Fair in Beverly Hills, the pageantry also included the Felix Art Fair at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, Spring Break (an artist-directed fairish thing) in Culver City, and about a million parties and openings, dinners, launches, screenings, and talks.

    For some, the week began at the beloved artist Kaari Upson’s

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  • Roma Holiday

    Evan Moffitt around Zona Maco

    BODIES SURGED toward the front doors of LAGO, whose opening bash had just reached capacity. The crowd pleaded desperately to security guards for entry. Someone began pushing and faces flattened against glass. Everyone was on the list, but no one could get in. The more intrepid guests circled around the back of the pavilion, toward the dark, brackish lake. Security guards rushed to pull us off planters. Through the windows, a golden pendulum by Artur Lescher and a James Turrell window, radiating neon pink, seemed unperturbed by the invading horde—or, for that matter, the steady throb of Tulum

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  • Alien Encounters

    Domenick Ammirati on openings at Lomex and O’Flaherty’s

    GAMBLING CAME TO NEW YORK at just the right moment. Yes, for a long time we have had the ponies, and yes, technically, it has been legal to bet on sports at a few physical locations around the state since 2019. But as of January 8, 2022, gambling on sports became legal in the Empire State via smartphone app, making it as easy for its residents to lose their life savings as it is to swipe a fatefully wrong direction on Tinder. The timing was no fluke: The NFL playoffs began the following weekend. Artforum readers may be unfamiliar with so-called American football, but for reference, you could

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