Down the Loophole

Barcelona
06.05.17

Left: Artists Berta Sichel, Don Foresta, curator Anne-marie duguet, and artist Chip Lord (Ant Farm). Right: BERG Contemporary's Margrét Àskelsdóttir (middle) with Steina and Woody Vasulka.


ON A RECENT SUNNY WEDNESDAY, I walked by the skateboarders riding in front of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and descended to the dark auditorium just in time to hear director Ferran Barenblit introduce Video Data Bank’s Abina Manning. Manning had selected works by women artists—Hermine Freed, Lynda Benglis, Barbara Aronofsky Latham, Suzanne Lacy, Linda Mary Montano, and Susan Mogul, all pioneers of video art in the 1970s—who had taken advantage of the emergence of Sony’s Portapak camera. The grainy, poignant experimental films made a couple of people flee, but mostly they found a sympathetic audience of hard-core video lovers and art historians who had arrived in Barcelona for the LOOP Video Fair, opening the next day in Hotel Catalonia Ramblas.

On a quick registration stop there, we found, in the flesh this time, more video pioneers: artists Berta Sichel—“It’s like going back home for Christmas”—Don Foresta, Chip Lord, Mary Lucier, and Beryl Korot, along with curator Anne-Marie Duguet, in a jolly reunion (with gin and tonics) at the hotel bar.

“He represents the history of video art in Spain,” said LOOP founding codirector Emilio Álvarez of curator Eugeni Bonet. We had walked with Duguet, a historian of the same subject, to the patio of Fundació Gaspar for Paul McCarthy’s opening of racy, figurative viscera. Gorging on Barcelona’s picturesque streets and last sunlight, we strolled with Centre Pompidou curator Coline Davenne and collectors Isabelle and Jean-Conrad Lemaître to the LOOP dinner at the Sky Restaurant Marea Alta, located atop the only business tower in the barrio El Raval. “You know, it makes sense we collect video, since we started with etchings—it is the same principle, all editions,” Isabelle Lemaître told us.

Left: Artist Ali Kazma and Analix Forever's Nicolas Etchenagucia. Right: Artists Mary Lucier and Beryl Korot.


The next day the fair opened to a studious crowd. “This is the only place where people actually sit down and watch the videos,” LOOP devotees often say. Indeed, I sat through the fifty-three minutes of Progress vs. Regress, 2016, by Melanie Bonajo, presented at Galerie Akinci. It shows short interviews of people seventy years old and up along with a dialogue among a group in their twenties on the use of technology.

Banal theme, yet mesmerizing. But was it video art? I thought it was an appropriate debate to have here, until collector Günter Ketterer of videokunst.ch reminded me of Gilles Deleuze’s definition of the genre—“a moving image and a moving viewer”—and argued for its strict compliance. Not all the works adhered to this standard, but the forty-five invitation-only presentations included works by more vanguardists, such as Steina and Woody Vasulka’s 1973 Golden Voyage, presented by Berg Contemporary, and Yona Friedman’s animation shorts from 1960 to 1961, at once whimsical and brutal, at Galerie Jérôme Poggi. There were also a few premieres, including Rafaël Rozendaal’s Selected Websites, a loop of websites that looks like abstract screen savers, at Steve Turner via Los Angeles. One video per room/gallery, with visitors seated on beds, couches, or luggage benches, we continued our two-day viewing marathon.

“They probably ask for your boarding pass,” joked someone in the slow queue letting us into the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC), where we were taken for a late opening of David Claerbout’s Olympia (The Real-Time Disintegration into Ruins of the Berlin Olympic Stadium over the Course of a Thousand Years), 2016, and a dinner (of cheese, canapés, and succulent fideuà) with a view of the regal stone staircase extending from the avenue of Reina Maria Cristina on the hill of Montjuïc. In spite of the imposing majestic view and decor—a giant inclined mirror served as both wall and ceiling, reflecting people and lights—the dealers, collectors, and artists had a casual, jolly time.

Left: Curator Niels Van Tomme and artist Antoni Muntadas. Right: Loop Festival's Carolina Ciuti, director MACBA Ferran Barenblit, and director Video Data Bank Abina Manning.


At the end of the fair’s second and final day, the Fundació Tapies, showing Mario García Torres’s excellent visual essay correlating photography and politics, invited the Mexican artist to present a reading-performance inspired by Oriol Vilanova’s 2012 series of postcards, “Sunsets From,” on display at the museum. For such a short fair, there was a plethora of events around town. Before the farewell lunch on the beach that Saturday—wine, soft breeze, sun, and paella on the terrace of the Palmito restaurant—guests lounged on the low roof of Arts Santa Mònica on Las Ramblas, where we saw “(Re)viewed, (re)visited: A re-reading of the beginnings of Spanish video art,” with works by Eugènia Balcells, Antoni Muntadas, and Carles Pujol.

As I left Barcelona to catch Jia Aili’s solo at the Contemporary Art Center Málaga—a group of large-format realist paintings, such as dystopian landscapes in which technology is at once anxious and majestic—I mulled over something Muntadas had said: “Ideology is not behind the video but behind the person. Video is ultimately a neutral tool.” At LOOP, a perhaps too-familial family affair where video aficionados gather to genuinely watch and discuss the work, it seems the ideology behind the tool needed some regeneration.

Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva

Lisbon Rendezvous

Lisbon
06.03.17

Left: Collector Carmen Serrano-Suñer and artist Carlos Garaicoa. Right: Artist Marcelo Cidade and dealer Marina Buendia.


“WE THOUGHT ABOUT EXPANDING TO LATIN AMERICA, but it was more complicated. So we decided to open a gallery here,” Pedro Maisterra said at the inauguration of his and Belén Valbuena’s new gallery branch in Lisbon’s Alvalade barrio. “Spain and Portugal don’t usually look at each other, which is crazy when you think about it! But it’s ripe with great energy.”

The Portuguese art scene was lush indeed, as lush as the blue jacaranda blossoming across the city. The patio in front of the new space was already lively when we arrived, straight from the opening of Carlos Garaicoa’s massive installation Utopia/Dystopia at the Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia on the banks of the Tejo River in Belém. “This is the biggest sculpture I’ve made in my life,” exclaimed Garaicoa, looking from the ramp above at the 10,000-square-foot atrium containing the mix of greenery and urban furniture that make up his installation. The new kunsthalle, composed of a new building designed by British architect Amanda Levete and a power station, opened in October 2016 with former MoMA curator Pedro Gadanho at its head.

Left: Director of Appleton Square Vera Appleton, writer Bea Espejo, artists Jacobo Castellano and Noé Sendas, with curator Virginia Torrente. Right: Art historian Maria Larsson, artist Angela Bulloch and dealer Cristina Guerra.


Back in Alvalade, people kept pouring in. We followed them to openings at Galeria Quadrado Azul, Galeria Vera Cortês (showing a sleek solo by Daniel Gustav Cramer), and the hybrid space Appleton Square, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary and was showing a collaboration between Spanish and Portuguese artists Jacobo Castellano and Noé Sendas. Elsewhere in town, Cristina Guerra launched a solo exhibition by Angela Bulloch, and Galeria Madragoa—born last year from an association between Matteo Consonni, formerly of Franco Noero, and Gonçalo Jesus—was opening with a cheeky floor installation by Rodrigo Hernández.

This was the lead-up to the next day’s opening of Madrilenian ARCO Lisboa’s second edition at the Cordoaria, a former shipyard that is now a national monument. The color palette of the lunch tables was worthy of Almodóvar, with fuchsia, patterned orange, and ultramarine tablecloths hosting the customary bacalhau dishes and joyous collectors. (In fact, all the week’s meals included some form of bacalhau and pasteis de nata, and the collectors remained joyous.) Before long, dealers from the fifty-eight participating galleries (up from forty-three last year, as I was informed by Maribel López, one of the ARCO Madrid/Lisboa directors, with Carlos Urroz) joined their booths to prepare for the vernissage’s crowds at 4 PM. The evening brought more conviviality as we departed in buses to Cascais’s fresher seaside to dine at the house of collector Alain Bonte from Bonte Foundation, whose buffet table was accessible through a door between a painting by Miquel Barceló and one by Liu Wei. Sunset on the terrace felt right.

“They cooked us up a shockingly awesome experience so we don’t forget to come back,” said one of the Spanish collectors in my group as we arrived the next day for lunch at Palácio do Correio-Mor de Loures, this after a morning in Marvila at the spaces of Múrias Centeno, Galeria Francisco Fino—with a stellar show curated by João Laia—Galeria Baginski, and Filomena Soares. We were greeted with amuse-bouches, white wine, and Moscatel in the chateau’s sunny yard. Duarte Martins, the son of the current owners, and historian Joel Moedas-Miguel led us through the Baroque-era rooms with their azulejos, fanciful ceilings, and Giovanni Grossi stuccos, as well as the family art collection, from a painting by modernist José de Almada Negreiros to a video in the chapel by João Onofre. By the time we paused for lunch in the gardens, we all felt exquisitely regal.

Left: Curator Bernardo Mosqueira and collector Ademar Britto Jr. Right: Collectors Vitoria and Fabiano Doyle.


That evening I ran into a Brazilian contingent—on a welcome rest from their country’s political turmoil—made up of collectors Ademar Britto and brother and sister Fabiano and Vitoria Doyle, curator Bernardo Mosqueira, artist Marcelo Cidade, and Galeria Vermelho’s Marina Buendia. We sampled more outdoor dining, this time in the urban gardens under palm trees at Chiado8 Espaço Fidelidade Arte Contemporânea—an art space created in 2002 by the insurance company Fidelidade Companhia de Seguros SA—following the opening of a solo show by José Pedro Croft (currently representing Portugal at the Venice Biennale).

This sparkling circuit continued strong each day of the fair. On Friday we visited the home of collectors Armando Cabral and Maria Joao: “We have only one rule: I collect whatever I want but my wife decides what goes on the wall,” Cabral said, pointing out works by Doug Aitken, Lawrence Weiner, Helena Almeida, Cindy Sherman, Tatiana Trouvé, and Francis Alÿs. What’s not to love?

We stopped at Pavilhão 31, the art initiative led by Sandro Resende at Júlio de Matos Psychiatric Hospital, where artist Pedro Cabrita Reis made a show together with artists from their rehabilitation center. (Previous collaborators included Jorge Molder, Souto Moura, and Jeff Koons.) From there we escaped to Culturgest and Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos before finally shaking it off at the nightclub Lux Fragil, where Portuguese film director João Botelho totally conquered the dance floor. There is an undeniable economic revival in Portugal, luring new residents each week (prompting fears of social exclusion and gentrification), pushing aside the more visible strains of the crisis and instilling a positive sentiment in Lisbon’s steep cobbled slopes, Baroque architecture, and composed attitude. If anything, adding more spices to this cinematic city just makes it more irresistible.

Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva

A Plus

Brussels
06.01.17

Left: Artist Claudia Comte. Right: Collector Frédéric de Goldschmidt.


IT MIGHT NOT HAVE the kind of blockbuster billing that lured Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid into lending their names to the Fyre Festival, but the A-listers actually arrived at this year’s Brussels Art Week, which felt particularly front-loaded thanks to an ambitious Tuesday night served up by Mendes Wood DM and Clearing, both of which were opening new spaces in the “secondary city.”

The Brazilians (Mendes Wood DM and company) toasted their outpost, a generous townhouse, with a rambling group show titled “Neither,” curated by São Paulo–based curator and founder of Pivô, Fernanda Brenner. Brenner says in the press release that the origin of the exhibition was a line from her father describing his love for Belgium as “French food in German portions.” Mendes Wood embraced this theme of excess—spritzes and cigarettes for all. I tried to make it to the garden but the throngs were impassable, so I ditched the al fresco inauguration and headed to Clearing.

There was plenty of breathing room in Clearing’s new cathedral-like space, whose high vaulted ceilings made Bruno Gironcoli’s sculptures look extra heavenly. Of course, I found most of the parish outside fuming. The Clearing gang had shown up en masse for a celebratory dinner, which was held in one of the industrial transepts. The patron saints were there: Barbara Gladstone, Luc Tuymans, Maria Baibakova. “This is a night of pure joy,” dealer Olivier Babin said, lifting a glass to the room. Artists Marina Pinsky and Lili Reynaud-Dewar missed the champagne, having snuck in late following the Wiels’s tenth-anniversary artist dinner.

Left: Dealer Guillaume Smets, director Pascaline Smets, and artist Awol Erizku. Right: Curator Beatrix Ruf.


“The Absent Museum,” Wiels’s group exhibition, was, ironically, full during an early press conference on Wednesday morning. “The museum is a label that is assigned to us,” senior curator Zoë Gray explained of the exhibition’s theme. “We wanted to break down what it meant and what it might mean in the future, what it should mean.” The show enlisted the help of the institution’s longtime supporters as well as new voices. For her part, Reynaud-Dewar created Small Tragic Opera of Images and Bodies in the Museum, 2017—a pop opera looking at who has agency in the museum space. The work was performed in an unrenovated building on the former brewery compound. “I’m in the furthest space,” Reynaud-Dewar noted. “But it’s raw and it gives me the freedom to wild.”

I had to skip her dress rehearsal to make it to the Independent Brussels opening. In its second year, the fair had a more polished look, and the crowd to match. “The biggest change from year one to two was the noticeable uptick in the number of international collectors and museums present in Brussels, many for the first time ever,” Independent cofounder and exhibitor Elizabeth Dee said, when asked about its evolution. She recommended I start from the top and work my way down.

I was most intrigued by the offerings on the penultimate floor, where Darja Bajagić’s alarm-raising collages decked out Carlos Ishikawa’s booth. I was also drawn to the work of Jonah King, who was showing a piece called All My Friends Are in the Cloud with artist Sarah Meyohas’s gallery. It was her first fair. “There were really sweet moments when both very young children and elderly people were captivated by Jonah’s piece. Audiences I don’t usually interact with,” Meyohas said. “That was actually the most touching part—that the audience was expanded not only in the sense that it was international but also different ages!”

Left: Artist Kris Martin with curator Jens Hoffman. Right: Artist Avery Singer with filmmaker Matthew Lutz-Kinoy.


Rirkrit Tiravanija’s Untitled (Mount Analog) at Tommy Simoens’s booth provided a welcome moment of relief. The shaved-ice dish—inspired by the artist’s friendship with Yutaka Sone—served as a hangover remedy. Detox became retox with a wave of openings, including ones for Harold Ancart at Xavier Hufkens and Cyprien Gaillard at Gladstone. Those who didn’t merit invitations to dinner joined back up with the crowds at Cinema Galleries, a movie theater that plays nitery, come sundown.

By the opening of Art Brussels on Thursday morning, everyone was moving a bit slower, if with purpose. Art Brussels dealers echoed Dee’s sentiments, noting, “The Americans returned.” This was met by a surprising number of US artists, including Peter Halley, whose work appeared in no less than four booths throughout the fair. Alex Katz made several appearances, too. Canadian painter Manuel Mathieu’s presentation at Maruani Mercier stood out for its gestural vivacity. His paintings were all sold by Saturday, which must have been uplifting news for the artist, who had to limp around the fairs on crutches after a recent accident.

The only surprise to be found was “Mementos,” a show curated by Jewish Museum senior curator Jens Hoffmann and curator Piper Marshall. The exhibition avoided art entirely by focusing on the personal ephemera of seventy living artists: everything from teddy bears to pencil sharpeners. “I was thinking about how we could find a way to talk about value away from finance,” Hoffmann said during a discussion with Laure Prouvost. “One of the things I was thinking about was emotional value. It’s something that maybe one person feels for an object, but cannot be replicated by others.” Provost’s contribution, a series of used tea bags, exemplified Hoffmann’s thesis. Placed under the glass of an elaborate vitrine, the colorful wrappers were ready-made abstractions that seemed not too far afield from the art observed earlier in the day. The Americans may have returned, but Brussels has yet to capture the art world as a whole. For now, Brussels Art Week remains refreshingly intimate and delightfully human.

Kat Herriman

Left: Dealer Olivier Babin with curator Elena Filipovic. Right: Curator Jens Hoffman with artist Laure Prouvost.


Doctored Octopus

Athens
05.31.17

Left: Dealer Gregor Staiger and curator Myriam Ben Saleh. Right: The Breeder's founders George Vamvakidis and Stathis Panagoulis.


“I LOVE AND I HATE ATHENS. I know it by heart, and it’s hard to leave,” said Greek artist Angelo Plessas on the patio of Ama Laxei under eaves heavy with vines and a table heaving with wine at an informal dinner organized by curator Myriam Ben Salah for the various friends, artists, curators, and dealers around for the twenty-second edition of Art Athina.

Documenta’s recent occupation of Athens invited posters and graffiti all over the city announcing “Crapumenta” and “Fuck Documenta14,” but the quinquennial has certainly telescoped international interest onto the city’s art scene. Art Athina, abandoned and renewed any number of times, is looking for a new life with the recent appointment of curator Stamatia Dimitrakopoulos as director. (One former director was arrested in 2007 for obscenity and insulting the Greek nation, because of an Eva Stefani video mixing porn and the Greek anthem, uneventfully on view this edition.) The Tae Kwon Do Stadium (“the Jewel of the Olympics,” I’m told), which hosted this year’s fair, still sports peeling stickers from the 2004 Olympics and wear from its second and third lives holding rallies for the left-wing political party Syriza and as an interim home for Syrian refugees. The parceled-out white booths contained, on the main floor and upstairs around the rim of the stadium, a relatively modest sixty-eight exhibitors, mostly Greek with a remarkably strong contingent from Los Angeles. My care for commerce hovers around necessary evil and reluctant compromise, but given the scrappiness of this fair, moving with the tailwind of the Documenta thrum, I couldn’t help but want it to work. And for a director who got the job only three months ago, Dimitrakopoulos pulled it together.

Left: Ltd's Shirley Morales and artist Margaret Haines. Right: 0-0's Charlie Roberts and Chris Rexroad.


The Breeder’s solo presentation of Sofia Stevi blushed across pink walls and unstretched canvas, handmade books and giant pillows, loose and lively, hearting the fair with a playful, erotic energy. Next door, dealer Petra Martinetz beckoned passersby to a projected waterfall behind a forest of houseplants by Albert Mayr, inviting us to turn a spigot that, with some effort, takes the waterfall from frozen winter through a trickling fall and onto gushier spring thaw and summer flows. Rebecca Camhi coaxed together three dozen works in the shade of blue, from Nan Goldin and Nobuyoshi Araki to Konstantin Kakanias. “I’m here at the fair for Stamatia,” said Camhi, taking me by the hand. “Many Greeks think we should stop bothering, but here as everywhere we need to persist.”

Fellow Greek galleries Eleni Koroneou, Elika, and Kalfayan had strong group presentations. Los Angeles gallery 0-0, which has been open for only a few months, was doing the swiftest business, selling letter-size artworks for thirty euros each. It’s sort of hard not to buy one. The gallery’s Charlie Roberts had a show of his own—a wildly expressive floor-to-ceiling mural around a scatter of pastel paintings—nearby at Oslo’s Rod Bianco.

The unlikely star of the fair was an octopus hooked to jumper cables at ASHES/ASHES, formerly of Los Angeles. It lay out under harsh light day after day, causing the cephalopod—a new, untitled sculpture by Tony Hope—to become . . . pungent. Neighboring dealers revolted, and a fair staffer tried some aromatic spray as bystanders snapped pictures thinking it was a performance. A replacement octopus appeared Saturday, but a stain of black ink and oceanic perfume persisted in the booth’s red carpet.

Left: Tony Hope's Untitled, 2017, at ASHES/ASHES. Right: The Breeder's Nadia Gerazouni and artist Sofia Stevi.


Opening night, the dealers stuck around past closing for a visit from the minister of culture, but on my way there word spread that the former prime minister had been injured in a blast by a letter bomb. The story of Athens these days. Tourists throng the streets of an ancient city, but sometimes traffic is blocked by rallies and flaming trashcans, metal boxes dancing with fire on dark streets. The verdant National Gardens bloom beautifully with jacaranda and jasmine, but it took a few swings of a tote bag to chase off a pack of wild dogs.

The following night, after a daytime visit to Dakis Joannou’s exquisite collection of corporeal art, I sat under the pink wash of banners and paintings folded like napkins by Stevi at chef Ari Vezené’s restaurant for a dinner thrown by the Breeder. After a spirited speech by collector Michael Hort, the artist turned from the seafood salad, artfully arranged in a porcelain urchin shell. “Everybody comes here and we take you to nice places and you think it’s nice, but there’s a crisis,” she said. “People here are really kind, though, and this helps.”

Andrew Berardini

Left: Dealer Petra Martinetz. Right: Artist Olga Migliaressi-Phoca.


Harmonic Discord

Vienna
05.30.17

Left: Kunsthalle Wien director Nicolaus Schafhausen. Right: Artists Francis Ruyter, Gelitin's Ali Janka, and Günter Gerdes at One Work Gallery. (All photos: Kate Sutton)


THE LATE JOHN BERGER once declared that “the opposite of love is not to hate but to separate. If love and hate have something in common it is because, in both cases, their energy is that of bringing and holding together—the lover with the loved, the one who hates with the hated. Both passions are tested by separation.”

Kunsthalle Wien director Nicolaus Schafhausen invoked Berger’s words last Wednesday at the inaugural convening of the weekend-long opening for “How to Live Together,” a sprawling group exhibition bringing and holding together artists including Bas Jan Ader, Kader Attia, Goshka Macuga, Adam Pendleton, Yvonne Rainer, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Rosemarie Trockel. The weekend also marked the launch of Community College, a season-spanning public program capped by a keynote conversation among Schafhausen and curators Vanessa Joan Müller and Chris Dercon.

Dercon made for an odd choice to lecture on striking professional accord, given the controversy surrounding his recent appointment at the helm of Volksbühne Berlin. Last week, Dercon unveiled his programming for the venerable theater, including plans to ring in the new season offsite at Berlin’s beleaguered Tempelhof Airport. Raising even more eyebrows was a roster that eschewed more traditional stage pieces in favor of performances from artists and choreographers such as Boris Charmatz, Jérôme Bel, Alexandra Bachzetsis, Calla Henkel & Max Pitegoff, and Tino Seghal. This list struck critics as an unwelcome shift toward running one of the city’s rare public theaters like one of its many, many public art institutions.

Left: Artists Alexandra Kahl, Jan Weiler, and Julian Feichtinger at One Work Art Gallery. Right: Artist Philipp Timischl and dealer Felix Gaudlitz at Galerie Emanuel Layr.


But living together isn’t the same as always agreeing with one another, as the exhibition’s multiday kickoff would demonstrate. Even the opening speeches—typically tepid affairs—didn’t escape confrontation. Things began civilly enough. Clad in one of artist Ayzit Bostan’s signature T-shirts (branded with the Arabic translation of “Imagine Peace”), Schafhausen greeted the crowd with the usual warm words about art’s imperative in these challenging times before handing the mic to the evening’s presiding politician, Andreas Mailath-Pokorny, Vienna’s executive city councilor for cultural affairs, science, and sports. (“This is the same guy who ran TBA21 out of town,” a friend divulged.) Confessing that he hadn’t prepared remarks, Mailath-Pokorny proceeded to try to put contemporary art in its place, curbing the ambitions so eloquently laid out by Schafhausen.

“We have this German saying about how a shoemaker should stick to making shoes,” curator Stefanie Hessler whispered. “He’s basically citing that to argue that artists should stick to just making art and stay out of politics, using Jonathan Meese as an example.” Schafhausen shot back with the claim that art can act in ways that politics cannot. The two continued to spar, passing the mic back and forth as the crowd looked on in disbelief, occasionally erupting into fits of frenzied clapping, only to immediately fall silent again. It was like watching one of those football matches where there’s a lot of admirable footwork, but no one gets the ball past midfield. “It’s almost as if it was scripted,” Hessler marveled.

If it was staged, Schafhausen certainly gave himself the better lines. Having secured the last word, the curator strode toward his exhibition like a prizefighter, approving shoulder pats materializing from the crowd as he passed. Meanwhile, I noticed Ursula Krinzinger making a beeline for Mailath-Pokorny, who clearly had another round or two in store. “He shouldn’t have started on Meese like that,” the formidable dealer explained later.

Left: Dealer Sophie Tappeiner. Right: Artists Paul Graham and Adam Pendleton at dinner at Kunsthalle Wien.


“How to Live Together” filled both floors of the Kunsthalle’s exhibition space, with more than two dozen expansive bodies of works, including a deconstructed restaging of Gelitin’s 2013 exhibition at Berlin’s Schinkel Pavillon.

“When I was first thinking about the concept, I wanted to see what would happen if you put ten solo exhibitions together in a room,” Schafhausen recounted. When I first thought of the concept, I got stuck on its similarity to “How to Gather,” the 2015 edition of the Moscow Biennale that Schafhausen cocurated with Bart De Baere and Defne Ayas. Despite some shared artists, Vanessa Joan Müller contested any overlap: “Gathering and living together are two very different things.”

I wanted to agree, but in practice the exhibition focused more on the former, with roll calls and rosters constituting the show’s central motif. The standout two-screen sampling of Aslan Gaisumov’s videos hinged on the very notion of bringing people together, filling first a ballroom and then a Volga. Paul Graham’s series Beyond Caring surveyed the grim reality of 1980s-era waiting rooms for Britain’s social services, while Mohamed Bourouissa’s searing photographs of disenfranchised youth of Paris hung jarringly beside the camp staging of Tina Barney’s The Europeans. Herlinde Koelbl’s serial portraits of Angela Merkel upstairs were a crowd favorite, while in the ground floor gallery her recent images of refugee camps shared a wall with selections from August Sander’s People of the 20th Century.

Left: Artists Flaka Haliti, Markus Miessen, and Ayzit Bostan at Kunsthalle Wien. Right: Vin Vin's Vincenzo della Corte.


While there were portraits aplenty, few offered much insight into how to get by, let alone get along. Exceptions included Binelde Hyrcan’s Cambeck, 2010, a two-and-a-half-minute video depicting four young boys plopped into holes in the sand of a Luanda beach. Pretending they’re in a limousine, the kids speak candidly of getting away from Angola, one to join his successful father in the States, another boasting of “a wife in Italy.” Taus Makhacheva’s 19 a Day, 2014, experiments with other forms of social camouflage by having the artist crash nineteen weddings in one day. Casual snapshots show her blithely smiling alongside each bride and groom, who pose politely with their presumed guest.

One work not interested in coexistence was Augustas Serapinas’s Sigi, a behemoth sculpture of a cat crowning the Kunsthalle Wien. It was modeled after a crudely rendered figurine that the institution’s chief financial officer, Sigrid “Sigi” Mittersteiner, had rescued from a trash pile outside an elementary school a few years back. Serapinas had brought the actual sculpture to the exhibition, toting it around in a paper sack that struck the latent soccer mom in me as woefully underinsulated. “Are you sure the cat’s okay in there?” I asked. The artist shrugged, smiling down at the bag, “I guess we have a bit of a Schrödinger situation.” I wondered if human-Sigi would find that punch line as amusing.

I followed Serapinas to the dinner upstairs, where I joined Krinzinger, Hyrcan, Galerie Crone’s Andreas Osarek, artist Armin Linke, and Kunsthalle Wien’s Italian transplant, Luca lo Pinto. The curator happened to be scrolling through his phone as I sat down, and I noticed the name Gus Van Sant flash at the top of his screen. “Showing off your contacts?” I teased. “No,” he smiled. “It’s an app. You input the name you want and set a time when you want them to call you. It can be essential for getting through some of these dinners in Vienna. Watch.” Lo Pinto set his phone on the table. Within two minutes, Slavoj Žižek was calling.

Left: Artist Aslan Gaisumov at Kunsthalle Wien. Right: Artists Kasper de Vos and Augustas Serapinas with dealer Leopold Thun and Sigi at Kunsthalle Wien.


Lo Pinto may have mastered the city’s existing social nuances, but Vienna’s art world is rapidly adapting to a fresh curriculum, with an influx of outfits such as Croy Nielsen (who relocated from Berlin to a bel étage flat in the former Palais Dumba last December) and Ermes Ermes (who moved from Rome in March) coinciding with an explosion of adventurous new spaces—among them, Gianni Manhattan, Laura Windhager’s spirited outpost in the third district; Cordova, an apartment operation from Jupiter Wood’s cofounder Cory Scozzari; Vin Vin, former orchestra conductor Vincenzo della Corte’s first district showcase; Kevin Space, a self-styled kunstverein not far from the Augarten; KOENIG2, an offshoot of Christine Köenig Galerie, run by director Robby Greif; and Sophie Tappeiner’s debut gallery, directly across the street from scene staple Emanuel Layr.

Tappeiner previously worked as an antiques dealer, honing her curatorial chops by staging contemporary-art interventions among more traditional trappings. For her inaugural exhibition, she recruited curator Barbara Rüdiger to corral a group show “at the intersection of applied arts and contemporary arts.” The accent on primary materials—from Jala Wahid’s sensual, Vaseline-infused vases and Liesl Raff’s oversize welded dog tags to a selection of ceramics from Wiener Werkstätte’s Vally Wieselthier and a human stencil on loan from the Kiki Kogelnik Foundation—meant that some of the works weren’t for sale.

“There’s plenty of funding available for nonprofits right now, which reduces the risk in opening one,” Tappeiner told me. “But that money completely disappears the moment you start to incorporate any kind of business.” So why gamble with a commercial gallery? “I like long relationships,” Tappeiner admitted. “I like going through difficulties together and really getting to know someone. With project spaces, it’s just one really intense period of maybe a few months and then that’s it. That’s also why I wanted to work with artists of my generation, so we can really be co-collaborators in the process.”

Left: Artists Herlinde Koelbl and Johan Grimonprez at Kunsthalle Wien. Right: Dealer Laura Windhager at Gianni Manhattan.


Windhager might agree. Under the watchful eye of her two gallery-dwelling whippets, the enterprising young dealer has positioned Gianni Manhattan as a showcase for emerging talents such as Barbara Kapusta, Nils Alix-Tabeling, and now Simon Mathers. Brandishing another scene-stealing name, Kevin Space now occupies an enviable corner spot on the Volkertmarkt. While the project’s four founders—Franziska Sophie Wildförster, Fanny Hauser, Denise Helene Sumi, and Carolina Nöbauer—chose to keep the sign advertising the building’s previous life (“DRAGON STYLE Young Vienna Fashion”), the group show inside boasted more dolphins than dragons. I was immediately enamored with the windowsill display of Urara Tsuchiya’s glazed earthenware bowl, capturing an intimate coupling of man, dolphin, and their dueling erections, under the winning title Just Close Your Eyes and Imagine I Haven’t Evolved. Across the room a Tamuna Sirbiladze canvas faced off with objects by Justin Fitzpatrick and Zuzanna Czebatul, while an exuberant Sofia Stevi gouache on textile festooned the back corner. The room’s lone column was embraced by the thin ribbon of a pair of arms cut from scarlet-colored satin by Minda Andrén. “Minda is actually still in school, studying with Daniel Richter,” artist Marina Sula told me. “That’s what’s so great about this place: They manage to mix artists who are still in the academy with established painters like Sirbiladze.”

But the best lesson in living together came courtesy of Salvatore Viviano’s One Work Gallery, a storefront on Getreidemarkt, just a block down from the MuseumsQuartier. True to its name, the gallery shows a single piece at a time. “But that doesn’t mean it’s just one artist,” Viviano grinned. “One Two More,” the exhibition that opened last Wednesday, boasts twenty-five artists, all students enrolled in Gelitin members Ali Janka and Tobias Urban’s course at the Art University of Linz. Over a period of four months, the class constructed a cardboard model of the gallery, which they kept locked. Whoever had the key could modify the work in any way they chose, whether that meant reconfiguring, adding, or throwing out various objects, or just ignoring everything and scrawling on the walls.

“Some people stayed in there just a half hour or so, some people worked three days straight,” recalled participant Alexandra Kahl, fast-forwarding through time-lapse footage on her smartphone. When the team re-created the final installation in One Work Gallery, they added the sidewalk component of a long timber beam embedded with some of the discarded elements, including one of the curling pink cattle horns from Janka’s opening assemblage. “The best thing about this project is that nothing gets truly thrown away,” Janka beamed. “Everything finds its place somewhere.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Kate Sutton

Guest of a GUESS

Los Angeles
05.28.17

Left: Artist Alex Israel with Sharon Stone. Right: Artist Lizzie Fitch with collector Maurice Marciano and artists Ryan Trecartin and Jeff Koons. (Photos: Sansho Scott/BFA.com)


IT HAPPENED IN LA’S AFTERLIFE, last Saturday. After the opening of the Broad, after Sprüth Magers and Hauser & Wirth, and even after some kickback to the fantasy of Los Angeles as art paradise (in small waves of transplanted New Yorkers and others returning east), another seismic contemporary art institution touched down on a heretofore native stretch of Wilshire Boulevard just below the tony flats of Hancock Park.

Following a three-year renovation, the Marciano Art Foundation opened its doors in the former Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, designed by Millard Sheets, to immediately become one of the most distinctive art-viewing places in the city. The galleries are a little quirky—the converted opera stage now houses Jim Shaw’s “Wig Museum” funhouse, which incorporates Mason-painted backdrops of hell and other exotic locales; the sunken project space below is christened by a prone colossus sculpted by Adrián Villar Rojas; and the third-floor galleries, with diagonally pitched ceilings lined in lights, feature the inaugural collection show, curated by Philipp Kaiser—but the building blends indoor and outdoor in a way that every space of means ought to in Los Angeles. And, most unique, it incorporates a handful of elements carried forth from its supremely odd provenance.

Right: Architect Kulapat Yantrasast, artist Mindy Shapero, and dealer David Kordansky. (Photos: Billy Farrell/BFA.com)


The forces behind the project were interrogative: The architects were Kulapat Yantrasast’s firm, wHY. And the money? GUESS—the 1980s to 1990s street-wear brand owned by Italian brothers Paul and Maurice Marciano, the latter of whom has cochaired MOCA’s board since 2012. “I could totally see that inverted triangle coming back,” said Negar Azimi, arriving on the scene with Angeleno-emeritus and MoMA chief curator of media and performance art, Stuart Comer. Some five hundred guests streamed onto the grounds in a daytime, Oscars-like procession of evening wear. A photograph of Cindy Sherman in Mason regalia greeted guests in the lobby. The wraparound mezzanine above is the site of an Alex Israel mural of sparsely spaced parking meters, desert flora, and other iconic signifiers from around the city (such as the Beverly Hills sign). The artist even brought a walking, talking signifier—Sharon Stone—as his date.

Stepping from the top-floor galleries onto the terrace facing the Hollywood Hills, drenched in late sun, I ran into NorCal dealer Jessica Silverman: “I didn’t go to Venice [Italy], and I’m skipping Basel, but now I feel I don’t need to go anyway: Everyone is here.” It was true. Surveying the room and the parking lot below—its expanse transformed into an outdoor lounge, dance floor, and impromptu kitchen featuring colossal pans of simmering paella—there were Europeans galore: LUMA Foundation founder Maja Hoffmann, dealer Eva Presenhuber, and adviser Patricia Marshall. There were also a lot of unknown teenagers—GUESS models? One New Yorker commented on how LA the scene was, meaning that important art-world people were mixing with the most random, extravagant locals who seem to only leave home to attend events like museum openings. As long as I stayed, there were no remarks and no ceremonies, just smooth house music and copious hors d’oeuvres powering a block party for millionaires and their friends.

Left: Artist Dashiell Manley and dealer Jessica Silverman. Right: Stuart Comer, MoMA chief curator of media and performance art, with writer and editor Negar Azimi. (Photos: Kevin McGarry)


The last time I had been to the building, it was full of drones, camping gear, and fiendish squeals. The Marcianos had made the space available to Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin to build sets and shoot a film, which they did for the better part of six months, and which is now on view in the second-floor gallery under the canopy of a massive mother tent. While there is a room off the Israel mural devoted to a mini-exhibit of Mason memorabilia, and though a couple incredible mosaics remain, winding up the staircases I recalled that just two years ago there were peculiar, Lynchian passageways; now they are sanded, whitewashed, and blasted in cold light. The replacement of one cult-like tradition for another brings to mind concerns about the original responsibility of art museums: to preserve culture for future generations.

While what’s on view here of the Marciano collection is not as comprehensively blue chip as what would be at the Broad, there are zero surprises. There are works by LA’s best-known artists: Sterling Ruby, Laura Owens, Paul McCarthy, Jonas Wood. Some, like the Mark Grotjahns, are supplemented by works on loan—an unusual choice for a show that’s meant to edit down an already too-huge collection primarily amassed over the past ten years. As for foreigners, there’s Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, and Christopher Wool, to name a few. While the MAF is refreshingly unlike the Broad, details such as these suggest that this might owe more to a difference in budget than ideology.

What may better distinguish the MAF are Maurice Marciano’s comments regarding how his patronage may affect Los Angeles in the long run. He assured me that he had no plans to leave his post at MoCA, explaining that, “I created my own museum as a place to do what I want to do,” a healthy impulse for a trustee of a public institution indulging the desire to have a private museum, and that, while the MAF is not yet endowed, one day he would like it to be. Would that mean fundraising and creating more competition with the aging public museums? “No,” he said, “I hope not.” I hope not, too.

Kevin McGarry

The opening of the Marciano Art Foundation. (Photo: Billy Farrell/BFA.com)