COLUMNS

  • Turkish Delight

    Despite the qualms brought on by an e-mail query—“How many biennials are you going to this September?”—the decision to trek to Istanbul was a fairly easy one. With smart curators Charles Esche and Vasif Kortun in charge of the seven venues (thankfully all within walking distance of one another), a bearable number of participating artists (sixty), and a context-specific theme (“Istanbul”), my anticipation ran high. Pair that with the thrill of spending some time in one of the world’s most fascinating cities and the decision was even easier for quite a large number of international

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  • Green Piece

    “If they really cared about Robert Smithson, they wouldn’t have put down Astroturf!” In one of a precious few ill-tempered (though, one suspects, tongue-in-cheek) remarks overheard at Saturday’s public launch of Smithson’s Floating Island to Travel Around the Island of Manhattan, this exacting visitor was complaining about the apparent conceptual inconsistency of artificially “greening” Pier 46, the arm of Hudson River Park that served as official viewing spot. But it would have taken a hard heart indeed to allow such miniscule details to seriously impinge on the enjoyment of an exceptionally

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  • Flower Power

    The title of the current installment of the Lyon Biennale—“L’experience de la durée” (Experiencing Duration)— put me in mind of the famous Parisian tearoom Ladurée. But alas, no pastel-perfect macaroons were on offer at La Sucrière, the old sugar warehouse that serves as the event’s core venue. Even if there had been, I would likely have demurred, for fear of ingesting psychotropic substances—doctored pastries being more or less in keeping with the show’s theme. Artistic director Thierry Raspail had appointed “odd couple” Nicolas Bourriaud and Jérôme Sans curators of the exhibition, which they

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  • Mic Check

    At half past eight on Sunday night, I walked into a dark, low-ceilinged room in the basement of Michele Maccarone’s Canal Street gallery and all but bumped into the critics Jerry Saltz and Roberta Smith (Voice and Times, respectively), both engrossed in a two-screen video by Los Angeles-based artist Anthony Burdin. It was my third run-in with the duo in four days, signaling the hectic start of another art season, a weekend that not only involved the usual spate of openings, but also parties, performances, and, this year, parades. The teeming crowd of gallery goers in Chelsea on Thursday night

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  • Brit Props

    The tease tactics that ran up to the opening of Mike Leigh’s first play in twelve years were incongruously akin to the short trailers before summer blockbusters, in which a baritone voice booms nonsensically while explosive vagaries of sex and violence whip across the screen, a far-off date hovering portentously. Giddy anticipation is inevitable, though even the nippers know that very little to justify it has been revealed. And so it went with the advance press for Two Thousand Years at the National Theatre, a play so mysterious that it didn’t have a title until two days before the first scheduled

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  • One Night in Paris

    Un, deux, trois, let’s do it again! Saturday, September 10 was the day of the “rentrée”—a new season at the Paris galleries. A crowd of tanned art lovers came back from their Provence holidays with new resolutions, such as to stop drinking and smoking. I guess we’re getting old. At least thirty galleries listed in the Galeries Mode d’Emploi held simultaneous receptions for this ostensibly wholesome crowd. My own rentrée had actually taken place the previous Tuesday at Marian Goodman’s gallery where, in an apparent spirit of iconoclasm or perhaps just a desire to beat the crowds, the gallerist

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  • Storm und Drang

    “If your house is underwater, you're not thinking about art,” said Arthur Danto, at apexart last Wednesday. “Unless,” he added, pointing to a large piece of carved cedar propped against one wall, “you have an Ursula von Rydingsvard to use as a raft!” It was one of twelve pieces in “The Art of 9/11,” a group show that Danto volunteered for the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Numbed by the horror of post-Katrina New Orleans and sickened by the government negligence attending it, I had set out for the opening of the fall art season, wondering what I would find and if it would rise to the

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  • Cause Celebre

    Here’s a recent Faust fable: One day you’re an artist about whom a few people know a lot; a few days later you’re an artist about whom tons and tons of different people enthusiastically know very little. With a solo retrospective at the Serpentine Gallery—that charming former tea pavilion with the billionaire patrons, storied history, and Michelin-starred Walther Koenig bookshop—Oliver Payne and Nick Relph are back in England and weathering this transition as I write. Payne and Relph—twenty-something Englishmen who recently moved to Manhattan, where they show with Gavin Brown–—have

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  • Swedish Dish

    The autumn art season in Stockholm traditionally begins with an opening at Magasin 3, the privately owned kunsthalle/museum situated among the expansive warehouses near the city’s docks—an event that is always enthusiastically anticipated by the locals. This year some extra sparkle was added to the proceedings by the institution’s internationally renowned “associated curators:" Portikus director Daniel Birnbaum, 51st Venice Biennale cocurator Rosa Martínez, Palais de Tokyo codirector and cocurator of this year’s Lyon Biennale Jérôme Sans, and Israel Museum curator Sarit Shapira. Their

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  • Plane Sight

    It was an offer I could not refuse: Fly upside-down from Berlin to Buenos Aires. When the architectural collective m7red invited me down south, the artist Carsten Höller provided the exceptional means of transport: A pair of Upside-Down Goggles, 1994-2001. As ophthalmologists and students of geeky trivia know, the human eye actually turns images upside down as rays of light are focused on the retina. The fact that things appear right side up is merely a trick of the mind. Inspired by equipment devised for psychological experiments, Höller's goggles simulate vision without the inversion of the

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  • Hustle Beach

    It may be only a few golf swings from that height of East Hampton hoity-toitydom, the Maidstone Club, but for much of its sixty-nine years Guild Hall has contented itself with remaining a small-town art space dedicated to the artists in its hood. Of course, when the local talent boasts names like Close, Sherman, Salle, Fischl, Bleckner and Chamberlain, not to mention Pollock, de Kooning, and Rivers, the place may not have to try that hard to be the Little Museum That Could.

    Take last Friday night, when all of the above (minus Pollock, de Kooning and Rivers, that is), joined Dennis Oppenheim, the

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  • Cool, Calm, and Connected

    A band of red parachute silk stretched across the length of the back of the parking lot, separating the ground from the sky. Above the band were trees, rooftops, telephone poles, telephone wires, and a great deal of purple-gray, then gray-to-black clouds. The busy Angelenos who dropped in at the Venice gallery Cherry de Los Reyes Wednesday night for an ambient concert by William Basinski don't usually pay attention to these things—or, I'd bet, to loops of wispy, smokelike fragments of sound that get repeated a hundred times or more. Do these people meditate? Three minutes during a yoga

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