COLUMNS

  • 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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  • Constant Craving

    Wong Bing Hao at Singapore Art Week 2022

    OVER MIDNIGHT HOTPOT, artist Ming Wong, curator Kenji Praepipatmongkol, and I pored over the hefty catalogue for Singapore Art Week (SAW) 2022, which earlier this month boasted a staggering 130-plus virtual and in-person events, the most in its decade-long history. This year’s off-kilter mascot—blue googly eyes against a yellow background, reminiscent of the Cookie Monster—was true to its slogan: “Art Takes Over.” The sheer volume of events seemed to suggest Singapore’s ravenous appetite for art.

    For the second year in a row, the Tanjong Pagar Distripark, a shipping-port/warehouse-turned-art-nucleus,

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  • Stepping Stones

    The Saudi scene takes the world stage

    “THE PRAYING MANTIS is eating my bees,” Moza Almatrooshi wails as we watch in horrified fascination. A second ago, the mantis seemed to be asleep; now, it holds its fuzzy victim daintily in its forelegs, taking thoughtful little nibbles as if savoring an amuse-bouche. The bee is part of the artist’s work in “Staple: What’s on your plate?,” the remarkable inaugural show at Hayy Jameel, a mammoth new art center in Jeddah. Dealing with food politics and sustainability, standouts include an austere ode to the migratory hilsa fish from Pratchaya Phinthong, chocolate sculptures from the Cercle d’Art

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  • First Words

    The Poetry Project’s New Year’s tradition perseveres

    IT WAS IMPORTANT TO ME to be there for it all: the Poetry Project’s Forty-Eighth Annual New Year’s Day Marathon reading. Beginning at 11 a.m. and ending just after midnight, the fundraiser is my favorite New York City tradition, a sentiment echoed by many of the more than hundred and sixty poets who performed remotely over the course of the day on January 1, 2022. The Poetry Project—an institution by and for poets predicated on the virtue of nonhierarchical community-building—has been around since 1966, offering readings, lectures, workshops, and intergenerational mentorship to emerging writers.

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  • Stranger in Moscow

    The GES-2 House of Culture opens with dramatic flair

    “WHO THE FUCK told you to put up the barricades?! They look terrible! Remove those barricades NOW!” I am eating breakfast at KHLEB-2, GES-2's in-house bakery, half an hour prior to the official opening’s scheduled time. So high are the histrionics that I momentarily wonder if I’m witnessing some kind of special guerilla performance portion of the inaugural program. Housed in a historic power station just across the Moskva River from the Kremlin, the serially-delayed GES-2 House of Culture represents the crowning jewel and biggest permanent footprint of the V-A-C Foundation’s international, and

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  • Networking

    DIS programs a collision course in Geneva

    THE EXHIBITION “MIGHT FEEL A LITTLE LIKE A FUN HOUSE,” Lauren Boyle tells me at the Centre d’art Contemporain Genève. Boyle, alongside Marco Roso, David Toro, and Solomon Chase, is part of the collective DIS, which, with the Centre’s director, Andrea Bellini, has curated this year’s Biennale de l’Image de Mouvement, titled “A Goodbye Letter, A Love Call, A Wakeup Song” and billed as “an exit from our human-centered, capitalist death drive.”

    In preparation for it, each of the show’s three floors was divided into viewing rooms connected by dark, twisting halls. Visible from circular windows, these

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  • Time After Time

    Artissima’s divine comedies

    ONE MUST BE PRETTY DETERMINED to make it all the way to Castello di Rivoli by public transport. An elderly gentleman who offered to be my guide from the Paradiso metro station strongly advised me against doing the last leg of the journey on foot. “I used to do it regularly when the museum first opened, but I’m no longer twenty-five,” he said. “The final ascent is a killer.”

    Located some twenty kilometers from Turin’s city center, the formidable structure that has housed the contemporary art museum since 1984 sits atop a hill overlooking the Susa valley and the jagged peaks of the Alps. My reason

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  • French Fried

    Ingrid Luquet-Gad around the Paris fairs

    I KNEW I WAS LATE when the Instagram notification popped up on my screen. At 6 p.m. sharp, @hansulrichobrist was live from Palais de Tokyo, where Anne Imhof’s performers were starting their four-hour-long eschatological march. As I made my way inside, the procession had already dispersed, letting tension and impatience build up before the first act: a vulturous Eliza Douglas perched on a railing, engaging in a pared-down duet with her machinic double, an orbiting sound speaker.

    The cheat codes to the German artist’s meticulous crowd control apparatus were swiftly delivered to me by a black-clad

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