Scene & Herd

  • Social Network

    IN TURIN DURING ARTISSIMA, one witnessed the former Italian capital’s classic, formal, symmetrical attributes pushing against its contemporary, strange, often (literally) underground side.

    My tour began with the esoteric: “Paranormal,” the exhibition Tony Oursler devoted to Gustavo Rol, an “affluent middle-class art lover and painter” who was born in Turin in 1903 and spent his life delving into the occult. The show opened at Pinacoteca Agnelli with a selection from Oursler’s personal collection of paranormal ephemera (comprising fifteen thousand pieces) showcased alongside the artist’s new cycle

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  • Once Upon a Time in the West

    A FEW WEEKS BACK, in the Great Awokening of the post-Weinstein news cycle, I noticed a question bobbing along the surface of my social-media streams: If “Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise,” why do we all still want power? What would it look like to wield power ethically? Is that even possible?

    The Saturday before Thanksgiving, the School of Visual Arts’ Steven Henry Madoff convened a weekend-long summit to address these issues. Titled “Curatorial Activism and the Politics of Shock,” the conference featured twenty-one international powerhouses, from Serpentine Gallery codirector Hans Ulrich

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  • Lotus Position

    ASK ALMOST ANYONE IN NEW ORLEANS about Charles “Buddy” Bolden and they’ll tell you he was the king and, loosely speaking, the father of jazz. A cornet player who was active at the turn of the twentieth century, Bolden drank too much, lived too hard, played too loud. He was known for a syncopated squawk, weaving in and out of crowds gathered in the French Quarter on parade days and bursting onto the street at irregular intervals to blast his horn. Since he died, in 1931, at the Louisiana State Insane Asylum—twenty-five years after he suffered a psychotic break and disappeared from public

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  • Welcome to (ようこそ) the Jungle

    “THERE WERE SIGNS.” A small Totoro charm hanging off a mini Fjallraven just so, spotted on the Q train; the Shoto Aizawa from My Hero Academia button on a backpack moving along Thirty-Fourth Street. Clearly something was afoot.

    ’Twas an anime convention, dear reader, the inaugural edition of a gathering of weebs in New York: AnimeNYC. Held for three days last weekend at Hillary Clinton’s Waterloo (though most around these parts just call it the Javits Center), it marked a terrific opportunity for Midtown councilman Ben Kallos (D) to hail the money and tax dollars that this fan base would bring

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  • This Is Not a Test

    THE FIFTEENTH ANNIVERSARY of High Desert Test Sites in Joshua Tree, California, brought a rare mix of nostalgia and joy. The peripatetic events and venues organized annually in and around our small, sunny town, nestled in a Seussian forest of Yucca brevifolia at a median three-thousand-foot elevation, brings locals and travelers together to challenge, per the HDTS mission statement, “all to expand their definition of art to take on new areas of relevancy.”

    Here, we reset by escaping our urban feedback loops, and redefine and revise Land art that once primarily destroyed wilderness areas in

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  • Flora and Fauna

    IN COLOMBIA,everything grows. All flora seems to flourish in its environment of extremes.

    Yet the area of deforestation jumped 44 percent in 2016 from the previous year. This was, ironically, due to historic deals with the FARC rebel group. As FARC demobilized, criminal factions moved in to control rainforest areas. And though the country has largely welcomed a hard-won period of peace, the internally displaced population, a result of the decades-long conflict, is higher than Syria’s.

    Bogotá is both the capital and the center of the country’s art scene, and it is currently in a state of self-reflection.

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  • Dog Days

    IT WAS THE WEEK BEFORE FIAC and tout de Paris was calm. Without much fanfare—but in the presence of the Instagramming French president Emmanuel Macron—the Picasso Museum took the lead by opening “Picasso 1932: An Erotic Year.”

    Imagine Donald Trump showing support for a museum! (Or a museum inviting him to see pictures that he wasn’t in.)

    Macron picked the right show. Though limited to one year, and basically one subject—amour—this has to be the most resonant exhibition on view in Paris. You think you’ve seen enough Picasso?

    Trust me, you haven’t.

    “I’ve never seen a lot of this!”

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  • Volcano Lovers

    THESE DAYS, most flights from New York to Iceland’s main airport are red-eyes that land just before dawn. The benefit, until the darkness lingers longer, is that you’re forced to reckon with the rocky landscape through an astonishing sunrise. Last weekend I watched that crimson blaze lift over mountains and slowly illuminate the treeless, moss-covered terrain as my bus puttered along a winding and empty highway to Reykjavik’s eighth edition of Sequences, a ten-day biennial spread out across the city. It was shocking.

    Not so shocking: The show’s “honorary artist” was Joan Jonas, whose recent work

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  • Deep Frieze

    THE GREAT GIFT Frieze London bestowed on art aficionados this year was to propel them into galleries and museums.

    Not that Frieze itself didn’t offer benefits. Female artists were notable for their quantity and, in the case of a special section curated by Alison Gingeras, historical impact, as well as in-your-face pro-sex feminism. In the age of Trump the Aggressor, that’s risky business. It may not be entirely profitable business, but it is, at least, desirable.

    The fair also had an especially good program of talks put together by the estimable Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery, who

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  • American Pie

    BREXIT OR NOT, London has thrown open its arms to American artists in what may be their biggest embrace since Pop.

    On the cusp of the current Frieze Week, the Royal Academy featured Jasper Johns, and the Serpentine Gallery had a show by the increasingly captivating Wade Guyton imported from Munich’s Museum Brandhorst. Tate Modern entered the home stretch of “Soul of a Nation,” its deeply satisfying survey of African American art. The Barbican had the spirited and atmospheric “Basquiat: Boom for Real,” while the ICA prepped for Seth Price, and Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery readied a full-on

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  • Forest for the Clouds

    AS TITLES GO, “Clouds ⇄Forest,” Yuko Hasegawa’s for the Seventh Moscow Biennale, is lyrical, if a little typographically challenging. While clouds and forest may intertwine, the former will never know what it means to take root, just as the latter will never take flight. Hasegawa meant this as a metaphor for a generational shift between what she terms “Forest Tribes”—artists using more or less traditional media—and “Cloud Tribes,” the children of this recent rootless era of networked communications and digital technologies. (The CliffsNotes version might call this “89plus.”)

    Hasegawa’s brand of

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  • Liquid Dreams

    “CONGRATULATIONS! IT’S PACKED!” I shouted to Magalie Meunier, assistant curator at Lyon’s Institut d’Art Contemporain (IAC), as we squeezed through the crowd at the opening of the exhibition “Rendez-Vous.”

    The Lyon Biennial, now in its fourteenth edition, is the brainchild of Thierry Raspail, and “Rendez-Vous” is the section that he continues to cocurate. Since 2002, this part of the biennial has been a platform for promoting up-and-coming French artists and their equally dewy international counterparts, invited by the directors of ten biennials across the globe.

    In the courtyard at IAC, this

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