COLUMNS

  • Olia Lialina

    Pioneering Net artist Olia Lialina was one of the first to make work for networked browsers and she’s one of the few from that first wave to persist. She not only offers metacommentary on the evolving conditions of the World Wide Web, but also consistently speaks and writes about its vernacular iconography and the social conditions created by its content, protocols, and devices. Lialina maintains her own archive of Geocities pages, can recount the art history of sparkly star gifs, and is herself a noted “animated gif model.” Her current show, “Best Effort Network,” is up at arebyte Gallery,

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  • Ajay Kurian

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    Ajay Kurian’s work stages a deliberately incomplete account of the irreducible (but not inexplicable) entanglement of race, language, power, and desire. The artist’s wrought figurative sculptures are nightmarish character studies that often wear their immature, contradictory ideology on their sleeves—quite literally: In Childermass, Kurian’s stairway installation in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, one moon-headed figure sports a 9/11 memorial shirt with the phrase “the age of ignorance” superimposed in Arabic; others rock New Balance “dad shoes” that acquired reactionary connotations after an

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  • Cao Fei

    For millions of lives, the novel coronavirus currently rocking the globe has induced a secession from “real” to virtual space, where ubiquitous “social distancing” mandates are simultaneously heeded and safely transgressed. Who better to speak to this moment—gravid with apocalyptic and utopian frisson—than Cao Fei? The Beijing-based artist has devoted her practice to addressing social upheavals and breakneck urbanization through virtual, augmented, and mixed realities that chart new capacities for alienation and love. Here, she discusses “Blueprints,” a multimedia exhibition at Serpentine

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  • Johanna Unzueta

    Johanna Unzueta’s speech, lilting and melodic, is peppered with one of art’s most taboo words: beautiful. And yet it suits to a tee her capacious and interdisciplinary practice, one that transmutes—through delicate material sleights—the ordinary into the surprising, and by turns dazzling. A huge chain, made from thick cuts of gray felt, unfurls from the ceiling, each oversized link fragile yet tough, warped just slightly at the edges; a set of pale ochre and blue-striped uniforms hang mutely on a clothing rack; wall drawings in charcoal and bronze dip in and out of corners, ladder up and down

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  • Rivane Neuenschwander

    Fitting that this conversation was made possible through translation: The Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander’s oeuvre, spanning some thirty years, is dotted with experiments in the misuse, repurposing, and dislocation of language. Our interview was anchored by the words carta, residue, and fear. Echoing the approach of her room-size installation Work of Days, 1998, which was recently on view in “Surrounds” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, this text gathers some of the threads and effects of pieces she has recently shown and plots them against the grid of her career.

    THE FIRST WORK I

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  • Kim Westfall

    The New York–based artist Kim Westfall’s cheeky compositions of tufted yarn contend with the banality of selfhood. Her works find humor in the insatiable human ambitions for uniqueness and authenticity, but also manifest real longing for deeper meaning and social cohesion. Her latest tapestries draw connections between human reproduction, the mechanical reproduction inherent in her medium, and ideologies of the ego that keep us stuck on repeat. “Splendid Bitch” opened on January 23, 2020, and runs through March 7, 2020, at White Columns in New York.

    THE THING ABOUT TEXTILES IS IT’S THE FREAK

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  • Peter Saul

    Peter Saul remembers a radio broadcast about the electrocution of Ethel Rosenberg at New York’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility in 1953—in particular, the moment when a horrified announcer described her hair going up in flames. There’s a gruesome, orange-skinned rendering of her, strapped to an acid-green version of Old Sparky, in “Peter Saul: Crime and Punishment,” a six-decade survey that features more than sixty of the artist’s dark, dyspeptic, and ruefully funny paintings, which take on American history, stupidity, and culture. The show, organized by Massimiliano Gioni and Gary Carrion-Murayari

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  • Eva Koťátková

    Eva Koťátková is known for investigating societal rules and authoritarian codes via large-scale installations and collaborative workshops. While her earlier work centered on limiting performers’ physical movement with metal cages and apparatuses—bleak exercises in regimentation inspired in part by her upbringing in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic—Koťátková has begun to use textiles to reenvision how the body can function within oppressive systems. As two solo exhibitions end their run—“In the Body of a Fish Out of Water” at Kestnergesellschaft in Hanover and “Confessions of the Piping System”

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  • Sky Hopinka

    Following a decade of increasingly refined digital shorts focused on Indigenous languages and culture, the Ho-Chunk artist and filmmaker Sky Hopinka debuted his first feature-length work on January 26, 2020, at the Sundance Film Festival. Set in the Columbia River Basin and spoken largely in the nearly extinct Chinuk Wawa tongue, maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore (2020) follows Sweetwater Sahme and Jordan Mercier, two Pacific Northwest natives whose Chinook identities steer their conceptions of life, death, and rebirth. Lensed with an intimacy informed by Hopinka’s rapport with the

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  • Tschabalala Self

    Through an exaggerative figuration that embraces painting, sewing, assemblage, as well as a sensuous and implacable charisma, New Haven–based artist Tschabalala Self invites us to rethink how bodies are marked by race and gender while crafting her own expanding visual universe. Her exhibition “Tschabalala Self: Out of Body” runs January 20 to July 5, 2020, at the ICA Boston, and will be her largest solo exhibition to date.

    “OUT OF BODY,” the title of my upcoming exhibition at the ICA Boston, was also the name of my first New York show. It’s a kind of double entendre; at that moment in 2015, I

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  • Jesper Just

    Jesper Just distorts rituals of movement through video and performance—two media he pairs in perverse combinations to destabilize museum architecture and to create plangent moving images that echo with anticipation and longing. His multichannel video work Servitudes—shot in 2015 at One World Trade Center on the occasion of his solo exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris—brims with a restrained yet intense kineticism as its two mobility-limited protagonists internalize the skyscraper’s haunted architecture. Last autumn and with seven performers from the American Ballet Theater, just made his

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  • Phill Niblock

    Experimental music doyen Phill Niblock has been making photographs since his 1958 arrival to New York, where he cut his teeth documenting the performances of jazz greats like Duke Ellington. A decade later, Niblock began the work for which he is best (if still under-) known: multiscreen audiovisual installations scored by drones, built around microtones generated by instruments from cello to bagpipe to saxophone. “Working Photos,” a solo exhibition at New York’s Fridman Gallery on view through Janury 5, 2020, draws on over a half-century of artmaking triangulated between photography, cinema,

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