COLUMNS

  • 1000 WORDS: DAVID SALLE

    MICHELANGELO IS A TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW—and pinch-hitting for Andy Warhol probably isn’t much easier—yet these were precisely the challenges presented to David Salle when Roman art collector Carlo Bilotti recently asked him to execute a commission on the theme of the Sistine Chapel (a recast version of an unrealized Bilotti project once slated for the Pop master). Salle, who splashed on to the scene twenty-five years ago with a brazen brew of postmodern pictorial eclecticism and New York School–scale, capital-P Painting, would seem a natural fit for such an epic return to art history, having spent

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  • 1000 WORDS: PAWEL ALTHAMER

    AT FIRST GLANCE, Pawel Althamer’s Fairy Tale, 2006—perhaps the most iconoclastic work in the current Berlin Biennial—is an activist project: the artist leveraging the power of institutions (in this instance, the biennial, with its visibility and prestige) for social change. Entering a run-down former stable in the courtyard of a disused post office, viewers find themselves in a room that’s empty except for a single sneaker. On the door is a photocopied text on biennial stationery: a letter from Althamer to Berlin’s interior minister, Erhart Körting, pleading with him to grant a residence permit

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  • 1000 WORDS: ANGELA BULLOCH

    FROM THE POINTEDLY economical gestures with which she began her career—amps dimming or brightening in the viewer’s presence (Before and After Follow Each Other, 1990); recordings of applause or jeers triggered by visitors’ movements (as in Laughing Crowd Sound Piece, 1990)—to the polyphonic, multihued blend of geometric structures and son et lumière in which she specializes today, Angela Bulloch has progressively deepened a practice fascinated with ordering systems and the subjective processing of information. Inflecting the stringent aesthetics of Conceptualism and Minimalism with destabilizing

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  • 1000 WORDS: IRVING PETLIN, MARK DI SUVERO, AND RIRKRIT TIRAVANIJA

    FOR A CONTEMPORARY ART WORLD already engaged in a productive critical reassessment of the practices of the 1960s, the 2006 Whitney Biennial, which opens March 2, offers yet another welcome opportunity to compare and contrast that cultural moment and our own. The Peace Tower, 2005–2006, a joint project created by Rirkrit Tiravanija and Mark di Suvero for the Whitney’s Sculpture Court, resuscitates a curiously underexamined watershed in the history of cultural activism in America—the creation, in the winter of 1966, of a dramatic collaborative artwork in the West Hollywood neighborhood of Los

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  • 1000 WORDS: CATHERINE SULLIVAN

    HEINRICH VON KLEIST tells the story of a famous dancer who, praising the marionette theater, suggests that a mechanical figure could be designed to “perform a dance that neither he nor any other outstanding dancer of his time . . . could equal.” For this marionette’s every movement, he claims, would be more graceful than any person’s—akin to that of a pendulum, whose insentient motion is determined solely by an unwavering center of gravity.

    Kleist’s legendary discourse comes to mind when considering Catherine Sullivan’s most recent work, The Chittendens, 2005, whose evolution also began with a

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  • 1000 WORDS: JESSICA STOCKHOLDER

    TRYING TO COME UP with a taxonomy for the burgeoning idioms of contemporary sculpture is probably ill advised. But one can’t help wishing for a bit of handy nomenclature to categorize the abundance of recent work in which rigorously formal propositions achieve an odd, uneasy détente with, well, junk—tchotchkes, cast-offs, discount-bin merchandise. The result of this dynamically unstable alliance—visible in the work of artists as diverse as Jim Lambie, Gedi Sibony, and, perhaps most notably, Rachel Harrison—suggests less a simple rejiggering of old terms, e.g., assemblage, than an evolution of

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  • 1000 WORDS: JOSIAH McELHENY

    It’s easy to love a Castiglione lamp. Harder, perhaps, to embrace without irony the more tricked-out artifacts of modernism’s schizophrenic dotage. Such Jetsons-era concoctions could scarcely be called “timeless,” but for artist Josiah McElheny that’s precisely their allure. McElheny has repeatedly gravitated toward a class of objects that show both their age and their Age, embodying as they do the often unresolved or inassimilable aesthetic aspirations of their historical milieu. He has taken as his subject not the Bauhaus’s iconic Wagenfeld lamp but that design school’s madcap Metal Party,

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  • 1000 WORDS: MIKE KELLEY

    THIRTY-TWO DOWN, 333 TO GO. Back in 2000, Mike Kelley unveiled Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #1 (A Domestic Scene), the first installment of an ongoing, gargantuan serial work that will eventually comprise 365 video pieces, each with its own set, or sculptural component. Next month, “Day Is Done,” Kelley’s first solo show at Gagosian Gallery in New York, will assemble an ambitious multiplex of thirty-one videos and associated sculptural “stations” (Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstructions # 2–32, 2004–2005) that the artist has made since.

    The exhibition reactivates

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  • 1000 WORDS: CHRISTOPH BÜCHEL & GIOVANNI CARMINE

    The professional relationship between Basel-based artist Christoph Büchel and Zurich-based curator Giovanni Carmine started traditionally enough: Carmine commissioned a work by Büchel for the 2002 group show “Unloaded: Coming Up for Air,” which used former Swiss Army bunkers as its exhibition spaces. The next year, Harald Szeemann asked Büchel to contribute to “G 2003: A Village & a Small Town Receive Art,” an outdoor sculpture show in Ticino, the Italian-speaking southern region of Switzerland, and Büchel invited Carmine to join him as an artistic collaborator. The partnership yielded Operation

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  • 1000 WORDS: CATHERINE YASS

    LOOKING BACK, it’s hard not to notice how often British artist Catherine Yass has set up her camera to face walls, capturing surfaces spotted by stains in a meat market (“Stall,” 1996), scratched with graffiti in a prison (“Cell,” 1998), obscured by steam in a Baden-Baden spa (“Baths,” 1998), or decorated by tiles in the Prague underground (“Metro,” 2001). These works were part of a larger investigation of empty architectural spaces and were shown as transparencies mounted on light boxes, each image a composite of two photographs taken moments apart. Yass’s interest in disrupting photographic

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  • 1000 WORDS: RUDOLF STINGEL

    In trying to navigate the complicated terrain of Rudolf Stingel’s criticality, one traverses institutional critique, stumbles over Minimalism, and unexpectedly crashes headfirst into Pop. In 1989 Stingel produced an instruction manual for creating an abstract painting, and then spent a decade making the same one—not a single work exactly but variations on the process set forth in his mini-manifesto. Stingel’s interest in developing an accessible art also informed a series of installations in which he covered the walls of museums and galleries with silver insulation board. Much to the artist’s

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  • 1000 WORDS: SPENCER FINCH

    WILLIAM FORSYTHE’S Ballett Frankfurt may have disappeared last year, a victim of government budget cuts, but in its place the choreographer has created an even more flexible and transdisciplinary creative unit: the Forsythe Company, an eighteen-artist ensemble (based in Dresden and Frankfurt) whose productions will leave traditional notions of ballet behind, with site-specific performances, interventions in public spaces, and audience participation. For its first creation, Three Atmospheric Studies, opening at the Bockenheimer Depot in Frankfurt on April 21, the group teams up with New York–based

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