COLUMNS

  • 1000 WORDS: TIM HAWKINSON

    A Post-it note almost imperceptibly twitching on a page to mark time; a model sailing ship stretched full circle until bow and stern merge like a snake eating its tail; a skeleton assembled out of rawhide dog bones: Tim Hawkinson's work is always surprising. But with Überorgan he's outdone himself. A combination bagpipe, pipe organ, and player piano elegantly jury-rigged mostly out of materials you might find at your local Home Depot and Radio Shack, Überorgan is a behemoth sound-producing instrument. Its principal components are twelve Winnebago-size polyethylene bags lashed to the ceiling,

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: KERRY JAMES MARSHALL

    Kerry James Marshall is best known for large-scale paintings, but Rythm Mastr is a project of a different sort. A site-specific installation of comics realized for the 1999 Carnegie International, Rythm Mastr also encompassed an eight-part comic-strip that ran in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and new installments are to be published by the artist in serial form.

    The setup: In a gunfight with gangbangers, Stasha and her boyfriend, Farell, are separated. Stasha is shot; plotting revenge, she applies her growing knowledge of computers and robotics to create remote-control cars for use in retaliatory

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: DOUG AITKEN

    “A lot of times I dance so fast that I become what’s around me.” So says the lone protagonist of Electric Earth, 1999, Doug Aitken’s hyperkinetic fable of modem life in the form of a sprawling eight-screen installation that took home the International Prize at last summer’s Venice Biennale. An uncanny cross-pollination of genre conventions sampled freely from music video, documentary, and narrative film alike, the work forged a weirdly precise portrait of urban angst, wedding installation to the vernacular vocabularies of cinema and dance. In Electric Earth as in Aitken’s previous works, the

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: JUSTINE KURLAND

    History Painting 101—revised. Moments serene enough to be from a Claude Lorrain, staged beneath a freeway overpass or on the banks of a toxic swamp. Pastoral bathers wear concert-tour T-shirts; highway angels with dirty fingernails shoplift Oreos; Pre-Raphaelite nymphs capture hapless boys who’ve happened on the wrong glade. Each of Justine Kurland’s photographs is a vignette from an ongoing narrative. Inspired by autobiography no less than by fairy tales, movies, Afterschool Specials, even painting in the Grand Manner, Justine’s World is an idyll where fact melts into fiction, where every girl

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: THOMAS HIRSCHHORN

    How much information can one receive from an artist in less than thirty minutes? Plenty, if the artist happens to be Thomas Hirschhorn. The thousand words gathered on this page are but a small fraction of the verbal barrage that was set loose with a click of my tape recorder and a few questions about Critical Laboratory, 1999, which the artist installed at the BildMuseet in the Swedish city of Umeh in late November. One of the more ambitious contributions to “Mirror’s Edge,” an international show organized by Okwui Enwezor in that small town on the northern outskirts of Europe, Hirschhorn’s

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: SHARON LOCKHART

    The concept behind Sharon Lockhart’s latest work is straightforward enough: Shoot a thirty-minute roll of film, from a single angle, of an audience listening to a piece of music created as a score for the film in question (by composer Becky Allen) and performed live by a chorus offstage in the orchestra pit. The film blankly registers the reaction of its less-than-rapt subjects: At the outset most follow the music more or less attentively, but eventually, with nothing to look at onstage save the camera, some begin to converse, joke around, even flirt and banter with one another.

    As simple as it

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: FRANZ WEST

    Listening to the Viennese artist Franz West speak about the viewer’s relation to the art object, I was instantly taken back to an unpleasant experience I had as a boy in Vienna. As I was trying to get a closer look at a painting in the Kunsthistorisches Museum (I think it was a Brueghel), a stentorian voice came out of nowhere: Step back! Obviously, museums all over the world have to keep visitors from touching the objects, but nowhere is the method as frightening as in Vienna. Since West’s art is all about touching the works, I can’t help but see it as a reaction to these scary Viennese museum

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: MARTIN KERSELS

    Working as a member of the dance/performance collaborative SHRIMPS, Martin Kersels figured out how to join a dulcet Conceptualism with loud noises and kickass kinetics, proving that there is a lot to be done with the dumb fact of gravity—having a body and being a body in space and time. Although he freely employs an array of media, his work always confronts and explores the mystery and sheer fun of spatial dynamics: a metal house that rumbled boisterously as he appeared to dance inside; an early piece, Brown Sound Kit, 1994, that emitted a sonic frequency purportedly disturbing enough to cause

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: LAURA OWENS

    Laura Owens makes wily, sensational paintings: Lines sweep into our peripheral vision, speed along as daringly as fearless schoolgirls sliding on ice, then burst unexpectedly into shapes—tiny spiraling volcanoes of color, wavering horizons, or bulky clouds. If Owens’s style—a surprising blend of mid-century formalism and Pop mischieviousness—evinces a cagey knowingness, it also reveals an unabashed delight in the voluptuousness of paint and form. With their light touch and winking palette (Rainbow Brites, avocado, harvest gold)—not to mention Owens’s open, nonpolemical disposition—her

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: CARSTEN HÖLLER

    Being something of a specialist on playgrounds myself, I can assure you that Carsten Höller’s two slides (Valerio I and Valerio II, both 1998) at Berlin’s Kunst-Werke are quite effective and also unusually fast. It’s fun to take the slide instead of the stairs, and its amusing to see others shoot out from one of the curved cylinders. However, what first attracted my interest wasn’t so much the slides themselves, as a small drawing with the fascinating German title Hochhausrutschbahnverbindungen (Slide connections between skyscrapers), which convincingly adds a visionary dimension to the works.

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: ZOE LEONARD

    ZOE LEONARD

    I see this tree from my back window. I’ve had the same apartment for eighteen years, and I’ve watched this tree grow up and around the fence. I’m amazed at how, over time, it has absorbed the fence into its body.

    In 1994, I started spending time in Alaska. The first time, I stayed six months. I returned in 1995 and lived up there alone for a year and a half in Eagle, a small village on the Yukon River. I got interested in the idea of subsistence—of living more directly from my own labor. I heated with wood, hauled my own water, and gathered and grew some of my food. Gradually, my

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: TOBIAS REHBERGER

    A guy wants a classic suit and goes out to get one. Maybe he thinks he’s found the ideal cut. But years later he takes another look at his sample of eternal beauty and the whole thing seems grotesque. Maybe the lapels are too wide, or the color seems off. My work deals with these mechanisms. What at one time is seen as a classic form—something neutral or even timeless—is a construction. I’m interested in this whole process. I want to look at the context in which aesthetic values arise.

    Things can often be seen from more than one vantage, and I like to retain those possibilities. My

    Read more