COLUMNS

  • 1000 WORDS: RODNEY GRAHAM

    In The Phonokinetoscope, 2001, Vancouver-based artist Rodney Graham once again casts himself as the protagonist of a short film loop. But unlike the desert-isle burlesque Vexation Island, 1997, or the sepia-hued Western How I Became a Ramblin' Man, 1999, Graham's latest project allows charm to reign over travesty. The film is set in Berlin's spring-blooming Tiergarten; its only props are a playing card, a clothespin, a vintage German bicycle, a thermos, and last but not least, a blotter of lysergic acid diethylamide, which Graham casually drops on his tongue while reposing on a rock.

    The title

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: RUSSELL CROTTY

    FIRST THE OUTLINE OF PINES . . . oak and sumac darkened . . . backlit by the full moon rising in capricornus . . . talk radio company.. . coffee on the tailgate. . . the gloaming twilight to the west.” —Atlas of Lunar Drawings, 1996

    A lot of the pleasure in Russell Crotty's pencil-drawn vision of outer space is the commonplace grandeur of It. He draws and captions in “bad poetry”— sky we know, a contemporary LA sky with the problems of light pollution and the toll of encroaching development and the weirdness of nature itself jutting into the horizon: radio towers, ponderosas and palm

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: MICHAEL CLARK

    During the premiere of his new show at the Hebbel Theater in Berlin this August, choreographer Michael Clark himself appeared only briefly, wielding a janitor's broom to sweep his company of dancers offstage. This came as something of a surprise since Clark’s personal charisma as a performer has always underpinned his status as one of contemporary dance’s true stars. He looks like a hybrid of Charlie Chaplin and Lauren Bacall with the physique and control of an Olympic gymnast. After training in traditional Scottish dance and ballet, Clark achieved instant celebrity on the launch of his own

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: THOMAS RUFF

    *Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was fond of quoting Augustine's dictum that “Beauty is the splendor of Truth.” Indeed, a dedication to beauty in truth permitted Mies to see over the heads of his contemporaries and glimpse what modern architecture would become. German artist Thomas Ruff's appreciation of what it means to make photography modern is likewise undiluted—though Ruff's relation to the “truth” of his medium is somewhat more complicated. In fact, the proposition that photography is not the unmediated bearer of truth it was once thought to be but is, on the contrary, conceptual to the core is

    Read more
  • 1000 WORDS: THOMAS DEMAND

    Thomas Demand works in the eastern part of Berlin, in a blue-collar neighborhood closer to Mitte’s industrial waterfront than to its galleries and fashionable cafés. His studio is located in one of those light-manufacturing buildings typically found in the innermost reaches of Berlin courtyards. When I went to visit the studio, nearly the entire loft space was filled with giant cardboard models for his recent series “Poll,” 2001. The setup was extremely disconcerting: I couldn’t tell whether the chair or table in front of me would support even the weight of the bag I was carrying, or whether it

    Read more
  • 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