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Sonia Leimer

TAXISPALAIS Kunsthalle Tirol
Maria-Theresien-Straße 45
March 4, 2017–June 11, 2017

Sonia Leimer, Ohne Titel (Asphalt) (Untitled [Asphalt]), 2015, asphalt, dimensions variable.

When visitors step onto the white performance floor that Sonia Leimer has installed in “Autoterritorium”—a piece that extends via slender pathways right up to the walls, adding a second floor to the exhibition space—not only is their own tread softened (the material gives way under the pressure of bodies), but they also inevitably become a component of the show. Indeed, they complete the exhibition. One could characterize the other objects on view also as performative sculptures. Eroberung des Nutzlosen (Conquest of the Useless), 2016, is made up of movable stainless-steel parts based on objects used during 1950s experiments with apes. Here, a group of performers moves the big, unwieldy geometric pieces according to a choreography across the space.

With further works such as Ohne Titel (Asphalt) (Untitled [Asphalt]), a walkable floor sculpture created with ready-mades of found street fragments, and the seat sculptures based on historical materials in the installation Iwanowo, both 2015, the artist poses abstract questions concerning the human capacity for action: How do we handle restrictions to our freedom of movement? How do we use the potential that both proverbially and literally lies right in front of us on the floor? How do we become conscious of our own movement and how can we use this consciousness in order to move again—in order, even, to resist? “Autoterritorium” is a thoroughly political show that neither can nor will hide its poetic side.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.

Franz Thalmair

Walter Pichler

Museum der Moderne Salzburg | Mönchsberg
Mönchsberg 32
November 26, 2016–June 5, 2017

View of “Walter Pichler: Radical: Architecture & Prototypes,” 2016.

This retrospective of Walter Pichler’s work makes it clear that he remains profoundly influential, both in his native Austria and beyond. Simultaneously working in sculpture, architecture, graphic design, furniture, industrial design, drawing, and occasionally writing, he liberally blurred the disciplinary boundaries between these fields and heralded an expanded notion of what an artist might be.

Take, for instance, Table for Oswald and Ingrid (Prototype 8), 1967. It is purportedly a dining table for two, with inflatable legs and a plastic top with indentations that are meant to function as plates. Embossed with the names of its prospective users—the jazz musician and writer Oswald Wiener and his wife, Ingrid Schuppan-Wiener, whose home was a gathering place for the Viennese avant-garde in the 1960s—it is hilarious as a piece of furniture, but its idiosyncratic form clearly marks it as sculpture. This piece questions both the autonomy of art objects and the “form follows function” philosophy of modernist design while acknowledging the social context of its presentation. Moreover, Pichler’s use of inflatable PVC and other then-new materials further muddied the distinction between design and sculpture.

The artist, in dialogue with interlocutors including architect Hans Hollein, aimed to integrate art into everyday life. With works such as Dormitory, 1968, consisting of four beds (one lost) with sculptural forms, radios, or photographs embedded in each mattress, he expanded the contexts available for artistic endeavors. The strength of this exhibition ultimately lies in the fact that it offers aesthetic strategies that are still highly effective at situating art outside its isolation in order to both trouble and enrich it.

Yuki Higashino

Gina Folly

Ermes-Ermes | Vienna
Linke Wienzeile 36/1C
March 3, 2017–May 3, 2017

View of “I want you to live in my city,” 2017.

Gina Folly’s latest, uncanny exhibition, “I want you to live in my city,” is a simple but evocative show that suits this gallery’s new space, a former stable in the courtyard of a prestigious building. Here, Folly produces an intimate environment: Five small projections (Basic Needs I, II, III, IV, and V, all 2017) are each placed in a cardboard shipping carton on the ground. Like houses, the boxes have walls and floors, permeated by air and equipped with a lock that offers protection from the outside world. Strewn about the space, stray keys are embellished with found objects, such as a bone, a stone, and a hook.

The looped videos describe a poetry of everyday life––one might think in a way similar to Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson (2016). An open window swings back and forth, creating unexpected refractions of light; two kittens in a basket evoke the idea of a domestic hideaway; a close-up of hands that play with a rubber band conjures a playful childhood moment; feet immersed in water craft a cathartic pause; the face of a Buddha in the window of a bar brings to mind religious and spiritual considerations. These are pearls of short-term memories lacking solidity, as echoed by the precariousness suggested by the boxes. The confrontation between public and private space remains a constant in the research of this artist, who takes an ever-curious view of ordinary reality.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Marta Silvi

Eduard Angeli

Albertinaplatz 1
April 5, 2017–June 25, 2017

Eduard Angeli, Fog, 2008, sanguine on paper, 40 x 60”.

Silent space is the dominant theme in this retrospective of paintings by Austrian artist Eduard Angeli. In works from his early desertscapes—For a Great Purpose, 1973, and Fire, 1977—to his cityscapes of the late 1990s, he invites us to see the incessant loneliness of silence on a grand scale. Angeli gradually abandoned human figures and nature (deserts, grasslands, mountains) for strict geometric forms (concrete or stone constructions), and bright pastel shades for crumbling muted tones, all the possibilities represented by the desert horizon for a pervasive sense of dread.

The grim housing complexes of Building and Rear Courtyard, both 2005, emerge from thick black gloom, parodies of the imperial splendor of Venice, Saint Petersburg, or his hometown, Vienna. Single objects disrupt the severe angles of The Passion and Roman Anatomy, both 1986, and Parasol, 2005, with signs of life, while Bar, 2006, Fog, 2008, and Newsstand, 2016, show places of personal interaction emptied of life, leaving the viewer as the only witness to such isolation.

Angeli is an exceptional technician, always reaching a compromise between his desire to make stillness visible and his inclination for abstraction by letting color and mood speak in the absence of voices. Remove the faceless bodies from his early work, or the inanimate objects from his later work, and he becomes a Color Field painter registering the absence of people with washes of hues that could only be given their texture by a human hand.

Max L. Feldman

Elfie Semotan and Michel Würthle

Gabriele Senn Galerie
Schleifmühlgasse 1A
June 23–September 2

Galerie Crone | Wien
Getreidemarkt 14, Entry Eschenbachgasse
June 23–September 2

Galerie Crone Vienna, View of “Elfie Semotan and Michel Würthle,” 2017.

Spread between two venues, this dual exhibition is an exercise in dialogue and friendship between two artists who have known each other for decades. It is also an experiment in installation. While the presentation at Gabriele Senn Galerie is classical and precise, in effect staging Elfie Semotan’s and Michel Würthle’s work as two solo shows on separate floors, the exhibition at Galerie Crone has a much freer hanging, with Semotan’s and Würthle’s pieces cohabiting on the same walls. These starkly different approaches delightfully complement each other, creating a rich and coherent whole.

Semotan’s photographs of forests (all untitled, 2013–17) feel anonymous and slightly claustrophobic, as the compositions give very little depth or expansion to the images. Capturing details of shrubs and trees, they are somewhat unsettling yet strangely beautiful in their seeming muteness. However, when viewed as a sequence, these pictures acquire a temporal, cinematic quality. The granular texture of the photographs, caused by the high-quality Japanese paper they are printed on, emphasizes their filmic character.

Cinema is also essential to the works by Würthle. His ink drawings and collages liberally appropriate imagery from Western filmic genres with self-conscious humor. Shown in his native Vienna, his depictions of Americana are in fact deeply personal: They revisit his youth, when American Western films offered teenagers a much-needed reprieve from the stifling culture of postwar Austria. Moreover, these works acknowledge how important the American avant-garde, and the debates it triggered, was to Würthle and his peers in their formative years in the 1960s. The homage central to this series, in effect, brings the audience back to the notion of dialogue and friendship central to the conception of this exhibition.

Yuki Higashino

Martin Beck

mumok – Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien
Museumsplatz 1
May 6–September 3

View of “rumors and murmurs,” 2017.

What makes an exhibition? How do the individual elements come together, and how does new meaning unfold as a result? What praxis must a curator follow in order to deploy the “gestures of showing,” as described by Mieke Bal, so that they can be experienced and construed by the public? Martin Beck’s art moves within this constellation of questions and complicates them. His latest show of sculptures, videos, drawings, artists’ books, and installations also includes works he selected by Eadweard Muybridge and Julie Ault, which appear as references to Beck’s own output. Beck has additionally curated a separate show of works from the museum’s collection, featuring pieces by Sol LeWitt and Louise Lawler, among others.

The subtlest piece in the solo exhibition is Beck’s “Flowers,” 2015. In this photo series, which runs through the entire show, emerging now and again, there are flower arrangements shown in various compositions and physical states: an empty vase, only a few stems, a full bouquet, or with hands that compose the flora into an overall picture. Exhibiting is performed within the frame of the image—selecting, disassembling, and putting it all back together again. In “Flowers,” Beck moves the importance of process subtly into the foreground. A similar effect happens in all that is left, 2015, a work that is at once a painting, a sculpture, and a piece of functional architecture (a wall) that is meant to guide the visitor through the galleries.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.

Franz Thalmair

Sarah Sze

Copenhagen Contemporary
Trangravsvej 10–12
March 10–September 3

Sarah Sze, Timekeeper, 2016, mixed media, mirrors, wood, stainless steel, ink-jet prints, projectors, lamps, desks, stools, stone, dimensions variable. Installation view.

American artist Sarah Sze’s immersive installation Timekeeper, 2016, renders time as a relative element that can be manipulated, layered, stalled, stretched, and compressed. You wander through what could be a mad scientist’s den, which takes the form of a three-dimensional collage incorporating a wildly higgledy-piggledy desk illuminated within a darkened room.

Countless scraps of ripped paper are layered upon a thin metal armature. They gently blow in the wind from fans as projectors throw images of natural and urban realms, and there are even plastic potted plants on which the light beams flicker. The varied landscapes weave together a portrait of modern existence, with the scenes’ intermittently enlarged pixels suggesting our digital experience of the world. A potent orange sunrise sits next to slowed footage of a building being demolished, plumes of dust expanding as dirty clouds; a fire burns while a river ripples; animals including cheetahs and ostriches run in videos so decelerated that they recall Eadweard Muybridge’s photographic motion studies. Amid this array, the neon green numerals of alarm clocks blink, a metronome ticks, and different time zones are delineated in further projections—as in life, time is inescapable but takes many forms.

Perhaps most poignant, the room is surrounded by projections that slowly circulate: Television static recalls a star-filled sky, interspersed with an owl flying, water flowing, and a bird resting on a branch. This conjures the complexity of the earth and the ever-expanding cosmos. The artist creates idiosyncratic systems of order and balance, giving structure to her own universe within which the viewer can ramble.

Louisa Elderton

Tal R

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Gl. Strandvej 13
May 20–September 10

View of “Academy of Tal R,” 2017.

Tal R’s retrospective bubbles with an inexorable sense of play, as the Danish painter ricochets between abstraction, representation, and all points between. His earlier work from the 1990s and his early 2000s experiments with bold, carnivalesque colors and crudely wrought objects are seemingly lifted from a late Philip Guston painting and strained through a kaleidoscopic sieve. Paintings such as Blocked Door, 2000, dominate the space around them through their sheer size and raucous polychromy, their luminous abstraction pushing up against the garbled hieroglyphic-like simplicity of Tal R’s represented everyday things. This period of the artist’s career culminates with the “Adieu Interessant” (Farewell Interesting) series, 2005–2008, which stages visual supernovas of collaged ephemera culled from glossy magazines. Cartoons, skulls, and hard-core pornography are all swept to the margins of these massive works by a veritable explosion of radiance.

More recent works strain the disciplinary boundaries of painting and thrust the medium toward installation, as in Deaf Institute, 2016–17, a labyrinth composed of ninety-nine individual works on paper. These most recent ones feature the same maximal ebullience of the artist’s earlier paintings, integrating masks, cosmograms, and numerous written languages into their dense pictorial strata. Tal R’s most recent series, titled “Habakuk,” 2017, surrounds the painted maze of Deaf Institute. These nine gigantic works resemble painted railway cars with the misspelled name of the Jewish prophet Habakkuk emblazoned on their surfaces in sloppy cursive. While some are brightly hued, others ring out with monochromatic black, drawing the viewer from riotous hues toward abyssal solemnity in a potent counterpoint to the visual buoyancy of the rest of the show.

Dan Jakubowski

Adriano Amaral

Zusterstraat 7
February 26, 2017–May 14, 2017

View of “Adriano Amaral: Alloy Alloy,” 2017.

Adriano Amaral’s first solo show in the Netherlands (and, due to austerity measures, the last show this space will host) is an all-encompassing installation. It features a minimal yet theatrical setting in which organic-looking objects have merged with industrial materials and processes. As the exhibition’s title, “Alloy Alloy,” suggests, here is a compound of substances finding their stability through a uniquely devised blend. The artist creates partially recognizable appendages and fashions disembodied internal organs from silicone, artificial resins, glass, plastics, and ultrasound gels, all converging with found objects such as a pair of the artist’s shoes and a horse’s jaw (all works untitled and 2016). Meanwhile, electrical cables, operating sheers, and thin concrete moldings are marshaled into new forms, all of which perform an apparently tense yet unstated task. They become demonstrative and abstract in their own right, together implying a unique kind of corporeality.

What fascinates about these objects and their mysterious purpose is the manner in which they are installed on and around their curious platform. The assembly of used black-glass solar panels, meticulously laid out side by side, results in an imposing structure. Its apparent fragility holds the viewer in a state of precariousness, but its sci-fi quality also vividly reflects the surrounding works. This piece becomes the anchor for these otherworldly belongings, as well as the surface from which they seem to have come into our world.

Huib Haye Van Der Werf

Richard Serra

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20
June 24–September 24

Richard Serra, Ramble 3-54, 2015, litho crayon and pastel powder on handmade paper, 19 3/4 x 25 1/4".

Richard Serra forgoes color in his drawings, considering it an added value, not a structural property. Color does not fit the straight logic of his process, in which materials exist unto themselves and not as references to anything else. This exhibition presents around eighty of these black-and-white drawings, the majority made in the past two years. They are drawings by a sculptor, but not in the sense that they are sketches or structural three-dimensional representations. Rather, the works share some basic aspects of their conception with Serra’s sculptural work. The compositions are the result of a printmaking-like process whereby the artist applies paint stick, silica, graphite powder, or other black pigments on a table surface and then presses a sheet of paper against it with the help of a weighty metal box. Gravity, pressure, gesture, and the texture of paper’s grain are defining factors in how the compositions will look.

In Rotterdam Verticals and Rotterdam Horizontals, both 2016–17, there is a repetitive play of dark forms; differences in pigment density create an abstract story line. The work looks romantic rather then minimal, as the shapes are dramatic and surrounded by visual noise. The show ends in a crescendo with four huge works from the series “Rift,” 2011–17. Here, Serra’s technique is different: Paint stick has been applied in huge quantities and ends up much thicker than the paper. The term drawing hardly covers the results, which look more like sculpted, monochrome surfaces, interrupted by sharp triangular rifts. They hark back to the minimal aesthetics of Serra’s steel works: heavy, balanced, and determined in their definition of spatial divisions.

Jurriaan Benschop

“Facing the Future: Art in Europe 1945-1968”

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts
12 Volkhonka
March 7, 2017–May 21, 2017

Marcel Broodthaers, The Rain (Draft for a Text), 1969, 16 mm, black-and-white, silent, 2 minutes.

Even as the Great Powers divvied up Europe following World War II, some artists dared to envision a single unified continent. “From now on we must consider all of Europe,” declared one collective of Hungarian artists and writers in 1945. “The New Europe could be . . . a synthesis of East and West.” Their manifesto might as well be the mission statement of this exhibition, a survey of nearly two hundred artworks by approximately 150 artists representing Russia and eighteen European countries. Debunking the simplistic East–West dichotomy through which postwar art is regularly understood, the show presents works by artists on both sides of the Berlin Wall that address common issues including consumerism, technology, space travel, uprisings, and atrocities.

Didactic realism, for instance, was hardly limited to Eastern Europe. Pablo Picasso’s Massacre in Korea, 1951, depicts faceless robot soldiers gunning down women and children with the same heavy-handedness found in the Hungarian painter László Lakner’s portrayal of two doomed rebels, Execution of Revolutionaries, 1965. The most compelling works convey both loss and the potential for radical reinvention. In the short silent film The Rain (Draft for a Text), 1969, Marcel Broodthaers attempts to write in the middle of a torrential downpour. He doggedly loads his fountain pen with ink, only to have his words instantly washed off the sodden page. Five delicate paintings from Russian artist Francisco Infante-Arana’s 1965 “Starry Sky Reconstruction” series depict stars arranged in new geometric constellations that suggest humanity’s ability to create fresh meaning. The twin currents of devastation and reinvention come together in Belgian artist Paul van Hoeydonck’s Spacescape, 1961, a wall-mounted sculpture where shards of marble and small nails are strewn across a white ground, evoking the wreckage of Western civilization. The title, however, shifts our focus from the past to the future, from our own planet to a new frontier.

Zoë Lescaze

“The Thaw”

The State Tretyakov Gallery
10, Lavrushinsky Lane
February 16, 2017–June 11, 2017

Vladimir Slepyan, Abstract Composition, 1958, oil on canvas, 43 x 39 1/2".

Though this institution maintains an extraordinary collection of postrevolutionary Russian art, it did not begin the year as many such museums outside of the country did—with an exhibition marking the centenary of the violent, utopian Russian Revolution. Instead, the museum addressed a less contested period: the Khrushchev Thaw. Encompassing fifteen years of his leadership and its aftermath (1953–68), this multimedia exhibition reinforces an accepted narrative—the Thaw as inspiration for brave explorations of culture, science, and the Stalinist past—by culling five hundred objects from over fifty private and public collections in Russia.

The show has few surprises, but several instructive highlights. In Yuri Pimenov’s iconic painting Wedding on the Street of Tomorrow, 1962, a bridal party totters through urban construction. Galina Balashova’s interiors for the 1960s Soyuz spacecraft incorporate sofas, bookshelves, and even gravity—familiarizing outer space as a more compact version of life on earth. The installation here also explores the quagmire of abstract art, ignited in part when the USSR resumed participation in the Venice Biennale in 1956. If Fedor Reshetnikov dramatized the Biennale’s preoccupations with abstraction as crude and capital driven with a triptych of cackling dealers and monkey artists (Secrets of Abstractionism, 1958), Erik Bulatov’s rendering of the visual light spectrum in Section, 1965–66, epitomizes a desire to replace overt ideological content with explorations of materials within space. The rhythmic circles and dashes of Vladimir Slepyan’s Abstract Composition, 1958, exemplify so-called technical aesthetics, a style sanctioned for illustrating scientific journals.

The attention given here to cultural production also raises questions regarding the period’s tenacity. As an unprecedented number of Khrushchev-era apartment blocks are set to be demolished across Moscow, how essential will the Thaw remain to Russia’s sense of itself?

Christianna Bonin


2, Bolshaya Konyushennaya st., 3rd floor
June 15–July 29

Piotr Diyakov, Ball, 2017, acrylic, filler, pigment, 5 x 5".

Sever-7, an artist collective named after the 1955 Soviet expedition to the Arctic, consists of both alumni of and educators at Saint Petersburg’s academies who came together four years ago to sidestep institutional parameters. Though earlier projects by the group include ephemeral actions in forests and basements, this show of recent work reads as more conventional. Its title, “One Seventh of the World,” refers to the Soviet Union’s loss of territory—present-day Russia now covers a mere one-seventh of the earth—and to Dziga Vertov’s 1926 film One Sixth of the World. But the attempt to find roots in Russia’s avant-garde feels like a shortcut to cohesion. Instead, each participant has forged an individual way of contending with language, mortality, and history.

In Toilet, 2017, Nestor Engelke has assembled incised wooden boards into an outhouse, which he occupied throughout the opening. The scratches hint at violence, as if the sole way to produce a surface were by partly eradicating it. In Leonid Tskhe’s drawings, such as The Girl’s Head No. 2, 2016, the human figure both throbs with colors and dissolves into smears. A series of small canvases by Nestor Kharchenko, “Horizons,” 2017, cloaks contemporary Russia in darkness via mashed up wooden bits and black paint spattered over photographs of the country’s famed vistas, historical landmarks, and political and cultural figures. Piotr Diyakov’s palm-size sculpture, Ball, 2017, has a more austere physicality. Fingers protrude from a sphere and bend toward one another without touching—a gesture with tragic force in the current political climate.

If Sever-7’s output can handily evoke the 1990s, an era of squatters and spontaneous art actions in this city, their exhibition here demonstrates that gaining a platform while maintaining a provocative stride is much harder.

Christianna Bonin

Akram Zaatari

Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)
Plaça dels Angels, 1
April 7–September 25

View of “Akram Zaatari: Against Photography. An Annotated History of the Arab Image Foundation, 2017.”

Akram Zaatari’s latest museum show consists of his own work and, just as crucially, work from the Arab Image Foundation—an institutional archive of photography from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Arab diaspora. Zaatari often uses photographs and paraphernalia from the collection as material. For instance, in the descriptively titled A Photographer’s Shadow, 2017, he has re photographed a picture from the collection of a cameraman’s body blocking light, spotlighting the person framing the shot. Throughout the show, one notices the artist identifying patterns—absurd studio props or cars, for example—at times with a wall full of the repeated motif in a grid of images. The cumulative amount of work displayed is staggering, and from it, one glimpses the weight of viewing the AIF’s repository as an artist scanning for significance.

In the two-channel video On Photography, People, and Modern Times, 2010, we see photographs being carefully archived on one screen, while on the other, individuals with a connection to these images reminisce about them. Both sides are offered cleanly and formally, but traces of nostalgia leak through the right channel. Meanwhile, for the installation Twenty-Eight Nights and a Poem, 2010, Zaatari photographed objects he found relevant from Hashem El Madani’s studio and placed those items in cabinets to be selected and shown to visitors during the course of the exhibition.

Zaatari has long advocated that items such as album mounts and notes on the backs of photographs be made equal in importance to the image itself and included in the AIF archive. He has likened his work to archaeological excavation. His careful search for emotion and meaning within each image is far less clinical than that, though. He is more of a storyteller.

Yin Ho

Elena Alonso

Matadero Madrid
Plaza de Legazpi, 8.
February 10–July 30

Elena Alonso, Visita Guiada (Guided Visit), 2017, copper wire, wood, cement, cork, plaster, paint, dimensions variable. Installation view.

Since its inception, Elena Alonso’s drawing practice has continually redefined its own formal limits. It was only a matter of time for her motifs to evolve into sculptural entities. The artist cultivates an ambiguous terrain in her iconography, somewhere between geometric abstraction and organic representation with allusions to the body.

This site-specific project, titled Visita Guiada (Guided Visit), 2017, is a newly commissioned work installed in the cold storage of a former slaughterhouse in Madrid. That she has so successfully translated her personal language, her profound sense of intimacy, into such an overwhelming and complex scenario is stunning. Drawing evolves into space in the form of a hand railing that runs around the columns, which she has covered with a rhythmic succession of materials ranging from copper wire to softly carved wood or plaster, and the architecture of the installation, rather than its surface appearance, comes to the fore. A number of holes in the ceiling provide the only illumination in the show. These were once covered but now allow light to flow down from the floor above. This lighting is eminently unspectacular, as if not seeking to brighten the installation but to emphasize the singularity of the space.

Javier Hontoria

Klas Eriksson

Göteborgs Konsthall
June 9–August 20

Klas Eriksson, Outside In, 2017, paper, dimensions variable.

Swedish artist Klas Eriksson has developed a practice rooted in examining subcultures via works in public spaces and spontaneous performances. With an interest in how power flows and how crowds function, the artist attempts to unpack sociopolitical dynamics using playful tactics. This show raises the question: Who belongs in a gallery or institution, and how do these entities influence artists given “free rein” of such spaces?

For the paintings in “Smoke on Smoke,” 2015, smoke bombs were used to infuse color into canvas; the series is a variant of Eriksson’s site-specific performance pieces in which he sets off multiple smoke bombs, transforming public spaces into cloudy, ethereal milieus bordering on disaster. In this case, his work is loosely translated from one medium into another, in part responding to institutional and spatial constraints. Another example of this morphology is found in Evidence of Patchwork, 2017, where scarves for various soccer teams are sewn together in one quilt-like statement. This work alludes to the artist’s collective performance series “Away Day,” 2013–17, where his Kulturdrägg cohorts travel together to art events (including the opening of this show), wearing scarves he designed, in mischievous celebration and anticipation of the event itself. Meanwhile, Outside In, 2017, connects to a real-life power imbalance instead of a theoretical one. Here, Eriksson displays prison patches from the United Kingdom’s HMP (Her Majesty’s Prison) in glass vitrines as if they were scientific specimens—a tangible truth in this show’s layout.

Jacquelyn Davis

Jake and Dinos Chapman

Arter - Space For Art
İstiklal Caddesi 211, Beyoğlu
February 2, 2017–May 7, 2017

Jake and Dinos Chapman, We Are Artists II, 2017, neon, 2 x 16'.

World Peace Through World Domination II, III, IV, 2013—a trio of black fabric banners printed with ominously identical white “smiley” faces—greets visitors to Jake and Dinos Chapman’s debut solo show in Istanbul, as if to announce the ludic abjectness of their oeuvre is a country of its own. The ground floor is studded with vitrines featuring their showstopping, meticulously choreographed, ghastly slaughter scenes with tiny figurines (such as The Sum of All Evil, 2012–13), and the first floor offers a sustained emphasis on the duo’s appropriation and deskilling strategies. A new neon commission, We Are Artists II, 2017, hangs across from The Same Thing But Better, 2010—their clinical yet incomplete re-creation of Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995, 1995, by fellow YBA Tracey Emin. While Emin found it impossible to re-build her piece after its demise in a tragic storage-unit fire in 2004, the Chapmans had no qualms about the task of reproducing Emin’s possibly most notorious work to date. Their cannibalistic dissolution of the mythic artist-persona as the locus of genius is reflected in the blinding 170-word neon sculpture, in which the artists label themselves “sore-eyed scopophiliac oxymorons” (after the same text they wrote in mud on a gallery wall in 1991).

The ultimate exhaustion of this already tired medium, neon, goes hand in hand with the nearby “Shitrospective” series, 2009: These miniaturized and haphazardly painted cardboard-poster remakes of some favorite Chapman sculptures—among them, Great Deeds Against the Dead, 1994, and Two-Faced Cunt, 1995—present the artists’ further vilification of their already biting, erotically transgressive works. Surely, the masochistic deconstruction of their own art resembles, as Jake Chapman admits in an interview in the exhibition catalogue, “a dog [returning] to its vomit” and is extremely potent as such.

Gökcan Demirkazik