Kasper Akhøj

Nouveau Musée National de Monaco | Villa Sauber
17, avenue Princesse Grace
June 2–January 8

Kasper Akhøj, 63V52017, 2017, laser-exposed gelatin silver print, 20 x 16".

When Eileen Gray’s ill-fated 1929 architectural gem E-1027—a beautifully proportioned white modernist villa overlooking the sea at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, near Monaco—opened to the public in 2015, the controversial restoration project that started in 2006 and saw successive teams of architects and administrators undoing and redoing each other’s work was far from over. Taken on five separate visits to the site between 2009 and 2017, Kasper Akhøj’s black-and-white photographs chart the progress of such work at the house. Variously displayed individually, as pairs, and in constellations, the set of fifty-nine framed laser-exposed gelatin silver prints in varying sizes is based on the shots Gray, who was also an accomplished photographer, took herself upon the estate’s initial completion. Her images were used to illustrate a special issue of L’Architecture vivante, a magazine edited by her lover, the Romanian architectural critic Jean Badovici, for whom Gray designed the villa. The cryptic name E-1027 stands for their joint initials.

Delicate gray adhesive letters beside the photographs on view combine the reference numbers from Gray’s photos with the dates of Akhøj’s visits, calling attention to a corresponding shot from her portfolio, as in 63V52017, 2017. Yet for all his rigor, the remakes bear only a passing resemblance to the stylish originals. Mostly sold at auction in 1992, iconic furniture items that were an integral part of the interior design either are missing or have been replaced by replicas and stand-in objects, such as makeshift tables, dusty chairs, and sundry building tools. As well as pointing to the tentative and provisional nature of conservation at E-1027, Akhøj’s works are a poignant reminder that architecture rarely stays true to its designer’s original intention.

Agnieszka Gratza

Cameron Platter

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10 Lewin Street, Woodstock
October 19–November 25

Cameron Platter, Rainbow Thoia Thoing, 2017, wood, enamel paint, 8 1/2' x 24 x 24".

In 2013, South African artist Cameron Platter collaborated with weavers at ELC Art and Craft Center Rorke’s Drift, a storied art hub in rural KwaZulu-Natal province, on wool tapestries. Their abstract forms are based on digital collages the artist created from DVD covers for interracial pornographic films found online. Rather than amplify and ironize the noise of this libidinal media, Platter’s hand-spun tapestries obscure the source of his ludic play. His latest exhibition, titled “ZOL,” includes five colored-pencil drawings inspired by the same source material. It is the translation across media that energizes these works: The respective green and silver grounds of 93-asfAJIJJJJJJJ384-00z (Pink) and DE-39637619 (Skylar) (all works 2017) reveal an incremental method of filling in color; they are monuments to a determinedly slow studio process.

Platter came to prominence in the aughts with a repertoire of impudently Pop drawings and sculptures that were insistently figurative and often framed by gonzo narratives. His three enamel-painted wood sculptures displayed here lightly recall this earlier self. Reclining Figure Red Yellow Pink Closer (ohhhh) presents a bright yellow imitation of a plastic lounger, with an upright, noodle-like red piece evoking a human. Partly named after a 2003 song by R. Kelly, Rainbow Thoia Thoing  is a sculptural tower composed of the likenesses of two white deck chairs and four cinder blocks, painted black; the absurd juxtaposition of title and form successfully renders his enduring interest in collage and popular culture into a three-dimensional object. Pivoting between figuration and abstraction, nine drawings—of marks that almost become effigies and, in the case of Beware Beware, an elephant walking on its hind legs—are, first and foremost, smudged sites of uncluttered invention.

 

 

 

Sean O’Toole

Kudzanai Chiurai

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
V&A Waterfront, Silo District, S Arm Road
September 22–March 31

View of “Kudzanai Chiurai: Regarding the Ease of Others,” 2017. Center: “Conflict Resolution,” 2012.

“You can’t escape politics,” Kudzanai Chiurai once said to CNN, not that anyone who has followed his meteoric rise to fame would ever accuse him of skirting the issues. Since gaining notoriety (and status as a political exile) for an incendiary portrait of Robert MugabeAbuse of Power, 2009—the thirty-six-year-old Zimbabwean multimedia artist has galvanized contemporary African artists to engage such thorny subjects as corruption, xenophobia, and internecine conflict. His arresting exhibition at this newly inaugurated institution, Cape Town’s first museum of contemporary art, brings together key bodies of work from the past decade or so, including excerpts from his 2012 series “Conflict Resolution” that were shown at Documenta 13.

In what might be a reference to Susan Sontag’s 2003 book on war photography, Regarding the Pain of Others, the show’s title, “Regarding the Ease of Others,” alerts us to the indivisible problem of subjectivity. Like Sontag, Chiurai is concerned with the gendered authorship of history and constructs alternative narratives. His glossy, highly stylized tableaux of fictional militant groups, where women are illustrated as central figures of influence, shine a light on the typically masculine poetics of power and war. Shrewd and often humorous lithographs and photographs of fictional African leaders in his series “Dying to Be Men,” 2009, and “Revelations,” 2011, explore what one might call the iconography of despotism—corybantic warlords and politicians replete with AK-47s, gold chains, and fur coats.

The selection of videos, photographs, drawings, posters, and paintings presented in this survey mount a sustained critique of the Christian and colonial narratives that still mark the political, economic, and social conditions of present-day southern Africa; together, they offer a coruscating meditation on power, paternalism, and patriarchy, while reflecting on symbols of democracy—and their misappropriation.

Genevieve Allison

“Scraggly Beard Grandpa”

Capsule Shanghai
Building 16, Anfu Lu 275 Nong, Xuhui District, 1st Floor
November 4–December 22

Rania Ho, Genus: Verduous Suburbanus Bucolia & Love Hate Relationship, 2017, rip-stop nylon, battery powered fans, video on portable monitor, dimensions variable.

The titular grandpa is missing from the works gathered in this group show of twelve artists who spent time working at the art collective and gallery space PRACTICE in New York from 2015 to 2016. Curated by PRACTICE founders Wang Xu and Cici Wu, the show presents different tensions around the idea of folding the familiar into the foreign in daily life abroad, wherever abroad happens to be.

The sense of shadowy interiority of Irini Miga’s installation Landscape for a Thought (all works cited, 2017), a ceramic cone placed in a tiny triangle cut into the wall, is amplified by João Vasco Paiva’s The Last Kauai Oo Bird I and II, featuring tennis shoes carved from blackened lava stone from Bali, lonely remnants of owners who have disappeared or been extinguished. Rania Ho’s playful battery-powered inflatable nylon suits in the outdoor garden make the fragile cement scaffolding of Yunyu “Ayo” Shih’s Before It Happens––which resembles a partition wall, installed near the entrance of the exhibition––much more halting.

There is something about the traffic of ideas and artworks between China and the United States that remains wonderfully understated in “Scraggly Beard Grandpa”––here, we find no thesis on expatriation. One leaves, one returns, and, somewhere along the way, one picks up friends to work and think alongside.

Todd Meyers

“Urban Ritornello: The Archives on Community”

Ilmin Museum of Art
139 Sejongno, Jongno-gu
September 15–December 3

View of “Urban Ritornello: The Archives on Community.” Front: Yi so-ra, Folk song Researcher’s Archive, 2017. Back: Kim Soyoung, Performing Diaspora Archive, 2017.

Curating a strong thematic exhibition often demands archival research on said theme—and if that theme is the wide-ranging and multilayered concept of “community,” the curator’s research likely extends into cross-disciplinary scholarship on history, sociology, philosophy, ethnography, anthropology, and urban planning, among other subjects.

Instead of showcasing the final outcome of such investigations, however, “Urban Ritornello: The Archives on Community,” curated by Juhyeon Cho, presents the source materials from the archives of participating artists and scholars across the three-story museum. For the show, thirty teams of researchers and artists provided their own references in diverse media. The installation simulates actual studies and reading rooms, so that viewers can take a seat at a desk; browse books, notes, and sketches; listen to recordings; watch films; and even rearrange the materials on hand at their own will.

Ritornello here refers to Felix Guattari’s definition of the word as the “people’s chord.” In defiance of history’s conventional framing, the curator interpreted Guattari’s concept as the capacity of individuals to create a communal society by sharing their “natural and instinctive physical state” through sounds, songs, dances, and conversations. The collaboration of experts and the intervention of the public in the exhibition ultimately yield an optimal site of knowledge production that heightens our understanding of the community.

Jung-Ah Woo

Tamir Zadok

Tel Aviv Museum of Art
27 Shaul Hamelech Boulevard
September 19–December 16

Tamir Zadok, Art Undercover, 2017, HD video, color, sound, 27 minutes.

Nothing is what it seems in Art Undercover, 2017, the centerpiece of Tamir Zadok’s solo exhibition. The video traces the artist’s quest to find a lost oil painting by Charduval, purportedly a French artist who lived in Egypt in the early 1950s. With only a poor black-and-white reproduction of the piece and some anecdotal evidence, Zadok heads to Cairo to see the collection of the Egyptian Museum of Modern Art—what follows is a chronicle that reveals more via its meandering progression than any conclusive discoveries.

Viewers eventually learn that the artistic persona of Charduval provided cover for an Israeli intelligence agent named Shlomo Cohen Abarbanel while in Cairo. What better role than that of “artist” to avoid tricky questions about one’s agenda when traveling or living abroad? As Zadok searches for traces of the “French” painter’s legacy in Egypt, he begins to perform a variety of stealth research tasks himself. With a fresh haircut and a new suit, he approaches a Western curator at an exhibition opening about presenting his own work in Egypt. At first hesitant, the curator becomes more receptive once Zadok subtly switches the accent on his name, changing its pronunciation from the Hebrew, Tamir Zadok, to the Arabic, Tamer Sadek.

The artist’s earlier work also plays with the boundaries between political realities and fictional narratives, such as in Gaza Canal, 2010, a mockumentary (also on view) of an Israeli-run visitor center in Gaza built after the Israeli government pushed the territory into the sea. This Swiftian satire gives way in Art Undercover to internal reflection about art, nationalism, authenticity, and the mixture of exhilaration and trepidation that accompanies border crossings and secret missions of all kinds.
 

Chelsea Haines

Lamia Joreige

Marfa'
1339 Marfa’ District
October 10–December 29

View of “Lamia Joreige: Under-Writing Beirut,” 2017. From left: The River 8, The River 7, The River 9, all 2016.

“And yet the moment finally came when the city no longer resembled itself”: With these words, Franco-Lebanese historian Samir Kassir described his civil-war-struck hometown of the 1980s in Beirut (2005), a book widely accepted as the definitive monograph on Lebanon’s capital. Lamia Joreige’s ongoing three-part project Under-Writing Beirut, 2013–, perhaps can be best explained as a painstaking attempt to recover traces of how the city was, and still is, in the process of undoing itself.

This exhibition brings together works from its second and third chapters, focusing on the transformation of the outlying Beirut River and Ouzaï areas. While a documentary impulse is strong in the three-channel video reportage After the River, 2016, and in the superimposed aerial period photographs of the series “Ouzaï, Cartography of a Transformation,” 2017, Joreige is most eloquent in works with relative poetic license. Mixing wax, pigments, pastels, and crayons, her delicate, impressionistic drawings demonstrate a curious evolution from year to year, neighborhood to neighborhood.

Although a faint outline of the Beirut River or the Ouzaï shore is visible in all her works on paper here, the drawings dated to 2016––tinged with reds and sickly yellows––from a series titled “The River,” 2015–17, turn the stream into a blood vessel susceptible to storing puss in bulbous pockets. On the other hand, the 2017 “Coastline” series furnishes barely connected ghostly explosions along the waterfront with less spindly flowers of evil that remain witnesses to the neighborhood’s experience of war, forced migration, growing religious conservatism, and pollution. The orientation of the area around the seashore is tilted ninety-degrees clockwise in the sculpture Ouzaï, 2017, but given that here the main arteries are cast in golden alloyed metal, the district takes on a zoomorphic form, ready to dart off, reminding one of how much is still in flux here.

Gökcan Demirkazik