PRINT December 2010

Christine Macel

1 Petrit Halilaj (Berlin Biennale; curated by Kathrin Rhomberg) Halilaj’s 2009 solo exhibition at the Chert gallery in Berlin, which documented plans to build a chicken coop with family and friends in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, was further developed in the Biennale. At the heart of the Kunst-Werke, viewers found a discreetly political installation: an oversize replica of a house the artist had tried to build for relatives in Pristina, only to be stymied by lack of a permit. Chickens clucked nearby, as if in disapproval of Kosovar bureaucrats.

2 Simon Fujiwara (Art Statements, Art Basel) Since 2008 Fujiwara has been reimagining his parents’ lives in Spain under Franco’s dictatorship. At Art Basel, he reconstructed the hotel they ran on the Costa Brava in the 1970s—the setting of the artist’s novel Welcome to the Hotel Munber, which combines family history with erotic fantasy. Reinventing his origins, combining discomfort and jubilation, Fujiwara created an utterly haunting fiction.

3 Klara Lidén (Jeu de Paume, Paris; curated by Elena Filipovic) I vividly remember the 2006 video by this young Swedish artist in which she destroys a bike with a hefty metal rod. For her exhibition at the Jeu de Paume, she struck hard again. In a new work, the diaporama Toujours être ailleurs (Always to Be Elsewhere), 2010, she evokes the performance artists of the 1960s, appropriating urban space in a most incongruous manner. (At one point she disappears into a garbage can.) Violent and somehow autistic, Lidén’s work, to its credit, imbues radicality with humor.

4 Anri Sala and Edi Rama (Collection Stiftung, Berlin) Sala showed wonderful new topographical drawings at the Collection Stiftung, concentrating on the issue of how we perceive the structure of an image—in Sala’s, we cannot distinguish between foreground, background, etc. He invited his friend Edi Rama, an artist and also the mayor of Tirana, Albania, into an unexpected exchange involving transfer and transparence: The mayor’s doodles and documents are superimposed upon, and seem to shimmer above, Sala’s drawings, articulating an ambiguous space between images and proposing a new art of the conversation.

5 John Baldessari (Tate Modern, London; curated by Leslie Jones and Jessica Morgan) Baldessari, whose work is so assiduously read and reread by younger artists, was overdue for a retrospective. Wit and Conceptual art have never gotten along as well as they do in his perpetually fresh work, as this exhibition amply demonstrated.

Co-organized with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

6 Sophie Calle, Attendez-moi (Wait for Me) (Hasselblad Center at the Göteborg Museum of Art, Sweden; curated by Gunilla Knape) One of Calle’s most moving works, Attendez-moi is simply a text accompanied by a photograph of the artist as a little girl, standing on a dock, wearing a small hat, her face the same as it is today. “I was two. It happened on a beach—Deauville, I think. My mother had entrusted me to a group of children . . . They had to get rid of me: that was their game . . . And I ran after them shouting ‘Wait for me, wait for me!’ I can still remember.”

7 Trisha Brown (Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, France; curated by Peter Eleey) The MAC Lyon paid homage to this major artist with a show, staged here by Thierry Raspail, that brought out the airy, fluid grace that Babette Mangolte has represented so well in her films of Brown’s dances. A selection of drawings and, especially, a staging of Planes made for a grand finale.

Organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

8 Isadora Duncan (Musée Bourdelle, Paris; curated by Stéphanie Cantarutti, Juliette Laffon, and Hélène Pinet) The first exhibition dedicated solely to Duncan focused on the years she spent in France. Defying the rules and pioneering the discipline of modern dance, Duncan—barefoot, dressed in a classical tunic—fascinated Émile-Antoine Bourdelle, Auguste Rodin, and even Oskar Kokoschka. Bourdelle, Rodin, and many others tried to capture her likeness, but none were quite equal to the refined dynamism of this “living sculpture.”

9 Sciences Po École des Arts Politiques Sociologist and theorist Bruno Latour is the founder of this pedagogical initiative, an institution of which much is expected, considering its ambitious program. Ushered in by a series of public conversations at the Centre Pompidou in the spring, the school is geared toward rearticulating the innumerable connections among the arts, the sciences, and politics—all fields that, as Latour astutely observes, foreground “matters of articulation.”

10 Métaphysiques cannibales, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (Presses Universitaires de France) This book by Brazilian anthropologist Viveiros de Castro allows us to go beyond such received categories as “animist culture” and “multiculturalism.” The author emphasizes Amerindian cosmologies that dismiss the separation of nature and culture and, melding the approaches of Lévi-Strauss and Deleuze, develops a new concept: “multinaturalism.”

Christine Macel is chief curator at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, where, with cocurator Emma Lavigne, she is preparing “Dance Your Life,” an exhibition focused on the relationship between dance and the visual arts in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. She is also curatorial adviser for Dublin Contemporary 2011.