PRINT December 2010

Victoria Noorthoorn

1 Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Desert Park (Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brazil) This new outdoor project at Inhotim—by far the most spectacular contemporary art center in Latin America—offers a magical and alienating experience, transporting visitors to the realm of fiction and the otherworldly. Gonzalez-Foerster has created an impossible landscape, in which a carefully delineated area of blinding white sand evokes a desert or a beach that sharply interrupts the surrounding dense tropical forests. Punctuating this scene is a series of concrete bus stops, carefully transposed from the urban realm, in which viewers can peruse some of the publications that inspired the work, such as The Burning World (1964) by J. G. Ballard.

2 Zorka Wollny and Anna Szwajgier, Łódź—epopeja miasta (Lodz: The Epic of the City) (Fokus Łódź Biennale 2010, Poland) I was in awe of this beautiful performance, in which a symphony was played along one block of Lodz’s legendary Piotrkowska Street. The music’s composer, Artur Zagajewski, stood at his lectern in the middle of the cobbled street to lead musicians—located on both sidewalks, as well as in various buildings overlooking the street—in playing his 2009 piece Unhum na 23 muzyków i 52 przechodniów (Unhum for 23 Musicians and 52 Passersby). Zagajewski made vigorous, sweeping gestures to communicate with even the most distant musicians. A flute was played beautifully on a balcony, while a violin sounded from a third-floor apartment, and drums clashed on the sidewalk nearby.

3 Diego Bianchi (Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires) This young, prolific, fabulous sculptor never ceases to surprise. On this occasion, he took over one of the main galleries of the Centro Cultural Recoleta with a web of sculptural configurations. Ominous and at times surreal figures were recognizable in the incongruous encounter of body parts that had been molded, distorted, cut, or twisted among piles of plaster, wooden pallets, plastic chairs, mannequins, tar, hair, and much else besides. With the fragile tension of his mise-en-scène hovering on the brink of revelation or collapse, Bianchi managed to evoke that often shapeless angst that holds our throats in its invisible grip.

4 Lynette Yiadom-Boakye A series of provocative, refined paintings I saw in Yiadom-Boakye’s London studio made for an impressive lesson in the political occupation of pictorial space. Each of the imaginary individuals depicted in the images grins (one could even say laughs) back at the spectator from an ambiguous and atemporal setting. These characters appear fulfilled while comfortably asserting their own presence.

5 Marina De Caro The colorful, human-scale ceramic works produced during De Caro’s residency last winter at the European Ceramic Work Centre in ’s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, had been dropped, while still fresh, from a height; this caused reams of beautiful drawings to be expelled from the diverse figures’ lungs, ears, and mouths, as if they were tossing out scripts on future utopias for the years to come. These sculptures were inspired by the political events in Paris and in the Argentinean cities of Rosario and Córdoba in 1968 and 1969. Indebted to the realm of fantasy, they seem eerily pertinent today.

6 Arctic Perspective Initiative This nonprofit group was founded by artists Marko Peljhan and Matthew Biederman to create infrastructures for open knowledge and technology exchange and to forge connections between artistic and scientific practices in the Arctic. So far, their projects have concentrated on the fields of housing, transport, and communications. The group (which staged an exhibition this year at the Hartware MedienKunstVerein in Dortmund, Germany) seeks to “empower the North and Arctic peoples through open-source technologies and applied education and training” in order to protect the autonomy of indigenous cultures and traditions—and also to preserve the possibility of nomadism—far from the processes of “normalization” that increasingly regulate social codes and behaviors today.

7 Alexander Schellow For his ongoing series “Storyboard,” 2001– (some of which I saw this summer in his studio in Berlin), Schellow works with felt-tip pen on small sheets of tracing paper, reconstructing remembered urban scenes. He evokes these memories in meticulous pointillist drawings that at times may become short animations, such as the three-second movies in the series “Spots,” 2005–. The practice results from a combination of what remains of the seen and an obsessive attempt to recuperate what has been protected from consciousness, thus challenging the usual processes of memory whereby specific details sink into oblivion forever.

8 Linda Matalon (Ballroom Marfa, Texas) In Matalon’s wax and graphite drawings (featured in the group show “Immaterial”), the slightest gesture becomes the basis for an intimate diary, a palimpsest of experiences. The minimal information the works provide—a stroke of graphite, an infinitesimal amount of dirt, the slightest cut—reveals a heritage that spans from Turner to Agnes Martin, Chris Burden, Eva Hesse, and Richard Tuttle. Each drawing challenges invisibility to speak not just of the sublime but of the coarse texture of the present.

9 Pavla Sceranková It was a pleasure to see the work of this young artist, whom I met through an old friend—the critic, curator, and art historian Tomáš Pospiszyl. Sceranková’s absurd constructions brought to mind both Dada and, surprisingly, Brazilian Neo-concretism. Clumsy and designed to fail, her kinetic sculptures prove perfect metaphors for the impossible solidity and permanence held to characterize our current social and economic structures.

10 Víctor Florido This talented young artist was the most important discovery I made this year in my hometown, Buenos Aires. Visiting his studio, I marveled at his paintings, in which somber figurative references are carefully delineated only to cancel themselves out, in a gesture that questions the role of representation in art anew.

Victoria Noorthoorn is an independent curator based in Buenos Aires. Her recent projects include cocurating the 41 Salón Nacional de Artistas (2008) in Cali, Colombia, and the 7th Mercosul Biennial (2009) in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Her Marta Minujín retrospective opened last month at MALBA–Fundación Costantini in Buenos Aires, and she is currently preparing the 11th Biennale de Lyon, which takes place in France next September.