PRINT December 2012

Eungie Joo

Keith Arnatt, Liverpool Beach Burial, 1968, gelatin silver print, 10 1/4 x 7 1/8". From “Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974.”

1 “Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974” (The Geffen Contemporary at MoCA, Los Angeles; curated by Philipp Kaiser and Miwon Kwon) Not only do Kaiser and Kwon brilliantly reframe the widely accepted idea that Land art was a macho US phenomenon, they actually provide a compelling plot that locates its origins in the aftermath of World War II, flows through various Conceptual practices, and becomes entangled with performance art. Certainly worth a trip to Munich, where the exhibition is on view at Haus der Kunst through January 20, 2013.

2 Faustin Linyekula, more more more . . . future (The Kitchen, New York, October 12–15, 2011) Created in collaboration with Flamme Kapaya, a central figure in the Congolese soukous and ndombolo music scenes, and inspired by the Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe, Linyekula’s more more more . . . future was simply stunning. The work’s raw energy and urgency depended equally on the artist, two dancers from Studios Kabako, a five-member band led by Kapaya, lyrics by political prisoner and childhood friend Antoine Vumilia Muhindo, and Lamine Badian Kouyaté’s intriguing costumes, crafted from the plastic used in bags associated with refugees and the transportation of wholesale goods.

3 Adrián Villar Rojas, Return the World (Documenta 13, Kassel) A massive installation of sculpture and architectural interventions, Return the World was conceived to unfold like a film with two endings, and some visitors may never have made it to the alternate conclusion at the top of the Weinberg Terraces. But if one was not terrified by Villar Rojas’s daring figuration, commitment to hand-sculpted clay, and narrative overtones, the ravishing climax of this artist’s work to date was the reward.

4 Rirkrit Tiravanija, Lung Neaw Visits His Neighbors In his first feature (though by no means longest) film, Tiravanija crafts a staged portrait of Chiang Mai, Thailand, through the figure of Lung Neaw, a retired rice farmer. Whether foraging for edible plants, shopping in the market, fishing, bathing in the river, or listening to the radio, Uncle Neaw exists in a world of direct exchange and self-reliance that is clearly unconcerned with the late-capitalist desire and corruption fueling contemporary Thailand’s political turmoil.

5 Joan Jonas and Kara Walker performing in Art Songs, May 11, 2012, from Alicia Hall Moran and Jason Moran’s “Bleed” (Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) Improvisation by professional musicians is one thing, but witnessing Joan Jonas jamming wildly with Jason Moran’s expert ensemble was a joyous rush. Not long after, Kara Walker channeled some of her other selves, including “Karaoke Walkrrr,” who executed “Improvisation with Mutually Assured Destruction,” a meditation on sex and power that exploded into a performance of the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” (think Tina Turner meets Living Colour).

6 Danh Vo (Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria, curated by Yilmaz Dziewior and Rudolf Sagmeister) Vo is a master of the conundrum of identification, interrogating subjects of great personal import, such as his family’s migration, with a critical distance that admits empathy and desire. In his elegant presentation at Kunsthaus Bregenz, layers of repurposed cardboard marked in gold leaf with early American flags, images of the Statue of Liberty (based on gift-shop bags), Johnnie Walker Red Label liquor-box designs, and excerpts from the story of Rapunzel flowed from stairwell to galleries; his father’s Mercedes-Benz transmission lay atop a clear plastic sheet lightly soiled with motor oil; and fresh flowers flanked a raised marble slab engraved with the names and dates of Catholics martyred in Asia from the mid-1600s to the 1900s.

Jimmie Durham making St. Frigo, Rheims, France, 1996. Photo: Maria Thereza Alves.

7 Jimmie Durham (Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen; curated by Bart de Baere and Anders Kreuger) This focused, intimate approach to Durham’s work rightly emphasized the artist’s balance of impassioned criticality, uncanny communion with materials, and poetic acuity. A quirky video salon (with ruby velvet–upholstered seating) offered an important reminder of Durham’s history in performance and theater while resonating cleverly with the rest of the sculpture-rich installation.

8 Iman Issa (Rodeo Gallery, Istanbul) Featuring six sculptures from her ten-part series “Material,” 2010–12, Issa’s presentation showed the breadth of her project, including Material for a sculpture commemorating an economist whose name now marks the streets and squares he once frequented, 2011, a large vitrine filled with the possible personal artifacts of the life concerned. Distilling the essence of specific monuments that mark Egypt’s official histories, Issa offers striking juxtapositions of objects and text to suggest potential, despite the profound failures of meaning that surround her.

9 Icaro Zorbar (ALBO program, Colombia; curated by Oscar Roldán-Alzate) From outside, the high-ceilinged gallery at the music school appeared to be under construction. From inside, dozens of cardboard clock arms spun in unison, while Zorbar’s automated music-box tables filled the air with sparse notes. All at once, the vast space was cast into darkness, save for three small lamps illuminating the tables, while a wall of scrap cardboard transformed into an enormous landscape of geometric shadows and sunlit constellations, penetrating the gallery from outside.

10 La Triennale 2012: “Intense Proximity” (Palais de Tokyo and other venues, Paris; organized by Okwui Enwezor with Mélanie Bouteloup, Abdellah Karroum, Émilie Renard, and Claire Staebler) Enwezor’s almost unwieldy exhibition offered a thoughtful interrogation of how anthropological and ethnographic modes of knowledge production, interpretation, and organization intersect with contemporary politics. Standouts included drawings by Claude Lévi-Strauss related to the string games of the Caduveo people from Brazil, Isaac Julien’s Territories (1984), Nina Canell’s quietly elegant sculptures, and Éric Baudelaire’s The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi, and 27 Years Without Images, 2011, a fascinating installation that explores radical politics, memory, concealment, exile, and film.

Eungie Joo is director of art and cultural programs at Instituto Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brazil, and former Keith Haring director and curator of education and public programs at the New Museum, New York. She was curator of the 2012 New Museum Triennial, “The Ungovernables.”