PRINT December 2016

The Artists’ Artists

the best of 2016



Rodin’s The Thinker, 1880–81, after a bomb planted by the Weather Underground exploded on March 24, 1970, at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Photo: C. D. Moore.

View of “Billy Sullivan,” 2016, Kaufmann Repetto, New York. From left: Cookie, 2016; Rene, June 1979, 2016; Sharon 1, 2011; Patrick Frey, 2016; Sunflowers, 2016. Photo: Dario Lasagni.


Portrait of Hilton Als by Catherine Opie, wrapped in bubble plastic, as it appeared in “James Baldwin/Jim Brown and the Children,” curated by Als for the Artist’s Institute, New York, June 14.

Darja Bajagić, Manuela Ruda & Sophie Lancaster (detail), 2016, UV-printed, brushed-aluminum Dibond, MDF frame, acrylic paint, canvas, overall 120 × 120". Photo: Markus Krottendorfer.


A disposable, self-administering circumcision ring, courtesy of Liaoning Aimu Medical, a Chinese medical equipment company.

Madyha Leghari, A Blank Map of the Visible Universe (detail), 2016, self-adhesive vinyl, acrylic paint, clock movement kits, wire, screen-printed acrylic sheet, dimensions variable.


Hands of staff member working at the Museum of Modern Art’s Film Benefit honoring Cate Blanchett, New York, November 17, 2015.

View of “Accommodating Reform: International Hotels and Architecture in China, 1978–1990,” 2016, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing.


I took this photo of a television program at my home on July 21: It depicts archaeologists discovering that the walls of an ancient building conceal a secret about the Chinese classical novel Dream of the Red Chamber, written by Cáo Xuěqín in 1791.

Egyptian inlays and shrine elements, 380–30 BCE, glass, cupreous metal, dimensions variable.


I was walking on Spring Street in New York a few weeks ago and many memories resurfaced when I saw the facade of this building. I remembered the first time I met Dan Graham in 1999. I had lent my place nearby to a friend to host a dinner party. I came home really late that night, around 3 AM. Dan was in my studio looking at my work. I was surprised to see a stranger there. He immediately said to me: “Architecture is program, not form.” This is the door of his studio—the guy who gave me Rock My Religion, who allowed me to permanently borrow Michael Asher’s collected writings, who to this day practices the same dicta in both his life and his work. His views of the world influenced how I later began to integrate forms into programs.

Karen Kilimnik, thank you, I’m rested now. I’ll have the lobster today, thank you, 2016, collage on paper, 10 3/4 × 8".


Y si los muertos aman / Después de muertos amarnos más (And if the dead can love / After death we will love each other more). New York. November 2015.

Meret Oppenheim, fountain, 1983, aluminum, concrete, plants, water. Installation view, Waisenhausplatz, Bern, Switzerland. Photo: Kristina Herbst.


Looking Out. Image taken during artist’s residency at Cill Rialaig, Ireland.

Patrick Hennessy, The Walled City, 1978, oil on canvas, 25 × 35".


I took this photo with my iPhone on Sunday, May 29, on Paulista Avenue in São Paulo, which hosts one of the largest LGBTQ parades in the world. The event was full of hope for a better tomorrow. Not once did I see a corporate logo. What I did see were political statements and families of all kinds.

Mangaaka nkisi n’kondi (power figure), Kongo peoples, Yombe group, Chiloango River region (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, or Cabinda, Angola), nineteenth century, wood, iron, resin, cowrie shell, animal hide, animal hair, ceramic, plant fiber, pigment, 41 3/4 × 17 3/4 × 17 3/4".


I photographed this watercolor by Denis Pavlovich Adushkin, who is an unknown artist living in Kiev.

Rirkrit Tiravanija, Untitled 2016 (this is A this is not A this is both A and not-A this is neither A nor not-A), 2016, mirrored tea room, metal scaffolding, two 3-D printed bonsai trees. Photo: Hiroyasu Matsuo.


A 35-mm shot of Richard Kennedy performing Smoke & Mirrors as the culmination of his residency at Otion Front Studio in Brooklyn (October 2015). He later expanded this movement and sound piece into an opera, Black Rage: Negro Songs from a New Age Depression, presented at SIGNAL gallery this past February. I love the emotion of this photo—the way it holds the vulnerability, pain, and grace of being Black in America.

View of “Lukas Duwenhögger: You Might Become a Park,” 2016, Raven Row, London. Center: The Celestial Teapot, 2007. Photo: Marcus K. Leith.


Empty shelves inside a frozen chamber of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (a “final backup” of seed samples from the world’s crop collections, stored within the permafrost of an Arctic mountain). The bare space on these shelves was the result of the unexpected first withdrawal of seeds from the vault to replace samples lost in the Syrian Civil War. Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard archipelago, Norway, August.

View of “Fausto Melotti,” 2016, Hauser & Wirth, New York. From left: Untitled, ca. 1945; Diavolo (Devil), ca. 1945: Diavolssa (She-Devil), 1945; Untitled, ca. 1945; Diavolo (Devil), ca. 1945.


Cell-phone picture in front of Mondrian’s New York City, 1942, at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, summer.

Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Golden Rule on Light Floor, 1975, acrylic on canvas, 24 × 30".


Judith Bernstein’s painting UNION JACK-OFF, 1967, really made an impression but also reflected elements of a year spent obsessed with the American election and the misogyny and testosterone-fueled mayhem that defined it. I posted this picture, taken at Mary Boone Gallery in New York, on Instagram on February 27, because it reminded me of the previous night’s Republican debate.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, TH.2066, 2008–16, metal bunk beds, science-fiction books, sound, mixed-media reproductions of sculptures (by Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg, Katharina Fritsch, Joel Shapiro, and Johannes Brus), LED screen, PVC. Installation view, K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 2016. Photo: Achim Kukulies. © ADAGP, Paris/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.


Tatianna performing her spoken-word piece “Same Parts” on the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars on Logo TV, August 25.

Mulatu Astatke performing in the Temple of Dendur, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 9, 2016. Photo: Torey Thornton.


Bhupen Khakhar (Tate Modern, London) I found the recent Sigmar Polke exhibition at Tate Modern, particularly his drawings, most impressive—a complete highlight. I am on my way to see Neo Rauch at David Zwirner gallery; the artist fits in firmly on my list of important Proper-Painters. But I want to foreground Bhupen Khakhar’s show at the opening of the wonderful new Switch House at Tate Modern. It was an exhilaration of Proper-Painting: personal, real, and great to look at for a long time—and without relying on text or knowledge or process.

William Eggleston, Untitled, ca. 1983–86, ink-jet print, 45 × 64 5/8". From the series “The Democratic Forest,” ca. 1983–86. © Eggleston Artistic Trust.


“Peter Fischli David Weiss: How to Work Better” (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York) Halfway along the linear course of the Guggenheim, we encountered Fischli & Weiss’s inspired video The Way Things Go, 1987, a work that internally restated the logic of the exhibition: a succession of stunt-like art ideas leading from one to the next. The pleasure of seeing this body of work stems from the fact that its real audience seems to have been the other half of the team, but the duo’s generosity of spirit prevented the rest of us from being excluded. I’ve always loved the collaborators’ inscrutable work, and I was happy that viewing so much of it revealed both its scope and granularity without cracking its code.

View of “Reset Modernity!,” 2016, ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany. Photo: Harald Völkl.


Duke Riley, Fly by Night (Brooklyn Navy Yard, May 7–June 19) Duke Riley’s spectacular Fly by Night featured the twilight release of thousands of pigeons from specially designed coops installed on a naval vessel docked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. For this series of performances, organized by Creative Time, the birds were fitted with specially designed leg bands equipped with LED lights. Ascending, the clustered avians became sweeping clouds that spread above the spectators. As the sky darkened, their forms disappeared, leaving visible only swarming constellations of light. Riley’s performance merged aesthetic and political concerns, evoking with a single dance two contrasting historical uses of pigeons. One is their strategic employ by the military to send messages to otherwise inaccessible war regions. (The navy yard was once home to the largest fleet of pigeon carriers in the world.) The other is recreational: Pigeon keepers once populated the five boroughs of New York in far greater numbers than exist today.

Emma Hedditch reading during “It’s Already Started,” Artists Space, New York, August 27, 2016.


Maria Thereza Alves, A Possible Reversal of Missed Opportunities, 2016 (32nd São Paulo Bienal; on view through December 11) Made for the São Paulo Bienal, this deceptively simple work suggests a socially and politically complex model for Brazil to aspire to in these strange days. Alves (with whom I have collaborated for decades) traveled to several of the country’s indigenous reservations, where she asked residents to devise conferences in which they would like to participate. The result was a group of six colorful posters that list indigenous people as speakers alongside recognized experts in various fields. They are advertisements for potential dialogues, conferences that did not happen but conceivably could.

Bouchra Khalili, The Mapping Journey Project, 2008–11, eight-channel video, color, sound. Installation view, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2016. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar.


almighty Opp monthly services on the corner of Western and Elmwood Avenues, Koreatown, Los Angeles On the last Saturday of every month at 9 PM, for the past ten years, almighty Opp has given its audience an anarchic mix of group trance, absurdism, and raw joy on this improbable Koreatown street corner. Jeffrey’s Human Persona and Kranko the Human Person create a rare space for the presentation of an ongoing experiment in theater, sound, and the consensus boundaries of public space. I attended eight services this year, and every one of them felt like the most special event I have ever witnessed. The intentions of the show are inseparable from the site. It defies photography and description. Shows will continue in 2017.

Carmen Herrera, Untitled, 1952, acrylic on canvas with painted frame, four panels, overall 25 × 60".


Angela Fette, Tapir, Atmend (Tapir, Breathing), 2013

But we who know the signs of the metaphysical alphabet know what joys and what pains are shut within a portico, in the corner of a street or in a room, on the surface of a table, between the sides of a box. The limits of these signs make up a sort of moral and aesthetic code of representations for us and moreover we build a new metaphysical psychology of things in painting with clairvoyance.

—Giorgio de Chirico, Metaphysical Aesthetics, 1919

The painter, performer, musician, and poet Angela Fette lives in Düsseldorf. I visited her studio there and felt a metaphysical flash encountering her painting Tapir, Atmend (Tapir, Breathing), 2013. The tapir now breathes in my living room. It is good to know Angela, because it is not so easy to find another person who shares the pain of a triangle.

Maya Deren, The Very Eye of Night, 1958, 16 mm, black-and-white, sound, 15 minutes. From “Insomnia,” Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm.


Sarah Michelson, tournamento (Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, September 24–27, 2015) I thought, OK, either this piece dies on the spot or it changes contemporary dance as I know it. A competition among four performers, each representing their home state, dancing to eliminate each other; one winner, who might be announced at the end, but maybe not. Three judges, seventeen students dashing around with notepads, jotting down and disseminating cryptic information, the work’s vocabulary. This was the “cast.” Sarah as loudmouth analyst, yelling into a microphone. Six video screens, six monitors, and a scoreboard surrounded the arena-like performance area. tournamento didn’t piss me off like it did most of the highly sophisticated audience. I admired its layers of misinformation. I thought its anti-audience container wondrous. It made sense to me. How utterly inscrutable and committed to that inscrutability it was. There was more (centripetal) rigor holding it together (barely) than in any dance I have ever seen. Devotion is dead. Autonomy wreaks havoc.

David Reed, Painting #655 and Painting #656, 2003–16, acrylic, alkyd, and oil on polyester, two panels. Installation view, Peter Blum Gallery, New York, 2016. Photo: Etienne Frossard.


Ken Price (Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, Los Angeles) Ken Price—for a full lifetime of unequivocally brilliant and original work. As he once said to me, “I am going furthey de out by going furthey de in.” He hits the nail on the head. Perfecto.

Entrance to William Kaminski’s “Live Thru This: Kurt Cobain Haunted Heck,” 2015, 237B North San Fernando Road, Los Angeles.


Sylvia Plimack Mangold (Craig F. Starr Gallery, New York) The most memorable show I saw this past year was an exquisite exhibition of Sylvia Plimack Mangold’s early paintings and drawings from the 1960s and ’70s at Craig F. Starr Gallery. It is work I have always admired, and it only gets better with age. Mangold took a concept and translated it into a language we can all recognize. It was like backing up theory with mathematics: Measure the painting itself, measure the illusion of space, measure light, measure time. The conversation is straightforward and unflinching and even now revolutionary.


“Darja Bajagić: Unlimited Hate” (Künstlerhaus Halle für Kunst & Medien, Graz, Austria) Darja Bajagić’s sculptures in “Unlimited Hate” consisted of found images of women printed on light boxes, with thin streams of blood running from top to bottom, operated by hidden pumps. Manuela Ruda & Sophie Lancaster, 2016, for example, a diptych displaying found photographs of Ruda and Lancaster in kitschy frames curved around their figures, mixes hardcore gore with adolescent romanticism that shifts from porn to poetry. Ruda was a satanic murderess who together with her husband stabbed his workmate sixty-six times. Lancaster was attacked and murdered by five teenage boys because she was dressed as a goth. Bajagić’s campy approach borders on religious iconography in her unlimited fascination with magic, fiction, and goth. Such brave and loving representation of murder, sex, death, and abuse is rare in the cloud of careful referential choices in contemporary art.


Madyha Leghari (Rohtas Gallery, Lahore, Pakistan) In the absence of an established art infrastructure, work from Pakistan often has to be consumed in exhibitions staged outside of the country—in the words of critic Quddus Mirza, artists such as myself live as if in “exile at home.” Yet once in a blue moon you come across gems like Madyha Leghari’s “Notes Towards Silence.” Employing a language of the absurd through her “non-linear poems” inserted into the matrices of mobile Venn diagrams, graphs, and timekeeping mechanisms, Leghari allows systems of logic to fail through their very functioning, thus forcing the viewer to experience a kind of interminable semantic pause.


“Accommodating Reform: International Hotels and Architecture in China, 1978–1990” (Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing) Architectual historian Cole Roskam curated this exhibition, focusing on the construction of seven hotels during the first years of “Reform and Opening-Up” in the late 1970s and early ’80s. The archaeological-style presentation exquisitely yet modestly showcased the sort of “modern” quality—still fresh to us—that emerged when China reopened to the rest of the world.


The reinstalled galleries of Egyptian Ptolemaic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York When I was a child, one of my family’s friends told my parents that there was a mummy at the Philadelphia Museum of Art that looked like me. We rushed to the museum and found it—a second- to third-century CE Fayum portrait. Years later when I visited Egypt, I practically crawled into the Great Pyramid of Giza. I also went to the Valley of the Kings and entered Tut’s underground tomb, which at the time still held his gold sarcophagus. Ancient Egyptian art was the doorway that led me to my use of images and text. It was a wonderful surprise, then, to visit the Met recently and find this majestic reinstallation of their collection of Egyptian Ptolemaic art.


Karen Kilimnik (303 Gallery, New York) Even though I was nine months pregnant and out of my mind, I made certain not to miss Karen Kilimnik’s show last winter. I’m intrigued by Kilimnik’s collapsed fictional narratives and by the ways in which her theatrical conceits extend to her treatment of the white cube. In this show, 303’s main gallery presented sixteen small, gold-framed collages alongside eight slightly larger paintings. The collages featured a cast of cat stickers (plus birds, bats, and stars) on photocopies of classical interior furnishings and textiles. In her voice-over-esque titles, the cats slinking through the gallery take on airs of old Fancy Feast commercials and recent internet memes. (One reads, thank you, this is very nice, I like it, it goes with my coloring, 2016.) Near the space’s back wall, a gold-tasseled velvet curtain beckoned viewers to a small, dimly lit room in which four glitter-strewn, tapestry-themed canvases were hung. In Kilimnik’s realm, time, history, and images themselves are all fictions ready to be disrupted and replayed—and a sense of liberty is on display for the taking.


“Patrick Hennessy: De Profundis” (Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin) Was Patrick Hennessy (1915–1980) a “good” artist? I didn’t even think about it as I made my way through IMMA’s revelatory survey; I just kept trying to get my head around the jarring combinations of content and style in the Irish painter’s work, each canvas wildly different from the next. Seeing so many of his pictures together was like discovering a 1970s version of the internet rendered in oil. Any one of Hennessy’s pieces seems to riff off images clipped and dragged together at his fancy—for example, The Walled City, 1978, which depicts a young North African man in a ’70s tracksuit posing in front of a muted seascape with a large fortress, all painted in a nineteenth-century academic style. Is it too kitsch to be exoticizing? Too anachronistic to be critical? Too neurotic or referential to be arresting? History favors the brave and the bold, but Hennessy may have enjoyed his microscopic details too much to participate in the grand narrative. In this way, the exhibition felt strangely contemporary.


Meret Oppenheim’s fountain, Waisenhausplatz, Bern, Switzerland This past summer I saw—again and again—the absolutely outstanding Meret Oppenheim fountain in Bern, which has kept sentry in Waisenhausplatz since 1983. The stone column is covered in moss, wild grasses, and algae and continually struggles with the conditions it has decided to confront as a sculpture in the public space. The fountain—which reinvents itself every moment, every minute, every hour, every day—provokes the aggression of all kinds of natural interference, while at the same time affirming its vulnerability as an artwork. It is one of the most powerful, magical, and mysterious permanent artworks in a public space.


“Kongo: Power and Majesty” (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) I’ve studied these works by Kongo artists since 1958. Allan Stone, my first art dealer, had one of the most dynamic private collections of African art. It was he who encouraged me in 1965 to “pick it up, smell it.” The “power figures,” minkondi, have inspired me profoundly. The combination of wood, iron, resin, plant fiber, textile, pigment, leopard teeth, ceramic, nails, cowrie shell, animal hide, hair, mud, and blood is truly the first example of mixed media. More than anything, these sculptures triggered my ongoing investigation into the secrets of physical matter, and how matter transforms itself into the metaphysical dimensions of space and time. My identity in modern technological society is constructed from psychic information encoded within minkondi. I have learned through years of research that African sculpture has evolved into an equivalent notion of Being. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this exhibition. It was a confirmation of my deepest feelings: I am on the right track!


Rirkrit Tiravanija, Untitled (this is A this is not A this is both A and not-A this is neither A nor not-A), 2016 (Okayama Art Summit, Japan) For his contribution to the Okayama Art Summit, Rirkrit Tiravanija made a chrome tearoom, hidden away inside a garden maze that was itself made up of construction scaffolding and located next to the town’s castle. From the outside, the scaffolding looks flat and graphic, but inside it burgeons into a labyrinthine three-dimensionality. The tearoom in the center is a perfect square, and the tea master, Mai Ueda, performing her ceremony, seems to float amid its mirrored surfaces. It reminds me of the final shots of Dave Bowman’s deathbed in 2001: A Space Odyssey, where baroque furniture levitates over a brightly lit floor—you have no idea what time or place you are in.


Lukas Duwenhögger (Raven Row, London) When asked to choose my favorite show of the year, I realized that I actually hadn’t seen a show impressive enough to be picked. Maybe this counts: I “visited” Lukas Duwenhögger’s “You Might Become a Park”—but only online. A brilliant sockdolager of a show. Look it up!


Fausto Melotti (Hauser & Wirth, New York) The recent Melotti survey made my pulse race. I responded to this demonstration of the late Italian sculptor’s mastery of a diverse range of materials and his ability to move smoothly back and forth between figuration and abstraction. Though many of the works were “miniaturized”—like toy theaters or tableaux—they were never twee or whimsical but rather thoughtful and restrained. He is dreamy and earthy at the same time. The artist’s touch was everywhere but was unobtrusive. Most unusually, I liked every piece.


Billy Sullivan (Kaufmann Repetto, New York) Billy Sullivan changed my life ten years ago at the 2006 Whitney Biennial. There he presented a slide show of snapshots he’d taken in 1975 of a pert young woman slipping out of a gold lamé skirt and eating breakfast in her luxe hotel room, all accompanied by a classical piano sound track. It was chic, perverted, light as a feather, and deadly serious. His show of recent portraits and still lifes this past spring, as well as a long-overdue monograph (STILL LOOKING: Works 1969–2016 [Editions Patrick Frey]), provided ample evidence to suggest that he’s always been a master of seduction—of mischievous, elegant living.


Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf) This nonlinear “retrospective-prospective” of Gonzalez-Foerster’s work offered a script for restaging collective memory. With a selection of previously exhibited environments, or “perfect metaphors for nature,” the artist resuscitated a sequence of historical persons and events. Together, these disjointed spaces—Brasilia Hall, 1998/2000; Splendide Hotel, 2014—displaced eras and bodies, achieving an almost psychoactive effect. Some works implied events yet to occur, such as TH.2066, 2008–16, which reimagined the museum as a nuclear shelter filled with bunk beds, science-fiction books, and enlarged replicas of iconic artworks from institutes in Düsseldorf. These were illuminated by flashes from The Last Film, 2008, a continuous loop in which cinematic dystopias melt into one flickering light.


Mulatu Astatke (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 9) I’m speed-walking down the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the first New York performance in more than ten years by Mulatu Astatke, the father of Ethio-jazz. The concert is being held in the museum’s Sackler Wing, in front of the Temple of Dendur. Mulatu often collaborates with experimental musicians, here inviting guests such as fusion/electronica keyboardist Jason Lindner, whose fingers dance from keys to synthesizer dials. Lindner’s strange, sometimes schizophrenic electronic additions to Astatke’s renditions of past compositions remind me of the senior musician’s interest in experimenting without alienating listeners. My eyes well up as the tune forces thoughts from me, sometimes leaving me feeling exposed. Throughout the show, huddled silhouettes peer down from an overhang in the upstairs Asian wing. It’s similar to climbing the rafters at a punk show in search of the only view. People fiend to see.


William Eggleston (David Zwirner, New York, on view through December 17) In 1983, at the height of the Reagan era, William Eggleston set out on an ambitious journey to chronicle the vernacular of everyday life, mostly in the American South. The resulting series, “The Democratic Forest,” ca. 1983–86—existing far away from the “shining city upon a hill”—consists of twelve thousand pictures. The show at David Zwirner offered a fresh edit, one that was particularly quiet and emptied out. The pictures, in all their stark banality, seem to obsessively ask the question: What has the capacity to be a photograph? Eggleston explored this existential terrain pre-Instagram, amid a culture that was screaming excess and saturation—Miami Vice, Top Gun, MTV—a period whose trappings we’re fetishizing now. But Eggleston’s pictures captured that world’s inverse: inanimate Middle American objects, nondescript parked cars, bare tabletops. The question remains, even thirty years later: What do these pictures tell us about who and what we are? Everything, or nothing at all.

Bhupen Khakhar, Interior of a Hindu Temple III, 1975, mixed media on board, 45 5/8 × 35 3/8".


“Reset Modernity!” (ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany) In our uncertain era of globalism and deep ecological crisis, this strange, unconventional exhibition proposed a “reset” of the modernist project; in so doing, it inspired us to reimagine our way of thinking the world and, by extension, our relationship to art. Organized by Bruno Latour, Martin Guinard-Terrin, Christophe Leclerq, and Donato Ricci, the show—rich with reedited and remixed art in a wide range of media—bubbled with ideas and created unexpected connections. We were intrigued, captivated, irritated: It was a real experience—fascinating and disorienting.

Peter Fischli and David Weiss, The Way Things Go, 1987, 16-mm transferred to video, color, sound, 30 minutes.


This year I have been going to more art-book launches than gallery openings. Nothing specific stands out about any of them, but that’s the whole point. At a moment when people complain about the push and pull of the art context, these gatherings take you to another place and time. They are smaller, less spectacular, less neurotic than most openings; the discussions are better; and they have wine instead of beer.

Duke Riley, Fly by Night, 2016. Performance view, Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York, May 7, 2016. Photo: Tod Seelie.


Bouchra Khalili (Museum of Modern Art, New York) Bouchra Khalili’s Mapping Journey Project, 2008–11, is projected on eight video screens arranged in a dark room. To see the work in full, the viewer must move about the gallery space, passing from one screen to the next as if partaking in his or her own migratory journey. The videos feature the voices of refugees telling the stories of their emigration over footage of hands drawing lines on maps, which seem to beckon the viewer onward. Simple yet powerful.

Maria Thereza Alves, Uma possível reversão de oportunidades perdidas (A Possible Reversal of Missed Opportunities) (detail), 2016, six posters, each 78 3/4 × 57 7/8".


Carmen Herrera (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; on view through January 2, 2017) There’ve been a lot of interesting hard-edge painters, and we can appreciate them in different ways. Ellsworth Kelly’s canvases are atmospheric and have great decorative manners, while Leon Polk Smith’s paintings communicate an authoritative sense of substance and physicality in the paint. Carmen Herrera’s paintings play some of the same games that those of her hard-edge friends do—she can produce gorgeous white grounds, and the transitions are flawless. Yet Herrera’s paintings have weight: They make visible an indeterminate part of the physical world. All of this points to an inner necessity that connects her more to the passion of Mondrian, the light in Agnes Martin, and the proportion of Malevich. She hides the effort from us. The color is absolute, the images never dull.

almighty Opp puppets, Los Angeles, October 31, 2016. Photo: Justin Ware.


“Insomnia” (Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm; on view through January 22, 2017) Sleep is one of the few things that are universal, but our experience of it is completely subjective. Maybe that’s why it continually piques our curiosity. We have all wondered about the quality of our slumber, the working of our unconscious minds, the meaning of our dreams, and the contrasting nature of wakefulness. Why do we sleep? If we don’t sleep, what happens? Why do we dream? “Insomnia” revolves around sleeplessness as a cultural phenomenon, attributing changes in our sleeping habits to technology and the option of constant communication. This group exhibition examines our relationship to sleep now that we have the choice to stay awake.

Angela Fette, Tapir, Atmend (Tapir, Breathing), 2013, oil on canvas, 45 1/4 × 98 3/8".


David Reed (Peter Blum Gallery, New York) I found it interesting that, in Peter Blum Gallery, David Reed’s paintings took over an entire wall and continued into the next room, through a door separating two spaces: the room designated for display (the exhibition area) and the one used for administration (the gallery office). Furthermore, each of the six paintings could be moved according to the visitor’s wishes and isolated on an adjacent wall, allowing close examination of a detail and then a reevaluation of the piece in its entirety—the geography of the paintings seemed infinite. Meanwhile, uptown at the Jewish Museum, Roberto Burle Marx’s work represented a parallel investigation of large-scale public space. I remained lost in thought for quite a while, overwhelmed by the idea of these two artists striving to link surface and time.

Sarah Michelson, tournamento, 2015. Dress rehearsal view, McGuire Theater, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, September 23, 2015. Anna Witenberg. Photo: Gene Pittman.


“Live Thru This: Kurt Cobain Haunted Heck” (237B North San Fernando Road, Los Angeles, October 2–4, 2015) It was only some time after I visited William Kaminski’s Kurt Cobain–inspired haunted house that I finally recognized the exhibition’s resonance with a vignette in Raymond Roussel’s novel Locus Solus, in which an elaborate tableau (vivant?) of the performing dead—under the influence of the chemical compounds “vitalium” and “resurrectine”—is forced to reenact the movements most frequently made during the bodies’ lifetimes. One of the reasons I found Kaminski’s show so moving and hauntingly familiar is that I’d experienced the same sense of uncanniness a few weeks after, when I saw the nightmarish animatronic productions in Sturtevant’s House of Horrors (2010) in the basement of the Musée d’Arte Moderne de la Ville de Paris. The true uncanniness of Kaminski’s show came not from its inhabitation of a tragic pop-culture mythos, but from its physical embodiment of the recorded self—the disembodied archive that continues as an accumulation of fragments, perpetually on repeat.

Ken Price, Rhodia, 1988, acrylic on fired ceramic, 10 3/4 × 10 1/4 × 15 1/4".