• The Flooding of Ba Don, 2003.

    The Flooding of Ba Don, 2003.

    Yun-Fei Ji

    175 North 9th St.
    April 1–April 30, 2004

    Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
    3750 Washington Blvd.
    January 23–March 27, 2004

    Rose Art Museum
    415 South Street Brandeis University
    September 1–November 30, 2004

    Curated by Shannon Fitzgerald and Paul Ha

    Fame has come upon Yun-Fei Ji with the subtly breakneck speed of a thunderstorm: A solo show at Brooklyn’s Pierogi gallery in 2001 led to inclusion in the 2002 Whitney Biennial, and now the Contemporary presents six large-scale paintings in his first one-man museum exhibition. Amid misty crags appropriated from classical Chinese landscape, “The Empty City” unfolds a dystopic visual ballad of a community abandoned; only scavengers are left among the ghosts of local dead and vanished refugees. Catalogue contributions include essays by critics Gregory Volk and Tan Lin, as well as an interview with the artist by Asia Society curator Melissa Chiu.

  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia,
Untitled, 2000.

    Philip-Lorca diCorcia,
    Untitled, 2000.

    Fashioning Fiction in Photography Since 1990

    MoMA QNS - Museum of Modern Art
    4520 33rd Street
    April 16–June 28, 2004

    Curated by Susan Kismaric and Eva Respini

    Although MoMA has included its collection of fashion work by Steichen, Beaton, Penn, and Avedon in various themed shows, “Fashioning Fiction” is its first exhibition devoted to fashion photography. As such, it makes no attempt to recapitulate the genre’s history, focusing instead on recent, often self-consciously cinematic developments. MoMA’s curators have selected nearly one hundred photographs by a dozen “crossover” artists like Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Tina Barney, Steven Meisel, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, and Larry Sultan to examine the disintegrating line between art and commerce over the past decade. Even if this lineup just scratches the surface, MoMA recognizes that the fashion avant-garde has been crucial to the advancement of staged narrative photography.

  • Nadine Robinson
Big Baby Blue, 2002.

    Nadine Robinson
    Big Baby Blue, 2002.

    Open House: Working in Brooklyn

    Brooklyn Museum
    200 Eastern Parkway
    April 16–August 15, 2004

    Curated by Charlotta Kotik and Tumelo Mosaka

    Pop-cultural tastemakers may pride Williamsburg as contemporary Brooklyn’s heart and soul, but there’s more to New York’s most populous borough than trucker hats and electroclash. From Greenpoint to Red Hook, Fort Greene to DUMBO, there’s a lot going on. Touted as the first substantial overview of Brooklyn’s sprawling art scene, “Open House” details both its historical significance and current vitality. This show comprises more than 250 pieces by over 180 artists and positions work by longtime residents such as Vito Acconci and Martha Rosler alongside that of an emergent generation including Yun-Fei Ji, Nina Katchadourian, and Emily Jacir. The BMA curators’ vision is an expansive one, and this is a useful and timely guide.

  • Belcher Slaughter, Penthouse, 2003.

    Belcher Slaughter, Penthouse, 2003.

    HarlemWorld: Metropolis as Metaphor

    The Studio Museum in Harlem
    West 125th Street
    January 28–April 4, 2004

    Curated by Thelma Golden

    Thelma Golden continues to reinvent the themed group show as a curatorial statement, further establishing the Studio Museum as the paradigm for the small, tightly focused exhibition space that acts locally and thinks globally. Here, she examines the quintessentially twentieth-century city neighborhood—cradle of jazz and street preachers, riots and regentrification—as a field for twenty-first-century urbanist and architectural thinking. Inviting seventeen prominent black architects to present proposals for various Harlem sites, Golden offers a multimedia meditation on public space. Photographs by such Harlem chroniclers as Alice Attie and James VanDerZee are also featured; the catalogue includes essays by Golden, Greg Tate, Mabel O. Wilson, and others.

  • Gustav Klutsis,
Building Socialism Under the Banner of Lenin, 1930.

    Gustav Klutsis,
    Building Socialism Under the Banner of Lenin, 1930.

    Gustav Klutsis and Valentina Kulagina

    International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)
    79 Essex
    March 12–May 30, 2004

    Curated by Margarita Tupitsyn

    It doesn’t matter who did it first—Dadaists or Soviets—but why it was made. Photomontage, for Gustav Klutsis, was indivisible from communist ideology. Content preceded form in importance, and it was this, he claimed, that differentiated Dada photomonteur from Soviet. He and his wife, Valentina Kulagina (both were involved with vkhutemas), created a vast number of agitational objects; roughly 150 posters, photomontages, books, photographs, and preparatory designs from the 1920s and ’30s feature here. In addition to an extensive essay by the curator, the catalogue includes the artists’ letters and diaries and the first English translation of Klutsis’s key manifesto. The Soviets may or may not have done it first, but Klutsis did it best.

  • Manson Copies Divine's Hairdo, 1993.

    Manson Copies Divine's Hairdo, 1993.

    John Waters

    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    February 7–May 2, 2004

    Curated by Lisa Phillips and Marvin Heiferman

    “Change of life”? Surely it’s not a question of menopause for filmmaker and, since the early ’90s, artist John Waters, but the louche suggestion of this exhibition’s subtitle perfectly suits the sensibility of the director of Female Trouble and Desperate Living. Juxtaposition remains at the core of his oeuvre, as in Edith Tells Off Katherine Hepburn, Lana Backwards, or Movie Star Jesus. Certain works go further in their investigation of inescapable ickiness, e.g., Twelve Assholes and a Dirty Foot. The show includes seventy-six photographs and five sculptures from the past decade as well as three ’60s short films and assorted ephemera. Shock, titillation, camp, trash, prurience—convulsive beauty?

  • Peter Peryer, Dead Steer, 1987.

    Peter Peryer, Dead Steer, 1987.

    Paradise Now? Contemporary Art from the Pacific

    Asia Society | New York
    725 Park Avenue
    February 18–May 9, 2004

    Curated by Melissa Chiu

    The punctuation in this show’s title offers a clue to its intention. This first-ever US survey of contemporary work from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands aims to provide a counternarrative to perceptions of these places, too many of which still resemble Gauguin’s edenic Tahitian delusions. The forty-five works on view describe a cosmopolitan and complex region by addressing such issues as youth hip-hop subcultures, interisland diaspora, and the confrontation of indigenous traditions with Western influence. Featuring painting, sculpture, photography, video, and performance by fifteen artists, including Mohini Chandra, Michael Parekowhai, and Peter Peryer, “Paradise Now?” proffers a variety of answers to its own question.