• “Biennial 2000”

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    If it’s not one thing, it’s another. The reviews are in: This is the “boring” Biennial. Critics ranging from Michael Kimmelman (the New York Times) to Jerry Saltz (the Village Voice) were lulled into a fitful sleep by the Whitney’s millennial Biennial. Why were such normally tireless lookers unable to keep their eyes open?

    The obvious points are the absence of a theme and a unified curatorial attitude. In addition to their much-remarked geographical distribution, the six curators are individually known for different strengths: formalist sensitivity (Michael Auping); installation art (Hugh Davies);

    Read more
  • “Greater New York”

    P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

    “Greater New York” sprawls. With two museums, thirty curators, one hundred and forty-nine artists, and neither catalogue nor stated mission, the show obviates usual questions of cohesion and taste. P.S.1 director Alanna Heiss dodges the bullet in the press release: Referring to the show as a “laboratory,” she offers, somewhat vaguely, “The artists reveal what it is to be a New Yorker at the beginning of a new era.” Capturing the contemporary is a paradoxical task complicated here by the fact that P.S.1 is now an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art (which, as anyone who has visited Fifty-third

    Read more
  • Michael Ashkin

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    Michael Ashkin has always been attracted to wastelands. Since the early ’90s, he has evinced his unmistakable affection for dystopias in his signature works—tabletop models of stagnant waterways and desolate strips of interstate. This show was a departure into photography and video. The abject subject matter remained consistent, but the models’ dollhouse quirkiness has evolved into poetic or philosophical gravity, with mixed results. Both works exhibited here invoke the idea of the garden as an intentional landscape, a place of contemplation where the viewer can be engulfed by the sublime. Given

    Read more
  • Hamish Fulton


    Emerson wrote, “The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.” Indeed, after thirty years of trekking, Hamish Fulton has not tired of either his signature ritual of walking or the horizons that this practice yields. Nor has the perambulating Conceptualist strayed from his artistic roots, continuing to annotate his activity through text and photograph, as firmly as ever testing the limits of both to convey, as he puts it, “the experience of the walk.”

    Fulton’s most recent show, “Walking is the Constant, the Art Medium is the Variable,”

    Read more
  • Sam Taylor-Wood

    Matthew Marks Gallery

    Sam Taylor-Wood’s installation Third Party, 1999, surrounds visitors with action and din: Seven DVD projections (transferred from 16 mm film) play on the four walls of a darkened room, each image showing a separate fragment of a noisy party. You hear that noise on the sound track—the percolating buzz of a crowd, with drinks flowing, talk popping, and dance music jerking you around, all bass and beat. As if at a real party, you have to decide where to spend your capital of attention. The largest image is a likely first choice: It shows the singer Marianne Faithfull, always magnetic to the eye.

    Read more
  • Simon Frost/Bura Sculpture

    Peter Blum Gallery

    It seems perhaps an odd coupling at first: a grand display of third- to tenth-century terra-cotta funerary sculptures from the West African burial ground Bura-Asinda-Sikka; and Simon Frost’s eloquently delicate drawings, most in graphite, others in gouache, ink, and watercolor, all from the ’90s. Many of the hollow sculptures are conspicuously phallic, while others are potlike urns. Some are tall and topped with small heads, which gives them the peculiar look of late Giacomettis. The receptacles were found buried with their openings facing down, ostensibly filled with the deceased’s possessions,

    Read more
  • Robert Jessup

    Joseph Rickards Gallery

    Robert Jessup creates bizarrely torqued grown-up fables that unite the everyday and the strange. With their thick, icing-like paint and candy-inspired palette, his canvases are both seductive and slightly off-putting. The symbolism of any indi-vidual element is refracted by the other associations he sets up, so that every scene inspires a host of dynamic readings mildly at odds with the others. Like the cartoon reality in which straightening a crooked picture only makes the room itself tilt, Jessup’s world is that of domestic space gone weird.

    This exhibition of six paintings was dominated by a

    Read more
  • Kristin Oppenheim

    303 Gallery

    Kristin Oppenheim’s confident, Conceptualist sound installations combine an extreme austerity of means and materials with recorded loops of her own wan, hypnotic voice. Minimalism has clearly left its mark on the artist, as, perhaps, has John Giorno’s recorded poetry. In Oppenheim’s most recent piece, The Eyes I Remember, 1999–2000, viewers zigzagged through a maze of white, scrim-covered walls while her voice, sibilant and incantatory as if heard within the mind, issued from unseen speakers. It was difficult to make out exactly what was being said, but as I passed through the labyrinth it

    Read more
  • Thomas Nozkowski

    Max Protetch

    In a 1998 interview, the novelist and critic Francine Prose told Thomas Nozkowski that she’d never been able to comprehend a single word that had been written about his work. Prose is nobody’s fool, and I have to admit that the words that follow may be no more coherent than anyone else’s. But it’s not my fault! Art is often said to put language to the test, and rarely is that quite as true as in the case of Nozkowski’s paintings. Their structures are so finely articulated, their organization so fluent, that they give the strong impression of being underpinned by a most precise yet somehow

    Read more
  • Ellen Phelan

    Senior & Shopmaker Gallery

    In the early ’80s, Ellen Phelan was known for large paintings that played on a tension between abstract markmaking and the representation of landscape, in which rectangular cuts through the surface opened up to the wall behind. Later Phelan began showing smaller, rather eerie portraits of dolls—real ones from her own collection, apparently. At the time these works seemed an odd sidetrack from the more expansive and physically straightforward landscape abstractions. In retrospect these more personal works turn out to have been the more forward-looking, anticipating something of the blatant

    Read more
  • Jason Dodge

    Casey Kaplan

    Having been the focus of sustained critical analysis and artistic practice for decades, “the real” has at last become nothing more than an engine to generate special effects and narrative follies. Maybe it’s natural that after an avalanche of art predicated on personal expression, with “authentic” voices intoning the contents of their souls and soliciting us to care about this or that woeful injustice, we would gravitate to pure fantasy and made-up misadventures.

    In Jason Dodge’s second one-person exhibition in New York, the artist’s concern with what’s real and what’s not reveals itself as an

    Read more
  • Haluk Akakçe

    Henry Urbach Architecture

    With its matte colors, hard-edged, graphic forms, and elements of avant-garde fashion and wall painting, all in favor lately, Haluk Akakçe’s recent show seemed at first to exude a certain trendiness. But thankfully “Coming soon,” the Turkish-born artist’s solo debut in the US, was not the art world’s answer to pony skin or pashmina.

    The exhibition comprised twelve framed works on paper and a large mural that spread out over three walls of the small, unassuming gallery. The latter, Drained from the corner of your eye (all works 2000), showcased the deceptively simple liberties of line drawing—summoning

    Read more
  • “Translation/Seduction/Displacement”


    This exhibition of work by contemporary South African artists derived its title from some of the implications of the word “translation” in several of that nation’s languages: translation as libidinal, spiritual, or cartographic displacement and as an act of seduction, enticing, or leading something or someone astray. Gesturing toward the slippages and the communicative potentialities of language, curators Lauri Firstenberg and John Peffer clearly wanted to avoid mounting a regional survey show (“South Africa Now” or “Young South Africans”) that would claim to be definitive or exoticize practices

    Read more
  • Leroy Person

    Luise Ross Gallery

    The work of self-taught artist Leroy Person (1907–85) has largely escaped the pull of the burgeoning folk/outsider market during the last two decades. Person’s minor-key sensibility may set him apart from the heavy-handed expressionism favored by institutions in that field, but his furniture constructions, carved sculpture, and crayon drawings occupy a powerful position within the margin even as they fruitfully challenge its borders. Comprising thirty-three works, Person’s recent solo debut provided a modest yet effective retrospective.

    Person’s intensely private, spiritual vision defies easy

    Read more
  • the Whitney Biennial film/video program

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    By and large, the Whitney Biennial’s cinematic program, a Whitman’s Sampler of film and video work, represents all that is or has been fashionable within the last three years; quality runs a distant second. The curators have gathered up an impressive bouquet of almost-clichés from the fertile no-man’s-land between the art world, the commercial fringe of Indiedom, and the avant-garde: the enshrinement of the outsider (Harmony Korine, Gummo, 1998; Errol Morris, Fast, Cheap & Out of Control, 1997; Yvonne Welbon, Living with Pride, 1999), the inherent abnormality of the supposedly normal (Rolf

    Read more