reviews

  • “Andy Warhol: Screen Tests”

    MoMA QNS - Museum of Modern Art

    For a time in the 1960s, anyone interesting who visited Warhol’s Factory would be invited to sit for a screen test: Starting in 1964, he made more than 500, of which, so far, 277 have been preserved. The Factory camera (not necessarily operated by Warhol) would record the subject on a single unedited one-hundred-foot 16 mm silent cartridge. The tests were shot at sound speed (twenty-four frames per second), but Warhol wanted them projected at silent speed (sixteen frames per second), so they take longer to see than they did to make: They retard time. (The viewing duration of each is four and a

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  • Kara Walker

    Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

    One does not “enjoy” a Kara Walker show, and this is odd because she is an enchantingly skillful artist. She slogs through a swamp of race, history, trauma, and desire, which is hard enough, then pirouettes along a tightrope between grotesque stereotype and idiosyncrasy, which is even trickier. To engage such material—to embarrass and even offend audiences and to ensnare the eager critic in contradiction and multiple meaning—adds up to an ambitious enterprise. But Walker has for almost a decade met the challenge with the unwavering ludic rage characteristic of great social satire.

    The work demands

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  • Isaac Julien

    Bohen Foundation

    Beginning in the Caribbean, in tropical color and light, Isaac Julien’s Paradise Omeros, 2002, soon moves to London, where it turns concrete gray. Kicking off from Derek Walcott’s book-length poem Omeros, itself inspired by Homer, Julien’s film might take as its slogan the name of Walcott’s stand-in for the Greek blind singer: Seven Seas, which are widespread over the world and nowhere at rest.

    Julien is a Londoner whose family comes from Saint Lucia, Walcott’s home. Embedded in Paradise Omeros is a history of migration and dislocation—the stuff of postcolonial studies, here immersed in a proudly

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  • Philippe Parreno

    Salon 94

    In December 2002, Philippe Parreno and Pierre Huyghe retired Annlee, the Japanese anime character they’d bought the rights to in 1999 and who’d embodied personalities, narratives, and ideas for them and a slew of other artists. Her final incarnation as a fireworks display—sad-eyed head-and-shoulders only—took place at an art fair, the perfect place for a commercially acquired icon to bid us adieu.

    But it’s hard to imagine such a useful tool (or “shell,” as Annlee was called, and gloomily called herself ) disappearing completely. And because repetition with alteration is a constant in Parreno’s

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  • Carlo Mollino

    Salon 94

    Carlo Mollino earned his place in the history of design long ago. Lately, however, his idiosyncratic interiors have been discussed less than his stash of nearly 1,500 erotic photographs found in a drawer after his death. Who knew this eccentric modern had a passion for hookers and Polaroids? In this exhibition, about twenty photos of dolled-up and carefully posed Turinese prostitutes taken by Mollino himself were encased in deeply recessed frames that suggested tiny windows onto the mind of a pervy romantic.

    Mollino (1905–73), the son of a prominent engineer, studied architecture, then engineering,

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  • Assume Vivid Astro Focus

    Deitch Projects

    It’s easy to imagine Assume Vivid Astro Focus (aka thirtysomething Eli Sudbrack) submitting the winning bid to design the bar at the local student union. But as an artist whose practice aims to represent, according to the breathless press release, a “record of everything that is a part of someone’s life and everything that’s added to that person’s life every day,” his output is somewhat less convincing. An overripe blend of psychedelia and glam, pop kitsch and kitsch pop, AVAF’s attempt at sensory overload is fun for the first five minutes and a drag thereafter.

    Under a name forged from two

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  • Timothy Hutchings

    I-20 Gallery

    It’s neither plaudit nor put-down but straightforward observation to say that this exhibition had the ability to leave even the most tolerant visitor with a pounding headache. Timothy Hutchings’s predilection for swirling pattern and distorted sound made “Arm in Arm in Arm in Arm,” his second solo outing here, a lot less amiable than its title might suggest. Just the memory of 4-Way Polka Riot (all works 2003) begins to summon, as Richard E. Grant’s Withnail would have it, a “bastard behind the eyes.”

    Hutchings’s assault on the senses began quietly with a suite of diminutive gouaches depicting,

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  • “Exhibitions of an Exhibition”

    Casey Kaplan

    When Swiss curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist began organizing exhibitions in the early ’90s, his clear point of reference was the ’60s and ’70s, in terms of both content and his own persona, which drew on Harald Szeemann’s transformation of the curator into an auteur. Whatever one thought of shows like Obrist’s “Do it”—which self-consciously revived Fluxus-era instruction-based projects—he never hid his historical debts. By contrast, Obrist’s less rigorous followers—and they are many—thrive on the knowledge that current curatorial practice is a voracious and permissive beast and allows for greatly

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  • Pam Lins

    Ten In One Gallery

    At first glance, Pam Lins’s plywood sculptures look like exercises in medium-scale art-school carpentry, but soon they click into familiarity, like fragments of a recurring dream, then slowly relax into intriguing, elusive, odd yet plain forms that appear simultaneously fragmented and perfectly self-contained. The main space of the artist’s recent show contained five wall-mounted works (all 2003), each comprising curved, boxy constructions, irregular flat shapes, and a representational element, in most cases a small painting on a scrap of paper or canvas. Worn Down Grass, a long, low console

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  • Carol Bove

    Team Gallery | Grand Street

    The 1960s—by which we usually mean the late ’60s and early ’70s—have been mythologized in a number of ways; exploited by conservatives, who have adopted the insurrectionary tactics originally developed by the Left; eulogized by the popular-music industry; and skewered by writers like Michel Houellebecq, whose novels explore the fallout of the sexual revolution. Artist Carol Bove was raised in Berkeley, California, the place bearing the most vivid date stamp from that era, and has said her interest in this period stems from a need to “think about” her family. Here, rather than assess the triumphs

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  • Meredith Danluck

    Andrew Kreps Gallery

    Two arty scientists served as inspirations for this exhibition. One, Robert Moog, designed electronic music synthesizers and uttered the words that served as an epigraph for the show: “Musical instruments provide the most efficient and refined interface between man and machine of anything we know.” The other, Buckminster Fuller, was a multidisciplinary inventor and practical philosopher best known for developing the light, strong, and cost-efficient geodesic dome.

    A formal geometry—fundamental to both the geodesic dome and the mathematically generated sound waves of the analog synthesizer—underlies

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  • Zaha Hadid

    Artists Space Exhibitions

    Architects who skirt the line between art and architecture generally insist on having things both ways: Artists (and art critics) are supposed to recognize them as architects and allow them certain liberties, while architects (and architectural critics) must do the same, on opposite grounds. The difference between a good architectural rendering and a bad watercolor often ends up a question of semantics. That said, Zaha Hadid is one contemporary architect whose graphic oeuvre deserves to be called an artistic achievement.

    Hadid’s graphic style is actually fairly straightforward, in the sense that

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  • Merlin Carpenter

    American Fine Arts

    Merlin Carpenter is known for his frequent and strategic stylistic shifts in response to new contexts and subject matter. His shows are often constructed around contradictory tendencies, elaborating discrepancies between what a painting appears to be and how it behaves in relation to the structures that legitimate its appearance. Although “Children of the Projects” resembled a tasteless, racist joke—which on the one hand it was—it also staged a funnier (and more serious) scenario in which painting was challenged to outwit its destiny to just hang there and look like something (e.g., a racist

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  • Michael Raedecker

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    Since he first attracted notice some five years ago, Michael Raedecker has rightfully been admired for his distinctive coupling of homespun materials and the “high” practice of painting. Often he has used thread and yarn to “sketch” the contours of the generic modern landscape—say, an empty driveway bordered with well-spaced, overly pruned trees—consistently revealing the formal qualities inherent, if rarely considered, in string (known, of course, to the Renaissance painters who regularly employed it for perspective studies). Layered onto a thick application of paint, Raedecker’s strands—thin

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