reviews

  • Jane and Louise Wilson

    303 Gallery

    MTV meets the postmodern fragment—it’s a mode of practice that has become dominant in video installation. Multiple channels matched with wraparound sound, gorgeous image quality, and lots of hightech presentation hardware make for superlative theatricality that points toward the 4-D simulators and fully immersive environments poised to enhance gallery/museum/entertainment complexes in the very near future.

    In lieu of tomorrow’s total illusionism, current installation protocol among artists including Doug Aitken, Shirin Neshat, and others calls for heavily edited footage of exotic locales

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  • Pipilotti Rist

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    Pipilotti Rist’s new video installation, Herbstzeitlose, 2004, immersed the viewer in a multimedia bath of transcendent female power under the gaze of the Mother. Part earth goddess, part techno-banshee, Rist’s alter ego or animating idea inhabits a symbolic register in which sight, sound, and touch have never been split apart. Neither ironic nor sanctimonious, this presiding spirit assumes as the baseline of experience an enveloping, polymorphous, often lulling but sometimes scary physicality.

    Rist’s vehicle in this case was a multiscreen panorama filmed in the green Swiss hills around St.

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  • Chris Burden

    Zwirner & Wirth

    Of all the art clamoring for attention in New York this fall, the most incisively current was a thing of the past. Chris Burden’s early work has a purchase on the contemporary in ways that are both revealing and overdetermined, making unmistakably clear that the history we thought we had transcended is still the long present in which we are mired. Conceived against a backdrop of inept and insidious foreign policy in Vietnam and the ceaseless televisual spectacle its insurrections set in motion, Burden’s work finds an eerie analogue in the sectarian violence of our own era of equivocation bereft

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  • Atsuko Tanaka

    New York University Grey Art Gallery/Paula Cooper Gallery

    “Make it new” was the mandate of Gutaï, a pioneering collective in postwar Japan. The dictum was realized emphatically in many of the group’s performance works, such as Kazuo Shiraga’s Challenge to the Mud, 1955, in which the artist writhed in a pile of slop, creating a constantly shifting live informe sculpture that made Pollock’s rhythmic pouring and dripping seem positively genteel. In another radical act, Atsuko Tanaka donned a potentially dangerous costume of tangled cords and brightly painted incandescent bulbs that lit up with the flick of a switch. Like Shiraga’s mud encounter, Electric

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  • Shimon Attie

    Jack Shainman Gallery | West 20th Street

    Over a decade ago, Shimon Attie made a splash with several series of color photographs depicting buildings in Berlin (and, later, other German and European cities) onto which he projected archival black-and-white photographs of those same neighborhoods in an earlier era, restoring, in ghostly form, their once-active Jewish populations. Those works, made in cities then undergoing massive social change, seemed aimed at asserting the importance of remembering extinguished populations, while also demonstrating how cities and buildings—and by extension cultures—forget or ignore their pasts.

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  • Georg Baselitz

    Gagosian | 522 West 21st Street

    Half a dozen wooden figures, all painted and larger than life—and all rather ordinary looking. The Heideggerean issue seems to be how these sculptures transcend their Alltäglichkeit to acquire Eigenlichkeit, moving from the everyday state of mind to the awareness of death that opens the way to authenticity.

    Georg Baselitz’s figures embody the dialectical tension between these two conditions: It is evident in the difference between the male figure who holds a skull behind his back—the watch on his right wrist suggesting that time is running out—and the female figure who holds a

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  • Brian Calvin

    Anton Kern Gallery

    An unofficial poll conducted on the opening night of painter Brian Calvin’s New York solo debut found several visitors prefacing their responses with an identical qualifier: “I wanted to like it, but . . . ” This raises a couple of questions: Why were so many so eager to buy into the hype surrounding this laid-back Californian, and why were they so disappointed? An appreciation of Calvin’s work has always depended on a tolerance for what the gallery’s press release terms “bi-dimensionality”—a flatly undemonstrative mode in which very little “happens” and ambiguity of mood and meaning

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  • James Rielly

    Ramis Barquet

    Death Makes Living Fun; We See a Darkness; In the Darkness Let Me Dwell: To judge from British painter James Rielly’s self-consciously maudlin titles, the music of downbeat singer-songwriter Will Oldham, aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy, has been in heavy rotation on his stereo over the past year or so. But just as there is humor (albeit avowedly dark) and even an occasional glimmer of optimism to be found in Oldham’s lyrics, so Rielly’s canvases are not all doom and gloom. In fact, an overdependence on the sight gag ultimately proves to be their undoing, overshadowing the graver aspects of the painter’s

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  • Matt Mullican

    Tracy Williams, Ltd.

    Most artists would argue that their work is on some level about consciousness, but few could make the claim as literally as Matt Mullican. Over the past thirty years, Mullican has intermittently created “trance” performances in which he undergoes hypnosis, either self-induced or prompted by a hypnotist. For the next hour or so he experiences (or, depending on your faith in the process, acts out) a range of tasks, emotions, and impulses: pacing, talking to himself, painting, singing, regressing to childish behavior, and occasionally becoming enraged. One particularly notorious incident occurred

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  • Robin Rhode

    New Museum of Contemporary Art/Perry Rubenstein Gallery/Museum for African Art

    Robin Rhode, a young South African artist who seemed to be everywhere in New York last month, has such a light touch that fears of overexposure may be safely set aside. His performances, which have the makebelieve quality of mime, are so quickly executed as to be over almost before they begin, leaving only mental afterimages of fleeting gestures. A few chalk and charcoal drawings made on the run extend the life of these now-you-see-’em-now-you-don’t actions. Yet sensations linger. When he drew a life-size image of a car on a large, white cardboard box in the center of the main gallery at the

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  • Hernan Bas

    Daniel Reich Gallery

    Sometimes sadomasochistically charged, but more often suggesting the listless longeurs of love gone bad or unrequited lust, Hernan Bas’s new paintings continue to map a fantastical narrative territory populated exclusively by wan, usually male adolescents. Working on wood panels with a mixture of water-based oil, gouache, and acrylic—sometimes adulterated with glitter and tiny stones—Bas depicts a couple in a graveyard preparing to carry out a suicide pact (The Lovers of Lyons) (all works 2004); what might be the aftermath of a double murder (The Kept Boy); and a bunker or mine filled

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  • Marc Handelman

    Jane Lombard Gallery

    In “Warm White Blizzard,” his first New York solo show, Marc Handelman issued a direct challenge to Thomas Kinkade for the official title “Painter of Light.” According to his website, Kinkade is “America’s most collected living artist,” sold in malls all over the country and present in one out of every twenty American homes—which is to say that his works represent, for many Americans, an idea of how the perfect landscape painting should look. For Handleman, Kinkade is the bastard grandchild of nineteenth- century American landscape painters like Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, and Asher

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  • Walead Beshty

    Tracy Williams, Ltd.

    Most artists would argue that their work is on some level about consciousness, but few could make the claim as literally as Matt Mullican. Over the past thirty years, Mullican has intermittently created “trance” performances in which he undergoes hypnosis, either self-induced or prompted by a hypnotist. For the next hour or so he experiences (or, depending on your faith in the process, acts out) a range of tasks, emotions, and impulses: pacing, talking to himself, painting, singing, regressing to childish behavior, and occasionally becoming enraged. One particularly notorious incident occurred

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  • Alessandra Sanguinetti

    Yossi Milo Gallery

    Photographs of children tend to evoke a knee-jerk wistfulness. As evidence of a moment that has always already passed, a photograph is perfectly suited to capture the fleeting presence of a child, in the process transforming the unsuspecting subject into a bittersweet symbol of soon-to-be-lost innocence. Thankfully, however, the visitor to Alessandra Sanguinetti’s recent US solo debut will find this phenomenon overshadowed by more nuanced considerations.

    Selections from Sanguinetti’s five-year project of documenting the adventures of two young Argentinian cousins, these photographs attest to

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