reviews

  • Demetrius Oliver, Till, 2003/2005, digital color photograph, 27 1/4 x 36 1/4".

    “Frequency”

    The Studio Museum in Harlem

    MOST PEOPLE will view “Frequency,” a survey of thirty-five emerging black artists, as a direct successor to the Studio Museum’s landmark 2001 group show, “Freestyle.” After all, there are numerous echoes between the two—the presiding curatorial team of Thelma Golden and Christine Y. Kim, the formats of the exhibition and its catalogue, the linguistic interplay of the titles. Golden and Kim themselves spend much of their introductory dialogue in the “Frequency” catalogue reading their current show through the previous one, particularly vis-à-vis the notion of a “post-black” artistic sensibility,

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  • Tom Friedman

    Feature Inc.

    Though no doubt initially conceived primarily as a practical measure, the decision to make Tom Friedman’s recent exhibition accessible “by appointment only” also had a certain conceptual logic. The extreme fragility of Friedman’s work clearly demands some form of crowd control. The scrupulous agglomerations of paper, cardboard, Styrofoam, string, wire, and other assorted craft materials that made up this new suite of works operate, as usual, at the very limits of technical feasibility, seeming always just one inadvertently swung backpack away from annihilation. At its most successful, Friedman’s

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  • Shirin Neshat

    Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

    Shirin Neshat’s transition from photographer to filmmaker is grounded in an ongoing examination of the everyday lives of Islamic women that is shadowed by her own exile from her Iranian homeland and her subsequent displacement to Morocco, where she has tapped into the energy of a fledgling women’s movement. When we watch Neshat’s films—which are paradoxically both short and epic—we are thus seeing something both personal and political.

    How many locations, scenes, and events in Neshat’s work inform us about the actual texture of day-to-day life of women in the Middle East, whether from the

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  • Mary Kelly

    Postmasters

    A diverse group of people—mostly, but not all, women—link arms in sodality to form a human barricade. They are clad in the sort of androgynous late-’60s and early-’70s accoutrements that now boast a certain second-generation vogue. Low-slung belted pants and peasant tunics abound, though there’s not a skirt in sight. The proceedings have a discernible gravity: One woman’s mouth is open in a yell while her associates stand by stoically. A sign held by another of the participants sets the scene: UNITE FOR WOMAN'S EMANCIPATION, its hand-lettered words read, accompanied by three vehement slashes of

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  • Sergej Jensen

    Anton Kern Gallery

    Berlin-based artist Sergej Jensen’s works will disappoint viewers looking for visual bombast, but by avoiding heroic painterly gestures (and frequently even forsaking the use of paint) Jensen has nevertheless become one of the most interesting painters working today. His works are mostly medium-size panels of unprimed stretched canvas, linen, or wool, daubed with chlorine, bleach, and dye and/or adorned with bits of fabric. Jensen’s compositions would seem unresolved or even incomplete were it not for their intuitive elegance: That he often minimizes the physical work necessary to produce his

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  • Stephen Shore

    P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

    In 1972, aged twenty-four, Stephen Shore got into his car with a 35 mm Rollei camera and began a nearly two-year drive around the country taking pictures of an American culture at an impasse between abundance and ugliness. Back in New York, he had the film processed by a Kodak camera shop and showed the resulting color shots taped to the wall. They were apparently not much appreciated. Reprinted as slightly more precious five-by-seven-and-one-half-inch C-prints, uniformly matted and framed in white, 243 of these images were shown recently at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center. Collectively titled

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  • Ryan McGinness

    Danziger Projects / Deitch Projects

    The marginalia inscribed by Albrecht Dürer in the Prayer Book he illustrated for the Emperor Maximilian, which are full of witty grotesquerie and tendril-like, hyperexpressive arabesques, constitute perhaps the last grand statements of the genre. Ryan McGinness, as evidenced by recent concurrent shows at Danziger Projects and Deitch Projects, revives the practice by making typographical flourishes and stylized shapes of the kind traditionally confined to the edges of a page into his work’s central feature. In so doing, he suggests that there is no difference in either aesthetic value or emotional

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  • Stephen Bush

    Goff + Rosenthal

    Imagine a monastic hut from a Sung dynasty scroll transplanted onto a slab of molten lime bubble gum with a pea soup base, a riotous aurora borealis behind, and a magenta abyss in front. What was quiet and meditative becomes shrieking and ominous, the sublime depiction of majestic topography twisted into garish chemical goo. In the blackness beyond the hut’s open doorway might lurk a psychopath, a monster, a vengeful ghost—or only the darkest projections of one’s own unconscious.

    Stephen Bush’s new landscape paintings are a luridly unorthodox contribution to the genre, but they nonetheless share

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  • Tam Van Tran

    Cohan and Leslie

    Vanitas images are rarely subtle—it’s hard to ignore the implacable presence of a human skull or a solemn timepiece, or to disavow the implications of a decomposing piece of fruit—but neither are they merely symbolic. Efficient vehicles for the display of technical mastery, paintings like Chardin’s Soap Bubble, ca. 1734, or Manet’s Boy Blowing Bubbles, 1867, also use that illusionism to facilitate aphoristic moralizing. Still, soap bubbles on the verge of rupture can only mean one thing.

    Tam Van Tran’s third show at Cohan and Leslie betrayed a connection, albeit an oblique one, to such historical

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  • Richard Dupont

    Tracy Williams, Ltd.

    Richard Dupont makes sculptures of bodies and images of bodies, but for all the precise corporeal detail they reproduce, they’re still not tremendously physical. Most of the bald, naked, perfectly flesh pink cast-resin sculptures and pared-down ink and collage works in this show represent Dupont’s own form and were created from a nearly complete laser scan of his body made at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base. (The military, for whatever reason, wouldn’t scan him naked, so Dupont made plaster casts of his genitals and scanned them separately.) The result, a virtual model of his own body, is

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  • Ann Lislegaard

    Murray Guy

    “The miracle of order has run out,” a woman says in mellifluous tones, “and I am left in an unmiraculous place where anything may happen.” The sentence occurs in the voice-over of Ann Lislegaard’s computer animation Bellona (after Samuel R. Delany), 2005. The eleven-minute loop depicts a series of interiors that seem to fulfill Italian designer Joe Colombo’s 1960s vision of a domestic future in which “furnishings will disappear; the habitat will be everywhere.” The rooms are almost entirely empty, save for a few doors that lean against the walls and some hanging globe lamps that give this strange

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  • Chris Ware

    Adam Baumgold Gallery

    “Ruin Your Life. Draw Cartoons! And Doom Yourself To Decades of Grinding Isolation, Solipsism, and Utter Social Disregard.” This uninviting come-on heads a recent issue of Chris Ware’s comic book series “The Acme Novelty Library,” 1993–. Such self-deprecation is a mainstay of Ware’s oeuvre, and reminds us that cartoonists have until recently occupied a position previously associated with avant-garde artists of other genres: He (the cartoonist is, like painters in the age of Picasso and Matisse, rarely a “she”) has traditionally been a marginalized, misunderstood provocateur.

    But while it’s true

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