reviews

  • Lorna Simpson

    The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA)

    In the conclusion of his catalogue essay for Lorna Simpson’s recent survey at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Okwui Enwezor writes: “A portrait of a black person hanging in a museum is usually disturbing to viewers.” A strange claim. It’s not just Enwezor’s haunted syntax (is it a portrait of a black person, a portrait of a black person hanged, or the conflation of both that disturbs?) that’s problematic, it’s that—in an era when homage is paid to Jean-Michel Basquiat in the form of a limited-edition Reebok sneaker (the “Reebopper”)—his assertion seems a sweeping generalization at best.

    Enwezor’s

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  • Anthony Hernandez

    Christopher Grimes Gallery

    MAKE ME A LATE BREAKFAST: A T-shirt emblazoned with this decadent demand appears near the top of Anthony Hernandez’s photograph Beverly Hills #34, 1984, behind a wild-maned Raquel Welch wannabe posing in a gray, asymmetrical jersey dress. In a complex act of doubling—of herself and of the stillness of the photographic image—the woman also wants to be a mannequin: She is not posing specifically for the photograph, but was apparently frozen in this stance in order to sell clothes off the rack to tourists in Beverly Hills.

    Known in recent years for his meticulously composed images of evacuated

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  • Dan Colen

    Peres Projects

    Dan Colen’s Secrets and Cymbals, Smoke and Scissors (My Friend Dash’s Wall in the Future), 2004–2006, is a life-size sculpture of a wall from a twentysomething’s garage or studio. Based on a scene also pictured in a photograph by “Dash” (the artist Dash Snow) himself, the sculpture re-creates a visually chaotic surface plastered with posters and photographs, magazine covers and pornographic images, knives and rubber gloves. Colen has crafted all of these things, and many more, from Styrofoam, paint, paper, and metal, even reproducing the wall’s infrastructure. But while many other contemporary

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  • Daniel Joseph Martinez

    LAXART

    In new nonprofit gallery LAXART’s inaugural show, Daniel Joseph Martinez revisited the straightforward presentation of text and image that defined his early practice, one which often addressed the subject of polarization but was itself polarizing. The artist’s I CAN’T IMAGINE EVER WANTING TO BE WHITE badges, distributed to visitors at the 1993 Whitney Biennial, remain iconic of late-’80s/early-’90s work around the politics of racial identity. Yet while this selection of new works was characterized by a high-contrast mix of black and white, the result felt oddly indeterminate.

    Words were everywhere

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