• Tara Donovan

    ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

    “IN THE MID-1990S, Tara Donovan was experimenting in her studio when serendipity struck. She knocked over a big box of toothpicks, picked it up, and then noticed that the spilled contents had latticed into a shape that echoed the perfect corner of their container.” Jen Mergel and Nicholas Baume, the curators of Donovan’s ICA exhibition, begin their catalogue essay with this time-honored trope: the studio anecdote as out-and-out epiphany. As the story goes, after this minor mishap the artist sourced some five hundred thousand toothpicks, which she succeeded in assembling into a large, freestanding

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  • Lalla Essaydi

    Miller Yezerski Gallery

    Moroccan-born, New York–based photographer Lalla Essaydi lures the viewer into her third solo show at Howard Yezerski Gallery (the inaugural exhibition in its new space) with a pair of stunning large-scale pictures hung in the front window. Each depicts an Arab woman covered in calligraphy and posed to imitate a famous nineteenth-century Orientalist painting. Fumée d’Ambre Gris (The Smoke of Amber-gris), 2008, which features a young woman lifting her white veil to draw in the titular aphrodisiac, is based on Sargent’s 1880 painting of the same name. The Grande Odalisque, 2008, in parodying

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  • Adel Abdessemed

    MIT List Visual Arts Center

    Although he employs various media—videos, photographs, and sculptural installations—Adel Abdessemed insistently refers to all his works as “acts.” The term, in its brute directness, raises the question of how exactly Abdessemed’s art operates within the sociopolitical arena and what criteria should be used to evaluate it. For MIT’s recent exhibition, curator Jane Farver presented works made by the artist between 1994 and 2008 as one installation, emphasizing their cumulative force perhaps to obscure the paucity of their formal means. The surge of interpenetrating sounds, images, and sensations

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