reviews

  • View of “Brion Gysin: Dream Machine,” 2010, New Museum, New York. From left: Untitled, 1973–79; That I Am I, 1961; untitled, 1973–79. Photo: Naho Kubota.

    Brion Gysin

    New Museum

    IN 1962, AT THE GALLERIA Trastevere di Topazia Alliata in Rome, Brion Gysin covered a wall with paintings and filled the space with manipulated, tape-recorded sound poetry. Neither paintings nor poetry could be contemplated serenely, however, for—in addition to permuting the canvases’ arrangement each day—Gysin bathed the room in the vision-inducing light effects of a Dreamachine, the rotating flicker device he created with Ian Sommerville in 1960 and patented in 1961. The goal, explained Gysin, was to produce “A Chapel of Extreme Experience.” Although the New Museum in New York chose

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  • Fiona Tan

    Peter Freeman, Inc.

    The link between Fiona Tan’s Provenance, 2008, and old-master painting is counterintuitive, for Tan is not a painter but a video artist. In this group of filmic portraits—looped video studies of barely moving figures—she also limits herself to black-and-white, so that her strongest reference is to the photographic tradition. And yet that link is quickly sensed. It’s evident partly in the gravity of Tan’s process, the unhurried slowness with which she looks at people, her camera standing still or incrementally panning or turning. It’s partly the quality of the light, here restrained and even,

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  • Nashashibi/Skaer

    Murray Guy

    A number of commentators on recent work by British collaborative duo Nashashibi/Skaer (Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer) use head-scratching as a place to start their ostensible analyses. “What do photos of Margaret Thatcher, a washed-up carcass, footage of an American passenger plane and a painting by Paul Nash have in common?” is the way, for instance, a review published last year in The Independent begins its discussion of Our Magnolia, 2009, a single-channel 16-mm film; the review follows this thread through, reiterating the work’s “obscure” and “incomprehensible” nature, yet (or perhaps

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  • Michael Goldberg

    Knoedler & Company

    The “Ninth Street Show,” held in 1951, marked the growing resistance of New York artists to their long indenture to French modernism, a servitude felt most acutely from the 1930s on. Virtually all the figures of the first and second generations of the Abstract Expressionist pantheon were present. The painting of the latter group manifested varying syntheses of and allegiances to Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Mark Rothko, to name the most pervasive influences. Among the most gifted of these younger artists—mostly ex-GIs in their twenties—was Michael Goldberg, a magnetic

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  • Babette Mangolte

    BROADWAY 1602 | Uptown

    In Calico Mingling, 1973, a film by Babette Mangolte featuring a four-person performance on New York’s Robert Moses Plaza at Fordham University (choreographed by Lucinda Childs), there are moments when the deep focus of the director’s lens renders the dancers’ movements entirely ambiguous. Facing the camera, the performers are clearly all in motion (each with one foot stepping ahead of or behind the other); yet which of them move forward in space and which backward remains strangely unclear. As when a lens contracts, pulling the ground into the same plane as any figures within it, so the

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  • Jakub Julian Ziolkowski

    Hauser & Wirth

    With the painting Timothy Galoty & the Dead Brains (all works 2010), Jakub Julian Ziolkowski has invented a surreally raucous, somewhat wild-eyed band of performing artists, apparently based on a fantasy heavy metal band. Galoty, an imaginative surrogate for Ziolkowski, is divided against himself, as his split head, featuring two faces in profile, suggests. One, more pugnacious visage has blubbery lips and a small face; the other, marked by tight lips and a larger face, is relatively handsome. Both have the same electrifying eyes—sort of lurid white jellyfish, each with streamers of tentacle-like

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  • Elias Hansen

    Maccarone

    Do you want in?; I used to come here all the time; I could talk to you all night. The titles of Elias Hansen’s sculptures, most of which combine colored glass vessels with a variety of battered found objects in arrangements that evoke an abandoned home laboratory, suggest lines from an intimate dialogue that is at once highly personal and entirely generic. “This is the last place I could hide,” Hansen’s recent New York solo debut, saw the Tacoma, Washington–based artist attempt to fuse a rough-and-ready aesthetic with a refined technical skill (he makes all the glassware himself) in the service

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  • Laurent Millet

    Robert Mann Gallery

    The title of Laurent Millet’s fourth solo exhibition at this gallery, “The Last Days of Immanuel Kant,” may have led some viewers to anticipate a po-faced Conceptual deconstruction of the Critique of Judgment, but the French artist’s photographs are surprisingly light and playful affairs, requiring little if any knowledge of eighteenth-century epistemology. In fact, the show’s moniker is borrowed from a novella by Thomas De Quincey that traces the tail end of the eminent philosopher’s life through the gradual waning of his once-acute senses. Millet’s shots of his own sculptural tableaux mirror

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  • Ben Gocker

    P.P.O.W

    There really is no single poem. These six words—taken from poet Jack Spicer—serve Ben Gocker well as the title and governing premise of his first solo show. As befits a Brooklyn librarian (with an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop), Gocker produces installations, drawings, and wall-mounted sculptures that are heavy on text. Following Spicer, Gocker willfully—and often playfully—circumvents autonomy; mutability, adjacency, and contingency suggest themselves instead, with works relating self-evidently to those around them. The tondo format of the plaster Untitled (color

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  • “The Curse of Bigness”

    Queens Museum

    Based on its title, “The Curse of Bigness”—an intriguing if inconclusive group show currently at the Queens Museum of Art—would seem to want to align itself with both politics and pedagogy: The phrase was coined in 1914 by Louis Brandeis, the social crusader and later supreme court justice, to instruct about the perils of the era’s overweening concentration of financial and industrial power in the hands of the few. Coming as it does out of a fairly particular historical context—glossed in an introductory note written by the show’s curator, Larissa Harris, and fleshed out at (great) length in a

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  • Rivane Neuenschwander

    New Museum

    An introductory catalogue text for “A Day Like Any Other,” a mid-career survey of work by Rivane Neuenschwander, makes the rather obvious point that the circle is one of the artist’s favored motifs. It does appear frequently: as a soap bubble, as bucket rims, as dots, as zeros, and as holes punched in film. Although there is something at once too hardworking and too easy about the circle—able as it is, in its emptiness and suggestiveness, to carry all manner of allusive weight—this exhibition sets up a neat formal and metaphysical call-and-response that lifts the shape from the realm of symbolic

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  • Mary Ellen Carroll

    Third Streaming

    Art for Mary Ellen Carroll emerges not from objects but from a diffuse constellation of ideas, something slowly developed through stream-of-consciousness thinking. Since 1988, she has been organizing her sprawling, heterogeneous output with index cards in a library card catalogue, with each piece classified according to headings that range from “disappearance” to “temporality,” from “place” to “pleasure.” A recently published monograph takes these very subjects as chapter headings; the part dedicated to “temporality,” for example, includes Late, 2005, a not well-known enough project for which

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  • Brion Nuda Rosch

    DCKT Contemporary

    A statement accompanying Brian Nuda Rosch’s first New York exhibition trumpets the fact that turquoise, for this San Francisco–based artist, is a “symbol of escape.” Yet the collages and sculptures in the exhibition left one with the sense that there must be irony, if not self-reflexivity, in this bromide. The works on view seemed intent on unraveling the semantics of the color—emphasizing that its meaning and presumed affect are propped up by all manner of cultural banalities. As the press release goes on to tell us, Pantone named turquoise its “Color of the Year 2010” with the claim: “Turquoise

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