• View of “Mel Bochner: If the Colour Changes,” 2012. From left: Master of the Universe, 2010; Oh Well, 2010; Amazing!, 2011; No, 2009; Nonsense, 2009; Contempt, 2005; Obsolete, 2007; Event Horizon, 1998. Photo: Stephen White.

    Mel Bochner

    Whitechapel Gallery

    MEL BOCHNER, heir to Henri Matisse? This seemed to be the surprising thesis put forward by curator Achim Borchardt-Hume in the delightfully revisionist exhibition of more than four decades of the renowned Conceptualist’s work at the Whitechapel Gallery (remarkably, the artist’s first survey to be staged in the UK). Not only were Bochner’s appreciative nods to the master colorist of modernism highlighted in the accompanying catalogue, and Bochner’s paintings privileged over his earlier sculptures, drawings, photographs, and measurement pieces that make democratic use of the gallery space, but

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  • Paul Sietsema, Calendar Boat 1, 2012, ink on paper, 64 1/8 x 50 3/8".

    Paul Sietsema

    Drawing Room

    In “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” author David

    Foster Wallace narrates an excruciating, ill-fated voyage: a seven-night Caribbean cruise funded by his editors at Harper’s magazine. Over the course of this dense forty-nine-page essay, Wallace learns to differentiate between “rolling” and “pitching” at sea as he is overfed, tortured by incessant disco drumming, and generally exasperated. Many thousands of words too long for a glossy magazine article, excessively detailed, and structured in free-floating non sequiturs, this amazing text itself seems lost at sea: a novella-length

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  • View of “Bharti Kher,” 2012. Foreground: The skin speaks a language not its own, 2006. Background, from left: From the beginning to the end, 2012; Solarum Series I, 2007/2010.

    Bharti Kher

    Parasol unit

    Baubles, bangles, and bindis came out to play at New Delhiite Bharti Kher’s recent solo show. Waiting for visitors in the middle of the gallery was the work Kher has become more than a little famous for: The skin speaks a language not its own, 2006, a life-size white fiberglass elephant stretched out on the floor. Covered with velvety, sperm-shaped white bindis (the tiny dots that married Indian women wear on their foreheads as signs of fertility), it looked rather sad. Was the elephant asleep? Or dying? Its dramatic scale, and the ugly-beautiful delicacy of its “skin,” gave viewers pause—for

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  • Stefan Gec, Crossing Heaven, 2012, 3-D animation on 40" monitor.

    Stefan Gec


    Despite Duchamp’s declared intentions, it took only weeks (or maybe even days) for his “indifferent” Fountain, 1917, to acquire aesthetic value, expressive content, and metaphorical significance, thereby becoming what one might label dead avant-garde technology. Duchamp’s preoccupation with the redeployment of manufactured materials is echoed, nearly a century on, in Stefan Gec’s sculptural practice. But Gec’s readymades invoke technological aging and obsolescence to deliberate elegiac effect. This is true of the three works (all 2012) in Gec’s exhibition “Crossing Heaven”—a project that,

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