reviews

  • Ragnar Kjartansson, The Visitors, 2012, nine-channel HD video projection, color, sound, 64 minutes.

    Ragnar Kjartansson

    Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

    As it has threaded itself into the fabric of contemporary practice and discourse over the past decade and a half, the notion of “relational aesthetics” has come, fairly or not, to be almost exclusively associated with efforts to reimagine the sociospatial contexts of spectatorship, often taking the form of situations staged to conduce interactions that become literally constitutive of the works themselves—the gallery repurposed as dining table, as laboratory, as factory, as seminar room, as town hall. In truth, this is probably due as much to the way Nicolas Bourriaud’s original conception

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  • Trevor Paglen, Singleton/SBW ASS-R1 and Three Unidentified Spacecraft (Space Based Wide Area Surveillance System; USA 32), 2012, C-print, 60 x 48".

    Trevor Paglen

    Metro Pictures

    THE END OF SPACE AGE: So proclaims the cover of a recent issue of The Economist, which Trevor Paglen has photographed and blown up to movie-poster size. If ever there was a moment to reassess the utopian drive to exceed the envelope of Earth, now is that time, for, as Paglen’s exhibition suggests, the era of space exploration as a humanistic program of knowledge acquisition, interspecies communication, and possible intergalactic colonization—in short, the epoch of cosmic optimism—has receded. Instead, embers of dystopian millenarianism, already present during the Cold War period, are

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  • Alighiero Boetti, OGGI VENTICINQUESIMO GIORNO OTTAVO MESE DELL ANNO MILLE NOVE 100 OTTANTOTTO ALL AMATO PANTHEON INCONTRI E SCONTRI (Today Twenty-Fifth Day Eighth Month of the Year One Thousand Nine Hundred Eighty-Eight at the Beloved Pantheon Encounters and Clashes), 1988, embroidery on fabric, 40 1/2 x 43 1/2".

    Alighiero Boetti

    Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

    In Mi fuma il cervello (Autoritratto) (My Mind is Burning [Self-Portrait]), 1993, a work made the year before his death, Alighiero Boetti, portrays himself in bronze as a lean fellow holding a garden hose aloft. Steam rises as water hits the heated sculpture’s head, a clue, perhaps, to the artist’s prodigious sense of invention. In becoming a dual personage—a conceit dramatizing the narcissism implicit to artmaking—Boetti styled himself “Alighiero e Boetti,” the e a particule signifying high birth (in his case, the aristocracy of his mind). This embellished name, however, was not used

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  • View of “Nancy Dwyer,” 2013. Foreground: The ME Block, 1988. Background: BIG EGO II, 2010.

    Nancy Dwyer

    Fisher Landau Center for Art

    Which of these things is not like the other: history painting, portraiture, landscape, still life, words? Even as late as 1970, one still assumed that “studio majors” would find “words” misplaced on a list of the academic genres—even if, by then, it was also as likely that the academic genres themselves would no longer be recognized as such, so complete was the rout of academicism by that date.

    This was all felt rather keenly during the era when an art of “word as image” began to take hold. Nancy Dwyer added the skills of the commercial sign maker to this theoretical mix; by the mid-1980s,

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  • Joan Snyder, Untitled, 1970, crayon, watercolor, and graphite on paper, 11 x 20".

    Joan Snyder

    Sandra Gering Inc

    An artist’s work can change a lot over the course of his or her career, but the best artists always remain themselves. I hadn’t realized just how much this is true of Joan Snyder until I saw this selection of thirty-three works, “Symphony: Early Works on Paper, Recent Paintings.” The continuity between past and present is most evident when one compares Snyder’s new paintings to her early drawings—much more so than when the comparison is made with her early paintings. That’s not to say her early paintings are irrelevant to her present concerns, but there is a difference. As the very title

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  • Amy Cutler, Berta, 2011, gouache on paper, 13 x 10 3/4". From the series “Brood,” 2011.

    Amy Cutler

    Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects

    A few years back at this gallery, Amy Cutler showed a piece called Alterations, 2007, which departed obviously from the approach for which she was known in that it was an installation, a room-size sculpture. Cutler had made her name with fine-boned works on paper, many of them modest in size, in an illustrational style that for me recalled the best children’s books in its blend of representational carefulness and sometimes knife-sharp fantasy; now she spread out expansively to construct an elaborate spatial enigma, blending Americana with myth. But Alterations followed the earlier work in the

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  • Osvaldo Romberg, 1-437 All the Colors of the Chromatic Circle Interacted by Blue Ultramarine, 1980, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 78 x 70".

    Osvaldo Romberg

    Henrique Faria Fine Art

    Osvaldo Romberg dedicated this exhibition to Josef Albers and Raúl Lozza, the latter of whom was a fellow Argentinean and the founder, in 1947, of Perceptismo, a derivative of Concretismo. The aim of Perceptismo, in Lozza’s words, was to emphasize “the reality of the color-plane.” Following in Lozza’s footsteps, Romberg created a group of works in 1980 that resemble color charts—there were six such pieces in this show. Each is composed of small squares painted varying gradations of hues from Goethe’s color wheel and juxtaposed with those painted some other color—ultramarine in three

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  • Shannon Ebner, Instrumentals, 2013, ink-jet print, 75 x 42 1/2".

    Shannon Ebner

    Wallspace

    To some extent, Shannon Ebner’s work has always played with thresholds of legibility. A case in point, the large-scale print Instrumentals (all works cited, 2013) was hung in the back room of her recent exhibition at Wallspace, where it spellbound the viewer into bewilderment. This flattened depiction of seemingly unusual (but in fact quite common) objects appeared to carry some indexical trace, although the connection to a source was left ambiguous. Taken in an auto-body shop in Los Angeles, the photograph is a to-scale representation of a stark white wall, onto which silhouettes of tools have

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  • Kevin Cooley, Skyward, 2012, video, color, sound, 9 minutes 45 seconds. Installation view.

    Kevin Cooley

    Pierogi | The Boiler

    Kevin Cooley’s video Skyward, 2012, has a simple premise: It shows the perspective of a camera mounted to the roof of a car and pointed at a bright, unclouded sky. On a near-ten-minute loop, the video takes us under streetlights, palm trees, and the tops of buildings, ornamented in a beaux-arts style that could mean we’re in Los Angeles. A bee hovers in the frame; birds flash past. The work’s installation, too, is straightforward: The video is projected on a large screen mounted on the ceiling, and viewers watch it while lying on pillows strewn over Astroturf. Together, these elements create

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  • Cyprien Gaillard, Artefacts, 2011, digital video transferred to 35 mm, color, sound, continuous loop.

    Cyprien Gaillard

    MoMA PS1

    The bold beating heart of “The Crystal World,” Cyprien Gaillard’s first solo exhibition at a museum in New York, was a work that viewers could hear before they could see it. A snatch of an old David Gray song, endlessly repeating the name of an ancient place with as heavy a sorrow as anodyne pop could bear, drifted through the corridors and drew visitors into a large, darkened room. There, beyond the crackle and whir of a 35-mm film projector, Gaillard’s mesmerizing elegy for a ruined Iraq, Artefacts, 2011, was playing in a continuous loop on a screen more than nineteen feet high. The artist

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  • Ignacio Uriarte, Blue Wrist Suite (detail), 2012, one of four ballpoint-ink drawings on paper, each 27 1/2 x 19 5/8".

    Ignacio Uriarte

    The Drawing Center

    Ignacio Uriarte never got the memo explaining that artists often keep two résumés: one listing the exhibitions, degrees, reviews, and awards that comprise an artist’s career, and a second cataloging the stints—as bartender, computer programmer, proofreader, paralegal—that contribute to an artist’s livelihood. Pushing against this unwritten convention, Uriarte prefaces his CV with an overview of his past positions at such corporations as the German electronics conglomerate Siemens, and he underscores his administrative background by rooting his art in materials ubiquitous to cubicles.

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  • Peter Wächtler, Untitled, 2013, still from the 14-minute, color, HD video component of a mixed-media installation additionally comprising an ink-and-color-pencil drawing on Xerox.

    Peter Wächtler

    MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38

    How do we describe our everyday existence? Colloquially, we might cheekily use the term rat race. In his first US exhibition, “B.A.C.K.,” German-born, Brussels-based artist Peter Wächtler seemed to take up this idiom, presenting a cartoon that addresses the nuanced emotions that shade the experience of daily life and stars a beleaguered, vest-wearing rodent. Untitled, 2013, smartly encodes quotidian routine and the slippages therein with a recursive structure—time may progress, but outfits and countenances don’t.

    Set in a stone chambre de bonne with peeling wallpaper and warping floorboards—a

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