Lisa Tan, Waves, 2014–15, HD video, color, sound, 19 minutes 12 seconds.

Lisa Tan

Galleri Riis Stockholm Office

Lisa Tan, Waves, 2014–15, HD video, color, sound, 19 minutes 12 seconds.

Ethnographers and anthropologists often occupy an in-between state known as “liminality.” Their dual roles—of participant and observer—become irresolvable. Something similar can happen with works of art. Think of Jasper Johns’s flags, endlessly asking, Is this a “painting” of a flag or a “flag” in place of a painting? They stand at a threshold. Denouement deferred. This suspension drags on in Bruce Nauman’s anguished Clown Torture, 1987, crushing you under its repeating silliness, an obsessive ritual: The fishbowl slips from the broom every time; the clown, the fool, never learns. The Sisyphean task plants us within a state of being nowhere, of suspension in the neither-nor, bringing to mind the way that Samuel Beckett condemned us to another sort of threshold, where every conclusion hovers just beyond reach: “Fail again. Fail better.” On this endless verge, haunted by

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the May 2015 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.