April 17 2014
In a 2008 interview, artist Marisa Olson introduced the term “post-Internet” to describe her work, referencing artist Guthrie Lonergan’s idea of “Internet aware art,” and stressing the importance of addressing how the logic of the Internet can impact an artwork; the piece, however, can remain offline. This set the stage for a league of interlocutors who sought to define post-Internet’s amorphous meaning, such as writer Gene McHugh and artist Artie Vierkant, among others. Befittingly, 2014 gave us an institutional survey of the genre at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. Curated by Robin Peckham, an independent curator and editor based in Hong Kong, and Karen Archey, an art critic and curator out of New York, the show features an array of international talents who have become important voices for this global dialogue. Like Dara Birnbaum’s technical diagrams of projection units (Computer-Assisted Drawings: Proposal for Sony Corporation, NYC, 1992/93) or Jon Rafman’s endless photographic database gathered in the “Nine Eyes of Google Street View” ongoing series, the works included in the show are all products of a decade dominated by the World Wide Web, incorporating issues such as internet policy, mass clandestine surveillance and data mining, the physicality of the network, the posthuman body, radicalized information dispersion, and the open source movement. (James Shaeffer)
“Art Post-Internet” at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, runs through May 11.
April 16 2014
In a press release teeming with sincerity yet punctuated by ironic, sprawling non-sequiturs, the young men behind Ramiken Crucible—who curated this exhibition—declare that “Depressed humans are honest. Failure is certain.” Furthering this tension, the first artwork among many that one notices upon entering François Ghebaly’s downtown warehouse space is Stoner (2013) by Andra Ursuta—a giant batting cage in which a pitching machine hurls handmade, oversized stones at a wall. Nonchalantly posting up in front of Ursuta’s war arena is Gavin Kenyon’s cocky midnight cowboy, a fantastical “figurative sculpture” (Pimpin, 2008–2014). In the room over, Bjarne Melgaard (under the pseudonym Bjorn Amre) has leaned four vinyl planks against a wall, with each plank serving as a billboard (or a blown-up note-to-self) with a self-conscious, self-reflexive phrase, such as “POST-EPIDEMIC,” “IDEAL POLE,” “PARAPRAXIS,” and “Motor Paralysis,” inscribed on it. Each phrase reads in capital letters and each plank has a provocative book duct-taped to the top of its face, with the exception of “Motor Paralysis,” which suggests that this is one problem that needs no additional advertising to project its power. In the center of the room lies a rusted spiked roller machine, a mechanical monstrosity that was once used to symbolize oppression, but now can be seen as a strong statue depicting depression. This macabre machine punctuates Melgaard’s disjointed sculptural poem and the rest of the expansive exhibition, which also includes Catherine Ahearn, Lucas Blalock, Borden Capalino, Dan Finsel, Charlotte Hammer, Matt Heckert, Nolan Hendrickson and Margaret Weber. (Keith J. Varadi)
“Depression” at François Ghebaly, Los Angeles, runs through May 10.
April 11 2014
Brian Weil’s artistic research cannot be separated from his social and political engagement. As underlined in Brian Weil, 1979–95. Being in the World, a new monograph edited by Stamatina Gregory, his photographs were far from being mere documentations of his subjects. The photographic medium, as the artist declared, is an “excuse” to be involved in the lives of others—with the marginalized, the unrepresented, the unknown. Undertaking an artistic practice in the New York of the late 1970s, he then began volunteering with the historic clinic and advocacy center Gay Men’s Health Crisis in the mid-’80s, before then becoming a member of ACT UP, an activist group raising awareness about AIDS. Progressively incorporating his photographic work into his activism, Weil’s work communicates an urgency to relate to people, often leaving the image secondary to his socio-political role as an activist. The camera becomes a vehicle to start a conversation and to explore the reality of liminal communities and subcultures, rather than a mere tool for giving witness to them. His investigation moves from discourses on a contemporary deficit in social responsibility to those of traditional documentary photography, already at play in the work of photographers such as Nan Goldin and Larry Clark. Published by Semiotext(e) on the occasion of his first retrospective at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, the book explores a space of engagement created by Weil that goes beyond pure spectatorship. (Guido Santandrea)
April 10 2014
Published by Tri Angle Records, Evian Christ’s latest EP, Waterfall (2014) is an amalgam of ephemeral, beautiful, almost liquid sounds, as well as powerful, dense and heavy drama. The tracks created by Evian Christ, aka Joshua Leary, are essentially rap instrumentals, but much more progressive, experimental and distorted. Leary’s latest release is a strange mix of trap, trance and brutalist noise, full of steel-clad percussion and hard-hitting bass. His sounds are also sculptural—if one were to imagine a fluid, clear, yet industrial and distorted sonic structure, they would have an idea of what Waterfall sounds like. Packed in a very tactile cover designed by David Rudnick, the EP is full of extremely intense and dark club music. Evian Christ places the listener in a rather cold and anxiety-filled zone, yet releases the created tension with sudden drops into emotional passages. The trajectory of the artist’s career is nothing short of fantasy: he trained to become an English teacher before getting a few tracks uploaded to YouTube by friends, which were then picked up by Tri Angle Records and allowed him to release Kings And Them (2012) and Duga-3 (2013). Most recently, he’s collaborated with Matthew Barney and Kanye West. Evian Christ has just began his Waterfall EP tour, with upcoming shows at Broadcast, Glasgow; Club to Club, Istanbul; MC Theatre, Amsterdam; as well as at Field Day, London and Sonar, Barcelona later this year. (Agnes Gryczkowska)
April 8 2014
This second effort from Brooklyn-based filmmaker Tim Sutton (Pavilion) stars “outsider” musician/artist Willis Earl Beal as Ezra Jack, a Tennessee-based soul singer whose struggle with the pressures of writer’s block and audience expectations drives him to the edge of mental instability and social withdrawal. Wandering alone through his hometown, Jack’s search for meaning leads to a series of dream-like encounters with local pastors, neighborhood hustlers, fellow drifters and new lovers. Shot on location and featuring a cast comprised almost entirely of non-professionals hired on-site, Memphis retains a sense of authenticity bordering on the documentary, with many scenes seeming to unfold naturally, even haphazardly, in real time. This embracing of the non-linear carries over to the film’s overall structure: as is quickly becoming a signature mode for Sutton’s work, the piece offers little in the way of exposition, transitions, or establishing shots, and instead delivers a fragmentary but carefully paced sequence of impromptu interactions and lyrical segues—a style that the director calls “ethereal authentic.” Falling somewhere between folk tale and tone poem, the resulting work is a hypnotic stream of haunted impressions which, in their blurring of fiction and reality, make for an enigmatic, willfully unresolved, but nonetheless affecting viewing experience. (Christopher Schreck)
April 5 2014
The work of Jochen Schmith, a collective composed of artists Carola Wagenplast, Peter Hoppe and Peter Steckroth, addresses contemporary consumerism, aesthetic signifiers of lifestyle and luxury fetishism in a way that’s both subtle and razor-sharp. The commercial, the institutional, and the mediated are under close scrutiny in their practice, which ranges from objects and installations to audiovisual works and radical spatial interventions, such as the one they undertook in the Amsterdam artist-run space W139 (It’s Only Rock ’n Roll (But We Like It), 2011): the gallery floor was covered with a rough, ink-black, tarmac-like material mixed with a small, glittering particle. On the other end of the spectrum are works such as There Was a Time (2007), an audio piece consisting of advertisers’ descriptions of luxury housing in Hong Kong; or smaller objects such as Cigar Ends – Collectors’ Waste (2010), a bronze cast of a cigar collected from an art fair VIP lounge. In “Present Gifts,” their current solo show at VI, VII, Oslo, they further investigate commercial and political power structures with works such as Lazy Bones (2014), an embroidered canvas mocking the fake splatters of paint used by designers such as Ralph Lauren and Dolce & Gabbana on their so-called “painters pants;” or with Spinning Object (2014), a carousel of 53 slides listing gifts exchanged between politicians, economists and individuals in foreign states. (Maaike Lauwaert)
April 4 2014
Bringing together an international group of artists, “Being Here & Being Thus. Sculpture, Object & Stage” at Frankfurter Kunstverein considers the animistic qualities of contemporary sculpture. The exhibition follows recent attempts to ask what it means to conceive of humans, non-humans and things as active agents operating in the world. By focusing solely on sculpture, as opposed to painting, photography and moving image, it asserts both the physicality of experience and experience of presence in three-dimensional space. Sculptures on display by Sandra Havlicek address the potential mobility of static objects through their folds, creases, colors and patterns. Maria Anisimowa (Tamara, 2011) abstracts portraits of friends into three-dimensional collages that present a choreography of gazes, whilst Michael E. Smith (Untitled, 2009) creates a symbiosis of attraction and repulsion between familiar everyday objects, which now posses a violent, morbid or oppressive nature. The ambiguous questions of how thingness can manifest itself as a thing of the world, is central to works by Peter Buggenhout (Mount Ventoux #4, 2009) and Sofia Hultén (Megaconglomerates, 2012). Both use materiality to question who and what an object can be. Viewers are continually being asked: Sculptures speak! Are you listening? A question or proposition central to contemporary debates around thingness and embodied experience, which Heidegger saw as the importance of “thingness” of things in concrete or stone-like examples such as sculpture. (Jareh Das)
“Being Here & Being Thus. Sculpture, Object & Stage” at Frankfurter Kunstverein runs until April 13.
April 3 2014
When placed in the contemporary or post-recent art context of the 21st century technology-dominated new materialism, Constantin Brancusi’s dynamic and organic sculptural forms still witness the change they caused in the face of modern art by dissolving the border between the figurative realism and abstract art. Like many artists working today, Brancusi found his main inspiration in the mechanics and industrial design that lie at the heart of New York. Brancusi New York: 1913-2013 is a publication that depicts the mutually beneficial relationship between the sculptor and the city, which has never defined a work of art in the same way since the trial concerning Brancusi’s Bird in Space (1923). Jérôme Neutres, the author of the catalogue and the curator of the “Brancusi in New York 1913-2013” exhibition held at Paul Kasmin Gallery, celebrates Brancusi’s 100th anniversary in New York following his debut exhibition at the Armory Show in 1913. Published by Assouline, Brancusi New York looks into both the artist’s career and his personal life, featuring previously unpublished photographs, archival material and quotes. Neutres reveals how the energy and the architecture of the metropolis inspired Brancusi’s fascination with the synthesis of traditional, primitive forms and modern, industrial urban shapes, and informed his dreams of erasing a skyscraper-sculpture—Brancusi’s unrealized masterpiece. (Agnes Gryczkowska)
April 2 2014
Poland’s most challenging and amorphous festival of contemporary experimental music and cross-border artistic creation—Unsound—is returning to New York from the 2nd until the 6th of April. This annual event, which was initiated in 2003 in Krakow, has since entered the international scene with a number of editions around the world. It’s not only the selection of artists, but also the carefully crafted curatorial themes and multimedia commissions that earned the festival its global reputation. Unsound New York is an introduction to this year’s themes—focusing on synaesthesia and multi sensory experience. Audio Visual Arts gallery in New York will present Ephemera—an installation combining scent, sound and visual elements. Sounds from Ben Frost, Tim Hecker and Steve Goodman (Kode9) will be presented with olfactory Noise, Drone and Bass compositions prepared by Geza Schoen and accompanied by visuals from Manuel Sepulveda (Optigram) and Marcel Weber (MFO). The festival will also feature commissions and live shows from Demdike Stare, Suzanne Ciani, Huerco S., Copeland, Evol, Wilhelm Bras, Hubert Zelmer and many more. In partnership with WIRE Magazine, Unsound New York has complied a CD—Tunnels—which features participating Polish and international artists and will be available to subscribers with the April issue of WIRE. In September and October this year, Unsound will take place in London and Krakow, expanding even further on the theme of synaesthesia and launching its new Ephemera fragrances. (Agnes Gryczkowska)
Unsound Festival in New York will run through April 6.
April 1 2014
Patrizio Di Massimo‘s “The Lustful Turk,” incorporating painting, drawings, sculptures and wallpaper, was the first in Gasworks’ year-long series of exhibitions, events and online commissions, The Civilising Process. The programme in its entirety is based on German sociologist Norbert Elias’s seminal book, The Civilising Process (1939), which, in essence, examines the genealogy of civility, manners and acceptable social conduct in the Western world. The programme seeks to explore the historically fabricated perception of Western European culture and the various forces of civilization and de-civilization by which it has been influenced, including with the etiquette of the Royal Courts of the Middle Ages, the subjugation of the European citizen’s body, and the colonization of non-Western countries and its effect on Eurocentric ideas of civility. “Late Barbarians,” the second show in the series, brings together works by Juan Downey, Lili Dujourie, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Matts Leiderstam and Chris Marker to question notions of corporeal memory and historical speculation, taking its title from one of Elias’s own assertions that mankind’s future descendants may consider the life we live now to be barbaric and medieval. “Late Barbarians” continues with the programme’s third show “Mouthfeel,” which constitutes Maryam Jafri‘s first London solo show. Until May 18 Jafri presents Mouthfeel (2014), a newly commissioned short film, and Product Recall: An Index of Innovation (2014), a new photo-text work exploring the politics surrounding the industrial production of processed food. (Nick Warner)
March 28 2014
Primary Information is a non-profit organization formed by James Hoff and Miriam Katzeff in 2006 and dedicated to the publication of artists’ books, artists’ writings and editions such as records and posters. In April 2014 they will release a limited-edition, vinyl-only album by Cannibal, a trio composed by artists/musicians Cameron Jamie, Cary Loren and Dennis Tyfus. The record is a compelling intergenerational dialogue that defies lazy marketing pitches or definitions: the intricate soundscape comprises a variety of sources— from the harmonica to found sounds—evoking adventurous psychedelic rock from the ’60s like the “freak-outs” of Texan cult group Red Krayola and the experimental underground free-noise scene that coalesced in the ’90s around the New Zealand-based composer and theoretician Bruce Russell and his Corpus Hermeticum recording label. The trio’s music is not only difficult to locate stylistically but also temporally, since this work could have been produced in any decade since the 1960s. Filmmaker Cary Loren co-founded the semi-legendary Detroit “anti-rock” band Destroy All Monsters (that counted also Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw amongst their members) in 1973 and Cannibal LP, even if not a direct continuation of that experience, is additional proof—think Sonic Youth and Black Dice—of the enriching possibilities and perspectives coming out of the combination between visual arts and music making. (Francesco Tenaglia)
March 27 2014
In A Brief History of New Music, the latest book in his staggering oeuvre, super curator Hans Ulrich Obrist weaves a dramatic narrative of late twentieth-century music. The oral history collects interviews with pioneers from avant-garde, electronic and pop traditions, including Karlheinz Stockhausen, Robert Ashley, Yoko Ono, Tony Conrad, Steve Reich, Brian Eno, Kraftwerk, Arto Lindsay and Caetano Veloso, among many others. Obrist’s conversations are practice-focused: he describes his work as a collection of information and a subsequently attempt to transform them into knowledge. Through his boundless curiosity and exhaustive research, he reveals the dynamic relationship between technological innovation, artistic invention and cross-disciplinary experiments. The author is skilled in tracing perpendicular realities, drawing an abundance of ideas about the ways in which electroacoustic music transformed audio making, and in turn, the entire cultural field. Though it follows the success of Obrist’s A Brief History of Curating, the text reminds me more of critic Alex Ross’s 2007 classical music history The Rest is Noise. In an equally stylish manner, Obrist interrogates the cult of personality surrounding musicians, while cataloguing movements across the world from Darmstadt to Paris and New York to Oakland. The result is an engaging sourcebook for the contemporary listener that chronicles the past 65 years through sound. (Martine Syms)
March 25 2014
In the raw landscape of Downtown Los Angeles, amongst industrial castoffs and affordable warehouses, the more ambitious and trendsetting players in LA are establishing their presence. In January Fahrenheit, a new space and interrelated residency program
developed by FLAX Foundation (France Los Angeles Exchange), opened its inaugural exhibition “Far and High.” Presenting works by seven artists from Europe and North America, the show traces a growing interest in the “post-industrial” and the breakdown of methods and processes of production. Slippages and spillages, disruption and contamination characterize the sculptural, video and installation works on view. The exhibition features works by Laure Prouvost, David Douard, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Alicja Kwade, Tamara Henderson, David Gilbert and Vincent Ganivet, offering insight into Fahrenheit’s program of residencies, shows, performances, film programmes and talks, which are conceived by its Director and Curator Martha Kirszenbaum. In April, artist Julien Prévieux will continue Fahrenheit’s program of exchange and integration of France-related artists, curators and critics with a particular emphasis on outreach programs in the communities of greater Los Angeles. Then he will begin the first of Fahrenheit’s two three-month long residencies in their 1940s former auto-parts and textiles warehouse in Downtown’s eastern edge, which will host art critics, and artists David Douard and Laure Prouvost. Don’t miss Fahrenheit’s upcoming performances which will feature participating artists Julie Béna and Julien Prévieux. (Sam Watson)
March 24 2014
In Why is the No Video Signal Blue? Or, Color is No Longer Separable From Form, and the Collective Joins the Brightness Confound (2011) Andrew Norman Wilson deconstructs the linguistic and symbolic convention that usually communicates the signal’s absence on any screen or projector. In Derridian way he shows that this blue’s metaphysical meaning is generated by an invisible game from which the individual is excluded. The blue’s detracted ontological presence leads to a never-ending displacement of its meaning’s grounds, giving rise to a feeling of precariousness that Wilson relates to our dematerialized environment. Opening up the linguistic level to a broader framework, the New York-based artist explores social arrangements or systems of objects, both seen as taxonomic, regardless of whether they are real or fictious, offline or online. Wilson’s videos, performative installations, screenings and web-based projects employ the communication, aesthetic and operative modes of economic and knowledge production in the semio-capitalist age thus showing, in reverse, their modernist, utopian side. As in Uncertainty Seminars (2013), his most recent “guided meditation” which will be displayed in collaboration with Nick Bastis at Fluxia, Milan, Wilson’s practice encourages us to recognize abstractions and to physically embody them in order to have possibility to participate in an actual adherence, a proximity to reality and realness. (Bianca Stoppani)
March 20 2014
Marinella Senatore’s artistic research seems to propose a new form of art: an overwhelming human energy without authority, meant to be further employed and applied. Her current retrospective “Public Secrets” at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen becomes its set. Senatore’s public actions like street parades, operas or radio programs involve thousands of participants, from professionals as filmmakers, scenographers, choreographers and actors, to a more general audience, all of them exchanging their roles and working together. In a recent interview the artist explains that her work indeed reproduces a model of labor: it generates new social spaces of production and new forms of action. Yet “Public Secrets” is understood as an open-use, post-production platform. Rather than simply using the images as documentation of her actions, these archival materials can be crafted into non-linear narratives by the public, thus generating new information. In most of the works on view, historical material collides with the present: Estman Radio (2014) is an homage to a mobile theater that entertained Spanish workers during the middle of last century; while in the video piece Speak Easy (2009), craftsmen and professional actors participate in a musical set in the New York of the 1950′s. Her recent project School of Narrative Dance (2013), is a mobile free school, in which emancipation, inclusion and self -training are induced with storytelling. (Marta Jecu)
Marinella Senatore’s exhibition “Public Secrets” at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen runs until April 13.