Gerard Fortuné, Service Mystique, 1991
Courtesy of Nottingham Contemporary

“Kafou: Haiti, Art and Vodou” at Nottingham Contemporary

December 10 2012
2:50 PM

Emerging from West-African tradition, Vodou is thought to be a religious belief for around ninety percent of Haitian population. Originally referring to only a small set of rituals performed in the region, it has come to signify Haitian religious practice as a whole and spread to other regions that were exposed to Caribbean culture. With its rich mythology, elaborate rituals and lavish paraphernalia, it is not surprising that Vodou has been a source of much inspiration in Haitian art that has intrigued the Surrealists like André Breton, Maya Deren and Michel Leiris. This fall and early winter, Nottingham Contemporary dedicates a large-scale exhibition to the art inspired by Vodou. Showcasing around two hundred artworks, “Kafou: Haiti, Art and Vodou” will primarily focus on artists whose economic background allowed for little exposure to the mainstream art world, thus leaving their practice outside of general recognition. The exhibition highlights art produced in the period from 1940s until present day and will draw on the relationship that tradition—both religious and artistic—has had with historical, political and economic conditions in Haiti. Among the ninety artists featured there are key figures from the Haitian Renaissance, including Hyppolite, Rigaud Benoit, Wilson Bigaud, Castera Bazille, Préfète Duffaut, and Philomé Obin and Seneque Obin. (Aliina Astrova)

Until January 6th, 2013

Bas Jan Ader getting ready to set sail, 9 July 1975
Courtesy of the Bas Jan Ader Estate, Mary Sue Ader-Andersen and Patrick Painter Editions

The Gallery of Lost Art

October 24 2012
8:26 AM

“Some of the most significant artworks of the last 100 years have been lost, and can no longer be seen,” claims, a website launched by Tate in association with Channel 4. Curated by Tate’s Jennifer Mundy, the site hosts a massive virtual exhibition dedicated to restoring the tales behind some of the most notable stolen, discarded, ephemeral and unrealized modern art works. Designed by ISO graphic, an interaction design studio that specializes in cultural projects, the website is an interactive hub that allows the viewers to “move” through the “space” of the exhibition, which is divided according to the different ways in which the art works have vanished. Next to the main “Gallery” section of the website, drop-down menus and a blog provide a quicker overview of the weekly updates. An extension of Tate Media’s agenda to explore the possibilities outside conventional exhibition spaces and to promote digital innovation, this exhibition finds a suitable manifestation online, where the issue of physical absence acquires another layer of meaning. Having already revealed the stories behind works by such art history heavyweights like Rachel Whiteread and Lucian Freud, The Gallery of Lost Art will itself disappear from the web after a year of existence. (Aliina Astrova)

Courtesy of Jonny Greenwood

Jonny Greenwood’s soundtrack to “The Master”

October 11 2012
10:29 AM

Paul Thomas Anderson’s collaboration with Jonny Greenwood began with There Will Be Blood (2007). A fan of Radiohead, the director approached Greenwood with a proposal to score his upcoming movie after hearing some of his orchestral pieces. While having doubts about taking on this role—although Greenwood had already been in similar position, having provided music for Simon Pummell’s 2003 documentary Bodysong— he eventually agreed. Greenwood’s unconventional use of traditional orchestra sounds garnered considerable attention. This year, they are working on Anderson’s upcoming film, The Master. The film tells a story of an intellectual who establishes a religious organization upon returning home from the Second World War. Even in the brief trailer, Greenwood’s touch is apparent. The music is more percussive, but maintains a sparseness that is a fitting accompaniment to Anderson’s film. Application 45 Version 1, a track from the film recently uploaded on the internet, also begins with a scant rhythm that gradually grows into an unsettling string piece. The score lets the scenes settle uneasily, a feeling that largely contributes to the film’s overall aesthetic that values the pauses as much as what fills the space in between. (Aliina Astrova)

View of "Zak Kyes Working With..." at Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig, 2011.
Courtesy of Galerie fur Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig
Photography by Sebastian Schröder

Sternberg Press publication exploring the work of graphic designer Zak Kyes

May 11 2012
1:37 PM

In an obituary for Steve Jobs, a long-time Apple supporter, writer and actor Stephen Fry wrote that it would be naive to maintain the distinction between style and substance. Today style determines usability no less than substances does. Current debates in the art world would be incomplete without considering the role graphic design plays in shaping the identities of art institutions and practices. The increasingly interchangeable roles of artists and designers, along with the numerous collaborative initiatives between the two creative fields, open up the development of a more critical understanding of design’s potentiality in facing contemporary capitalist systems. Among the key figures exploring the critical potential of contemporary graphic design is Zak Kyes, who stands behind the production of numerous art publications and designs for art institutions—the work that earned him the INFORM Award in 2010. As a recipient of this annual accolade, Kyes was presented an opportunity to exhibit his works at the Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig. Accompanying the exhibition is a Sternberg Press publication, Working With…, in which a multitude of contributors, from Andrew Blauvelt to Marcus Miessen, examine the designer’s critical engagement in shaping the dialogue between art and design. Locating this relationship under the umbrella of economics and politics, the book contributes to the current discourse regarding the questions of authorship, identity and collaboration. (Aliina Astrova)

Rudolf Stingel, Untitled (1631), 2008
Courtesy of the artist
Photography by [email protected]

Rudolf Stingel’s exhibition at Secession in Vienna

March 22 2012
3:00 PM

Exhibitions are an extension of Rudolf Stingel’s painting practice. Gallery spaces are never just blank white cubes or merely platforms for showcasing works: they are unique spaces that need to be confronted and examined. Working on a show at Paula Cooper Gallery in 2005, for example, famously led Stingel to paint and exhibit a portrait of the gallerist, because he felt Cooper’s personality formed the basis of the gallery’s aura. Similarly, the artist’s most recent exhibition at Secession, Vienna, grew out of his explorations of the space, this time focusing on its distinctive architectural qualities. On view are works from Stingel’s “Untitled (1631)” and “Untitled (After Sam)” series: two black plaster panels featuring baroque reliefs sit on either side of a monumental self-portrait. Although works from these series have been previously exhibited, the installation itself is unique. “The three pictorial objects are positioned to correspond with the Greek cross of the Secession building’s ground plan and to form a three-dimensional triptych,” writes Reiner Zettl in his contribution to the exhibition catalogue. “Turning around one’s own axis here, one finds oneself at an equal distance to all three works.” Looking beyond paintings as objects and considering the medium’s relationship with space, Stingel once again produces a dynamic and assertive arrangement.                     (Aliina Astrova)

John Currin, Park City Grill, 2000
Courtesy of the artist and Justin Smith Purchase Fund

John Waters-curated exhibition “Absentee Landlord” at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis

March 22 2012
1:20 PM

Interpreting gallery spaces as rental flats in his recent curatorial endeavor, “Absentee Landlord,” John Waters echoes Dieter Roelstraete’s comparison of museums to cemeteries. Both play on the idea that a work hanging in an exhibition environment has as little say in the choice of its neighbor as the bodies buried in the ground or the tenants of an apartment block. However, his humorous exploration of the curator’s role gives Waters’ view a more optimistic quality. Digging into the Walker Art Center’s expansive collection, he imagines this role to be comparable to the job of a landlord as distributor of space. Eventually, rooms of the Art Center get shared between such art-world heavyweights as Mike Kelley, Carolee Schneeman, Robert Gober, Richard Artschwager, Jack Pierson, Willem de Kooning, Cindy Sherman, Wolfgang Tillmans, Cameron Jamie, Sturtevant and John Currin. Ironically, the “landlord” himself is not as absent as the title would lead us to believe, with several works by Waters included in the show. In the context of the current art-world politics, Waters’ stance on his newly-acquired role as Walker’s guest curator is witty and sharp. Here, space, economy and politics blend into a satiric take on exhibition-making. (Aliina Astrova)

Courtesy of Artist Resources Management and Anna Kustera Gallery, New York
© The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger

“Jeans,” Karlheinz Weinberger’s
new photography book

March 21 2012
5:07 PM

In the western world, jeans—a garment with a history extending over one hundred years back—possess a deep cultural significance. The incomparably durable fabric, together with the simple designs prototyped by Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler, is a fail-proof combination that has cemented jeans a place in the wardrobes of many, from the working classes to public icons like Steve Jobs. Of course, their place in subcultures should not be underestimated either. In his erotic writings, the iconic gay porn director Fred Halsted described a pair of jeans as a part of his S&M uniform, deliberately unwashed for weeks as to maintain the smell of their wearer. Swiss artist Karlheinz Weinberger also perceived the garment as a “personal erotic obsession” and a cultural symbol. His expansive photographic portfolio of jean wearing working class youth in the 1950s Switzerland is reproduced in a recent book, Jeans. Published by the Swiss Institute of Contemporary Art New York, and serving as a perfect accompaniment to their exhibition of Weinberger’s prints, the book commences with the introduction by the show’s curator Gianni Jetzer. Together with another two recent publications dedicated to the artist’s photographic oeuvre, Rizzoli’s Rebel Youth and Larissa Kasper’s Foto: Jim, Zurich, Jeans is a manifestation of a renewed interest in Weinberger’s practice. (Aliina Astrova)

art space Elaine in Basel

March 21 2012
12:49 PM

In the previous issue of this magazine, Quinn Latimer’s examination of New Jerseyy, a Basel art space, exposed the recent developments in the city’s expanding art scene. Among other initiatives inspired by New Jerseyy’s success, Latimer mentions Elaine, a project space opened by the curators of Museum für Gegenwartskunst Nikola Dietrich and Scott Cameron Weaver, together with writer Tenzing Barshee and artist Hannah Weinberger. Operating in the courtyard of the museum, Elaine’s program reflects the tastes and interests of its curators, while neatly blending into the existing landscape of Basel’s upcoming young galleries. Tobias Madison of New Jerseyy fame has given an artist talk there, while guest appearances from the likes of Gerry Bibby and Dan Bodan have built on Basel’s strong ties with Berlin’s art scene. Following its opening last August, Elaine has staged numerous artist talks as part of its “How to Look at It” series, with participants like Marta Riniker Radich, Florian Graf and Claudia Compte. The regular film screenings and live musical performances constitute a big chunk of their programing, occasionally interrupted by book and magazine launches. The recent concert by Christy&Emily, accompanied with a lightshow by Brock Monroe, is a good example of the sort of interdisciplinary events for which Elaine is becoming known. (Aliina Astrova)

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