at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich
March 5 2014
Los Angeles-based sculptor Oscar Tuazon rejects architecture as a projection of economic and social ideologies, claiming it as a “bastard” form of sculpture somewhere between Land Art and Minimalism. The difference between a house and a sculpture is a roof. For “A Home,” his current sophomore exhibition at Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zurich, Tuazon presents a full-scale replica of his home in rural Washington State. But to the untrained eye, this home is more of a floor: it functions as both a shadow site formed by the gallery space and a pedestal for Tuazon’s “dysfunctional furniture.” His twinning continues with a series of walls torn from rough environments and stuck as-is on the pristine edges of the white cube. Tuazon builds constructions using materials such as wood, concrete and steel to conjure manual labor. In a recent artist talk at the gallery, he asked “What kind of work is an artwork?” Tuazon thinks it is hard work: he can cut his objects and they can cut him right back. Thus, “A Home” could be a stage for his masculinity. Tuazon enjoys working alongside the crew of laborers hired to construct his monumental pieces. He occupies their bodies. This pantomime embeds itself in the artwork. Tuazon’s work performs the disparate spaces we inhabit and the tensions of trying to negotiate between them. (Martine Syms)
Oscar Tuazon’s exhibition “A Home” at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, runs until March 9.
at Whitechapel Gallery, London
March 3 2014
With his signature combination of dense diagrams, photography, graphics and text, since the early ’60s, Stephen Willats has relentlessly mapped our urban and social environment. Whereas his subject matter has remained steadfast, his varied approach to modes of display and distribution has seen him work across print and alternative exhibition platforms. Variously editing Control magazine, working with members of his community and displaying work in local libraries and housing estates, Willats has pioneered the figure of the artist as a type of post-studio nomad. He was one of the first contemporary artists to bring broader social, communication and pedagogical theories into artistic discourse, influencing successive generations of younger artists. Prefiguring tendencies in interactive and participatory practices, Willats seems to have now found his moment. The Whitechapel Gallery presents “Concerning Our Present Way of Living,” an archival display of Willats’ work. It features Sorting Out Other People’s Lives (1978), which was first exhibited at the Whitechapel in 1979, and made in conjunction with local residents from the Ocean Estate, a run-down housing estate in London’s Tower Hamlets borough. 2014 promises to be a busy year for Willats, with another showing of his early work at Raven Row, London. Both exhibitions will offer an opportunity to survey work by an artist who increasingly resembles conceptual art royalty. (George Vasey)
Stephan Willats’ exhibition “Concerning Our Present Way of Living” at Whitechapel Gallery, London, will run until September 14.
“Geographies of Contamination”
at David Roberts Art Foundation, London
February 28 2014
“Geographies of Contamination,” an exhibition co-curated by Laura McLean-Ferris, Alexander Scrimgeour and Vincent Honoré, presents ten contemporary artists exploring disruptions within social and digital systems and processes. Featuring Olga Balema, Neïl Beloufa, Nicolas Deshayes, David Douard, Renaud Jerez, Sam Lewitt, Marlie Mul, Magali Reus, Rachel Rose and Michael E. Smith, the exhibition aims to analyze the “rapid mutability of art.” The invited artists deal with materiality by playfully decategorizing the conventional form and nature of objects. Through corrupting and manipulating everyday objects they create new spatial and conceptual environments, as well as pair digital with analogue, food with waste, and memory with fact. The mix of mutated objects—presented in installation, sculptures and film—distorts a visual understanding of their inanimateness. French-Algerian artist Neïl Beloufa presents Bowling and Cats, both part of the artist’s “Vintage” series (2013), an installation of wooden panels with electric plugs which have been used to power the other artists’ films. The abstract shapes visible on the compressed wooden panels resemble sections of damaged and mysterious archaeological discoveries. Contrary to Beloufa, Berlin-based French artist Renaud Jerez’s installation, Pain Corp® (2014), transforms useful items into dysfunctional sculptures, such as disassembling the plumbing pipes of a jacuzzi and “mummifying” them in bandages. A discovery throughout the works on display is Grips (2014), a tiny cluster of figs made out of cast aluminium by French-born, London-based artist Nicolas Deshayes, offering a subtle yet sexual material presence. (Tatevik Sargsyan)
“Geographies of Contamination” at David Roberts Art Foundation, London, runs through March 29.
at Galerie Buchholz, Berlin
February 21 2014
At the core of Simon Denny’s show “Disruptive Berlin” at Galerie Buchholz, Berlin, are a series of sculptural works that respond to the city’s newfound identity as a hub for emergent technology companies. Works such as Berlin Startup Case Mod: Sociomantic (2014) and Berlin Startup Case Mod: EyeEm(2014) appear as an assemblage of emblazoned computer hardware, accessorized with USB sticks and printed fascias. In these and in other works, flatscreens become shelves and computer packaging materials become plinths; the technology here seems to fold into its own promotional rhetoric and an overcooked sense of its own futurity. Denny describes the work as a series of subjective portraits of specific hot-tipped startup companies and specialist events such as TechCrunch, and Hy! Berlin, aimed at accelerating new business investment for startups in the city. Together, the sculptures in “Disruptive Berlin” presents a noisy scene of competing forces, all pitching their own pre-loaded zeitgeist of a tech-modulated world soon to come. This sense of zeitgeist is also retro-activated through works in the exhibition such as Disruptive Legacy Model: Apple IIe (2014) that utilize older technologies (an early model of an Apple home computer), and others such as the Axel Springer Unternehmensarchiv investment kiosk (2014) that draw on specific narratives of commercial breakthroughs that have consequently shaped the cultural interface of computer technology in recent years. (Matt Packer)
Simon Denny’s exhibition “Disruptive Berlin” at Galerie Buchholz, Berlin, runs through March 15.
at Clifton Benevento, New York
February 17 2014
George Grosz’s provocative drawings and caustic caricatures depict a cosmopolitan yet eerie Berlin, with scenes of decadence, eroticism, violence and distress. Eschewing illusionistic depth in favor of expressionist detail, members of the bourgeoisie, prostitutes, war cripples and politicians share the picture plane. Inspired by Grosz’s graphic œuvre, Los Angeles-based artist Miller Updegraff offers a powerful reading of Grosz’s work in a series of paintings and drawings on view at Clifton Benevento, New York, until 22 February. For his second solo show at the gallery, Updegraff presents a new body of work including Whisky frisky (2013), where he uses disparate scenes extracted from Grosz’s drawings to create a subtly complex white painting. It is Updegraff’s subtractive gesture, scraping away the white gesso from the surface, that creates the image. The subsequent outlines on the raw canvas form a subdued yet intricate figurative composition. While bodies and faces overlap in a frenzy of pictorial information, each “line” is traced with the utmost care to enrich a feature or continue a figure’s contour. Sourcing his materials from drawing, painting, sculpture and photography, Updegraff seems to hint at techniques dear to Grosz’s practice, such as etching, photomontage and collage. The artist, who trained as an anthropologist, continues his subjective exploration of the historical content – in this case, Berlin between the First and Second World Wars – and its claimed objectivity. (Anja Isabel Schneider)
Miller Updegraff’s solo show at Clifton Benevento, New York, runs through February 22.
Patrizio Di Massimo
at Kunsthalle Lissabon
February 14 2014
The Lustful Turk (1828) is an erotic epistolary novel about the adventures of Emily Barlow, an innocent English girl kidnapped by the Dey of Algiers during an Eastern journey. The main themes emerging from this story are marked by the ambiguity that is also the undertone of Patrizio Di Massimo’s project of the same title. Recently he presented several new works at Gasworks, London: large-scale paintings, sculptural assemblages with furniture and trimmings and a wall painting. If the starting point sounds purely descriptive, the artist’s gaze brings out the novel’s mysterious allure of symbolic and turbid elements, suspending the works in a mild and drowsy grace. Developing his fascination for the relationship between bodies and objects, later Di Massimo staged this seductive role-playing game with Inside Me (2013), a performative installation made of a 130 stacked cushions, occasionally activated by the presence of a man inside the installation. The secretive representation of the individual’s most inner and unconscious longing for the Other is then re-absorbed and suspended in the expanded time of the miseen- scène. Yet, on the occasion of “Me, Mum, Mister, Mad,” his first solo show at Kunsthalle Lissabon, Patrizio Di Massimo will present several new works, emphasizing his concern with exposing those unsaid, hidden aspects of relationships, which result in an impossible and tragic grasp of meaning and of possession. (Bianca Stoppani)
Patrizio Di Massimo’s solo show at Kunsthalle Lissabon will run through April 12.
at Le MAGASIN, Grenoble
February 10 2014
In Ericka Beckman’s exuberant work, both objects and bodies are staged to perform. Born in 1951, she studied at the California Institute for the Arts and then moved from Los Angeles to New York in the mid-seventies. Since then, she has been delving into the construction of the image and of the self with her films “moving backwards” through a recollection of past experiences. Following her recent successful mid-career retrospective at the Kunsthalle Bern, a selection of her work will be on view at Le MAGASIN in Grenoble. Her works are carefully researched and constructed, featuring sets of playful, handmade props in bold colors and elaborately intertwining live-action filming with layers of animation. Her narratives combine elements of choreography, music and singing with underlying structures borrowed from team sports and games. We Imitate; We Break Up (1978) is the first part of her experimental “Super-8 Trilogy” (1978–80), in which Beckman and her friends perform. Dressed in a girl’s school uniform, the artist imitates the movement of a pair of wooden puppet legs. Beckman draws here from the writings of psychologist Jean Piaget, in particular his study of cognitive development in childhood. In more recent work, the artist goes a step further in performing the image, employing architectural features to direct the camera. In the end, it seems her work is left to perform itself. (Anja Isabel Schneider)
Ericka Beckman’s exhibition at Le MAGASIN, Grenoble, runs until May 4.
at Fri-Art, Fribourg
February 7 2014
In art, as in most things, context is content—our understanding of what we see and hear is shaped by the circumstances in which we encounter them. This idea is explored to intriguing ends in the work of Basel-based artist Hannah Weinberger, whose sound-based installations promote the interplay of coinciding elements, actively embracing the influence of external, ostensibly peripheral factors that lie beyond the artist’s prediction or control. Her compositions typically combine warm ambient tones into lulling tapestries of sound that she sections off into loops of varying lengths: each piece is then played back through a series of multi-directional speakers that serve as the work’s only apparent visual presence. This unassuming display is purposefully designed to accentuate the more ephemeral, perhaps unacknowledged aspects of the audience’s experience. As a result, in moving through the space, each viewer-listener discovers a constantly shifting sonic landscape whose effect is at once composed and perceived individually: an improvised soundtrack unfolding in real time. Weinberger’s most recent offering, an eponymous installation made of six screens, three beamer projectors and seven soundtracks currently on view at Fri-Art, Fribourg, explores and pushes forward these ideas: the work’s fluid negotiation of interior and exterior space operates as a metaphor of the act of perceiving, stressing thus its inherently subjective peculiarity open to the building of personal narratives and memories. (Christopher Schreck)
Hannah Weinberg’s exhibition at Fri-Art, Fribourg, runs through February 9.