Category: Exhibition Reviews

poster with the caption “24 arguments” set in big black bold font on a black and white photo of a group of tied up twigs and a ball made of wickers

Three Years: Retrieval of the Lost Generation of the Romanian Neo-Avant-Garde

24 Arguments: Early Encounters in Romanian Neo-Avant-Garde 1969–1971, The National Museum of Art of Romania, November 7, 2019February 2, 2020

While writing this article on an exhibition tracing cross-cultural relations between Romania and the United Kingdom, free movement and transnational and translocal exchanges have become, during the current pandemic, luxuries of a past epoch. The exhibition under review, 24 Arguments: Early Encounters in Romanian Neo-Avant-Garde 1969–1971, recounts the cultural exchanges that took place during the three short years identified, which now loom in historical distance.  In these far away times, just a few years after Ceaușescu came into … Read more

Daiga Grantina: What Eats Around Itself at the New Museum

Daiga Grantina: What Eats Around Itself, The New Musuem, New York, 21 January 2020-17 May 2020.

New York’s New Museum for Contemporary Art is hosting the first U.S. solo exhibition of the Latvian artist Daiga Grantina, with a single multi-piece sculptural installation entitled What Eats Around Itself. Grantina has exhibited internationally, especially in France, Germany, and Austria, and was recently the featured artist in the Latvian Pavilion of the 2019 Venice Biennale with her site-specific installation Saules Sun. Her New Museum installation, which includes both ground-based and suspended sculptural elements, occupies the gallery at the rear of … Read more

Calling the Dead in Budapest: Ágnes Eperjesi on Art, Women, Power and Violence

In 2018, on an October evening, the Hungarian National Gallery became the site of unusual activities: the artist Ágnes Eperjesi appeared in Cupola Hall of the building that was once the Royal Castle to ceremoniously cover the bronze cast of a naked girl. The life-sized sculpture, made of two unattached bronze shells by artist Gyula Pauer (1941–2012), represents seventeen-year-old Csilla Molnár (1969–1986) who won the country’s first postwar beauty pageant in 1985. One of the most publicized events of 1980s Hungary, attracting more than two thousand contestants, the pageant was broadcast on television for the viewing pleasure of millions and … Read more

Installation view

Mattis Teutsch: Avant-Garde and Constructive Realism

Mattis Teutsch: Avant-Garde and Constructive Realism, Scena9, Bucharest, September 12, 2019 – October 25, 2019

János Mattis Teutsch, the Hungarian-German-Romanian painter from Brașov, was characterised in 1920 as “the first who has the audacity to present to the Romanian public works in an expressionist style.” (Sigmund Maur, Rampa newspaper, October 21, 1920.) Mattis Teutsch was associated with the likes of Kandinsky, Marc, and Klee both in actual exhibitions, and in discussions of his artistic and conceptual calibre. His legacy today, however, is something of a battlefield, and the explanation for this lies in the seemingly incongruent bodies of … Read more

Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011

Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011, MoMA PS1, November 3, 2019–March 3, 2020

Coinciding with the turn of a new decade, the trove of artistic responses to the West’s lengthy military presence in Iraq currently amassed at PS1’s warehouse-sized venue focuses a new lens on recent history. Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011 is overwhelming in scale yet rich in material, brimming with perspectives that peel back the layers of this protracted, two-part conflict from the not-so-distant past, which now threatens to resurface. Many of the voices represented in the exhibition hail from places other than Iraq: France, … Read more

Installation view of Sammy Baloji’s exhibition Extractive Landscapes.

The Extractive Landscapes of Sammy Baloji

Sammy Baloji: Extractive Landscapes, Stadtgalerie Museumspavillon, Salzburg, July 25 – August 17, 2019 

A landscape that has been transformed by human intervention retells the story of the complex power play between different interests and concepts of reality. Such a landscape is never neutral, but rather constantly negotiated and explored, suggesting various interpretations and conclusions. Colonial expansion represented lands outside of the ‘civilized’ European framework as spaces in dire need of cultivation, civilization, and ultimately exploitation, their inhabitants included. Such attitudes continue to affect people in former colonies and beyond. Their material realities have permanently changed by the consequences of colonial … Read more

Are We Doomed to Suffer Discourse Over Revolution?

Steirischer Herbst 2019: The Grand Hotel Abyss, Graz, Austria, September 19 – October 13, 2019

This year’s iteration of Steirischer Herbst —the annual arts-and-theater festival held in Graz since 1968—took its title from György Lukács’s metaphor the “Grand Hotel Abyss.” Lukács, the Hungarian Marxist philosopher, aesthetician and literary critic, used the term pejoratively. The title in its original usage was aimed at the Frankfurt School’s inclination for theory over action during the interwar period. According to Lukács, the likes of Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and Jürgen Habermas represented an intellectually decadent elite locked in a hotel only to be smashed … Read more

Red Discussion 2

Parole, Parole (As a Counter-Hegemonic Gesture): Red Discussion No. 2 (Pavilion of the Republic of North Macedonia; Maja Ćirić)

Parole, parole(The reference is to the famous Italian duet performed in 1972 by Mina and Alberto Lupo about appealing yet hollow, empty words.) (As a Counter-hegemonic Gesture): Red Discussion No. 2, part of Subversion to Red by Nada Prlja for The Pavilion of The Republic of North Macedonia

The number of professionals in the fields of the arts and humanities who are capable of critically reflecting upon the planetary condition appears to be small. Fewer still are those who express any critical, communal, or selfless interest in connecting the legacy of the arts and humanities to the … Read more

From the Eastern Bloc to the Bronx: Early Acquisitions from the Art Collection

From the Eastern Bloc to the Bronx: Early Acquisitions from the Art Collection, Derfner Judaica Museum and the Art Collection at the Hebrew Home, Riverdale, New York (May 5-August 25, 2019)

Writing in 2009, Polish scholar Piotr Piotrowski suggested that we recognize multiple, coexisting art historical canons. Focusing on the postwar period, Piotrowski sketched out a series of interweaving histories, at once looking at the broader picture while also considering the political heterogeneity of specific states within the Soviet-dominated region.(See Piotr Piotrowski, In the Shadow of Yalta: Art and Avant-Garde in Eastern Europe, 1945-1989 (London: Reaktion Books, 2009).Read more

The Matter of Art Biennale Symposium Who are We Talking with? What Can Institutions (Un)learn from Artists?

Who are we talking with? What can institutions (un)learn from artists? Prague, 17-18 May 2019

In contemporary critical artistic and curatorial discourse,  the word “organization” is often accompanied by the word “future”. Through the practice of self-questioning and self-positioning, the institution of the biennale recently also became a vehicle for critical investigations focused on envisioning the future beyond a global administered society. Several interesting biennales were initiated in Central and Eastern Europe where, according to Vít Havránek, for a long time “we had believed that democracy and capitalism were two separate processes and that aesthetic differentiation was a mirror image … Read more

After the End: Timing Socialism in Contemporary African Art at Wallach Art Gallery

After the End: Timing Socialism in Contemporary African Art, Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York City, June 15 – October 6, 2019

Philosopher and Columbia University faculty member Souleymane Bachir Diagne’s 2013 book The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa situates the afterlife of socialism in sub-Saharan Africa after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 in terms of “a search for itself.”(Souleymane Bachir Diagne, The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa. Dakar : CODESRIA, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, 2016.)

Taking Diagne’s framing … Read more

Revolt She Said: Decolonial and Feminist Perspectives on 1968 at District Berlin

Revolt She Said: Decolonial and Feminist Perspectives on 1968, District Berlin and Alpha Nova & Galerie Futura, September 2018 – January 2019.

In European and especially German history, 1968 marks the beginning of far-reaching critical engagement on the part of students and established intellectuals with the rise and fall of fascism, and its continuities in postwar societies. The ensuing protestscarried out by students, sometimes in cooperation with trade unions, notably in Franceaimed to shake up not only politics and state institutions, but also social mores and gender roles. On a global scale, 1968 stands for the … Read more

View of the exhibition

Karol Radziszewski: Queer Archives Institute at Berlin’s Gay Museum

Karol Radziszewski: Queer Archives Institute, Schwules Museum, Berlin, June 20 – September 23, 2019

From June 20 to September 23, 2019, Berlin’s Schwules Museum [Gay Museum] hosted an exhibition of queer archives from Eastern Europe collected and presented by Karol Radziszewski, Polish artist, activist, and founder of the Queer Archives Institute (QAI). The QAI is among the most extensive and most visible of a number of queer archives recently founded in Poland and in other Central and East European countries, where celebrating and memorializing non-heteronormative lives and cultural production remains a novelty, perhaps even a rarity. Historically, these countries differed … Read more

Conscious Inability: Gabriele Stötzer’s Archive at Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig

Conscious Inability: The Archive of Gabriele Stötzer, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig (GfZK Leipzig), March 3, 2019 – March 2020.

Conscious Inability: The Gabriele Stötzer Archive at the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig (GfZK Leipzig) takes a long deserved in-depth look at the work of Gabriele Stötzer (also Gabriele Kachold, *1954), one of the central representatives of feminist art in the late GDR. Conscious Inability: The Gabriele Stötzer Archive is a long-term research and exhibition project: over the course of one year, from March 2019 to March 2020, three exhibitions will highlight different aspects of Stötzer’s artistic practice and political … Read more

Eastern European Pavilions at this Year’s Venice Biennale: Parsing the Contemporary

ARTMargins Online asked writers and critics close to the journal to respond to several Eastern European national pavilions at this year’s Venice Biennale. Our interest was in parsing the way in which pavilion curators approached the problem of nationhood and representation in a region caught between the Socialist past and an uncertain present marked by nationalism and neo-liberal economic policies. This series of responses is supplemented by an interview with Berlin-based artist Maria Loboda.

Read more… 

 

Queer Abstraction at Des Moines Art Center

Queer Abstraction, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA, June 1 – September 8, 2019.

Harmony Hammond has argued for the “transgressive potential of abstraction.”(Harmony Hammond, Lesbian Art in America (New York: Rizzoli, 2000), 89.) Hammond is included in the Queer Abstraction exhibitionat the Des Moines Art Center along with artists Math Bass, Mark Bradford, Elijah Burgher, Tom Burr, Mark Joshua Epstein, Edie Fake, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Nicolas Hlobo, John Paul Morabito, Carrie Moyer, Sheila Pepe, Prem Sahib, Jonathan VanDyke, and Jade Yumang. The contemporary works in this exhibition demonstrate the “transgressive potential” of “queer abstraction”. Curating a show … Read more

Photo

Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell at the National Museum of Mexican Art

Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, March 22 – August 18, 2019

Artist Laura Aguilar died of kidney failure in April 2018, shortly after her career retrospective, Show and Tell, closed at the Vincent Price Museum just outside Los Angeles. She was 59 years old. As writers and fellow artists mourned the loss, biographical references proliferated. Aguilar was obese, an auditory dyslexic, clinically depressed, Latina, mostly poor, the daughter of mixed Mexican-European-indigenous parents, a lesbian. With her photographic work, she was a champion for marginalized communities and bodies rendered invisible by mainstream art and visual … Read more

Wild Recuperations: Material from Below and D’EST, Chapter 6: ReTopia at District Berlin

WILDES WIEDERHOLEN. MATERIAL VON UNTEN ARCHIVE OF GDR OPPOSITION, HAUS 22 STASIZENTRALE AND DISTRICT BERLIN, NOVEMBER 4 – DECEMBER 16, 2018.

 D’EST SCREENING, CHAPTER 6: RETOPIA, HAUS 22 STASIZENTRALE, BERLIN , DECEMBER 15, 2018

Attempts to establish contemporary archives must always contend with dominant history and ideology. Wild Recuperations. Material from Below, a six-week-long exhibition that took place at District Berlin and the Archive of the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) Opposition in late 2018 and continues today as an ongoing artistic research project, positions itself firmly against the ossification of objectified knowledge by introducing an artistic and affective approach to … Read more

Black and white image of two people in front of a wall. The person on the left has a ladder.

The Intermedial Scattering of the Aura

Poetry & Performance: The Eastern European Perspective, Shedhalle, Zurich, August 16–October 28, 2018

The center of the spacious exhibition hall of Zurich’s Shedhalle was empty. Tomáš Glanc and Sabine Hänsgen, curators of the exhibition Poetry & Performance: The Eastern European Perspective,(Curated by Tomáš Glanc and Sabine Hänsgen, in corporation with Dubravka Djurić, Emese Kürti, Claus Löser, Pavel Novotný, Branka Stipančić, Darko Šimičić, Mara Traumane) purposefully arranged the exhibition’s artworks in a circular progression enclosing this empty center, and with the following sections: Writing-Reading-Performance; Audio Gestures; Interventions in Public Space; Body Poetry; Cinematographic Poetry; and Language Games. The device … Read more

Years of Disarray 1908-1928 at Olomouc Museum of Art

Years of Disarray 1908-1928. Avant-gardes in Central Europe, Olomouc Museum of Art, Olomouc (CZ), September 21, 2018–January 27, 2019

Among the proliferation of First World War related exhibitions of recent years, several have been devoted to the historical avant-garde, a label attached to numerous artistic movements that formed before and during the war. (This review was written as a part of the research project of the Petőfi Literary Museum–Kassák Museum under a grant from the National Office of Research, Development and Innovation, Project-No. NKFIH, K-120779, “The Avant-Garde Periodicals of Lajos Kassák from an Interdisciplinary Perspective (1915–1928).”) The travelling … Read more

Painting of a ship in the background with a beach and figures in the foreground.

Edi Hila: To Paint in the Eye of a Storm

Edi Hila: Painter of Transformation, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw,  March 2-May 6, 2018

Since its foundation in 2005, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw has been engaged in an intellectually challenging attempt to reevaluate the artistic practice of several artists from post-war Eastern Europe whose works have so far mostly escaped under the radar of major Western art institutions. Shows by such artists as Andrzej Wróblewski, Ion Grigorescu, Alina Szapocznikow, Július Koller, Mária Bartuszová, among others, strived to move beyond the usual Cold War-era binaries of East and West, communism and capitalism, in order to show a more … Read more

Two cases with prints inside.

Utopia Revisited: Malevich, Chagall, and Lissitzky at the Jewish Museum

A silent video of Vladimir Lenin speaking enthusiastically to Russian crowds greets the visitors of the Jewish Museum’s second floor. We hear no words, but Lenin appears victorious; the footage, we assume, must have been filmed after April 1917, when the exiled leader had just been clandestinely brought back from Switzerland onboard a German train. In the following months, Lenin would successfully lead a revolution that overthrew the tsarist regime and ventured to turn Russia into a communist state. And while it only took a few years for this sense of communist idealism to be swiftly replaced by an authoritarian … Read more

Two items on pedestals in front of TV screens

Aria Mineralia

Larisa Crunțeanu, Aria Mineralia Zachęta Project Room, Warsaw, October 20 – December 2, 2018.

For her exhibition Aria Mineralia at Zachęta Project Room, Larisa Crunțeanu, a Romanian-born, Warsaw-based artist and curator, has created a sound-based installation along with accompanying ceramics, neon, costumes, and video works that all address notions of camouflaging as an activity of playful subversion.(Aria Mineralia at Zachęta Project Room, Warsaw, is part of the cultural project F vs F, produced by Copia Originala Association and co-funded by the National Cultural Administration Fund, Romania. Partner of the exhibition: Anca Poterasu Gallery.) The title Aria Mineralia refers … Read more

Photograph of a house with drawing of grass and a pasture with animals around it.

Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980

Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980, Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 15, 2018 –January, 13 2019

New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) recently provided a stage for a vital – and very much on-trend – examination of the brutalist, socialist architecture of the former Yugoslavia, exhibited under the title Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980. Structured around a set of thematic and biographical sequences, this momentous survey of socialist architecture brought together more than 400 drawings, models, photographs and video installations from a wide range of private and institutional archives across the former … Read more

Images framed on a wall. First is of an astronaut.

Between Heaven and Earth: Himl un Erd (Yiddish Cosmos)

Yevgeniy Fiks, Heaven and Earth: Yiddish Cosmos, Stanton Street Shul, New York, November 18–December 16, 2018.

The Soviet Space Age visual project conjures familiar images of charismatic and triumphant cosmonauts, rockets, courageous animals, and dazzling, mysterious planets, all under the banner of the Red Star. During the Cold War, both the Soviet Union and its eternal rival, the United States, mounted sophisticated political projects using the visual arts to promote their own version of a utopian, innovative future and even laid claims to conquering and colonizing outerspace. Today, these efforts have been by and large historicized and the propaganda machine … Read more

Postcards displayed on a pedestal.

Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A.

Hunter College Art Galleries, June 21–August 19, 2018

In 1970, the influential Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz created a series of minimalist collages. Superimposing select magazine cutouts—including pornographic images of women, male physique models, and animals—over a piece of grid paper, Almaraz disrupted the structure of the ordered field while using the grid to visually connect disparate images across the picture plane. Exhibited as part of Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A. at the Hunter College Art Galleries in New York, Almaraz’s gridded collages convey some of the show’s most vital concepts: they defy a narrative centered on a singular … Read more

Black viewfinder with photograph behind.

Riots: Slow Cancellation of the Future

Riots: Slow Cancellation of the Future, ifa-Galerie, Berlin, January 26 – April 2, 2018

In March 2018, with scorching temperatures of the Indian summer peaking, tens of thousands of farmers descended on Mumbai. Despite walking for six days, they waited to enter the city at midnight on their way to the state legislature building, so as not to disrupt traffic. It was an unusual scene: red flags with hammer and sickle, red caps and bloodied bare feet pressed a panorama of revolutionary icons into the empty nocturnal roads of one of the most densely populated urban sprawls in the world. … Read more

Two tvs on pedestals against a black wall

Serbian Video Art in Focus: ARTTERROR—Fragments of Duality

ARTTERROR—Fragments of Duality, Belgrade Cultural Centre, April 5–May 3, 2018

The exhibition ARTTERROR – Fragments of Duality, on view at the gallery space Podroom of the Belgrade Cultural Centre, presented work by the Belgrade-based art association ARTTERROR created during the last few decades. However, as curator Vladimir Bjeličić and the artists themselves stated, the aim was not to show a retrospective of ARTTERROR’s work. Instead, Bjeličić noted that the exhibition should be “regarded as a specific installation or in situ reaction based on the critical self-reflection of this artist duo.”(See the leaflet accompanying the exhibition: Vladimir Bjeličić, ARTTERROR – Read more

cones of sugar with blue labels and ribbons

On Additives and Alterations: A Review of Ilona Németh’s Eastern Sugar

ILONA NÉMETH, EASTERN SUGAR, KUNSTHALLE BRATISLAVA, APRIL 13 – JULY 15, 2018

Seen in the shape of its mountains and the growth patterns of its aging population, the conical sugarloaf is often used to describe forms in Slovakia’s physical and social landscape.(Stephen Joseph Palickar, Slovakian Culture in the Light of History: Ancient, Medieval and Modern (MN: Hampshire Press, 1954), p. 53; Roy E. H. Mellor, Eastern Europe: A Geography of the Comecon Countries (London, UK: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1975), p. 115.) As a “body” with “weight…we can neither see nor touch,” the sugarloaf is also the object that … Read more

Sculpture of two moccasins on a pedestal in front of a brick wall.

Durable Remains: Indigenous Materialisms in Duane Linklater’s From Our Hands (ARTMARGINS Print 7.2)

Duane Linklater: From Our Hands, 80WSE Gallery, New York, December 8, 2016-February 18, 2017

Dismantling the walls of a gallery is already and always a political act, a metaphor for the literal deconstruction of white cube certainties. From Our Hands, the 2017 solo exhibition by Duane Linklater, an Omaskêko Cree artist from Northern Ontario, Canada, was performed partly in the spirit of institutional critique. The show had been made multiple by the inclusion of beadwork by his late grandmother, Ethel Linklater, and by an animated video by his then twelve-year-old son, Tobias Linklater.(Duane Linklater, Ethel Linklater, and Tobias Linklater, Read more