Category: Exhibition Reviews

Poaster of woman holding flags. Russian writing around.

Revolution Redo

Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test, Art Institute of Chicago, October 29, 2017–January 14, 2018
Revolution Every Day, at the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, September 14, 2017–January 28, 2018

At a time when our own political moment has given rise to dangerous neoliberalism and right-wing nationalism across Europe and the United States, Revolutionary Russia of a century ago with its promise of social equality and transformation continues to seduce our imagination (at least in the former West), despite the ultimate failure of the Soviet project. This seduction fueled two recent shows in Chicago that marked the centennial … Read more

Russian Revolution: A Contested Legacy, 1917-2017

International Print Center, New York, October 12 – December 16, 2017

The centennial of the Russian Revolution has prompted a year long array of inter-disciplinary happenings re-examining the historical and political legacy of the 1917 watershed event. In New York alone, The Museum of Modern Art mounted a substantial collection-based exhibition titled A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde that amassed a plethora of paintings, print media, and films made between 1912 and 1935, Columbia University launched a series of Revolution-related conferences covering subjects ranging from political science to the history of Russian Jews, while The New York … Read more

Art and/as Radical Labor: We Wanted a Revolution at the Brooklyn Museum

We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965-85 at the Brooklyn Museum, April 21 – September 17, 2017.

For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of Read more

Sitting together. Parallel Chronologies of Coincidences in Eastern Europe

transit.sk, Bratislava, Slovakia – December 13, 2016 to February 25, 2017

A black and white photograph portrays a group of people in a natural environment like a meadow; they are eating and conversing while sitting in a circle. We can deduce from their garments and the hair in movement that the weather is fresh and windy. After a few seconds, we distinguish a small, dark-colored animal that is being pet by one of the participants. The animal is a lamb, a particular Ethiopian species borrowed from the zoo for this occasion; it is also the main character of this informal … Read more

Art in Europe 1945-1968: Facing the Future

Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, October 22, 2016—January 29, 2017

On January 29, 2017, the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe celebrated the successful conclusion of Art in Europe 1945-1968: Facing the Future, a major exhibition dedicated to European art after the Second World War. Showcasing some 500 artworks by more than 200 artists, the exhibition was the collaborative effort of the Center for Fine Arts in Brussels (BOZAR), the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (ZKM), and the Moscow State Museum Exhibition Center (ROSIZO), and Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. After stints in Brussels and Karlsruhe, the … Read more

Allegories of Painting: Review of Meleko Mokgosi’s Democratic Intuition: Lerato

Democratic Intuition: Lerato at Jack Shainman Gallery, New York City, September 8 – October 22, 2016

Democratic Intuition: Lerato is part of an ongoing series of exhibits by the Botswana-born, NYC-based painter Meleko Mokgosi.(Another installment of the project, Comrades II, ran concurrently at the Shainman Gallery’s second site. I make brief reference tothis other exhibit, but focus my analysis on Lerato.) The first iteration, Exordium, was shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston in 2015, and was followed by Comrades at the Stevenson Art Gallery, Cape Town, in 2016. In his new show at … Read more

Moholy-Nagy: Future Present

MOHOLY-NAGY: FUTURE PRESENT, THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO, OCTOBER 2, 2016-JANUARY 3, 2017

“Art has two faces, the biological and the social, one toward the individual and the other toward the group. By expressing fundamental validities and common problems, art can produce a feeling of coherence. This is its social function which leads to a cultural synthesis as well as to a continuation of human civilization.”
-László Moholy-Nagy (László Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion (Chicago: Paul Theobald, 1947), p. 28.)

Moholy-Nagy: Future Present, the long overdue traveling retrospective of Hungarian-born artist and educator László Moholy-Nagy, is a timely testament … Read more

Lost in Plain Sight: Dadaglobe Reconstructed

Dadaglobe Reconstructed, Museum of Modern Art, New York, June 12-September 18, 2016

Recently in art and exhibition culture, there has been a fashion for reenactment and reconstruction. Most pervasively – but also, in a sense, most naturally – this has occurred in performance art, notoriously when Marina Abramović shifted the stakes of scored performance from interpretive reiteration to faithful reenactment in Seven Easy Pieces (2005), a serial resurrection of seven historically important, but underdocumented performances.(See Carrie Lambert-Beatty, “Against Performance Art,” Artforum, May 2010, https://www.artforum.com/inprint/issue=201005&id=25443&show=activation, accessed November 10, 2016.) Equally, as Claire Bishop has pointed out, the Read more

Local Artists at the 56th Belgrade October Salon

56TH BELGRADE OCTOBER SALON, SEPTEMBER 23-NOVEMBER 6, 2016

The 56th October Salon occupied two major venues in Belgrade: a long-abandoned building on Resavska Street, which was previously the headquarters of ex-Yugoslavia’s Military Academy, and, in the very heart of the city, the Belgrade Cultural Center on Knez Mihailova Street. Entitled The Pleasure of Love: Transient Emotion in Contemporary Art, the 2016 exhibition showcased works by 67 artists from 26 countries, each of which sought to explore the human condition through the prism of love. In focusing on love, curator David Elliot characterized the Salon as taking a forthright stand against … Read more

56th Belgrade October Salon

56th Belgrade October Salon, September 23-November 6, 2016

The October Salon is the flagship event on the Belgrade contemporary art calendar, maybe the entire cultural calendar in the city. It was founded by the City of Belgrade in 1960 as an exhibition of contemporary fine arts, and by 1967 it also included applied arts. It was not until 2001 that an artistic director was engaged to create the concept of the Salon, as prior to that the Salon’s advisory board was responsible for conceiving the exhibition. Until 2005 the Salon was a representation of the Serbian art scene, after which … Read more

Aesthetics of Repair in Contemporary Georgia, Tartu Art Museum, Estonia, March 24 – May 29, 2016

Aesthetics of Repair in Contemporary Georgia, Tartu Art Museum, Estonia, March 24 – May 29, 2016

What unites the small post-socialist countries of Estonia and Georgia in the year 2016? Why organize an exhibition of contemporary Georgian art in Estonia a quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet Union? In the Baltics there are not that many exhibition spaces that would invest in East European contemporary art today, as the shared socialist past now seems somewhat distant, irrelevant and undesired in relation to the identity politics of these rapidly changing countries. However, when one looks at the … Read more

Femina Subtetrix: A Feminist Look at the APACA Textile Factory

Femina Subtetrix at Ivan Gallery, Bucharest, September 10 – October 3, 2015

Sonja Hornung, a Berlin-based artist, and Larisa Crunteanu, an artist from Warsaw and Bucharest and former curator at Atelier 35 in Bucharest, produced a culturally layered exhibition at Ivan Gallery, curated by Xandra Popescu, entitled Femina Subtetrix. Hornung and Crunteanu both come from a feminist background. Hornung is a sculptor who investigates the relationship between material, memory and public space; Crunteanu works in performance and video art with a strong interest in the social image of the body and performativity. In this collaborative exhibition, both share a material-driven … Read more

Staging visuality – Seaside Architecture of Socialist Romania: Around an Exhibition and Beyond

ENCHANTING VIEWS: ROMANIAN BLACK SEA TOURISM PLANNING AND ARCHITECTURE OF THE 1960s AND 1970s. Exhibition curated by Kaliopi Dimou, Sorin Istudor and Alina Serban; October 10 – November 23, 2014; the National Museum of Contemporary Art – Sala Dalles, Bucharest (Romania)

In the wake of a series of conference papers and articles dealing with seaside architecture in the former Communist bloc, two larger projects covered the subject more consistently. The first (and more extended), Holidays after the Fall: Urban and Architectural Transformation Processes of South-Eastern European Leisure Peripheries, was initiated by Michael Zinganel (Faculty of Architecture, University of Graz) in … Read more

Unrecounted: Historical Amnesia in Germany and Namibia at the Venice Biennale 2015

Unrecounted: Historical Amnesia in Germany and Namibia at the Venice Biennale 2015, May 4-9, 2015, Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello, Palazzo Pisani, Venice

After Angola won the Golden Lion for best national pavilion upon its first participation in the Venice Biennale in 2013, Okwui Enwezor’s edition of the Biennale in 2015 further emphasized the African context. With the exception of the debacle surrounding the Kenyan pavilion, which was disowned by the Kenyan government because the artists chosen to participate, grotesquely, were once again, as in 2013, mostly Chinese, Enwezor’s curatorial lead meant that artists from the margins were finally given greater visibility.(… Read more

Hommage à Malevich: Black Square Continued

HOMMAGE À MALEVICH: BLACK SQUARE CONTINUED, MESTNA GALERIA LJUBLJANA, JULY 2 – SEPTEMBER 6, 2015

Curated by Mateja Podlesnik at Ljubljana’s City Art Gallery to mark the centenary of Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square (1915), Hommage à Malevich: Black Square Continued tracks artistic references to Suprematism from late-socialist Yugoslavia and its later independent former republics. The significance of this shared reference is found in two works by Vlado Martek, a Croatian poet and artist, that hang roughly at the midpoint of the exhibition’s first floor. Started in the same year that an anthology of the Suprematist’s writings appeared in translation,(Kazimir Read more

Off-Biennale Budapest: Art Beyond Government Funding?

OFF-Biennale Budapest, April 24-May 31, 2015, 136 venues in Budapest and internationally

OFF-Biennale was the inaugural edition of an art event that mobilized seemingly all of Budapest’s nongovernmental art, semi-art and entirely nonart spaces on both sides of the Danube, to present diverse works by some 200 local and international contemporary artists. Running a month-long marathon of daily exhibition openings and one-time performances in galleries, bars, a hair salon, an electricity factory and numerous outdoor public spaces (April 24 -May 31), the majority of the biennale took place in the Hungarian capital – its contextual home and a city that … Read more

Specters of Communism: Contemporary Russian Art, The James Gallery and e-flux, New York

SPECTERS OF COMMUNISM: CONTEMPORARY RUSSIAN ART, THE JAMES GALLERY AND E-FLUX, NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 7-MARCH 28, 2015

In 1961, Nikita Khrushchev famously announced that communism would be achieved in the Soviet Union by 1980. As a result, the nation lived in a perpetual state of the future-perfect tense, aiming for an expected or planned event that was to happen before a certain point in time. Unfortunately, Khrushchev never lived to see that day—nor did anyone else. The realization of true communism was a failure, and because it was abandoned as incomplete, its potentiality still remains, thus making it a tempting … Read more

The 14th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale

Fundamentals, the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, June 7 – November 23, 2014.

Fundamentals, the title of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale (June 7 – November 23, 2014), experimented with new approaches. First, it ran longer than past exhibitions, for almost six months instead of three. Secondly, it was organized according to a tripartite formula, with the first section, Monditalia, highlighting Italy, and occupying one third of the conceptual component of the exhibition that also included other media, such as dance and theater. The second, Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014, was held in the Giardini’s … Read more

Paulo Bruscky & Robert Rehfeldt’s Mail Art Exchanges at Chert Gallery, Berlin

Cold War Domestics—Home Archives: Paulo Bruscky & Robert Rehfeldt’s Mail Art Exchanges from East Berlin to South America and Signs Fiction: Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt at Chert gallery, Berlin, January 10 – March 28, 2015.

Over sixteen years of a committed artistic collaboration organized and almost entirely mediated by the mail, Brazilian artist Paulo Bruscky (b. 1949) and East German artist Robert Rehfeldt (1931-1993) exchanged materially modest, if conceptually bold, artworks to overcome immense physical and political obstacles. Crossing 5,000 miles and two repressive Cold War-era regimes, their mail art often trucked in slogans and icons that were at once immediately identifiable Read more

Cyberfest 2014

CYBERFEST 2014, KUNSTQUARTIER BETHANIEN, BERLIN, DECEMBER 12-15, 2014; PLATOON KUNSTHALLE, BERLIN

One evening last December, an exhibition hall of the Art Center at Kunstquartier Bethanien, a handsome 19th-century building on Berlin’s Mariannenplatz, was bustling. It was a usual opening night – with food, wine, crowds of people young and old getting together and talking about art. What could have caught a local by surprise was that most of the visitors spoke Russian. Cyberfest, a yearly festival of new media, which originated in St. Petersburg in 2007, was making its second appearance in Berlin, following its debut in the German capital … Read more

Mladen Miljanović: At the Edge

Mladen Miljanovi?: At the Edge, acb Gallery, Budapest, June 6 – July 17, 2014

At the beginning of his career, Bosnian artist Mladen Miljanovi? prepared ironically toned, but rather serious, plans of attack (Artattack series, 2007) for occupying the great museums of the world. Actually, he painted military symbols on the maps of contemporary art museums and galleries representing how he could occupy their spaces. Of his targets, ironically, Budapest was the last “captured” city, as the artist showcased works in the exhibition spaces of New York, London and Venice before showing in the contemporary art institutions of neighboring … Read more

Irina Botea: It is now a matter of learning hope, at threewalls, Chicago

Irina Botea: It is now a matter of learning hope, threewalls, Chicago, April 26-May 31, 2014

Throughout her practice that spans video, film, performance and installation, Irina Botea appropriates the instruments of mediation that shape the politics of memory to reconfigure the way history frames our contemporary consciousness. Employing strategies of role-playing, reenactment, and recitation, she recasts historical events, often from her native Romania, to remediate political traumas of the past while offering alternate views of reality than those produced by mainstream media.

For her recent exhibition at threewalls, It is now a matter of learning hope, the artist presented … Read more

Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module and Paweł Althamer: The Neighbors at The New Museum, New York

Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module, THE NEW MUSEUM, NEW YORK, JANUARY 22, 2014 – APRIL 13, 2014

PAWE? ALTHAMER: THE NEIGHBORS, THE NEW MUSEUM, NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 12, 2014 – APRIL 13, 2014

Two exhibitions of Central and Eastern European art were recently on view at the New Museum in New York. The first, Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module, was part of the Museum as Hub series, a New Museum initiative supporting exhibitions, residencies, and public programsfocused on promoting international contemporary art. It was guest curated for the New Museum by a multinational team … Read more

The 54th October Salon in Belgrade

ZEPTER EXPO, BELGRADE, 11 OCTOBER-17 NOVEMBER, 2013

The 54th installment of the October Salon in Belgrade focused on feminist and queer interventions in the dominant narratives of knowledge production within patriarchal post-socialist and neoliberal realities. It boldly introduced a variety of artistic expressions within the “Living Archive” framework proposed by the Red Min(e)d curatorial team (Danijela Dugandži? Živanovi?, Katja Kobolt, Dunja Kukovec and Jelena Petrovi?). The concept of “Living Archive” derives from theoretical elaborations of a new, feminist archive in lieu of the standard, conventional systems of archivization and of the traditional archive as a site for normative meaning production. … Read more

Cinema by Other Means at MoCA, Belgrade

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, BELGRADE, JUNE 22 – SEPTEMBER 29, 2013

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade recently presented the exhibition Cinema by Other Means at the ?olakovi? Gallery, their off-site exhibition space. The gallery is named after Rodoljub ?olakovi?, a high-ranking party functionary in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and a man of letters. ?olakovi? wrote the book House of Lament in 1941 under the pen name Rudi R. Bosamac. This book was banned by the royalist authorities in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia for its socially critical views and exposé on the situation of political prisoners. ?olakovi? … Read more

Monika Zawadzki at Kordegarda Gallery

Monika Zawadzki Tent and the Fireplace at Kordegarda Gallery, Warsaw, October 11– November 4, 2012

When viewers entered the gallery where the exhibition of Monika Zawadzki was installed they were confronted by a tent and fireplace, both of them easily associated with the living areas of the first societies. In this way Zawadzki, whose work was also presented in the exhibition The Biggest Delight is To Avoid Contact with Society, in Warsaw (2006), creates a situation that refers to the rituals of community creation.

Zawadzki recalls the archaic and the archetypical, bringing us closer to the questions about building the … Read more

The Lost Vanguard: Soviet Modernist Architecture, 1922-32

Graham Foundation, Chicago, October 11, 2012-February 16, 2013

The Lost Vanguard: Soviet Modernist Architecture, 1922-32 presents a small selection of British photographer Richard Pare’s massive archive of nearly 15,000 photographs of modernist Soviet architecture in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. The exhibition, on view at the Graham Foundation’s prairie-style Madlener House, was part of an original exhibition produced by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Framing the project as a documentary enterprise, The Lost Vanguard posits that the sites captured by Pare were largely unknown, not only in the West but also within the Soviet Union, during the … Read more

The First Kyiv International Biennale of Contemporary Art ARSENALE 2012

MYSTETSKYI ARSENAL, KYIV, MAY 24-JULY 31, 2012

The First Kyiv International Biennale of Contemporary Art ARSENALE 2012 [http://arsenale2012.com], which took place concurrently with the Euro 2012 football championship hosted by Ukraine and Poland, had a dual aim to present high-quality artworks from all over the world in Kyiv and to display Ukrainian contemporary artists to the world on par with their international counterparts. Commissioned by Nataliia Zabolotna, the Biennale featured: Main Project “The Best of Times, The Worst of Times. Rebirth and Apocalypse in Contemporary Art” (curator David Elliott); Special Project “Double Game” (curator Oleksandr Soloviov with coordination by Fabio … Read more