Category: Exhibition Reviews

Alina Szapocznikow’s Protean Body

Alina Szapocznikow, Alina Szapocznikow, Broadway 1602, New York, November 18, 2007 – January 12, 2008

The recent resurgence of interest in women artists and feminist art, as demonstrated not least of all by the successes of “Wack!” in Los Angeles and “Global Feminisms” at the Brooklyn Museum, has encouraged critics and art historians to extend their investigations of women artists beyond the Western-oriented feminist canon of the 1970s. One of the most fascinating individuals to come to the attention of international viewers is, in fact, not a newcomer at all, at least not in her native Poland. Although Alina … Read more

Neo Rauch: Neue Rollen, Paintings 1993 to the Present Day

Neo Rauch: Neue Rollen, Paintings 1993 to the Present Day
Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague, October 5-May 8, 2007

Neo Rauch has exhibited widely in recent years and much of the discourse around his paintings hinges on his identity as a product of the DDR, or former communist East Germany. His bizarre pictorial constructions seem to invite a consideration of legacy: of failed socialism and of painting itself. What did/does it all mean? The Kunstmuseum in Wolfsburg Germany has provided an opportunity to reflect on this question by organizing the largest survey of his work to date and sending it on tour … Read more

Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev’s A New Silk Road: Algorithm of Survival and Hope

Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev’s A New Silk Road: Algorithm of Survival and Hope; The Art Institute of Chicago, February 1-May 6, 2007

The photographs and video installations of Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev draw on various documentary styles and techniques to capture the changing social landscape of their native Kyrgyzstan since it became an independent republic in 1991. Like many artists of post-Soviet Europe and Central Asia, their practice is a discursive one that casts a critical yet empathetic eye on their indigenous subjects (human and otherwise) and the political spaces they occupy.

Their collaborative projects engage in what … Read more

Footnotes to Discontent

2nd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow, March 1-April 1, 2007

The 2nd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art was themed FOOTNOTES on Geopolitics, Market and Amnesia and added its own measure of discontent to the excess of world biennales. Now that this short-lived event is over, its outcome appears clear: the Biennale has only served to highlight the level of political uncertainty, profligate corruption, and social disparity that defines its context. In a social landscape rife with political intrigue, tightening censorship, and some 40 percent of the population living in poverty, the government’s spending of over US $2 million … Read more

Between Abstraction and Thing-Aesthetics: The Object in Avant-Garde Art

Workshop, “The Disclaimed Object — Skepticism on the Artifact of the Russian Avant-Garde Between Abstraction and Things-Aesthetics” (17th and 18th of November 2006, Freie Universität Berlin).

The workshop investigated the different meanings of the terms “object” (predmet / Gegenstand) and “thing” (vešč’) in avant-garde art. According to the organizers, the difference between “object” and “thing” has an anthropological dimension, requiring the presence of the subject.

Summaries of Workshop Contributions

In his lecture “The Life of Things: Italian and Russian Futurism,” Hans Günther discussed the interrelationship of science and technology, as well as the perception of things. … Read more

Nostalgic Artifice – Modus R

Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami, December 04-12, 2006

    We need to place ourselves in an area where politics and art are intertwined, where the resistant force of politics and the creative forces of art mutually affect each other, blurring the frontiers between them.
    –Suely Rolnik, “The Twilight of the Victim: Creating Quits Its Pimp, to Rejoin Resistance.”(S. Rolnik, “The Twilight of the Victim: Creation Quits Its Pimp, to Rejoin Resistance,” Zehar, no.51, (2003):36. www.arteleku.net.)

“Young and energetic” was the description that Alexander Esin gave to a group of Russian artists in his preface to the 2006 … Read more

When the Unavoidable Knocks at the Door…

Lost Highway Expedition was initiated by Azra Akšamija, Katherine Carl, Ana Dzokiæ, Ivan Kucina, Marc Neelen, Kyong Park, Marjetica Potrè and Srdjan Jovanoviæ Weiss, together with partners in participating cities. The expedition started on July 30, 2006 and went from Ljubljana to Zagreb, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Skopje, Pristina, Tirana, and Podgorica. It ended on August 24, 2006 in Sarajevo.

In contrast to the idea and logic that changing places leads from point A to point B, an odyssey within and/or across cultural boundaries started from Ljubljana and ended in Sarajevo with Lost Highway Expedition (LHE).LHE is a project Read more

“Sweet Crude Eternity”: Andrei Molodkin at Kashya Hildebrand

Andrei Molodkin, December 8-January 21 2006, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, New York

Andrei Molodkin’s most recent exhibition reveals some highly charged works which poignantly unmask the political intrigue that is often not far from the surface of the global oil business. By throwing together so directly the forces of culture and politics, Molodkin’s sculptures draw the viewer to reflect not only on their effect upon humanity and the environment in which we live, but also on their potential for the diminution of culture as a whole.

At the heart of this exhibition is Molodkin’s exploration of the concepts of consumption and … Read more

Songs of Russia

Yevgeniy Fiks: The Song of Russia, 24 December 2005 – 24 January 2006, Gallery ArtStrelka Projects (Moscow)

Yevgeniy Fiks was born in Moscow and now teaches in New York, where he has been living for more than ten years. He presented his work in Moscow for the third time. Previously, he showed his work last year during the first Moscow Biennale at the group exhibition for émigré artists, “Post – Diasporas. Voyages and Missions”.

In December 2005, Fiks had a small solo exhibition that exhibited a work called “The Song of Russia” in a place that is very active … Read more

Bloody Dew and Other Prophesies: On the Art of Bogna Burska

A Peculiar Fluid

“Blut ist ein ganz besonderer Saft” (blood is a very peculiar fluid) says Mephistopheles in Goethe`s Faust. Indeed, blood attracts us and makes us avert our eyes, it fills us with fear and tenderness. What a symbolic potential it has! After all, blood is a symbol of sacrifice, martyrdom and redemption as well as war, murder, and sustenance to the dead. On the one hand, the artist deprives human blood of its magical, ritual power using it in spite of the Biblical curse (“Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the … Read more

New Photography from the Caucasus at ifa-Gallery (Stuttgart)


Spot on… 9 September – 23 October 2005, ifa-Galerie, Stuttgart. 

Spot on… is the name for a series of exhibits instituted by the German ifa-galleries that selects pertinent works from previous Biennales and various photography festivals, with a preference for works from more “exotic” countries.(Past examples have been the Sharjah Biennale and Noorderlicht, presenting Arabian photography.)

The last Spot on… exhibition presented recent developments in Caucasian photography from Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. The focus of the exhibition was “to examine the subject of authenticity in photography from the perspective of the ‘documentary’”(See the web-site of the exhibition: Read more

“Russia Redux #1” at Schroeder Romero Gallery

Russia Redux #1, 17 September – 17 October 2005, Schroeder Romero Gallery, New York City

It is a more interesting combination than art and beauty, or art and domestic interiors, but it presents the viewer with a dilemma: how do I evaluate the art without also evaluating the politics? In other words, can I possibly relate to the artworks without also delving into the political point of view, and is my appreciation of the artworks dependent upon my acceptance of the politics?

I would say no. The idea of a completely formal analysis is absolutely vacuous: the notion that … Read more

“RUSSIA!” At Guggenheim in NYC

RUSSIA! 16 September 2005 – 11 January 2006, Guggenheim Museum, New York 

The exhibition RUSSIA!, which opened at the NYC Guggenheim in September 2005, has become the subject of heated debates among cultural commentators both in the West and in Russia. Because of the symbolic value of the venue, the show is catalyzing discourse about the state of affairs with Russian art, the post-Soviet condition, and the representation of Russian art in the West today.

The organizers of RUSSIA! rightfully claimed that this exhibition was “…the most comprehensive and spectacular showing of Russian art ever sent to the United … Read more

Anna Sokolina on the “RUSSIA!” Panels at the Guggenheim

RUSSIA! 16 September 2005 – 11 January 2006, Guggenheim Museum, New York

The magnificent RUSSIA! exhibition at the Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum in New York(<http://www.guggenheim.org/russia>), introduced to the public as “the most comprehensive exhibition of Russian art ever shown in the United States,” features over 270 “of the greatest masterworks of Russian art, from the thirteenth century to the present, many traveling for the first time outside Russia.”(<http://www.guggenheim.org/press_office.cgi?which=/press_releases/release_116.html>)

As indicated on the wall preceding the display, it is “realized under the patronage of Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation” and “organized … Read more

Kristina Leko’s “Amerika”

Amerika, May-June 2005, Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb

In her project entitled Amerika, Kristina Leko employs the tools of ethnology to explore the Croatian émigré community in America. The artist’s method is analogous to anthropological research, which takes culture as its object, is concerned with the contextual and involves fieldwork in the everyday.

While anthropology “deals in the present with the question of the other,”(Marc Augé, Non-Places, Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity (Verso: London and New York, 1995), 18.) Kristina Leko evokes the intertwining of self and other, past and present, “Amerika” and the “old … Read more

Transcending Clichés with Julita Wojcik

    “I will paint every rule I or others have invisibly placed. Oh how they penetrate though and all over.” – Eva Hesse(Entry in diary from 28 October 1960, quoted in Eva Hesse, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.)

“Help me to peel this mountain of potatoes! Help me to swipe the floors! Knit with me! Help me to paint this landscape! Help me to be myself…and help yourself to be yourself too!” – Julita Wojcik

The essence here is trans-individual, made up of bonds that link individuals together in social forms which are historical and cultural, friendly ‘networks’ … Read more

“Contemporary Art in the Time of Late Christianity”

Deisis, October 2004, State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow 

The project Deisis/Forthcoming exhibited at the State Tretyakov gallery in October 2004 shocked Moscow’s art community like no other exhibition before. Under their irony, critics barely disguised their rage and even alarm. According to them, the project only pretended to be an example of advanced art, being in reality a threat against it.

One can imagine that the computerized version entitled Deisis/Anthropology (shown at the Moscow Biennale as part of the “Art Digital” project in Mars gallery) will give rise to a similar reaction. It seems that the artists succeeded in seriously … Read more

The Logics of the “Neglected” Center

1 Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, January 28 – February 28, 2005, Various Locations, Moscow

“Our project, which happened to be the first of this kind in Moscow, presents the first alternative to the current formation of the Russia’s capital, which has been overlooked for a long time: this “neglected” center has never been integrated with the others. The logic of changes can form here recognition and glory of a new kind. This does not mean “again to conquer a central place,” but it refers to the assumption of “being in the center.”

Curators’ Foreword to the catalogue … Read more

Anri Sala, “Now I see”, Art Institute of Chicago

Anri Sala, Now I see, 12 October 2004 – 30 January 2005, Art Institute, Chicago

Upon entering the installation of Anri Sala’s Now I see (2004), his first 35-mm film, the viewer is enveloped in total darkness. The effect is, at first, purposefully disorienting; then a flicker of light flashes upon a 10 x 12 foot screen. A second or two later, the face of a young man emerges from the pitch-black along with the pulse of an electric guitar.

What follows seems to adhere to fairly standard conventions of rock video, with its guitar antics and male posturing, … Read more

Amateur Enthusiam

Marysia Lewandowska and Neil Cummings, Enthusiasts from Amateur Film Clubs 25 June – 29 August 2004, Centrum Sztuki Wspolczesnej, Warsaw

Walter Benjamin produced his most unambiguously Marxist statement about art in his 1934 lecture “Der Autor als Produzent.” Stepping back from inflamed Weimar debates about the politically correct form of progressive art, he maintained that to argue the case for one artistic language over another was to miss the point.

Whether socialist realism was more legible than abstraction was not the issue; the key challenge for Marxist culture, he maintained, was to wrest the technologies of reproduction from the bourgeoisie.… Read more

MICROPOL

MICROPOL, 1-13 November 2004, SKC Gallery, Belgrade

The system of art stands for a network of diverse instances taking constitutive part in the definition, formation, and production of meaning and knowledge in contemporary art. All these instances represent and relate to different institutions and institutional parameters as much as to the institutionalized roles and responsibilities in the professional field of contemporary art.

It should be made clear at the very beginning that the reference towards Contemporary Art in general is here principally bound by the idea of the System of Art, conceived of the Institution of Art, its broadest … Read more

The Moscow State Biennial

The first Moscow Biennial opens on January 28th, 2005. The issues that this exhibition tackles are characteristic of any major international exhibition of such grand scale, and include breaking with the isolation of the local art scene, reconnecting it to a larger art world, promoting discussions, inspiring dialogues, and educating the public.

But legitimization is perhaps the most critical issue any new biennial faces, and it is interesting to analyze it with regard to the upcoming Moscow exhibition: What is being legitimized there and what is the process through which this legitimization occurs?

Although the Moscow Biennial has not yet … Read more

Hidden Holocaust

Elhallgatott Holocaust/Hidden Holocaust, March 18 – May 30, 2004, Mucsarnok, Budapest

The Mucsarnok (or Kunsthalle) is a major exhibition space for contemporary art in Budapest and its region. This March 18 through May 30, it was also the site of the Elhallgatott Holocaust/Hidden Holocaust exhibition. To mark the sixtieth anniversary of the deportations from Hungary to Auschwitz, no fewer than two other Holocaust related exhibitions also appeared. At the Galeria Centralis, Auschwitz: Reconstruction, Representation, Remembrance, and at The House of Terror, Iniquity.(Galleria Centralis is supported by the Open Society Institute of the Soros Foundation and Read more

Mediterraneans

MEDITERRANEANS, Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome at Mattatoio, Rome. 4 June – 19 September 2004.(Participating artists: Anri Sala (Albania), Adel Abdessemed (Algeria), Melik Ohanian (Armenia. Lives in France), Damir Niksic (Bosnia), Andreja Kuluncic (Croatia), Tomo Savic-Gecan (Croatia), Slaven Tolj (Croatia), Iman Issa (Egypt), Hassan Khan (Egypt), Mahmoud Rifaat (Egypt), Wael Schawky (Egypt), Panos Kokkinias (Greece), Deanna Maganias (Greece), Dimitris Tsoublekas (Greece), Yael Bartana (Israel. Lives in the Netherlands), Valery Bolotin (Israel), Amit Goren (Israel), Raffie Lavie (Israel), Michal Na’aman (Israel), Gill Shani (Israel), Nahum Tevet (Israel), Roberto Cuoghi (Italy), Avish Khebrehzadeh (Iran. Lives in USA), Raffaella Read more

The Title is Programmatic

Privatisierungen, 16 May – 26 June 2004, Kunst-Werke, Berlin

In the course of the scientific project “The Post-Communist Condition,” which deals with cultural reactions to the political and social situation in Eastern Europe after the collapse of communism, the art and media theoretician Boris Groys launched an exhibition on contemporary art.

The exhibition, called “Privatisierungen. Zeitgenössische Kunst aus Osteuropa” (“Privatizations. Contemporary art from Eastern Europe”), was shown in the Berliner exhibition hall Kunst-Werke from 16th May until 26th June.

“Privatisierungen“ concentrates on projects, mostly photographs and video art, that present what Groys calls a kind of “private appropriation” of … Read more

I Menstruate, So Should I Stay at Home?

This Month I Menstruate, Gallery Art Factory, Wenceslas Square, Prague, March 3 – March 19, 2004

Exhibiting artists: Barbora Baronova – Pavlina Binkova – Veronika Bromova – Stanislav Divis – Roman Franta – Lenka Fritschova – Adela Havelkova – Milova Havrankova – Tereza Hendlova – Veronika Hubkova – Tereza Janeckova – Peter Javorik – Lenka Klodova – Gabriela Kontra – Iveta Kratochvilova – Katerina Mala – Rita Marhaug – Stepanka Matuskova – Eva Meisnerrova – Osamu Okamura – Pipi Modra Puncocha – Jiri Pliestik – Jana Stepanova – Petra Valentova – Jirina Zachova – Jitka Zabkova

In 1972, a … Read more

“The Critic’s Choice 2004” – Jovan Despotovic: “Old Now”

The Critic’s Choice, Gallery of the Culture Center, Belgrade, January 8-24, 2004

The traditional annual exhibition The Critic’s Choice this year features the selection entitled Old Now by the assistant minister of culture and curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Mr. Jovan Despotovic.

The author has decided to deviate from the usual practice of basing his selection on the artists who have exhibited during the previous year.

Instead, he chose to present the current work of the group of authors who were gathered at the exhibition entitled New Now more than twenty years ago: Darja Kacic, Milovan Destil … Read more

2003 Chalupecky Prize Shortlist: The Jindrich Chalupecky Award Finalists 2003

Futura, Prague, 11 November – 4 January

The exhibition of shortlisted works for the 2003 Chalupecky Prize at Prague’s FUTURA contemporary art space, can best be summed up with two words: Kristof Kintera.

Among this year’s finalists—a list which also includes Ján Manzuka, Michaela Thelenová, Jan Lerych, Michal Pechounek—only Kristof Kintera has presented anything like a credible claim to the Czech Repulic’s premier award for contemporary art—an award which has gained increasingly in notoriety in recent years due more to the quality of the successive scandals surrounding it than to the quality of the competition.

The only artist to approach … Read more

Ondrej Tucek & the Art of Redemption

Namesti Jana Palacha, Prague, June-October 2004

Recently there have been a number of interesting exhibitions mounted at the Philosophy Faculty building on Námesti Jana Palacha, curated by Ondrej Hrab.

One of these in particular stands out and deserves mention: Ondrej Tucek’s series of found objects, previously on show at Klub v Jelení, the Catholic House in Telc, Sazavou castle, and Muncipal Theatre, Cesky Krumlov.

Using plastic bottles, steel wires, torn wrappers, bricks, cardboard tubes, half-eaten biscuits, stiboglyphics, and other ephemeral tracings of industrial and urban activity, Tucek’s work charts what could be called the “inventions” of mimesis in objects which … Read more

How a Genre Exhibits Itself by Discussing the Exhibition

Berlin – Moscow/Moscow – Berlin 1950-2000, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, 27 September 2003 – 1 May 2004 

The exhibition review is one of the most unmerciful genres created by literal cultures. In this context the critic’s iconoclasm takes subtle revenge for the disregard of the written word after the so-called “pictorial turn” in Western societies.

Trying a shaky balance between ekphrasis, elevating the review to the status of pictorial art, and textual criticism of pictures demonstrating the domination of verbal over visual discourse, the reviewer shifts from the position of a viewer to that of a reader, often playing off … Read more