Review /

The Overworked Body Ludlow 38 and Mathew Gallery / New York

Is it the 2000s or the aughts? Would you say post-9/11, the Bush years, or the war on terror? Housing bubble or housing crisis? Your twenties? MySpace? That time you lived in Williamsburg? Does “last decade” indicate our stern preference to not talk about it?

The same anxiety troubles “The Overworked Body: An Anthology of 2000s Dress,” an honest eulogy to that ten-year span of time. The exhibition collects radical fashion between spring/summer 2000 and fall/winter 2009 into a historical hall of mirrors in which dozens of studiously garmented mannequins recount the era’s feverish obsessions. Put another way, the show’s fitful attachments exhibit a budding angst.

There are many ways through this exhibition, which converts Mathew and Ludlow 38 into overcrowded showrooms. Connections between designers are largely intuited. Some were especially captivated by the apparatus of control. At the former space, Ann-Sofie Back’s cocktail dresses and reworked trench coat expose the shameless will to power behind the austerity of business casual. A Victorian-inspired Jean-Paul Gaultier dress employs new (at the time) photographic fabric printing to simulate patterns and ruffles, complimented by an infamous Stephen Jones shoe-hat flopped on the mannequin’s head. Decadence tends toward irreverence in other designers: Final Home’s mesh coat filled with all sorts of office trash (e.g., a Diet Coke can and FedEx shipping form); Margiela’s military-style vest made out of puffy ski gloves; the torched sequins in a Shelley Fox dress. Behind the naughty pastiche of ’90s styles is boredom in the KEUPR/van BENTM Fall/Winter 2000 show, a video of which is on view. Each time a model takes their turn, a Looney Tunes bonk-on-the-head sound effect is heard.

Neoliberalism spread rapidly during the aughts. Wealth flowed upward. Designers may have sniffed out clues to the nihilism driving our current predicaments, having made light of the ill-begotten popularity facilitated by the internet. It’s tough to name. The flipside involved special credence paid to New Age spiritualism and countercultural chic. Innocence, frivolity and joy describe several looks displayed on a catwalk-cum-skate park packed into Ludlow 38’s entryway — rejoice in fabrics and textures. Hideki Seo’s contributions, two school uniforms that transform the wearer into a scaly mythological chimera, speak to the narrow distance between animism and imagination. Bedazzled outfits by Andrew Groves and a gown by Arkadius balance frump and glamor; A.F. Vandervost’s dress is Weimar club gear; and an abundance of BLESS demonstrates their coy, cult-like sensibility, drawing connections between universal football fandom and featureless, unisex onesies.

The exhibition takes place definitively downtown, in a section of Chinatown and the Lower East Side that many of the designers included here, especially Susan Cianciolo or the late Ben Cho, helped to popularize. The proximity is voyeuristic. During the same era, galleries moved there, too. It’s been almost a decade and we keep coming back to sneak a peek.

by Sam Korman

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News /

Silvia Ammon and Clément Delépine on Paris Internationale

The third edition of Paris Internationale, the “convivial” art fair supporting a younger generation of galleries and artists, will take place October 18–22, 2017, in the former headquarters of Libération, the legendary French newspaper cofounded by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1973. Flash Art spoke with Paris Internationale co-directors Silvia Ammon and Clément Delépine.

With art fairs proliferating, a clear identity is pivotal to the success of newer ones. How do you define Paris Internationale in that regard?

Silvia Ammon and Clément Delépine: A large-scale art fair can be intimidating even to veteran fairgoers. The term “convivial” was used a lot in reference to Paris Internationale — to such an extent that it became a private joke among the team. One particular comment we received from our exhibitors and visitors is that they enjoyed the “deceleration” and being able to take the time to more thoroughly discuss an artist’s work. The fair is nomadic, founded by five galleries to promote the work of a generation of like-minded galleries.

One of the main new features of this edition of Paris Internationale is its location in the multistory car park previously home to the newspaper Libération. Can you elaborate on this choice?

The inaugural edition in 2015 took place in a grand but derelict mansion undergoing renovation. In 2016 we used a truly magnificent hôtel particulier, which was originally the Parisian residence and home to the collection of Calouste Gulbenkian. For the upcoming edition, we wanted to propose something new and to completely depart from the aesthetic codes we’ve explored thus far. On our first visit we were immediately drawn to the brutalist feel of this building.

The fair will be located in the heart of Paris, between the politically loaded Place de la République and Le Marais, Paris’s traditional gallery district. Will this new location color the fair?

Politically speaking, this venue is an appropriate context to address current challenges to journalism, freedom of speech and urban development. We worked closely with the Parisian collective The Cheapest University, which organized a program of collaborative work events titled “What’s in My Bag…?” Inspired by the eponymous TV show, the reflection was driven by the current security-driven political climate in which bags of citizens are systematically inspected. This year again, we benefit from the support of the Fondation d’entreprise Ricard to organize the public program.

One of the distinctive features of Paris Internationale is the presence of nonprofit art spaces. What is their role within the fair?

Nonprofit spaces spearhead and promote an emerging scene. In Paris specifically, nonprofits are definitely agents of the city’s dynamism, which is why we decided to focus on Parisian spaces this year. PI always supported nonprofits by inviting them to partake. As you know, the venue was originally conceived as a parking lot. Libération had platforms built along the spiraling ramp to install journalists. We positioned the nonprofits on these platforms, at the very center of the fair.

by Charles Teyssou

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Review /

Julian Rosefeldt Fundación Proa / Buenos Aires

Manifesto, Julian Rosefeldt’s film project that aspires to historical grandeur, landed in Buenos Aires as an overconstructed exhibition at Fundación Proa. Three rooms host twelve films starring Cate Blanchett, who performs a kind of textual survey of the twentieth-century avant-garde.

The actor, playing such diverse characters as a firm’s CEO, a news reporter and a stockbroker, recites the seminal texts of various art movements. The screenplay allows for small affinities in the coupling of character and text: Marinetti’s accelerationist emphasis and a financial employee; the Russian avant-garde and a scientist who finds, in a research complex, a black rectangular object. For the texts of Bruno Taut, Antonio Sant’Elia and Robert Venturi, Blanchett is a worker in a trash-incinerating facility, hinting at relationships between architecture, economic growth and environmental sustainability. With remarkable precision, the actor brings an emotional range to disparate artistic ideas, conveying in turn authority (a fancy choreographer), warmth (a first-grade teacher) and exaltation (a young punk lady in a bar).

Character development, nevertheless, gives way to synchronized lecturing via the primerisimo plano of Blanchett’s face and her simultaneous reciting, on all the screens, of discourses that can have an authoritarian undertone. This climatic synchronization shifts the viewer’s attention from the individual films to what occurs in the entirety of the room.

It’s a bit off-putting that Proa’s show doesn’t end with Rosefeldt’s work. A subtle pedagogical quality is already embedded in the virtues of Manifesto (the viewer, in a specific moment, confronts six of Blanchett’s giant faces reciting texts fundamental to the Western art canon) but, in addition to the films, the institution filled an extra floor with information (photos and texts) further explaining the characters, their manifestos and, more generally, what the avant-gardes of the past century were. It is a gesture more akin to the anti-avant-garde wooden donkey Bertold Brecht kept on his desktop with the famous lemma: “Even I must understand it.” Or at least, be lectured.

by Claudio Iglesias

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Flash Art 50 /

Flash Art 50: a weekend of Italian art history
28 – 29 October
Auditorium of the National Museum of Science and Technology “Leonardo Da Vinci” / Milan

This year, Flash Art turns fifty years old. To celebrate this special occasion, the symposium “Flash Art 50” invites some of the most influential personalities in the Italian art scene to retrace the history of art from 1967 until today.

Articulated in five round tables, the symposium aims to deepen artistic research, theoretical lines and the systemic trends that have characterised five decades of editorial activity by Flash Art. Each round table will include artists, critics, curators and gallerists – all pivotal figures in the evolution of artistic discourse in their respective eras – and will be moderated by a historical representative from editorial.

The symposium will take place in the Auditorium of the National Museum of Science and Technology “Leonardo Da Vinci” (via San Vittore, 21), Milan, Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th of October 2017, from 11am to 7pm and 11am to 4:30pm, respectively.

Entry is free until allocation exhausted.

 

Program

Saturday 28 October

11:00 – 13:00

The Nineties

Stefano Arienti

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

Claudio Guenzani

Roberto Pinto

Grazia Toderi

Angela Vettese

Luca Vitone

Moderator: Emanuela De Cecco

 

14:30 – 16:30

The Seventies

Giovanni Anselmo

Piero Gilardi

Ugo La Pietra

Paola Mattioli

Paolo Mussat Sartor

Franco Toselli 

Moderator: Renato Barilli 

 

17:00 – 19:00

The Twenty-tens

Invernomuto

Eva Fabbris

Anna Franceschini

Simone Frangi

Beatrice Marchi

Valentina Suma

Marco Tagliafierro

Moderator: Michele D’Aurizio

Sunday 29 October

11:00 – 13:00

The Eighties

Achille Bonito Oliva

Laura Cherubini

Corrado Levi

Emilio Mazzoli

Maurizio Nannucci

Aldo Spoldi

Giorgio Verzotti

Moderator: Giacinto Di Pietrantonio

 

14:30 – 16:30

The Noughties

Luca Cerizza

Massimiliano Gioni

Alessandro Rabottini

Marinella Senatore

Francesco Vezzoli

Andrea Viliani

Paolo Zani

Italo Zuffi

Moderator: Barbara Casavecchia

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Review /

Jala Wahid Seventeen Gallery / London

Jala Wahid doesn’t mess around. Entering this basement gallery-cum-meat storage facility one is met by the jagged profile of a polished black spike, emerging from the wall like the fingernail of an irascible giant. Its title, Final Blade (all works 2017), indicates that this is the end of an earlier line of experimentation with jesmonite, a gypsum-based composite whose flexibility as a material has helped to shape the artist’s particular brand of bodily evisceration.

In No Hold Too Strong — a pair of oversized amputated thighs whose raw waist is treated with smears of red animal fat — a mixture of jesmonite and aluminum produces a dull, matte silver that appears numb to the pain. By contrast, Bare and Writhe, in which two rounded hunks hang from the ceiling on chains like the remnants of shorn carcasses, overlays its jesmonite base with a sickly green pigment enveloped in glass wax and honey. With a surface pockmarked by grapefruit peel, this is a vision of putrefaction as fascinating as it is nauseating.

Yet the thrust of the show is the compelling automythology produced by Wahid’s combination of uncanny bodily empathy and linguistic sensibility. This is exemplified in Akh Milk Bile Threat, a graffitied “Akh!” painted onto the wall in a mixture of pigment, breast milk and ox bile. Both form and content here reflect Wahid’s Kurdish heritage — the medium is used for body tattoos while the word itself defies translation, sitting on a spectrum between pain and relief. With meaning malleable and contingent on context, the work encapsulates the artist’s interest in Kurdistan’s undocumented histories and the extent to which they are “archived on a body.” Up close it is less a painting than a peeling, with the material’s curious consistency rendering it simultaneously permanent and fugitive. This vision of the body as text-in-flux is elaborated further next door in Oh Leander!, a video installation in which the “Akh” flickers across mutable stanzas against an oily mass of deep red gelatin. Addressing a world of confined spaces, Jala Wahid is becoming the bard of borderless meanings.

by Alex Estorick

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Review /

In Search of Expo 67 Musée d’art contemporain / Montreal

Fifty years after the fact, the utopian theater of Expo 67 — which welcomed an estimated fifty million visitors to the multilingual metropolis of Montreal — betokens a deferred promise of technological prosperity and global unity. Amid Canada’s troubled sesquicentennial celebrations, there is an understandable temptation to look back at the World’s Fair with nostalgia.

Instead, the nineteen works selected by cocurators Lesley Johnstone and Monika Kin Gagnon draw attention to fissures in the fair’s familiar image of geodesic uniformity.

Standout works include Omaskêko Cree artist Duane Linklater’s reimagining of a mural that once graced the Indians of Canada Pavilion. Long attributed to Norval Morrisseau, it was actually executed by an assistant due to government censorship of the indigenous artist’s candid depiction of a breast-feeding mother earth. Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn casts a critical glance at Canada’s vaunted history of multiculturalism, deftly weaving archival footage of an unlikely centennial project in small-town Alberta that greeted “alien” visitors with the world’s first UFO landing pad into an otherworldly allegory of the country’s fraught relationship with terrestrial migrants.

Leisure (Meredith Carruthers and Susannah Wesley) reconstructs an experimental children’s play area designed by Canadian landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, whose tiny utopia has been unjustly overshadowed by the fair’s trademark multiscreen environments. Cheryl Sim revisits the futuristic apparel sported by Expo hostesses as a screen for multivalent desires. David K. Ross’s drone-mounted camera in As Sovereign as Love (2017) retraces the one-time trajectory of the fair’s dismantled mini-rail. Present-day barriers in its aerial itinerary poignantly mark points of rupture between the utopian geography conjured by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Terre des hommes, which inspired Expo’s anthropocentric theme, “Man and his World,” and a site irrevocably transformed by time’s passage.

by Adam Lauder

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