Review /

Friend of a Friend 2018 / Warsaw

Polish art continues to flourish with artists like Katarzyna Kozyra, Paulina Olowska, Wilhelm Sasnal, and Krzysztof Wodiczko entering a number of prestigious collections around the world. However, there seems to be little enthusiasm from Poland’s local collectors, who instead play their luck with young talent at auction. This spring in Warsaw saw the first edition of Friend of a Friend (FOAF), an alternative to traditional art fairs launched by two galleries, Stereo and Wschód, breathe fresh air into this dichotomous state of affairs.

Fifteen galleries from Europe and North America were welcomed into eight venues during FOAF. Two artists, Sean Mullins and David Flaugher, represented by Lomex in New York and hosted by Piktogram, were honored with the FOAF award, resulting in paintings by Mullins and objects by Flaugher making their way into Warsaw’s Museum of Modern Art collection. Most participating galleries were turned into showrooms for their guests. It was only Leto Gallery that surrendered its entire space to Dürst Britt & Mayhew of The Hague, who hosted a solo show of Sybren Renema titled “Lift Off, Land Ahoy!” (shown last year at the Venice Biennial’s Antarctic Pavilion). It was a boon to see international artists displaying their work in Poland for the first time, such as Renaud Jerez, whose departure from sculpture to drawing debuted at Galeria Stereo’s hosting of Crèvecoeur, Paris; alongside recent works by Polish artist Olaf Brzeski at Raster Gallery, who exhibited his distinguished sculptures with their first ever integration of wood.

There were various tendencies presented at FOAF that could formulate a generalized understanding of art within this exchange model, similarly executed by Condo. An example of the event’s ease and spontaneity could perhaps be underlined in the humor and absurdity of works by legendary Czech artist Jiří Kovanda, brought to Piktogram by Prague’s SVIT. Untitled (2018), a can of sardines submerged in a pail of water, captured the same festival spirit that could unleash Warsaw’s potential as an international art hub, despite the challenges of a local art market still in its infancy.

by Agnieszka Sural

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Flash Art 321 June – August 2018

We are pleased to announce that the June – August issue of Flash Art – International Edition is out now.

The articles and interviews included in this issue of Flash Art address the human body, introducing artistic practices that push the body’s physical boundaries and challenge its codified representations. For example, in the paintings of Venezuelan-born, California-based Luchita Hurtado, this issue’s cover artist, the body becomes a landscape or is self-portrayed from the artist’s own perspective, with no mirrors or cameras to aid her, as a way to connect the personal with the contextual. “[Hurtado’s] body multiplies and moves from confined domestic spaces into public, wide-open spaces, acting as a sincere pre-selfie browser that brings its vulnerability with it everywhere,” writes Catherine Wagley in her article on the artist.

Also contained in this issue is a twelve-page dossier dedicated to artist, educator, curator, and cultural theorist Ian White, who died of cancer in 2013 at the age of forty-two. Compiled on the occasion of the Camden Arts Centre’s current overview of White’s output, the dossier reconsiders White’s critical strategies, all of which engage the body as a site of inquiry for examining the historical and political conditions for making and presenting art. According to Federico Florian, who along with Emma Hedditch and Matt Wolf contributed to the dossier, White saw “movement in all of its connotations — relating to the performing body, the muscle-mind, and that of the encroaching illness — [as] a constant concern. As if thinking and talking about gestures, about motion, was a way to stay active and critically receptive.”

Also in this issue:

Lena Henke shares with Tenzing Barshee her thoughts about materiality and ephemerality, and the exhausted representational function of sculpture.

“I like to explore the intimate dimension of urban space, to build on it as if it is a material that I can make malleable and shape.” —Lena Henke

Martti Kalliala on the transformational experience of Burning Man:

“Why and how has Burning Man itself and the act of signaling membership to its ethos via a codified aesthetic concoction of steampunk tropes, offensively appropriated indigenous ceremonial attire, the psy-porn of visionary art, never-never land, and drop-crotch pants become aspirational?”

—Martti Kalliala

Eric N. Mack discusses with Jessica Bell Brown the tactility of his materials and how their constant echo of the human body intimates the communicative potential of the fashion item.

“I want to try to make a record of the familiar, just to see the abstraction in everyday things. And not just a part of a tangibility — it’s a world we live in that sits adjacent to understanding. Understanding our bodies, understanding space, understanding feeling.” —Eric N. Mack

Dena Renga on the the signature style of director Stefano Sollima:

“Sollima has made a name for himself by presenting Italian tragedy in a visually compelling format that is entertaining and highly addictive.” —Dena Renga

In “Archive”:

Bruce Nauman

By Isabelle Graw

Originally published in Flash Art – International Edition 169, March – April 1993

In “Reviews”:

Jenny Saville at Gagosian Gallery, New York; Charles Ray at Matthew Marks Gallery, New York; Otobong Nkanga at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Gordon Hall at MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge (MA); Benjamin Reiss at Bel Ami, Los Angeles; Wolfgang Stoerchle at Overduin & Co., Los Angeles; Ícaro Lira at Galeria Jaqueline Martins, São Paulo; Linder at Nottingham Contemporary; Joseph Beuys at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London; Judith Hopf at Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen; Monika Baer at Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin; Stanley Whitney at Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin; Alfredo Volpi at NMNM, Monaco; Ydessa Hendeles at Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; “Post Zang Tumb Tuum. Art Life Politics. Italia 1918–1943” at Fondazione Prada, Milan; Tarek Atoui at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore; Omer Fast at Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou; Xavier Cha at Empty Gallery, Hong Kong.

We are pleased to announce Flash Art’s participation in the 2018 editions of Art | Basel | Basel (hall 1.1, booth Z03); Liste, Basel; I Never Read, Basel; Chart, Copenhagen; and Art-o-Rama, Marseille.

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In Residence /

The Spear Verses the Net

In the aftermath of organizing an unrealized exhibition at artist-run institution Odium Fati in San Francisco, K.r.m. Mooney offers a set of relations between figures. These six installments, contributed to Flash Art’s “In Residence” column, are a means for the artist to pursue the significance of each context-specific practice and the potential actions, kinships, and alignments between these figures.

An exhibition is an ideological field in which we are charged with a mandate to think compositionally. The speculative exhibition at Odium Fati asks: What is the role of form as a context-specific practice both inherited and produced? What is the potential of revision as a strategy and a mode of engagement with one’s material conditions and physical world? The slight internal dynamics among practices, forms, and components generate a specific capacity to act as a carrier of the political. To reorient one’s recognition of the varied and uncounted participants that facilitate our innumerous encounters in daily life, while in public space, with objects and with one another. For example, in common architectural discourse attention is seldom paid to the embodied, affective, and relational aspects of site and space. To receive an exhibition of artworks is to recognize the implication of a body tracing a building: its structural citations brought forth by its history of past and future use, made solid in a specific physical arrangement. We recount the role of space as a container, its value as a collaborator, a participant in structural injustice but also in practices of living and of responsiveness.  

An exhibition will often traverse a number of formal and informal networks, including peers or friends, fiduciaries and foundations; the context of a group exhibition plays a particular role. Contingent on situation and context, it provides a space of mutual interruptibility amid works, resisting a singular voice. It asks: What is it to join with another? The physical limits of objects become heightened, distributed throughout space while trying to maintain a set of slight negative spaces — though this space is always full. In the most general sense, organizing a group exhibition is a means to gather and share. The figure of the container leads me to Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1986 revisionist text “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction,” from which the exhibition at Odium Fati takes its name. The essay describes the importance of two dominant stories in the context of new pedagogies. Le Guin posits a new theory, a counter-narrative, in which the first cultural device used by humans was a container or a carrier bag for food, rather than a weapon. “Before the tool that forces energy outward, we made the tool that brings energy home.” Aware that tales of hunting rather than gathering make for more exciting stories, and thus their cultural capacity to establish dominant patterns of narrative, Le Guin instead argues for the inglorious narrative of the container.

In “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction,” Le Guin proposes that the container is that which makes us what we are: the bottle, the net, the shell, the clay pot. Reflexive in its pedagogical role, it weaves a story through figures, citations, and memories. The text distilled asks: How we remember or learn anew? How may we story differently? Le Guin believes the process of writing a book to be akin to the lugging of a container, full of words and thoughts. An exhibition can be characterized by similar acts. It is a means of re-storying in which artworks are always coauthored via personal or historical memories made explicit through formal behaviors or not; artworks contain elements waiting to be used up. The exhibition at Odium Fati is a site of intensified involvement wherein less explicit practices of form and revision may find use in the figure of the container: the carrier as a means of responsiveness, gathering words or works that bear meaning and hold a particular relation to one another and to us. While always implicated in formations of knowledge that produce reward, recognition, or status as some stories accumulate and arise over others, the works in the exhibition channel a quiet listening. They function through a continuous process of holding open a slight negative space between philosophy and social realities, theoretical speculations and concrete plans.

K.r.m. Mooney is an artist living and working in Oakland, California.

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Review /

Matthew Lutz-Kinoy Le Consortium / Dijon

Matthew Lutz-Kinoy’s solo exhibition at Le Consortium conflates two places far away in time and space: New York’s Frick Collection, opened to the public in 1935, and the Château de Bellevue, erected in 1750 on the outskirts of Paris for Louis XV’s mistress Madame de Pompadour and demolished seventy years later. Lutz-Kinoy’s combo, however, is not purely gratuitous; it has been drawn through the figure of François Boucher, the French Rococo painter who was a protégé of Madame de Pompadour (and indeed decorated her private rooms at the château), and whom Henry Frick voraciously collected.

Lutz-Kinoy’s embrace of the dense ornamental language of the Late Baroque develops into a journey — or better, a promenade — through modes of representation. The artist presents thirteen large-scale paintings and a collection of ceramic objects shown on tatami-cum-plinths. The paintings cover almost the entire wall surface of the single room hosting the exhibition, wrapping the space in a continuous decorative shell. Their subjects include: naked male bodies (either entirely drawn or rendered as silhouettes), flower motives, architectural plans of gardens (indeed, of the park surrounding the Château de Bellevue), color fields, pastoral vignettes involving infants (sometimes quoting Boucher’s paintings in the Frick Collection), trinkets in the shape of exotic animals, gestures reminiscent of the most abstract landscapes of the Chinese literati, and so on.

Because of their enormous scale, many of the canvases were partitioned; their fragmentation, however, enhances the viewer’s experience, echoing both the Rococo affinity for asymmetry and the maze-like design of the giardino all’italiana. The painterly surface becomes itself a garden, a place where the artist’s visual memories are triggered by the cyclicity of seasons and grow into inventions; where the figure-ground optics of figurative painting meet the theatricality of nature mastered by man; where harmony is achieved through extravagance. Standing before the many bodies populating these paintings, it is hard not to translate this agenda to gendered identities; and, in fact, as in Boucher’s bucolic scenes in which children are ambiguously depicted carrying out adult tasks, Lutz-Kinoy’s males — often captured in luscious poses — blend with the exquisite queering function of decoration.

by Michele D’Aurizio

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Review /

Zoe Leonard Whitney Museum of American Art / New York

“Zoe Leonard: Survey” at the Whitney Museum of American Art is the artist’s first retrospective in a major American museum. The first gallery exudes a longing for nostalgia and remote destinations. The walls display black-and-white photographs taken through a plane window. A queue of blue vintage suitcases, to which the artist keeps adding every year, sits on the floor in the middle of the gallery (1961, 2002).

Zoe Leonard, You see I am here after all, 2008, (detail)
Zoe Leonard, You see I am here after all, 2008, (detail). Installation view, Dia: Beacon, Beacon, New York, 2008. Collection of the artist; courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne. Photograph by Bill Jacobson, New York.

The plain, vintage, dated look of the suitcases may be a metaphor for the lack of novelty that sightseeing offers, the ubiquitousness of our global consumer culture, which we never really abandon. Our dreams are mass marketed. The blue, contrasting with the dramatic black-and-white photos, suggests that color resides in the traveler, rather than the landscape: we carry our dreams hoping to see them manifest. Is that the definition of vacation? This installation is tied to the adjacent gallery’s You see I am here after all (2008), an impressive assemblage composed of about four thousand nearly identical vintage postcards of Niagara Falls. If a postcard is as an achievement (“Hello! I’ve been there!”), the overwhelming quantity here annihilates their naïve purpose: a trophy in a room full of trophies is no longer a trophy. But, as a whole, the assemblage is monumental, emulating the scale of the waterfalls. Human dreams pour into the ether like a colossal water chute. The installation Strange Fruit (1992–1997) presents a collection of fruit skins (banana, orange, lemon, and more) sewed together and decaying before our eyes. Unfortunately, the museum has provided little information about the piece. The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s description is more detailed: “‘Strange Fruit began as a means of consolation for the artist after the death of a friend [David Wojnarowicz] but now presents a wide range of possible readings, including a meditation on loss and mortality.” Here the longing for departure takes a much more tragic, fatal sense.

by Alexandre Stipanovich

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Review /

Taryn Simon: An Occupation of Loss Artangel / London

An Occupation of Loss, artist Taryn Simon’s first performance work, was commissioned by Park Avenue Armory New York and Artangel London. The work unfolded in two chapters: the first in New York in September 2016, and the second in an unfinished London theater located beneath a luxurious yet kitsch residential glass/concrete block on the corner of Islington Green, which felt both urban and unfamiliar. Its three-balustrade circular form, excavated underground, created a somewhat sci-fi setting for mourning rituals acted out by professional mourners, or collaborating artists, suggesting an imaginary bridge between past and future amid uncertainties in our age of individualism.

The Park Avenue Armory is itself a historic brick building of monumental proportions on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. There, the choice to work with Shohei Shigematsu and OMA resulted in a very imposing display, with eleven massive forty-eight-foot-tall concrete pipes displayed in a semicircle, each endowed with a boardwalk aimed at a center point and marked by a passage of light defined by two thin neon columns. The live performance, which lasted around forty-five minutes in both cities, connected each pipe to a mourner, staging what felt like a funeral inside a Brutalist chapel. The mourning ground in London was instead nestled within the existing architecture of the theater with two central light passages — a choice that could be seen as a doubling of the original semi-circular space, and also evocative of the light shafts organized as a tribute to the victims of the September 11 attacks in New York, the artist’s hometown.

Simon’s work always allows for an open-ended reading, framed by the painstaking methodology of an anthropologist. In fact, her practice — mostly photographic until An Occupation of Loss — requires extensive cognitive work and research embodied in a carefully designed form. She draws upon found images and their inherent stories, which often have profound implications — cultural, political, economic — as is the case of A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I – XVIII (2008–11) and Paperwork and the Will of Capital (2015).

However, Simon’s subjects are openly decontextualized, a feature that in her transition from photography to performance can suggest dehumanization and displacement. This intent seems affirmed by the featured book on display at the show, which is a collection of paperwork and visa requests for the performers to travel. Each book is site-specific to the two venues, implying the governmental authorship of the artwork based on their approval or refusal of the mourner’s visas. The performance felt at once choreographed and cacophonic, an upside down Tower of Babel with a fragmented humanity gathering to express an insatiable need for belonging during the paying of last respects. Singers and musicians from Greece, Azerbaijan, Armenia, China, Cambodia, and other countries expressed a wide range of laments and exhortations; Ghanaians sobbed while a blind Ecuadorian accordionist set the rhythm. Each of them filled the space with a dense sense of what is inevitability shared across borders and civilizations.

The event felt mysterious and solemn, with a silent crowd of spectators moving from one group of performers to another and lingering between the two neon columns. The artist’s appropriation of ancient and mostly non-Western mourning practices — a recurring trope — is thorny. However, Simon disallows speculation by keeping everything under a rigorous discipline fed by scientific collaborators such as linguists, musicologists, anthropologists, and field workers over an eleven-year time span.

There is currently no archive of collective mourning practices worldwide, which made preparation of the performance arduous but also led Simon toward an unprecedented attempt at creating new taxonomies. Beneath this straightforward framework, An Occupation of Loss calls for an examination into the legacy of a seemingly vanished humanism in post-capitalist society — a missing piece that has been addressed by a number of academics, and more specifically referred to as a “community” — in contrast to rising individuality — by Zygmunt Bauman in Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World (2001), and as a “center of gravity” by Charles A. Kupchan in No One’s World: The West, The Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn (2012).

by Sara Dolfi Agostini

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