Review /

Gary Indiana 356 Mission / Los Angeles

Writing and travel are corresponding activities inasmuch as they depend on distance. A chronicler is necessarily set apart from the events s/he transcribes in much the same way a traveler is a deliberate stranger, isolated from his/her surroundings.

The photos and videos in Gary Indiana’s eponymous exhibition at 356 Mission give the impression of a travelogue by a tourist of Gordian desires. Images from Malta, Cuba, Lisbon and Budapest render glimpses from an eye calibrated to irreverence, romanticism and intimate, untold stories.

Known best as the indomitable, toxic, sagaciously truthful art critic for the Village Voice from 1985–87, Indiana’s reviews read like reports from the frontline at a time when downtown New York was still seen as a foreign, embattled territory plagued by crime and devastated by AIDS. His subsequent trilogy of novels set in Southern California, Resentment, Depraved Indifference and Three Month Fever, cemented his legacy as an American satirist.

Indiana’s previous exhibitions — at American Fine Arts Co. (2002), Participant Inc. (2013) and Envoy Enterprises (2015) — comprised mostly black-and-white images, atmospheric, cinematic and opaque with poetic density, spanning a thirty-year period. The pictures at 356 Mission by contrast are primarily from 2015, color inkjet prints hung unframed, salon-style, with a casual immediacy. It wouldn’t be wrong to call them snapshots, but it belies something of the breadth of their concern. They display a curiosity for other people that, while voyeuristic, suggests a longing to know the inside of strangers’ lives.

The accompanying three-hour plus video program crescendos with Stanley Park (2014). The forty-minute video, shot off the coast of Cuba, documents the ruins of the Presidio Modelo, an island prison that was perhaps the most literally executed example of the Panopticon. The writer’s distance is a form of surveillance.

In a recent interview, Indiana remarked that everything he does is a form of writing: “Sometimes you can’t write, sometimes you don’t want to write. Sometimes language is too imperfect somehow.”

by David Matorin

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Noah Horowitz on Art|Basel|Miami Beach

Since Art|Basel appointed Noah Horowitz as its new Director of the Americas last summer, the art fair maven has been commuting between New York and Miami in preparation for Art|Basel|Miami Beach. Horowitz shares with Flash Art a few insights on the upcoming edition of the most anticipated contemporary art fair in the United States.

The first time I met you was before you began working for the VIP Art Fair in 2010 — an online fair for which you invited the likes of Gagosian, Zwirner, Pace and White Cube. After that experience, what would you say are the advantages of an online art fair today? Are there any?

In the fair context, most collectors still want to see artworks first-hand with a physical encounter at a gallery booth. While the internet can’t replicate this experience, it can introduce new audiences to a gallery and help widen their network. It can also help a gallery build anticipation for its presence at an existing art fair, and encourage repeat visits after the fact to the gallery itself.

Are many art fair sales finalized by only looking at a picture?

Collectors come to art fairs to talk to the gallerists, make new relationships, learn new things, see new work and experience an overview of the current market. This is all part of the buying and selling process. Of course email is important for gallerists in engaging with collectors both before and after the fair, but most selling is done onsite.

Art|BaselMiami Beach has continued to grow in terms of sales, visitors and even the amount of media coverage. Were you prepared for this when you stepped into your new role?

Art|Basel in Miami Beach is the premier art show in the Americas, so it was always going to be a bigger challenge than running the Armory. However, I’m very familiar with the fair, there is a great team in place, and I’ve enjoyed working with Marc [Spiegler] and the other directors on such a global enterprise.

One of your roles will be to select and possibly discover new galleries. What is your process for this?

My main role is delivering the best possible experience for gallerists and collectors, and providing them with the best platform in the Americas to see and buy art. Galleries have to apply to join the fair every year, and we have a rigorous selection process in place for selecting galleries and projects across all sectors of the show. In my travels, of course, I’m always attentive to who curators, artists and other gallerists are speaking about, and I make a concerted effort to visit exhibitions and meet gallerists that I don’t already know. In the end, it’s exciting when new galleries are accepted by the committee, as I want our visitors to have new and unexpected encounters.

Many Latin American galleries are now participating, meaning you will have to travel much more to Mexico, Columbia, Brazil. But will you also consider galleries from the Midwest or Texas? Will you amplify both aspects? In other words, will you slightly redirect Art|Basel|Miami Beach or will it keep its roots?

My new role covers all of the Americas working with galleries, artists, collectors and arts institutions across the two continents — from Canada to Argentina, and across the entirety of the United States. There are no plans to redirect the fair away from its roots, only to bring the fair in Miami Beach to ever-greater heights, and provide the very best platform for its galleries and artists.

Do you think the fair needs a “country focus” like the Armory?

I don’t think Art|Basel in Miami needs a country focus. We’re already present across three continents, and there’s an unparalleled international composition of galleries and programming as a result. In Miami, 50% of the galleries in the show are based in the Americas, which gives it a distinct feel, and our sectors also have their own unique characteristics.

What is the most repetitive aspect of an art fair?

The queue to get in on the first morning!

How has it been to spend more time in Florida?

Miami has a real buzz and its own unique cultural mix. Art|Basel has been a catalyst for cultural regeneration, and Miami now has major arts institutions and some fantastic private museums. I’m still based in NYC, but I travel extensively, and I’m looking forward to spending significant time in Florida this fall.

I read you have a real passion for music. You recommend Tame Impala in The Observer. Have you ever considered a music column?

I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember. No immediate plans for a music column, but maybe one day…

You are quite into psychedelic music from the ’60s and ’70s. Do you know the Vanilla Fudge?

I suppose I am. I know the Vanilla Fudge a little bit but not super well. Perhaps worth adding to my Miami Beach playlist for December.

by Gea Politi

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Review /

Louise Bourgeois Garage Museum / Moscow

The phenomenon of “self-colonization” peculiar to Russian society — that is manifested in the ruling classes’ feelings of the foreignness of the native land, internalized orientalism and the imitative character of culture — seems to persist in the present, wherein the oligarchy tries to play the role of kulturträger.

Since its inception in 2008, the main objection of criticism directed against the Garage Museum, a symbol of oligarchic patronage, was that most of its spectacular exhibitions were franchised. Commissioned and shown in Western institutions, they were imported to Moscow as “ready-mades” with no regard for local context. The current Louise Bourgeois retrospective, previously shown at Munich Haus der Kunst, is no exception.

As it is clear from the exhibition’s title, “Structures of Existence: The Cells” is focused mainly on Bourgeois’s idiosyncratic sculptural environments that she produced between 1986 and 2008. The main principle of these spatial arrangements is the dialectics between the interior of the artist’s world and the exterior of the exhibition space. While initially some of them were conceived to be hospitably open to viewers, today one has to voyeuristically peep at her “cells” from outside. In the context of Garage one might see this not merely as a variation on the feminist motto “the personal is political,” but also as a caustic metaphor for the inversion of private/public relationships in present-day Russia.

A fashionable museum of contemporary art is a way for the oligarchy to redeem itself from the sins of the early 1990s, when public goods were predatorily privatized. While these private institutions, protected by numerous security guards and invigilators, are able to show any type of “controversial” exhibition, state-funded public museums become more confined in their freedom of expression and even risk being left without police defense. In this way, the viewer’s relationship to Garage is similar to the Bourgeois “cell.” Dispossessed of free public culture, the visitor is only allowed to peep at projects imported from the West — where feminist and other critical discourses are unfettered — as something out of reach.

by Andrey Shental

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News /

Centre for Style / Melbourne

Archetypes of the white cube and the red-carpet dress alike provide Centre for Style with conceptual tools for re-creating our notions of taste. The curatorial entity, directed by Matthew Linde, habitually uses punk methodologies to critique high-end branding tactics in the businesses of art and fashion.

Centre for Style was founded by Linde as a fashion retail space in a basement in the heart of Melbourne’s inner city. Continuing as an online marketplace for alternative labels, Linde has since expanded the practice, curating a diverse and prolific repertoire of exhibitions and editorial projects that use fashion in a curatorial collage. As Linde explains, “Fashion opens up a performative space — there is a liberty to play with ideas of commodity and humor, styling and scenography, beauty and craft.”

Recent local and international exhibitions have placed fashion designers like H.B. Peace, D&K and Bless alongside artists Anna-Sophie Berger, Amy Yao, Ida Ekblad, K8 Hardy and Nicolas Ceccaldi, among others, in the ever-expanding Centre for Style community.

Despite its corporate name, Centre for Style seeks to disrupt conventions of taste by staging exhibitions in rogue locales. This year, Linde arranged an exhibition in the back of a hired van parked outside Sydney’s “Spring 1883” art fair. Tacked on to the expo, the lo-fi approach furthered an ongoing interrogation and reconfiguration of the conventions of the art economy.

In a string of recent American shows last summer, the “CfS USA Tour,” Linde road-tripped Centre for Style across the country from New York to Los Angeles with an exhibition and performance schedule that presented works in Airbnb spaces and independent galleries. Adding to this, last month the exhibition “Cabin Fever Creature” was held in a DIY-built pine cabin in the colloquial setting of Linde’s backyard in Melbourne. In this show, works by artists Trevor Shimizu, David Douard, Matt Hinkley and others were placed haphazardly in the space under blinding floodlights.

Continuing its path in the field of art and fashion, Centre for Style has an upcoming book with publishing entity 3-ply, will participate in Paramount Ranch in Los Angeles, and will be collaborating with Shoot the Lobster in New York early next year.

by Laura Gardner

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Review /

Paul McCarthy Schinkel Pavillon / Berlin

With a practice rooted in the depiction of the human body, Paul McCarthy’s exhibition at Schinkel Pavillon continues this visual reference, bringing together a tripartite rendering of the nude.

The tradition of this trope as told through a Westernized history of art is here denoted; and while typically the nude was used to express ideas of male and female beauty, McCarthy shifts this narrative to incorporate themes of death, spectacle and voyeurism.

The exhibition displays sculpture and video, dating from between 2011 and 2013, alongside new photographs presented for the first time. Horizontal (2012) is the centerpiece, a silicone reproduction of the artist’s body, lying corpse-like in the room’s center upon a door appropriated from the Bank of America. Replicating every detail of the body — deep wrinkles, fine hairs — one questions whether the form is breathing, awkwardness palpable as the eye briefly brushes past flaccid genitalia. While unnervingly realistic, the proximate work Rubber Jacket H. Horizontal (2012) reveals the casting process, placed on the ground as a strange or even fetishized bodysuit. Together, both blur the line between the idea of reality and fiction, the space of waking and dreaming.

When associated with the six-channel sculptural video installation downstairs, That Girl T.G Drawing Table – Drawing (2011–13) — with a correlative centrally positioned table surrounded by footage of a nude being demarcated with pencils — an added dimension of reality as perceived through film appears. Combined with psychedelic prints of the same female nude’s face, appearances of reality are questioned, exploring the tension between consciousness and agency.

Since the 1970s, McCarthy has used the body as a means to push the limits of social convention, exposing the hypocritical undercurrents that can drive a consumerist society. The grotesque mess or bawdiness normally associated with the artist is absent however, replaced with an elegant, sleek aesthetic — presenting a cleaner lens through which to consider how society perhaps sleepwalks in a consumerist daze.

by Louisa Elderton

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Eugene Tan on the National Gallery / Singapore

The National Gallery Singapore, almost ten years in the making, opens on November 24, 2015. It is the result of a long-standing government initiative to position Singapore as a global arts city,

Director Eugene Tan has been instrumental in setting this stage for Singapore, and in 2010 he spearheaded the visual arts hub Gillman Barracks. Here he discusses the museum’s development and the important role it will play in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

How have you been developing the vision and direction for the National Gallery prior to its opening?

I’ve been with the National Gallery Singapore for just over two years, so I joined the project relatively late. When I was appointed, I began thinking about the relevance and significance of having a focus on the art of Singapore and Southeast Asia and what it means for a national institution. It goes without saying that knowing our own art history is important, which has been lacking and which will be the focus of the DBS Singapore Gallery, one of our two permanent galleries. At the same time, Singapore is closely linked with our neighboring countries in many different ways, so the relationships between the art of the different countries in Southeast Asia is an important focus as well, which we will examine through the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery. Furthermore, Southeast Asia is not an insular region, and it has always had links historically with other parts of the world. As such, another important mission of the National Gallery is to examine these connections through our special exhibitions.

Apart from a few museums and a handful of university galleries, there is little institutional infrastructure in Southeast Asia. How would you define the role of a museum in the region?

When we think about art museums we have an idea of what they are and what they should be. But the roles of museums in an already established art ecosystem and those in developing art scenes are quite different. In many ways, not just in Southeast Asia but across Asia, art has been introduced to the public primarily through contemporary art and through the market — through platforms such as biennials, auctions and particularly the art fairs that are very big in the region, rather than museums and institutions. Given the current situation in which the market is so dominant, you also see public institutions being affected by it. We need stronger institutions that lead the market rather than being led by it. The sense of history and understanding of how art arrived at the state that it has in the region is not very evident. This is where the value of the National Gallery Singapore comes in, to provide that understanding of history by presenting modern art from the nineteenth through to the twentieth century in Singapore and Southeast Asia and examining that development. This will be the first time it is being done anywhere in the world.

Research forms a key part of the museum’s focus. Would you say that research is an underdeveloped area in Singaporean and Southeast Asian art? What kinds of programs will the museum establish?

Indeed, the history of Southeast Asian art is still a relatively under-researched field. There is still no art history undergraduate program here in Singapore and few in the region. One of the initiatives we are working on is to start an art history seminar with one of the universities, in which our curators, who are experts in their field, will teach in the program. The core of what our curators do, as at many museums, is research. Other initiatives include “Ambitious Alignments,” a project in collaboration with the Power Institute at the University of Sydney and funded by the Getty Research Institute to foster new research in Southeast Asian art.

Some exciting collaborations with the Tate Britain and Centre Pompidou are already in the pipeline for 2016. What are the reasons for partnering with these European institutions?

Our collaborations with international institutions form part of our mission to examine the links between the art of Southeast Asia and other parts of the world within a global context. The art of a place cannot be seen in isolation; it must always be viewed in relation to other cultures, and that speaks to what art can do for us as a society. The first exhibition that will be co-curated with the Centre Pompidou re-examines the idea of modernism from the perspective of Southeast Asia. It will draw from works from the Pompidou’s collection alongside works from our collection to explore and examine the development of modernism through points of connection. The collaboration with Tate Britain, “Art & Empire,” which will be co-curated for the presentation in Singapore, will examine art production in the region during the period of colonization.

Can you reflect on how the art scene has developed in Singapore since the announcement of the Renaissance City initiative that saw the government substantially invest in art and culture?

The Singapore art landscape has certainly changed substantially since 2000, when the Renaissance City Plan was published. But a concerted plan to develop the arts can be traced back to 1989 when the Report of the Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts was published, which was really the impetus to set up many of the museums we have today — the Singapore Art Museum and the Asian Civilizations Museum, which opened respectively in 1996 and 1997. This and the subsequent plan a decade later helped capitalize other parts of the ecosystem such as the non-profit spaces, university museums and galleries, the art fairs, and commercial galleries. It also led to the internationalization of the Singapore art scene, which led to Singapore’s participation at the Venice Biennale in 2001 and then the Singapore Biennale in 2006. The National Gallery was also a result of this planning. This gives you a sense of how the government has been developing the arts for the past twenty-five years. It takes time to develop an art scene, one that is complete, with its own ecosystem. The National Gallery obviously occupies an important position within this.

by Lucy Rees

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