Review /

Beverly Buchanan Brooklyn Museum / New York

A multi-channel video installation, newly created for Beverly Buchanan’s “Ruins and Rituals” (the most comprehensive exhibition to date of the work of the late artist, who died in 2015), documents four of seven earthworks produced by Buchanan in the American South between 1979 and 1986.

Among them, Marsh Ruins (1981) — three unassuming masses of poured concrete coated in a surface layer of tabby — lies in the open salt marshes of Glynn County, Georgia. Common to sugar and cotton plantation buildings in the region, tabby is a material whose fabrication — a mixture of oyster shells and lime — is so arduous that its affordability depends on slave labor. The location of Buchanan’s sculpture is also the subject of an 1878 poem by Confederate soldier and poet Sidney Lanier, “The Marshes of Glynn,” and is just west of Igbo Landing, where in 1803 a group of enslaved Igbo people walked into the marsh, in mass suicide. Buchanan’s sculptures foreground their own material histories, intimating that in the American afterlife of slavery and colonization, matter and environment are always at least proximate to racist violence. To this history, each of the artist’s earthworks enacts a radical commemoration.

Among the video projections are examples of Buchanan’s “Frustula” series: rough cubes of cast concrete, like overlarge bricks. A Guggenheim fellowship report catalogues the creation of Marsh Ruins in an adjacent gallery filled with archives and photographs, while a third room hosts miniature houses and shacks modeled after various vernacular architectures of the South.

A didactic text relates the story of the artist’s first intervention into public space, when she placed a pile of stones outside a business that had recently reversed its racist hiring policies. Such incremental policy changes offer no accountability for the black lives they subject to poverty and institutionalized violence; in the place of reparations, Buchanan makes a small offering.

by Tess Edmonson

read more

Flash Art International no. 313 March – April 2017

We are pleased to announce that the March – April issue of Flash Art International is out now.

Discussing the painting practice of Kerry James Marshall with Hans Ulrich Obrist, fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner cites Marshall’s intention to keep producing images of blackness “so that you’re broadening the spectrum and flooding people with that kind of imagery until it becomes normal.” “I think that’s probably why I’m on this path as well,” she concludes. Her words are central to this issue of Flash Art, which is premised on broadening the spectrum of representation of disenfranchised and marginalized communities and giving voice to creatives emerging out of these groups.

This issue gathers together artists and practitioners concerned with the development of creative languages “for empowerment,” all of whom “weaponize” creativity. In a tacit homage to Lutz Bacher’s interview project “Do You Love Me?” our cover artist Puppies Puppies meets with fellow Los Angeles–based artist Nancy Lupo. To his question, “What do you think about power in my work?” Lupo replies: “We are mutually vulnerable. The project of finding out when and where love begins is irresistible because it allows you to inscribe yourself into something that’s already happening. You get to choose your archetype, although it’s true that archetypes can be vexing, as are readymades.”

Also in this issue:

Associate Editor Tess Edmonson surveys the drawings and narratives of Amsterdam-based Chinese artist Evelyn Taocheng Wang.

“As Wang moves in and out of alignment with a fixed and oversimple image of Asian culture and subjects, she both lives through and performs her alienness.”

–– Tess Edmonson

Charlotte Laubard examines the “self-taught” Italian artist Roberto Cuoghi, whose empirical methodology infuses creation with emancipation.

“What stands out in Cuoghi’s practice across the twenty years since he left art school is his obstinate drive to develop each project like a leap into the unknown.”

–– Charlotte Laubard

In his exploration of Raymond Pettibon as an art-world outsider turned insider, Associate Editor Eli Diner discusses the phenomenon of zines in vitrines.

“The obsolescence of the social and political milieu that incubated Pettibon’s snide and violent comics of sexual anxiety and juvenile delinquency facilitates the transfiguration of the drawings into happily deracinated luxury commodities.”

–– Eli Diner

Tayyab Amin addresses the sound environments created by musical collective NON WORLDWIDE.

“In headphones, it demands full attention. The same music on a sound system feels like an attempt to rewrite and re-canonize the physical and cultural architecture of club spaces that are so often tainted with white-supremacist heteropatriarchy.”

— Tayyab Amin

In “Reviews”:

Beverly Buchanan at Brooklyn Museum, New York; Ann Greene Kelly at Chapter, New York; Andrea Crespo at List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge (MA); Cauleen Smith at University Art Galleries, Irvine; Ian James at Vacancy, Los Angeles; General Idea at Museo Jumex, Mexico City; Do Ho Suh at Victoria Miro, London; Alex Baczynski-Jenkins at Chisenhale Gallery, London; Emily Wardill at Bergen Kunsthall; Raoul De Keyser at Zeno X, Antwerp; Sean Snyder at Neu, Berlin; Omer Fast at Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin; Tala Madani at Le Panacée, Montpellier; Peter Campus at Jeu de Paume, Paris; Jean Pigozzi at Gmurzynska, St. Moritz; Huda Lutfi at Gypsum, Cairo; Trevor Young at Magician Space, Beijing; Tetsuro Kano at Yuka Tsuruno, Tokyo.

This issue introduces Tess Edmonson as Associate Editor. Tess replaces Laura McLean-Ferris, who after serving Flash Art brilliantly for nearly three years is leaving her position to undertake new cultural endeavors. Welcome Tess, good luck Laura!

Finally, we are pleased to announce Flash Art’s participation in the 2017 editions of Armory Show, New York; Independent New York; Art Dubai; Art | Basel | Hong Kong; miart, Milan; sp-arte, São Paulo; Art Brussels; and Independent Brussels.

read more
News /

What Is To Be Done? The Armory Show / New York

For the 2017 edition of The Armory Show, the fair invited curator Jarrett Gregory to reinvent its Focus section. Traditionally highlighting art and galleries from a specific region, Gregory has reimagined Focus as a series of complementary solo presentations. The project “What Is To Be Done?” includes Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise, Deana Lawson, Roman Opalka, and Koki Tanaka, among others artists. Flash Art speaks with Gregory about her motivation to make wider social and political systems visible.

How did you arrive at the incendiary title “What Is To Be Done?”

I’ve borrowed the title from the feminist novel written by Nikolai Chernyshevsky in 1863, which follows the heroine’s liberation from familial patriarchy. The decision to reference this work came after spending some formative time in Moscow. I was struck by the parallels between the second half of the nineteenth century and the current political situation — specifically regarding the annexation of Crimea and the state’s policy on censorship. I wanted to draw a line from the present day to this period in history when people were galvanized to upturn the status quo.

Chernyshevsky wrote What Is To Be Done? while he was imprisoned in St. Petersburg for his socialist beliefs. He was permitted to write only because it was a novel — the pages were checked before they were released to his publisher. I think they must not have read them very closely; although every point is made indirectly, the content is clearly radical, even today. It was published immediately and read avidly by young intellectuals as a call to change one’s life. It became instrumental in spreading the utopian ideals that led to the 1917 Revolution.

What were the main challenges this politically charged show faced within the traditionally conservative context? When you cite Jimmie Durham in the press release — “To use art as an escape … is a sign of inhumanity.” — it seems like some push back or resistance.

I didn’t face any opposition regarding the content; I was very lucky because Ben Genocchio and my colleagues at the Armory were enthusiastic about taking risks. The context of the art fair was particularly interesting to me and I wanted to construct something that responded to this as well as to the present moment, so economy emerged as a theme that ties the projects together. Durham’s writing has been a touchstone for me; I believe that art should engage with the world, and that is Durham’s point. The presentation could definitely be seen as resistant, even a little rebellious.

Would you consider the show a model for or a reflection on art’s ability to incite change (or unrest)?

It’s a reflection certainly, but not a model. I’m curious about what art can do today: What are the rules and how can we reimagine them?

by Sam Korman

read more
Review /

Elisabetta Benassi Magazzino / Rome

Memories of the twentieth century and its ghosts reside, for Elisabetta Benassi, in its machines. Engines, gears, sheet iron, and the powerful-but-now-obsolete imaginary with which they are connected, are often the starting point of her research. The Roman artist interprets such objects as concrete symbols that prompt reflections on the history of the Age of Extremes and the failure of its modern ideologies.

From the vintage motorcycle of Timecode (2000), in which the artist envisaged a young Pier Paolo Pasolini riding through the outskirts of Rome; to the old test track of the Lingotto in Turin in Terra (2003); to the desolation of the scrap yard described in Tutti morimmo a stento (We All Died Struggling) and Suolo (Soil) (both 2005); to the Morse code lamp used by warships and the antiquated device used to read microfilm in All I Remember (2010); to the present exhibition, which treads a path between objects and spaces, narrating an epoch when the dematerialization of the postindustrial economy seemed still some distance away.

The title of the exhibition, “Letargo” (Lethargy), plays on the opposition between natural and artificial, and is taken from the eponymously titled work in the courtyard (2016): an old Ford Escort station wagon (belonging to Francesco Clemente) in whose trunk, filled with earth, two enormous turtles seem to have found their ideal habitat — in fact two cast-bronze shells.

Or, again, on the pegboard of Salamandra Zaf (2016), covered with car emblems that make reference to zoomorphic forms, to Mimetica (2016), an artificial palm tree used to conceal radio antennas, angled between two of the gallery’s spaces, as if to acknowledge the domesticated exoticism of the Roman surroundings.

Beside the palm, one encounters Autoritratto al lavoro (Self-Portrait at Work (2016), a vintage, gasoline-powered garden tiller branded “Officine Meccaniche Benassi.” The artist positions herself in the same suspended time as her machines. Appropriated from different fields of production, they become tools for reinterpreting history, for understanding change and its consequences in the present.

by Cristiana Perrella

read more
News /

Independent Art Fair / New York

During the first weekend of March, Independent returns to New York City for its eighth consecutive year. The fair has become known in both its New York and Brussels locations as a kind of palate cleanser within the by-now highly formalized international art fair circuit: with a strong curatorial emphasis, and a policy of continuous rotation among galleries, Independent battles the fatigue of the fair experience by striving for “museum-quality” shows from all of its fifty-one participants.

Most if not all of the curatorial thinking behind the fair, which takes place over three floors of Spring Studios in SoHo, is thanks to Matthew Higgs, the YBA champion and current director of arts institution White Columns, who has served as curatorial advisor for the fair since its first edition. Several curatorial positions and strands will emerge from the 2017 selection of galleries and artworks, most notably an emphasis on solo exhibitions by women artists. These includes native New Yorker and Yale MFA Darja Bajagić, whose studies of sexualized digital image cultures will be shown by CARLOS/ISHIKAWA, and Italian artist Tatiana Trouvé, who will present architectural works with Galerie Perrotin.

Regardless of whether art fairs were ever a place to discuss politics, a number of booths will focus on artists, many of them women, queer or of color, who were prominent in the heated 1980s Reagan era — an offering that may resonate with our current political moment. Howardena Pindell, whose abstract paintings deal with issues of race, gender and representation, will show at Garth Greenan Gallery, while Pictures Generation artist Barbara Bloom’s seminal Travel Posters from 1981 will be on display at David Lewis.

Meanwhile, German artist Thomas Bayrle (who is currently the subject of a retrospective at the ICA Miami) will receive some long-due attention in New York. London gallery Project Native Informant will present new print editions of Hal Fischer’s seminal Gay Semiotics from the 1970s. In combination with site-specific art works by David Shrigley, Cory Arcangel and Melike Kara, it might all add up at Independent.

by Jeppe Ugelvig

read more
Review /

Hanne Lippard KW Institute for Contemporary Art / Berlin

To enter “Flesh,” one has to mount a spiraling milk-lemon staircase set in the middle of the main gallery hall. One could easily imagine this cinematic architectural constellation as the setting for a scene in a David Lynch film. On reaching the top of the ascent, the threshold opens out onto a luxurious salmon-pink carpet, making the enamel-clad staircase railing the only object in an approximately twenty-five-square meter glass-walled cube.

The room, situated at the top of the KW Gallery, has been engineered especially for the work; the site-specific environment is one of Lippard’s largest to date. However, the space is far from comfortable. The 1920s meringue-like color palette is relaxingly kitsch, but the ceiling is low. The panoramic view offers a mild respite when seated below the claustrophobic lowness of the roof, but one is only able to look out onto the walls of neighboring buildings, whose lines add to the urban severity of the installational framework.

Four speakers are set into each corner of the room, from which Hanne Lippard’s dulcet tones start to reverberate. Her voice is choreographed to move from speaker to speaker:

“How do you see yourself in ten years?

What is the reason for a human being?”

Lippard’s production of language focuses solely on the essence and use of the voice, merging content and form from the hyper-real everyday into a hypnagogic state. Her distinct vocalizations, gentle but probing, deliver prosaic texts in almost-perfect English, with a twang of a Norwegian accent. Lippard lulls the listener through clarity but articulates surreal mindscapes through free-form associative patterns. Her voice blurs into uncannily vivid scenarios in the viewers mind. Viewer’s ears are fed imagery via a Freudian-style shopping list, while Lippard moves from pickpockets to dick pics to picnic’s to lost earnings to lost earrings.

The work’s duration is around thirteen minutes in total, which is slightly disappointing as it’s the only work by Lippard in the gallery. Just as you begin to melt into the flesh of her voice you are brought back to your own physical presence. Abrupt and fleeting, Lippard disappears from our consciousness as we descend the stairs once more — from her maxi subconscious into the minimalism of the white cube.

by Penny Rafferty

read more