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2015: The Year According to Black Futures (Kimberly Drew & Jenna Wortham)

Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham. Photo: Naima Green To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from abstract painter Jack Whitten to musician C. Spencer Yeh, choreographer Trajal Harrell to designer Na Kim—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See […]

2015-headerKimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham. Photo: Naima Green

Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham. Photo: Naima Green

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from abstract painter Jack Whitten to musician C. Spencer Yeh, choreographer Trajal Harrell to designer Na Kim—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: The Year According to                                 .

What started as a series of casual DMs between Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham has evolved within the last year into an ambitious and multifarious research project that launches publicly today under the name Black Futures. The hybrid project will combine short essays and original, commissioned artworks from a variety of sources, all drawn from personal networks that span from storied institutions to Internet artists to online communities. “We’re devoted to the act of preserving and documenting contemporary blackness in the post-digital age,” the state, “and our ultimate plan is to create a time capsule that reflects the deep contours of global blackness at this precise moment in history.” In line with this vision, Black Future’s year-end list offers a nuanced exploration of the year’s undercurrents, from activism and appropriation to gender identity and global interconnectivity.

Kimberly Drew (@museummammy), currently the Associate Online Community Producer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, founded the Tumblr blog Black Contemporary Art, and has delivered lectures and participated in panel discussions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Performa Biennial, Art Basel, the Brooklyn Museum, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Creative Many (Detroit, MI) and elsewhere.

Jenna Wortham (@jennydeluxe) is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine, where she previously covered technology and Internet culture. She has also written for The Fader, The Paris Review, The Hairpin, and Vogue. Other side hustles include: Bloop, Heartline on Bel-Air Radio, Everybody Sexts, the Emoji Art Show & Girl Crush Zine.

2015-01

Dawit L. Petros, Salute to Donald's Fascist Demagoguery, 2015 / Courtesy the artist

Dawit L. Petros, Salute to Donald’s Fascist Demagoguery, 2015. Courtesy the artist

$OCIAL PRACTICE

Social activism, community organizing, and subversion have been at the foundation of art movements since the dawn of time. But, in 2015, we have witnessed (and seen some grand, financial support for) a new wave of social practice art-making. Artists like LaToya Ruby Frazier, Mark Bradford, Theaster Gates, Rick Lowe, Maria Gaspar, Titus Kaphar, and Wangechi Mutu have been making major waves place-making and fundraising. With the US election on the horizon and the world basically in shambles, these artists have the audacity to help try and make the world a better place.

2015-02

2 New Black Geographies

Mahdi Ehsaei: The Khaj-e-Ata Beach in Bandar Abbas (capital of Hormozgan) rests against the Persian Gulf. It is a popular place for inhabitants and tourists. Afternoons are filled with children playing on the beach.

New Black Geographies

Afro-Iran is a hyphenated identity that may not be familiar to most, and Mahdi Ehsaei’s gorgeous, Kickstarter-funded photography project provided a textured glimpse into the lives and communities of African Iranians that have settled alongside the Persian Gulf. African slaves were sold to wealthy families in Persia as servants and concubines, and these are their descendants. The diaspora is so vast and varied, and in recent years we’ve been afforded the opportunity to learn about our pasts and move forward deftly into the future. Additionally, that’s why the ongoing body of work by Zanele Muholi, a queer South African photographer who documents the lives of lesbians and gender-nonconforming people in Africa, is also among the most important narratives to gain global recognition this year.

2015-03

Bathroom door at the ICA Philadelphia/Photo: Kimberly Drew

Bathroom door at ICA Philadelphia. Photo: Kimberly Drew

#GenderMuse: Talking Gender in Museums

The gender revolution has arrived (again.) This year, museums globally have been charged with reconsidering how they can be receptive to the myriad identities of their visitors. It’s our hope that unpacking cis-gender-centric museological practices will be one of the art world’s greatest challenges in the 21st century. That said, news flash: gender equity is more than just bathrooms! Yes, gender neutral bathrooms are a step in the right direction, but they surely aren’t the only qualifier for gender-inclusive museum practices. So, get on it y’all!

2015-04

Martine Syms, Notes on Gesture (Still), 2015

Martine Syms, Notes on Gesture (Still), 2015

Notes on Language & Internet Vernacular

Claptalking is a uniquely black gesture, an action one associates primarily with black women and black womanhood. It is a part of our colloquial vernacular as familiar as any other part of the English language. As emoji became popularized in America and social media services like Twitter adapted their software so that the colorful cartoons would show up in tweets, something interesting began to happen. People, including non-black Americans, began using the claphands emoji to emulate claptalking online. Is this linguistic minstrelsy? And is it the Internet’s fault for facilitating it? None of these questions have answers, but Martine Syms’s provocative and brilliant project helps to explore the meaning of language and, by association, the ways online media and the Internet debone culture from its origins, how we process digital representation and cultural migration in a post-Internet era. (Further reading: Manuel Arturo Abreu’s Online Imagined Black English.)

2015-05

Photo: Natalia Mantini/Paper Magazine

Cardi B. Photo: Natalia Mantini, Complex magazine

The Year of the Hoe

2015 was undoubtedly the year of the hoe (and in many ways, “whoremongering.”) Self-proclaimed, self-affirming hoes like Amber Rose and Cardi B forged a new path towards decolonizing black female sexuality. Rose’s How to Be a Bad Bitch is perhaps the first book of it’s candor since Karinne Steffans’ seminal 2005 book, Confessions of a Video Vixen. Rose doesn’t hold a candle to Steffans as a novelist, but the Amber Rose Slut Walk has had an undoubtedly profound impact on the public dialogue around black female subjectivity.

2015-06

A still from Tabita Rezaire’s online work asking how the Internet operates as an imperial force.

A still from Tabita Rezaire’s online work asking how the Internet operates as an imperial force.

#CyberNewSlaves

An enormous and ongoing theme from 2015 was the slow-rising awareness of the Internet as a biased, hegemonic, and very-not-neutral space. It is not the democracy we’ve lulled ourselves into thinking it could be. Plenty of dialogues have emerged about how multibillion-dollar corporations like Uber, AirBnb, Facebook, Spotify, and the like continue to reinforce—not disrupt—age-old hierarchies. But none have been as entertaining as the work of online artist Tabita Rezaire, a French-Guyanese-Danish multimedia artist living in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her work addresses the colonist attitudes of the Web and forces you to address that we might be co-opting a new form of slavery, one that’s too far embedded to extricate ourselves from.

2015-07

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Constance Wu

“I’m not going to ask Lena Dunham to write a story about Asian-American girls; that’s not her experience. But if we want more stories about Asian-Americans, then we have to help foster the creators, the writers, the producers, the directors. I’m trying to read more books that are written by Asian-Americans. It’s important to me that I read these stories.” —Constance Wu

2015-08

Addressing Appropriation

2015 was a year of strange cultural confusion. Identities were borrowed, racial histories co-opted, and the post-Internet etiquette of “sharing first and worrying about crediting later” came to a head with the Fat Jew and a handful of other popular aggregators. But perhaps no one broke it down better than Amandla Sternberg, actress and musician, in a YouTube video talking about the dangers of appropriation and what is lost when we just assume aesthetics, fashion, and ideas are up for grabs.

2015-09

A typical social media post during #BlackOut

A typical social media post during #BlackOut

New Online Narratives

There’s something so revolutionary about black Internet users deciding to simply make themselves known a few days each year by flooding Tumblr with resplendent images of blackness. It’s a way to push back at an overwhelmingly Eurocentric images of beauty media and claim a little space for oneself. Acknowledging the power to create and control independent narratives—to define what it means that the Internet is intended as a democracy—was one of the most important themes for keyboard activism in 2015.

2015-10

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Unconventional Archiving

In January 2015, the New York Times ran an article outlining web initiatives by major art museum including the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and others making images in their collection accessible online. In the piece Ken Johnson asks, “Will global interconnectivity promote homogeneity and less idiosyncrasy?” The clear answer here is: hell no. This year was chock full of intensely creative infrastructures for global interconnectivity. For example, Tulane University’s Bounce Archive, Sonia Boyce’s Black Artist and Modernism, the #CharlestonSyllabus, the digitization of 1.5 million of the Freedmans Bureau’s papers, and many others are inflating the traditional definitions of archives or databases. Global interconnectivity was turnt in 2015 and we can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store.

2015: The Year According to Jack Whitten

Jack Whitten. Photo: Gene Pittman To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from artist-musician C. Spencer Yeh and choreographer Trajal Harrell to filmmaker Tala Hadid and theater director Daniel Fish—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the […]

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Jack Whitten. Photo by Gene Pittman.

Jack Whitten. Photo: Gene Pittman

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from artist-musician C. Spencer Yeh and choreographer Trajal Harrell to filmmaker Tala Hadid and theater director Daniel Fish—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: The Year According to                                 .

2015 was a momentous year for Jack Whitten. A 50-year retrospective of his work was shown in three cities—San Diego, Columbus, and Minneapolis (its Walker presentation closes January 24), and he witnessed the publication of his first book, the catalogue for Jack Whitten: Five Decades of Painting. But, as he notes below, it was noteworthy in so many other ways as well. Here, he recaps the year that was in a list that ranges from hedgehogs to quantum mechanics, Picasso sculptures to an exhibition of art he says contains “every fragment of ancient memory buried deep in my psyche.”

2015-01

LewisN760px A Mentor Remembered

Sunday November 29, 2015: My New York Times is delivered every morning at approximately 7 am. I stepped out of the elevator in my bathrobe, picked up the newspaper, took off the blue plastic protective cover, and saw Norman Lewis on the front page! That made my day. What a joy for me to see one of my mentors on the front page of the New York Times.

2015-02

ex2015jw_ins Visual Arts; Exhibitions; installation views. Jack Whitten - Five Decades of Painting, Target and Friedman Galleries, September 13, 2015 - January 24, 2016. Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego.
Curator: Kathryn Kanjo, Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Walker coordinating curator: Eric Crosby, Associate Curator, Visual Arts.

A Career Chronicled

The opening of my 50-year retrospective at the Walker Art Center and the publishing of my first book: Jack Whitten: Five Decades of Painting. Perseverance, hard work and dedication is starting to pay off, I’m still alive and working at age 76. Not bad, eh?

2015-03

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Atopolis at Mons

My participation in Atopolis, an exhibition honoring the ideas of Édouard Glissant in Mons, Belgium, was a beautiful experience. I knew Glissant, and his books have been helpful to me. I especially liked Lawrence Weiner’s installation mounted on the front of the gallery: “We are ships at sea, not ducks on a pond.” Somehow, this summed up the whole show in terms of the significance of place.

2015-04

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Picasso at MoMA

Clem Greenberg was asked what did he think of Jean-Michel Basquiat? Clem sardonically answered, “No one can have that much freedom.” Viewing the Picasso Sculpture show at MoMA, my reaction was how is it possible for anyone to have that much freedom? The man did whatever he wanted with totally unabashed freedom. He was a master! Personally, this show came at the right time for me and sent me a powerful message: Just Do It!

2015-05

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Melvin Edwards at the Nasher

Mel Edwards’ retrospective at the Nasher Sculpture Center was the best installation of his work ever. Mel’s control of molten steel in binding diverse elements taken from an infinite variety of sources directed at a specific symbol reveals the hand of a master. This was one of the best shows of the year.

2015-06

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Thanksgiving

Family Thanksgiving dinner at cousin Tom Tryforos’ home was especially celebratory this year. We had several bottles of Brunello di Montalcino from different vintages and different producers. All were superb! Turkey has never tasted better.

2015-07

Quantum Moment_978-0-393-06792-7 (1)The Quantum Moment

Science is one of my main sources of inspiration it triggers my imagination. Our age is defined by science and technology and I believe that for art to qualify as significant form it must signify the age in which it is made. Most of my reading is philosophy and science, and The Quantum Moment: How Planck, Bohr, Einstein, and Heisenberg Taught Us to Love Uncertainty by Robert P. Crease and Alfred Scharff Goldhaber opened up my mind tremendously and gave me another level of consciousness.

2015-08

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Hedgehog Visitation

My woodcarving studio is shaded by a large fig tree, and in August, when the figs are ripe, they attract a large variety of birds and animals that gorge themselves senselessly. My memory of this hedgehog is especially potent, he would eat so many figs that his stomach was extended like a balloon! It doesn’t get any cuter than this.

 

2015-09

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Trump Exposed

I thought that Sarah Palin was the ultimate political comic book character until Donald Trump entered the scene. How much worse can it get? The good thing is that Donald Trump and people like him expose the loophole in our Capitalist Democracy. Freedom of speech works both ways; everything is possible in America.

2015-10

PJ-CD468_kongo_G_20150921173550Kongo at the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition Kongo: Power and Majesty sums up the season for me. These works contain every fragment of ancient memory buried deep in my psyche. I identify so much to the Nkiski. Without a doubt, they are a major influence in my thinking about art.

 

2014: The Year According to Rima Mokaiesh

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from artist Kalup to poet LaTasha Diggs, author Jeff Chang to futurist Nicolas Nova—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to             […]

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To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from artist Kalup to poet LaTasha Diggs, author Jeff Chang to futurist Nicolas Nova—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 . 

Rima Mokaiesh is director of The Arab Image Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in Beirut in 1997 with a mission to collect, preserve, and study photographs from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Arab diaspora. The AIF’s expanding collection is generated through artist- and scholar-led projects. The Foundation makes its collection accessible to the public through a wide spectrum of activities, including exhibitions, publications, videos, a website, and an online image database. The ongoing research and acquisition of photographs include so far Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Mexico, Argentina, and Senegal. To date, the collection holds more than 600,000 photographs.

 


 

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Rima 2014_1_Silvered water

Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait at Cannes

Wiam Simav Bedirxan and Ossama Mohammed worked together for several years on this documentary without ever having met in person, as one was in Syria and the other in France, both unable to travel. In this film, they share footage of life and death in the besieged city of Homs, through the eyes of “a thousand and one Syrians.” The film and its authors were received with strong emotion at Cannes, in a time where the world seems to be anesthetized to events in Syria.

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Rima 2014_2_Alex_Photo Caroline Tabet

Alexandre Paulikevitch’s Elgha performance premieres in Beirut

In this piece, Alexandre Paulikevitch tells a story of gender, violence, resistance, and freedom in a context of social and political turmoil in the Arab world. Paulikevitch blends traditional baladi techniques with contemporary dance. His creations are important artistic and socio-political statements.

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Le Plus Beau Jour by photographer Fouad Elkoury at Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris

This piece is a dialogue between the superb To live in time of war, by Lebanese poet Etel Adnan, and three stunning series of photographs by Fouad Elkoury, from different times and geographies, projected on flowing fabric screens. Simply hypnotizing.

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Rima 2014_4_Monditalia_Photo Gilbert McCarragher

Monditalia at the Venice Architectural Biennale

Biennale curator Rem Koolhaas invited 41 contributors to draw a portrait of Italy presented in the Biennale’s Arsenale in a brilliant composition of architecture, design, and visual or performing arts.

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Mommy, by Xavier Dolan

Xavier Dolan explores deep layers of love, violence, and mental health in a beautiful, terrifying, and exhilarating film. I laughed and I cried, and cannot wait to see what this brilliant mind produces next.

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55 artists confront the São Paulo Biennal about its sources of funding following Israel’s attack on Gaza

Fifty-five of the 68 artists exhibiting at the 2014 São Paulo Biennal addressed an open letter to the curators questioning the event’s funding in light of Israel’s attack on Gaza. In response, the biennal’s curators engaged in a conversation about the sources of funding of cultural events and the necessity of independence.

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Rima 2014_7_A portrait of Somayyeh, a 32-year old divorced teacher © Newsha Tavakolian for the Carmignac Foundation

Laureate of the Prix Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award returns grant, jury indignant

Iranian photographer Newsha Tavakolian received, returned, and re-accepted the Prix Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism award, igniting strong reactions from the prize’s jury members. The whole story shed light on the role of patrons in art and photography, and, again, the non-negotiability of independence.

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Ebola doctors named Time Person of the Year

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Bob Dylan performs a private concert for one single fan at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia

Dylan finally found a way not to disappoint massive audiences: he played for one single fan.

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Lebanese cops cannot tell a Salafi apart from a hipster

We live in a very much traumatized city, where people invent the clichés about themselves that are then perpetuated across the globe… Here, Lebanese cops arrested a simple dude who lives and breathes for hip-hop, and can be seen performing on Monday nights in Mar Mkhayel, basically because he happens to sport a bearded look.

 

2014: The Year According to Alejandro Cesarco

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from curator Devrim Bayar and artist Kalup Linzy to designer David Reinfurt and artist Shahryar Nashat—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to   […]

Alejandro_smallTo commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from curator Devrim Bayar and artist Kalup Linzy to designer David Reinfurt and artist Shahryar Nashat—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 . 

Alejandro Cesarco was born in 1975 in Montevideo, Uruguay. He has exhibited in galleries and museums in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. His most recent solo exhibitions include: Secondary Revision, Frac Île-de-France/Le Plateau, Paris (2013); A Portrait, A Story, And An Ending, Kunsthalle Zürich (2013); Alejandro Cesarco, MuMOK, Vienna (2012); Words Applied to Wounds, Murray Guy, New York (2012); The Early Years, Tanya Leighton, Berlin (2012); A Common Ground, Uruguayan Pavilion, 54th Venice Biennial (2011); One Without The Other, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico (2011); and Present Memory, Tate Modern, London (2010). Group exhibitions include: Under The Same Sun, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2014); Plaisance, Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (2013); The Imminence of Poetics, 30th Bienal de São Paulo (2012); formes brèves, autres, FRAC Lorraine, Metz, and MARCO, Vigo (2012); Short Stories, Sculpture Center, Long Island City (2011); and Nine Screens, MoMA, New York (2010). He was the 2011 winner of the Baloize Art Prize, with his installation The Street Were Dark With Something More Than Night Or The Closer I Get To The End The More I Rewrite The Beginning at Art 42 Basel. These exhibitions addressed, through different formats and strategies, his recurrent interests in repetition, narrative, and the practices of reading and translating. He has also curated exhibitions in the U.S., Uruguay, Argentina, and a project for the 6th Mercosur Biennial (2007), Porto Alegre, Brazil. He is director of the nonprofit arts organization, Art Resources Transfer. Forthcoming solo exhibitions in 2015 include: Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis; Murray Guy, New York; Parra-Romero, Madrid; and Kiria Koula, San Francisco. He lives and works in New York.

 


 

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Pierre Huyghe, Centre Pompidou (Paris)

Installed within the structure left vacant after Mike Kelley’s retrospective in the same space, Huyghe’s continuous attempts at reinventing the exhibition model as a site of playful experimentation came together movingly. Works bled and echoed into one another, for an experience that felt partly choreographed and partly left to chance—the presence of animals in Huyghe’s work played a key role in this. (For more art and animals see Godard’s latest marvel, mentioned below.)

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Mike Kelley, MoMA/PS1 (New York)

Curated by Ann Goldstein, organized by the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. What better place to house Kelley’s posthumous retrospective than in a defunct cavernous-like school building? Birdhouses, Educational Complex, felt-banners, Extracurricular Activities, and all their trippy post-punk consequences.

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RIP Elaine Sturtevant

Bruce Hainley’s monograph Under The Sign of [SIC]: Sturtevant’s Volte-Face (Semiotext[e], 2014) and Sturtevant: Double Trouble (curated by Peter Eleey, Museum of Modern Art, Nov 9, 2014–Feb. 9, 2015) were two long overdue acknowledgments of the key role Sturtevant has played in the politics of style, image production, and reception.

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Haim Steinbach, once again the world is flat, Kunsthalle Zürich

I actually did not make it to Zürich to see this show—which was curated by Beatrix Ruf, Tom Eccles, and Johanna Burton—but its CCS Bard iteration (June 22–December 20, 2013) was, to my mind, one of the most memorable exhibitions of 2013.

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Louise Lawler, No Drones, Metro Pictures

A follow-up to Lawler’s adjusted to fit series, the tracings presented in this show pushed forward a self-reflective analysis of the reception of the artist’s own work as analogy to the state of the art world and its larger contexts. Sharp and humorous, as always. An exemplary practice where every move counts.

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RIP On Kawara

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Private tour of Christopher Williams, The Production Line of Happiness, Museum of Modern Art

Led by the artist and organized by Artists Space. A master class on exhibition design, institutional critique, and ways of looking. The show is also accompanied by one of the year’s most stunning catalogues.

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Amy Sillman, One Lump or Two, Hessel Museum of Art, CCS Bard

Curated by Helen Molesworth. Brilliant and sensuous. Figuration, abstraction, animation all with Sillman’s trademark wry wit. An artist to look up to.

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Martin Beck, Last Night, full listening session

Organized by White Columns, PS1, and the New York Art Book Fair, Last Night, Beck’s latest publication, documents the 118 songs played by David Mancuso on June 2, 1984 at the last party of the 99 Prince Street location of the Loft. On Sept. 13, Beck (with the help of Matthew Higgs) played the 13-hour-long playlist.

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RIP Harun Farocki

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Jean-Luc Godard, Good Bye To Language

At 83, the masterful auteur can’t stop himself from continuing to explore the possibilities of cinema and has produced possibly the most radical 3D film ever made. At certain moments Godard moves the dual camera lenses out of sync, emphasizing the artificiality of the 3D effect. These sequences seem to require viewers to close one eye or the other, and to in turn devise individual montages with their own senses. The director’s beloved dog Roxy is the other star of the film.

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DUC

The Distribution to Underserved Communities Library Program of Art Resources Transfer celebrated another year of creating access to the arts and education by distributing free contemporary art books among a growing public of library patrons, students, artists, and readers across the country. In the last year alone, the DUC distributed more than $690,000 worth of new art books to 517 public schools and libraries nationwide.

2014: The Year According to Devrim Bayar

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from curator and architect Andreas Angelidakis and musician Grant Hart  to poet LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs and artist Alejandro Cesarco—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year […]

Devrim Bayar

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from curator and architect Andreas Angelidakis and musician Grant Hart  to poet LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs and artist Alejandro Cesarco—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 .

Devrim Bayar is curator at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, where she recently organized the exhibitions of Daan van Golden, Thomas Bayrle, Allen Ruppersberg, and Robert Heinecken, among other projects. In 2015 she will curate the first large survey exhibition of French artist Pierre Leguillon entitled The Museum of Mistakes: Contemporary Art and Class Struggle, which proposes an exhibition model that attempts to foil, or “de-class-ify”—to reprise the exhibition’s title—the hierarchies of art. She is the founder of the web platform Le Salon aimed at presenting, documenting and reflecting on the Brussels contemporary art scene.


 

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Belgium vs. USA at the World Cup

The FIFA World Cup means something different for every participating country. This year, the Belgian team’s efforts became a timely symbol of national pride and identity soon after local elections had seen separatist parties gain even more power. In this regard, the match of Belgium vs. USA was the most electrifying. I had never seen my city stand so still as all eyes were riveted to TV monitors. When Belgium finally won after a tough battle, the European capital literally exploded. People from all linguistic and ethnic communities descended on the streets to celebrate the victory of Belgium and this multicultural celebration was a wonderful sign of what Belgium really stands for, against the current right wing political mood.

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The adoption of the law allowing parents to choose the family name of their children

If, as Jeff Koons would claim, procreation is the way to eternity, why should eternity bear fathers’ names only? Under pressure from the European Court of Human Rights, Belgian lawmakers have tried for 15 years to pass a law that allows parents to choose which last name they give their children. This year the law was finally adopted, allowing parents to choose between the father’s, the mother’s or both parent’s last name, marking a new step in the direction for more gender equality and allowing me to give my soon-to-be-born daughter my family name.

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Haim Steinbach, once again the world is flat. at Kunsthalle Zürich (curated by Beatrix Ruf)

This exhibition literally blew my mind. It not only offered the rare opportunity to discover early works by the artist and to retrace his evolution but also introduced a remarkable scenography created by the artist himself who thus reinterpreted his own works and played with the exhibition codes at its core. At once seducing, full of humor, and complex, this show allowed us to firmly grasp Steinbach’s reflection about art, display, and commerce and their interconnections.

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Jef Cornelis at the Liverpool Biennial (curated by Anthony Huberman and Mai Abu ElDahab)

Jef Cornelis is a TV director who is well known and respected in Belgium but much less recognized abroad. I was thus happily surprised to see an entire section of the Liverpool Biennial dedicated to his work. His documentaries from the early 1960’s until the end of the 1990’s exploded the conventions of television and provide a unique insight into the history of the arts of the time.

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Daan van Golden: Photo Book(s)

My former colleague Emiliano Battista accompanied me throughout my research on Daan van Golden for the retrospective exhibition that I curated at WIELS in 2012. Following this in-depth research, he developed a fascination for the photographic work of the artist and published a monograph entirely dedicated to this generally less documented part of van Golden’s practice. His book reproduces every page of every catalog on which van Golden published a photograph. The book thus reveals the people and the motives that keep coming back in the work of van Golden while playing with the notion of repetition so dear to the artist. Brilliant!

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Planningtorock, All Love’s Legal (released by Human Level)

Without hesitation the album I listened to the most this year. All Love’s Legal proves that artists can still create politically engaged songs that keep you dancing all night long. And it works at the gym too!

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Instagram accounts of K8 HARDY, Rob Pruitt, Jerry Saltz,…

I might be late on this one but it’s only this year that I signed onto Instagram thanks to NYC artist Megan Marrin, who lived at my place at the beginning of the year and convinced me to join the social network. I must admit that I have taken pleasure in following people who excel in appropriating new technologies for their social satire. Now I am looking for more of these fun yet provocative web persona.

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Devrim-08

Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, Die Schmutzigen Puppen von Pommern, Micheline Szwajcer Galerie (Antwerp) and Art Basel Unlimited

Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys are two of my favorite Belgian artists, whose work explore dark psychological states and spaces. Their recent series of scarecrows are characters “allergic to social positivism and utilitarianism, who abhor humans who aspire to physical health, labour, and reasonable material wealth.” Presented at Art Basel Unlimited, this installation provided a stark yet healthy contrast to the generally seducing and complaisant atmosphere of the fair.

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Devrim-09

Joachim Olender, La collection qui n’existait pas

La collection qui n’existait pas premiered just a week ago and hasn’t been subtitled in English yet. This documentary about the conceptual art collection Herman and Nicole Daled built in the 70’s, and which the MoMA recently acquired, provides an authentic and rare insight into the life of these collectors, who considered collecting nothing less than a form of political engagement. A lesson from which many should learn today.

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Devrim-10

Robert Heinecken: Lessons in Posing Subjects (co-published by WIELS & Triangle Books)

2014 has seen the publication of the entire series of Robert Heinecken’s Lessons in Posing Subjects which the American artist created in 1981-1982 and which was the centerpiece of the show of the same title I curated at WIELS over the summer. Thanks to the help of the artist’s estate, my partner Olivier Vandervliet of Triangle Books and I conceived this publication as a real artist book. It took us many long hours to work on the hundreds of Polaroid prints that are reproduced in this book in order to stay as true as possible to the analog original with our digital means. I am very proud of the result of our efforts and that it will leave a trace to this remarkable body of work.

2014: The Year According to Korakrit Arunanondchai

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from author Jeff Chang and composer Eyvind Kang to designer Eric Hu and filmmaker Sam Green—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to   […]

"The future" Performance for ICA London

Korakrit Arunanondchai (at center, with boychild) at ICA London following the October 2014 performance of The Future

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from author Jeff Chang and composer Eyvind Kang to designer Eric Hu and filmmaker Sam Green—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 .

Korakrit Arunanondchai is a New York– and Bangkok-based artist whose artistic discipline spans a wide range of media. Inspired by Rirkrit Tiravanija, he creates immersive installations that emphasize “social participation” and incorporates elements that allow the audience to discover themselves. Arunanondchai has had solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1, Long Island City (2014); The Mistake Room, Los Angeles (2014); the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2014); and CLEARING gallery, New York and Brussels (2013). He has has been featured in major group exhibitions at ICA, London (2013); Jim Thompson House, Bangkok (2013); Sculpture Center, Long Island City (2012); and the Fisher Landau Center for Art, New York (2012).

 


 

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Bangkok StrikeHunger game strike, Bangkok

The three-fingers hand salute from the Hunger Games is now banned in Thailand due to the military takeover.

 

 

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Image: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

 Polar Vortex

A happening of 2014, apparently coming back in 2015 as well.

 

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Interstellar

In relationship to Polar Vortex, this is a movie of 2014 about a time when we have to leave Earth because we’ve destroyed it.

 

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1024px-CMS_Higgs-eventGod particle

No real-world impact yet, but the fact that the Higgs boson particle actually exists seems promising for quantum physics. It took them 40 years, including the building of Cern’s Hadron Collider, to discover the particle.

 

 

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PARK 5Park McArthur’s Ramps at Essex Street

One of my favorite exhibition I saw this year.

 

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Wu Tsang and Boychild at Stedelijk Museum

A very touching performance in a room filled with Dan Flavin. Part of a larger project, which is a feature film called A Day in the Life of Bliss.

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DC legalizing weed

420 at the capital of USA????? Not confirmed yet but still a possibility.

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The Lego Movie

I hope there are sequels.

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Pewdiepie on South Park

Without watching the final episodes of South Park this season, I would never have guessed that the most subscribed YouTube celebrity in the world is ………. Pewdiepie.

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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Let’s not forget this happened in 2014. Most importantly, we have to remember that it was about raising awareness for ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

2014: The Year According to Shahryar Nashat

To commemorate the year that was, we invited artists, designers, and thinkers across disciplines to share a list of their most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects of 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 .  Shahryar Nashat […]

Nashat

To commemorate the year that was, we invited artists, designers, and thinkers across disciplines to share a list of their most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects of 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 . 

Shahryar Nashat was born in 1975 in Geneva, Switzerland, and lives and works in Berlin. Nashat uses a broad range of media including video, digital print, and photography. Recent solo exhibitions include Lauréat du prix Lafayette, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2014); Replay the Ruse, Silberkuppe, Berlin (2012); Stunt, Kunstverein Hamburger Bahnhof, Hamburg (2012); and Workbench, Studio Voltaire, London (2011). His work has also been shown as part of the 8th Berlin Biennale (2014); Catch as Catch Can, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia (2013); When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes, CCA Wattis, San Francisco (2012); ILLUMInations at the 54th International Venice Biennale (2011); and Frieze Projects, London (2010). Nashat has been awarded the Kunstpreis der Stadt Nordhorn (2013), the Swiss Exhibition Award (2009), and the Kiefer Hablitzel Prize (2000, 2001, 2002).

 


 

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bionic arm

Prosthetic devices can now restore a sense of feeling.

The fetish for the bionic limb, and the now artificial encroaching on the real fascinates me.

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Adam Linder

Some Proximity by Adam Linder

Adam‘s Some Proximity mediates criticism through the radical gestures of a gliding body. Presented with Silberkuppe during Frieze London, it did for me what every performance in a non-theatrical environment should do—it slowed down everything around it, allowing a focus on the bodies playing off of the critical statements that were fed directly from the environment.

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Under the Sign of [sic]: Sturtevant’s Volte-Face by Bruce Hainley

Published by the ever so thought provoking Semiotext(e), this monographic study is written with a variety of literary genres that mesh with each other to create a very singular piece of art criticism.

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Park McArthur

I first came across Park’s work earlier this year at her show at Essex Street. The interplay of sculptural, social, and bodily questions in her work are thoughtful and fresh. Can’t wait to see more.

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Jahresring 61

The everlasting tradition of one of Germany’s longest post-War annual journals for contemporary art and culture continues with this year’s iteration, masterfully edited by Dominic Eichler and Brigitte Oetker and published by Berlin’s Sternberg Press.

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Lee Lozano: Dropout Piece by Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer

I really enjoyed reading this book that focuses on a single work by the late New York artist. A journalistic approach combined with art history and the author’s interpretative agency make an outstanding addition to Afterall’s One Work series.

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Spectrum Reverse Spectrum by Margaret Honda

I saw this 20 minute silent film at the Berlinale earlier this year. The film is a reproduction of the color spectrum captured in 70mm and made without a camera. The gradually changing array of color and light filling the screen confronted me with the sole performance of one most perfect medium.

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Transparent

Transparent by Jill Soloway

I totally binged on watching what became by far my favourite comedy-drama produced for the (internet) television this year. Set in Los Angeles, Transparent features Jeffrey Tambor, a father who comes out to his family as transgender. The writing is sharp, witty, sometimes even acerbic and the cast is flawless.

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National Gallery

National Gallery by Frederick Wiseman

It’s no secret I’m a sucker for the subject! Wiseman’s analytical camera lingering on the art, its spectators, and the backstage of one of Britain’s most famous museums is even more brilliant because he focuses on the museum guides that voice the discourse that accompanies the reception of art in an institutional context.

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Beyoncé at the Louvre

We’ve seen celebrities visiting museums (not to mention celebrities having private visiting hours in museums) and we’ve see celebrities posing in museums. However Bey and Jay’s photo-op at the Louvre, which comprised mimicked sculptural poses whilst making selfies, created complications that whether intentional or not, continue to intrigue me.

2014: The Year According to Kalup Linzy

Kalup Linzy. Photo: Daniel Trese To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from poet LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs and musician Grant Hart  to designer David Reinfurt and composer Eyvind Kang—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: […]

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Kalup Linzy. Photo: Daniel Trese

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from poet LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs and musician Grant Hart  to designer David Reinfurt and composer Eyvind Kang—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 .

Kalup Linzy is a Brooklyn-based video and performance artist, whose work is featured in the Walker’s presentation of Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art. Best known for his satirical soap opera–style narrative videos, Linzy is interested in exploring stereotypes, sexual identity, race, and gender. In 2010, he appeared alongside James Franco in the ABC soap opera General Hospital in an episode featuring performance art. More recently, he released an album for his multi-platform project Art Jobs and Lullabies, which can now be found on Spotify, iTunes, and other digital outlets. His videos can be viewed here. Linzy has held solo exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2009); MoMA, New York (2008); Prospect.1, New Orleans (2008); MoMA PS1, Long Island City (2006); and LAXART, Los Angeles (2006). He has been featured in group exhibitions at the Garage Center, Moscow (2010); Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C. (2008); The Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London (2008); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2007); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2007); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2006). His work is held in the collections of MoMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Studio Museum in Harlem, among others.

 


 

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1. Protesters at Galleria photo Emanuele Berry

Photo: Emanuele Berry

Mass die-in, St. Louis Galleria on Black Friday

Demonstrators poignantly and peacefully protested Black Friday in response to Darren Wilson not being indicted for shooting and killing Michael Brown. Several malls in the area were shut down.

 

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2. The Brant Foundation Homeless Kids w Dan Colen

Dan Colen, The Brant Foundation, Free Arts NYC, and The Department of Homeless Services.

Wonderful to hang out, mentor, eat pizza, and appropriate, through the eyes of children, Colen’s work.

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3. Jose Esteban Munoz The Whitney tribute

Celebrating the life and work of José Esteban Muñoz through performance: Take Ecstasy With Me, organized by Miguel Gutierrez and Alex Segade in conjunction with the 2014 Whitney Biennial

Muñoz cared, understood, and contextualized the work of many queer artists that most would not think twice about engaging with. Produced by the Whitney’s department of education and initiated by Gordon Hall, many of us took to the stage to perform. Included were myself, Nao Bustamante, Jorge Cortiñas, Juliana Huxtable, Miguel Gutierrez with I.n. Hafezi, My Barbarian, Kate Bush Dance Troupe, A.L. Steiner, and Jacolby Satterwhite. RIP, Jose. You are greatly missed.

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4. Blackish TraceeandThelma

Black-ish on ABC

A single-camera comedy that centers on an upper-middle-class African-American family. Many of the episodes focus on identity and cultural politics that contemporary art world types should find engaging. It stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, who is pictured above with Thelma Golden.

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Bethann Hardison’s Dance Party

Hosted by Iman, Naomi Campbell, and Tyson Beckford. This was the most fun I had had in a while. Congrats to Bethann and all her pioneering contributions to the fashion industry!

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Creative Time Presents Kara Walker’s A Subtlety or The Marvelous Sugar Baby

Viewing the exhibition, I remembered a summer hanging out in the pepper fields with my father, who was a farmer and overseer in migrant work. I don’t ever recall being in a sugar cane field with him, but I do remember them existing and playing in them with my cousins. One day I told my father I wanted to be a farmer when I grew up. He said, “No, I want you to have an office job, because farming is hard labor.” At the time I didn’t really understand. I was just a kid who loved and was always excited to be with his dad. I left Walker’s exhibition being grateful for evolution and parents who desire more, fight, and work hard for their children to have a better life.

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Chris Ofili: Night And Day at the New Museum

Inspiring, rejuvenating… fanning that desire within to produce work that continues to resonate over time.

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Takashi Murakami at Gagosian

A beast of a show with intimate moments of offspring dispersed throughout.

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Rachel Feinstein’s The Last Days of Folly at Madison Square Park

With her sculptures as a backdrop, a one-day performance festival was staged and brought together luminaries from art, fashion, film, television, dance, and theater. Had me wanting to do one of my own. Kudos, Rachel! Hoping there’s more to come!

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Sweet Liberty Censored

The muddled, confusing details sounded like a plot from my web series As Da Art World Might Turn. Because I am not a fan of mine or my collaborators’ artistic voices being shooshed, here is the censored billboard with our original intentions above it. A sweet beautiful narrative.

In on the Joke: Triple Candie on Donelle Woolford

From time to time the Walker invites outside voices to share perspectives on art and culture. Today, Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett, who together run Philadelphia-based Triple Candie, share their thoughts on Donelle Woolford, a work in the 2014 Whitney Biennial that featured a fictitious African American artist performing a 1977 Richard Pryor stand-up routine. […]

The Whitney Biennial's page promoting Donelle Woolford

The Whitney Biennial’s page promoting Donelle Woolford

From time to time the Walker invites outside voices to share perspectives on art and culture. Today, Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett, who together run Philadelphia-based Triple Candie, share their thoughts on Donelle Woolford, a work in the 2014 Whitney Biennial that featured a fictitious African American artist performing a 1977 Richard Pryor stand-up routine. A creation of the white artist Joe Scanlan, Donelle Woolford’s inclusion prompted the YAMS collective to withdraw from the biennial. As guest writers, Bancroft and Nesbett’s opinions do not reflect those of the Walker Art Center.

A lot of ink has been spilled on Joe Scanlan’s Donelle Woolford project. Allow us to spill some more.

We first learned of the project and met Joe in 2006 when he stopped in to our Harlem gallery to see a show we had curated on a fictional artist named Lester Hayes. As it turned out, Joe and his wife lived near us in Harlem, and in time we started socializing. Woolford, at that point, was but a shadow of her later self. Some two years later, we commissioned a short text for art on paper, a magazine we owned, to begin to critically unpack the project. It was the first text written about Woolford in a US magazine. After that, we more or less forgot about her.

Woolford came back into our life this past February when the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit informed us that they had booked Woolford’s Dick’s Last Stand routine to coincide with an exhibition we had curated there titled James Lee Byars: I Cancel All My Works at Death. And in Minneapolis in early July—a month after Woolford performed at Midway Contemporary Art—we heard that Lester Hayes was being cited in conversations about Woolford.

We are critical of Joe’s project, but we aren’t summarily dismissive. Aspects of it bring to the surface essential conditions of the contemporary art experience. These include the scripting of value-producing biographical narratives (e.g. the fetishization of birthplaces, or the pretensions of multi-city residency), the exhuming and critical reevaluation of history, the prop as artwork and the artwork as prop, the exhibition as stage-set, and the combination of all these elements into a performative gesamtkunstwerk that may or may not involve the presence of an actor. Despite the relationship these issues have to our own work, and our appreciation for many of Joe’s other projects, some things just don’t sit right with us here. It is hard to put it in words but we think the problems have to do with context, communication, and commerce.

Let’s start with context. Woolford was conceived in a pedagogical culture (Yale University’s School of Art, where Joe was then teaching) that values aesthetic autonomy over social considerations, as Coco Fusco pointed out in The Brooklyn Rail. Her career was then nurtured by museums and galleries—specifically, Galerie Valentin in Paris, Wallspace in Chelsea—that espouse similar values and promote a certain academic conceptualism that reinforces the aesthetics and cultural values of privilege (a lingering WASP-y penchant for double-speak and understatement?). For this reason alone, the cries of minstrelsy heard from some are likely to haunt this project for years to come. It isn’t simply that this is a white artist ventriloquizing a black-actor-playing-a-black-artist, but rather that this performance is being presented in settings that have, intentionally or not, mostly white audiences. If the project had made its way to the 2014 Whitney Biennial via a different route, the fundamental social and ethical tensions would still be there, but they might have played out differently.

As for the issue of communication: From the start, Joe was cagey with the public about his relationship to Woolford. For her solo debut in Paris, in 2007, the press released noted both that Woolford was “a narrative by Joe Scanlan” and that she had served as his alter-ego for a period of years. But for Woolford’s New York debut the following year, Joe wanted the audience to experience the exhibition without knowing either that she was fictitious or that she was his creation. The press release made no mention of Joe, and when we attended the opening reception he asked that we not shatter the illusion for other attendees. Anyone paying close attention that night would have recognized that something was unusual. For example, as we were chatting with Woolford, trying to break the actor out of character (we couldn’t), she suddenly excused herself and another woman claiming to be Donelle Woolford took her place and continued our conversation. The experience was uncanny, but it wasn’t enough to communicate to a visitor that neither woman was who she said she was, or that they had both been cast by an artist named Joe Scanlan.

Similarly, when the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit booked Woolford for her Richard Pryor routine, its curator of public programs did so through a man named Joe Scanlan, who said he was Woolford’s agent. What the curator, who has a background in music and film, learned about Woolford was that she was an artist participating in the Whitney Biennial, that she was born in Detroit, and that she was doing a national performance tour. Joe didn’t tell him that Woolford herself was an act, and the curator didn’t think to ask.

The reason we find this problematic is that it reinforces rather than effectively critiques codes of behavior based on insider knowledge that are used to accumulate or maintain power, for social and economic benefit. In other words, the Woolford project has two audiences: a club of the initiated who know of the fiction and those who experience it naively—those who are in on the joke and those who are its butt. In that sense, the project divides. Divisive projects aren’t in and of themselves bad—we would agree with the art historian Claire Bishop on that—but projects can divide through open provocation or through the revelation of a deceit, and we think that people, even artists, have an ethical responsibility to commit to their position and own their actions. If you chose deceive, don’t ever let anyone know.

Friends of ours have countered this criticism by pointing to the issue of Aprior magazine published in Belgium in 2007 in which Joe talked with Raimundas Malašauskas about Woolford and was photographed with her, or the article we commissioned in art on paper. The argument is that Joe let the cat was out of the bag long ago and that anyone who did a little research could easily learn the back story. That is true, but our response is that these sources of information are consumed by few—let’s face it, the audience for Aprior magazine in the US is a tiny segment of an already small segment of gallery-goers and people who read certain art magazines. Even within the various art worlds of privilege, there is an invisible velvet rope separating those in the know from those not in the know.

This all begs the commerce question: “Is it OK to monetize deceit?” The obvious answer is no, but this case isn’t so obvious. Those who are buying Woolford’s Richard Prince-like paintings are ostensibly in on the joke. As for everyone else—does it matter?

Triple Candie is a Philadelphia-based entity, run by art historians Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett, that curates and produces exhibitions about art but devoid of it. In 2005, in their Harlem gallery, they presented an exhibition titled Lester Hayes: Selected Work, 1962–1975. The artist was a deceased, bi-racial, post-minimalist sculptor. The art historians are white. The press release and wall texts noted that he was fictional. The gallery discarded the exhibition’s contents during deinstallation.

Hyperallergic’s Hrag Vartanian on Performance Art’s Crossover Year

In conjunction with our series 2013: The Year According to…, we invited Hrag Vartanian, editor-in-chief and co-founder of the New York–based “art blogazine” Hyperallergic, to share his perspective on the year that was. He zeroes in on a key development he noticed last year: performance art blasting into the public consciousness in a new way. […]

800px-Pussy_Riot_by_Igor_Mukhin

Pussy Riot. Photo: Igor Mukhin, Wikipedia

In conjunction with our series 2013: The Year According to…, we invited Hrag Vartanian, editor-in-chief and co-founder of the New York–based “art blogazine” Hyperallergic, to share his perspective on the year that was. He zeroes in on a key development he noticed last year: performance art blasting into the public consciousness in a new way.

Many issues have been on my mind in 2013, including the vast destruction of cultural heritage in Syria, which only seems to be getting worse, the disrespect for Hopi and San Carlos Apaches Katsinam at auction, the rising cost of urban life for artists and cultural workers, and the massive (and frightening) role of state surveillance in the lives of every single person on the planet. All these are very serious issues impacting the creative community, even though it can often feel like there are no easy answers to any of these issues.

Yet 2013 was not only a year of serious challenges and many disasters. As an art critic and blogger, I feel it’s important to remark on one of the most fascinating developments for art in the last year: the evolving nature of performance art.

It has been a long time coming, but 2013 was the year when performance art not only crossed over to the mainstream but made waves around the world in a way it has never done before.

From the Free Pussy Riot movement that helped free the captive singers from a Russian gulag to Marina Abramović’s cult-like institute (not to mention the fact that she inspired JAY Z’s foray into gallery performance art), the terrain for performance art is a boom town of possibilities. Even the Museum of Modern Art’s proposed renovation appears to factor in a larger role for performance in the museum’s programming — something that, in my opinion, is sorely needed.

But this added attention raises some serious questions: will the marriage of celebrity and performance art simply be a way for Hollywood actors to parlay their pop culture fame into seemingly more affluent cache in art, or will it be more? Thankfully, along with the mainstreaming of performance there has been a swell of alternative and indie festivals, like the Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival, to fill the need for experimental projects that don’t require stars sleeping in museum lobbies or televised roasts masquerading as performance art.

No discussion of performance art today would be complete without mentioning Performa, RoseLee Goldberg’s biennial performance brainchild that has done more to develop the form than anything else in the last decade. Goldberg’s work as an art historian, curator, and champion has slowly raised the standards for performance over the course of the last four decades.

The exciting part is that the future is up for grabs in this evolving field.

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