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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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Devrim-01

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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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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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.

Frank Gaard: 10 Things About Marcel Duchamp

“The trip I took into the mystic was inspired by Duchamp,” says Minneapolis-based painter Frank Gaard, subject of an early 2012 solo show at the Walker, “as was my sense that language was a medium for visual artists.” In commemoration of today’s 125th anniversary of Marcel Duchamp’s birth, Gaard shares ten musings on the man. […]

“The trip I took into the mystic was inspired by Duchamp,” says Minneapolis-based painter Frank Gaard, subject of an early 2012 solo show at the Walker, “as was my sense that language was a medium for visual artists.” In commemoration of today’s 125th anniversary of Marcel Duchamp’s birth, Gaard shares ten musings on the man.

 
Marcel Duchamp, Étant donnés: 1° la chute d’eau, 2° le gaz d’éclairage… (Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas…), 1946-66, and The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), 1915-1923, via the Philadelphia Museum of Art

1. Étant donnés:  I saw this in Philly in 1984; went there to see it, but what really pulled my chain was The Large Glass, which is in the same space. The glass is huge, thick and the images on it look like they are turned to crispy cellophane. The glass is cracked in both the top and bottom sections in the same pattern it was broken in a truck on the way to Brooklyn. Duchamp was cool with that–he was a master of chance.


Marcel Duchamp, In Advance of the Broken Arm, 1964, via MoMa; Frank Gaard, Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts Snowshovel, 1969, courtesy the artist

2. The Snowshovel Stories, In Advance of A Broken Arm When I left Chicago in 1967 I thought I’d never shovel anymore fucking snow! The first thing I remember about landing in Minneapolis was getting a snowshovel from my landlord. The Minneapolis Society of Arts–which was the parent organisation for the MIA children’s theater and the Minneapolis School of Art, my employer–gave me their snowshovel emblazoned with their name in perfect Jasper Johns stenciled majesty! We took a photo of said snowshovel at that time, 1969. A readymade from the landlord!


Marcel Duchamp, Eau & gaz a tous les étages, 1958, via toutfait.com

3. Eau & gaz a tous les étages: A common sign for renters in Paris (days bygone), it reads, “water & gas on every floor.” To wit, modernity, running water, and gas lights in your apartment or studio rental. Paris is wet, dark, and cold in winter.  Jack Burnham, a professor at Northwestern University (Lisa Lyons, ex-WAC curator, studied with Jack ), was a frequent contributor to Artforum magazine, and in the mid-1970’s his essays on Duchamp and mysticism were quite a sensation in the art world. I met him in 1974 and had some correspondence after that time about Duchamp and kabbalah, etc. And, yes, about Duchamp and madness and the Beast (madness, insanity,psychosis), as well. Jack and I both lost our minds in those days. Water and gas for Jack Burnham were two legs of the chair of elements .


Marcel Duchamp, Tu m’, 1918, via the Yale University Art Gallery

4. T um’(1918): Arturo Schwarz–the publisher of the editions of readymades that first were produced in 1964–asked Duchamp if their was a readymade that was a corkscrew (like the image in the painting T  um’). Duchamp said the readymade was not the corkscrew, but rather the corkscrew’s shadow as in the aforementioned painting. This little bit made me feel that uplift only insight gives us–that this shadow of a corkscrew was a readymade, a modern work of art made of a shadow.


Kay Bell Reynal, Marcel Duchamp playing chess in his studio, 1952, via the Smithsonian’s Archive of American Art

5. The whole thing about chess?  Duchamp, like Cezanne before him, wanted art that appealed to the intellect.  As for chess, it’s the battle of wits, non?


Alfred Jarry, undated photo, via Wikipedia

6. Alfred Jarry: I have learned that influence is what creates immortality for an artist. Duchamp’s influence dominated advanced art since at least the 1960’s as Picasso’s influence waned as Duchamp’s star rose. Alfred Jarry is one of the most important influences on Duchamp. You should look into it, mon ami. And Raymond Roussel!

7. The anti-retinal dialectics: Duchamp came of age in the backwash of impressionism and was influenced by it and made young work in various versions of post-impressionist styles. His contempt for retinal art comes after the on set of high modernism. But the dogwaste palette of the cubists became the domain of the non-retinal groups especially Dada and Surrealism. Some of the anti-painting rhetoric originates in the bias against primary and secondary colors in favor of black, grey, and Calvin Klein beige du jour.

Marcel Duchamp, Paysage fautif [Faulty Landscape], 1946, via Artnet

8. Paysage fautif: This is a self-portrait he made for his lover in South America with whom he had a daughter. The medium is semen on book ends.


Scanned book page, courtesy Frank Gaard

9.  His obsession with marriage. The bride and the bachelors: My favorite photo is Duchamp’s first bride, an heir to a motor car fortune who was rather plump. Duchamp’s pals were quite amused that thin-as-a-pencil Marcel had taken a fat, rich wife. It didn’t work out too many chess games.


Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917, via Wikipedia

10. The late reception: The show in the Pasadena Art Museum organized by Walter Hopps (1963) was the largest show of his work to that moment. The influence of Duchamp on the artists in the LA Basin was huge. Think about all that follows from his art there and elsewhere. And his modesty! In some ways it seemed as if he didn’t fully appreciate the stir he caused. I remember my father seeing R. Mutt for the first time in the Art Institute of Chicago, laughing, his laugh echoing through the huge galleries. Maybe we art types should remember that a good laugh is a good thing!

Adam Smith’s Advice on the Future, trans. from the Scottish by Janaki Ranpura

  Dear people of the new millennium, I have seen your dystopian films like Bladerunner and the one with that rich American, Christopher Lloyd, and so I argue for you to consider a contrary possibility: the future is smashing! If you have a chance to go there, seize it! Carpe diem posterum! Seize the behind […]

Photo: Gene Pittman

 

Dear people of the new millennium,

I have seen your dystopian films like Bladerunner and the one with that rich American, Christopher Lloyd, and so I argue for you to consider a contrary possibility: the future is smashing! If you have a chance to go there, seize it! Carpe diem posterum! Seize the behind of tomorrow! I can understand it might not be for everybody, but if you have a keen curiosity about — well, mostly about yourself — I think you’ll be very pleased. You’ll find people still like your book. And they like you! They really do! I think it is very possible that human beings are devolving into increasingly unsavory forms, so that people from the past seem quite sophisticated. You will find, too, that whatever time travel in a microwave has done for the tattiness of your clothes, you will still be better dressed than everyone else. I would not recommend shopping. You will find that, in the future, nothing out there is microwave-safe anymore.

You will find yourself kept in a clean institution where people come and visit you. In my experience, they sometimes grab you firmly by the rod under your skirt and shake your hands all over the place. This causes my eyes to roll from the unexpected feeling of vivacity, as if I were put on this earth for exactly this sort of interaction.

I auditioned for my place in the clean institution. I think it might be increasingly rapacious disaster capitalism that results in the shortage of beds in public facilities. At any rate, when I auditioned for a spot, I unexpectedly found myself blubbering and wanting to go to the mall, as if I were a tween again. I think this was due to two factors:

1) the prolonged infancy of today’s largely unemployed American adults has exerted a subconscious influence on me, and

2) I have 230 years of repressed disappointment that comes out under pressure.

Perceive my disillusion. You imagine people have grasped what you’re on about and after 700 pages you’ve put it as succintly as it will go, but they just reduce it even further to buzzwords, “memes,” “tropes” that grow only toward the fire of ignorance and not toward the sun of enlightenment. Who can unfasten the fetters of the fully functioning Free Market? When will the Socialist Tyrant unclench his grasp on the Invisible Hand?

I am not entirely blaming Marx. I understand history and masses of inadequately educated men have perverted his ideas to at least the same degree that they have perverted mine. He is as much responsible for today’s inefficient healthcare and virtually Byzantine pension systems as I am for zero job growth, protectionist subsidies, and the Eurozone. The problem, as we see it, is Twitter-feed.

The citizenry is creating a tide of verbiage to rival the most stalwart pressmen, so inevitably some trickle of it leaks into a position of authority. This is free press in the way that the United States practices the free market — this is your mom throwing the whole family’s laundry at you and inviting you to pair your socks. As an added benefit, you get to see everyone else’s laundry! Mother, can you please just pair the socks and leave them in the drawer so I can get on to the part of the day when I go to the coffeehouse and eat pasties?

Not that I want to be out there all the time, meeting people. I absolutely do not. I miss the good old days when I only ever met 300 people in my life and 75 of them thought I was a smart guy. Because I am. They could see that. I’m no mass marketeer wearing mouse ears and big yellow shoes. Except for the yellow shoes.

Okay, it’s easy to complain about the present, which is as close as we’re ever going to get to the future. Actually, it’s been topping working with such titillatingly intelligent and globally insightful people as Pedro Reyes and Vicente Pouso. And I never once in my life thought I’d be opening for Michael Hardt and Lauren Berlant — they are rock star philosophers. A bit like me but much, much more popular. I really enjoyed reading some of Marx’s trifles in order to engage him in witty combat throughout the film shooting. It’s great fun to read essays then go in the garden and shout at someone about them.

I hope your futures are lucky enough to hold such entertainments.

sincerely cheerio,

Adam Smith

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Janaki Ranpura is one of two puppeteers who collaborated with Pedro Reyes on Baby Marx. She builds nomadic structures for public interactions. As a designer, she values intimacy and mobility. She unites technology with the traditional stagecraft of puppet theater. Projects evolve from her experience as a performer, a community artist, and a designer for parades and stage.

Ranpura recieved training at the Lecoq School in France, has worked with Shadowlight Productions and Heart of the Beast Theatre, and studied at Yale University. She has received fellowships through the Playwrights’ Center, Northern Lights MN, Pillsbury House Theatre, Heart of the Beast Theatre, and Forecast Public Art. The international association UNIMA has awarded her a Citation of Excellence for her puppet work. She is a recipient of a 2011 Henson Foundation Seed Grant for new work.

See more at her website.

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