January 15, 2016 - art-agenda - Winter Roundup: Obliquity, facture, and restraint
January 15, 2016

art-agenda winter Roundup: Obliquity, facture, and restraint

View of “Musikfestival,” Forum Theater, Berlin, April 16–17, 1966. From left to right: Vagelis Tsakiridis, Tomas Schmit, Gerhard Rühm, and Ludwig Gosewitz. Photo by Hans-Rüdiger Strey.

In December, Andrew Stefan Weiner was awarded joint second prize at the annual International Awards for Art Criticism—organized by the Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum in partnership with the Royal College of Art, London—for his incisive critique of “Surround Audience: New Museum Triennial 2015,” published in art-agenda. Weiner invites visitors to regard the show “as three more or less separate exhibitions. The first is “loud, shiny, cool, and young” and “amounts to a trend forecasting report” which “showcases post-internet art without actually using that now unfashionable term.” The second “consists mainly of work by emerging artists born outside the North Atlantic.” In the “third hypothetical show-within-the-show,” Weiner drafts the possibility of “re-curating the Triennial into a tighter, more powerful exhibition featuring the work of about a dozen artists (…) some pieces would engage new technologies from a position of critical immanence, (…) a second strand would comprise moving-image work made in speculative or essayistic modes, (…) the last group (…) includes artists working in a more poetic mode, favoring obliquity, facture, and restraint.” 

Echoing this spirit, we’d like to think of criticism as a means of foreseeing different possibilities, in which the acknowledgement of the present is as relevant as the gesture of imagining simultaneous, parallel modes of relating to a single object, be it an artwork, an exhibition, or an art fair. This desire to welcome parallel views motivates Double Take, anew feature in which two authors review the same exhibition. The first Double Take publishes Pedro Neves Marques and Stephen Squibb‘s points of view on Julie Ault‘s exhibition “afterlife” at Galerie Buchholz, New York. Similarly, in our latest edition of The Gallerist, Luca Cerizza and Eva Scharrer offer complementary evaluations of René Block‘s legacy, to coincide with the exhibition “Ich kenne kein Weekend: Archive and Collection René Block,” organized last fall in Berlin.

These past months have been particularly rich in terms of revisiting past figures. art-agenda’s fall calendar opened with a Rearview feature on Felix Gonzalez-Torres‘s 1996 text “1990: L.A., ‘The Gold Field’, prefaced by Riccardo Benassi, who introduced “the conversation between artists Roni Horn and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, initiated in the early 1990s and only interrupted due to Gonzalez-Torres’s death in 1996.” Likewise, reviews of new exhibitions by historical artists abounded during this period, namely Bruce Nauman‘s “Selected Works from 1967 to 1990,” presented at Gagosian Gallery in Paris, a show that lead Gil Leung to reflect on the interstices and junctures involved in coalescence. Vivian Sky Rehberg described Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s exhibition at CAPC, Bordeaux, as “a thoughtfully conceived, carefully selected, and dynamically installed exhibition” that “offers communal gathering places rather than isolating individual works.” In New York, Kim Levin also encountered care and attention in Mike Kelley‘s exhibition at Hauser and Wirth, a show “smartly put together with love, insight, and admiration.” Focusing on the “Kandors” series—”Kandor, of course, is the capital of the planet Krypton, where Superman was born”—this exhibition united Mike Kelley and Superman in outer space. Also in New York, Tyler Coburn reviewed Paul Laffoley‘s exhibition “The Force Structure of the Mystical Experience,” “a retrospective-scale treatise of Laffoley’s thought” which “cuts wild lines through philosophies and belief systems (Neoplatonism, Kabbalah, theosophy, etc.) with a consistency that belies chronological time.” In Naples, at Tiziana di Caro Gallery, Barbara Casavecchia rediscovered Tomaso Binga through “Scrivere non è descrivere” [To Write is Not to Describe], an exhibition that “pays homage to Binga’s pioneering efforts to make space for herself beyond the marginalized role assigned to women artists at the time.” Peter Fend‘s work was also revisited through Elvia Wilk‘s review of his “to be built” exhibition at Galerie Barbara Weiss in Berlin, “a retrospective-lite; neither exhaustive nor tightly focused, it presents the main themes and formal vocabulary that have persisted with surprising continuity in Fend’s work until today.” At New York’s Room East, Genevieve Yue reviewed Hollis Frampton‘s “ADSVMVS ABSVMVS,” a show of “Frampton’s last major photographic series (…) the images are ‘autographic likenesses’ of upstate New York roadkill, seafood purchased from Asian markets, and other specimens Frampton acquired over a seven-year period.” From Los Angeles, Andrew Berardini sent a poetic and moving review in the form of a letter to Simone Forti, responding to her “On An Iron Post” exhibition at The Box. 

Major art events were also extensively featured during this period. At the beginning of the cold season, Ana Teixeira Pinto analyzed the references and conceptual groundings of “Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms,” the 14th Istanbul Biennial, thinking through the exhibition’s aims, deeds, and key works, while Chris Sharp reviewed “La vie moderne,” the 13th Biennale de Lyon, praising “an exhibition that focused a lot more on art than the illustration of a given concept” and considering its “handful of happy surprises, a few dependable disappointments, and a number of anemic anomalies.” Recently, Vivian Ziherl observed how “Neither Forward nor Back: Acting in the Present,” the 2015 Jakarta Biennale “has the strong sense of being as much an intervention into a local cultural politics as anything that is recognizable as an exhibition in the conventional sense (whose) narratives sprawl across national, local, personal, ecological, and mythical registers with the chaotic ease of a tropical downpour.”

In his review, Patrick Langley recalled that “sociologists have a name for the acute disorientation that half an hour at Frieze London can induce: the “Gruen effect” (…) describes the sense of temporal and geographical dislocation that sets in when you enter a shopping center.” We are grateful to all our writers who faced similar challenges to share with us their thoughts on such art events as abc art berlin contemporary (Tess Edmonson), FIAC and Paris Internationalein Paris (reviewed by Claire Moulène), Abu Dhabi Art and Dubai shows (Melissa Gronlund), Artissima and satellite projects in Turin (Ben Eastham), “Tomorrow Today” Curated by_Vienna (Pieternel Vermoortel), or Art Basel Miami Beach (Direlia Lazo). 

In the months to come, art-agenda will publish a new SPACES feature, in which Erika Balsom will consider The Cinema; from Los Angeles, Myriam Ben Salah will review Art Los Angeles Contemporary and Paramount Ranch; Orit Gat will review London’s new gallery initiative Condo Complex; and from Puerto Rico, Carla Acevedo Yates will review the IV Trienal Poli/Gráfica of San Juan.

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