June 17, 2013 - art-agenda - Venice, Basel, Istanbul
June 17, 2013

Venice, Basel, Istanbul

Demonstration of solidarity with Turkish and international protesters during the opening days of the 55th Venice Biennale, Piazza San Marco, Venice, June 1, 2013. Photo courtesy of artist Selda Asal.

art-agenda
May–June Round up

When the crowds descended on Venice’s Giardini at the end of May for the preview days of the 55th Venice Biennale, there was a noticeable weariness in the air. Many gallerists and collectors had clocked in thousands of frequent flier miles, hitting Frieze New York and Art Basel’s inaugural Hong Kong edition just a couple of weeks earlier. So when Massimiliano Gioni’s much anticipated “The Encyclopedic Palace” finally opened, for some it was more like the season’s denouement than a summer kick off. Inside the garden’s gates, many were delighted by Gioni’s elegant show, with its “museal” presentation and tantalizing roster of unknowns (mostly dead white men with juicy back stories). But plenty of viewers were taken aback by, among other things, the exhibition’s blindingly apolitical stance. When, on June 1st—the first public day of the Biennale—a diverse group of Turkish and international curators, artists, gallerists, and others organized a demonstration in support of the nascent protest movement that had started to stir in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, it seemed to underline the curatorial choice to stand above the fray of the significant political movements and civil unrest that have taken place in the two years since the biennale’s last edition. 

Fast forward two weeks to Art Basel, the venerable, original mother ship of European art fairs. On the Messeplatz, artist Tadashi Kawamata erected a makeshift series of huts and shelters with recycled materials, creating a quasi-public space for resting one’s feet after taking in the gigantic fair. Aoife Rosenmeyer’s first reaction was this: “But why, oh why, did it have to be called Favela Café (2013), in this richest of cities at this temple of conspicuous consumption?” When, just a day later, this very “café” was cleared of revelers (read: non-Art Basel attendees?) by Basel police with a ridiculous show of force (rubber bullets and tear gas), one could not help but think of the real protests and increased state violence happening now in Istanbul, which appears to have reached a fever pitch. 

Could we see both the demonstration in Venice and the ironic police action in Basel as instances of life entering the fray of art—yet more proof that this link is essential, ever-present, and worth fighting for? Of course, the best art always encourages such messy comingling. Let us insist on it.

And on that note, it would be remiss not to mention the sudden passing of gallerist, curator, writer, editor, and collector Seth Siegelaub (1941–2013), who died on Sunday in Basel. Siegelaub was a revolutionary dealer, inspired curator, defender of artists’ rights, an astute critic, and a generous human being. He will be missed. 


Recently on art-agenda

Basel Round up
June 2013
Chris Sharp fills up his “art-addled skull” with the Basel highlights beyond the fair, including Steve McQueen’s “extensive and exquisitely installed retrospective” at the Schaulager and the Michel Auder survey “Stories, Myths, Ironies, and Other Songs: Conceived, Directed, Edited and Produced by M. Auder” at Kunsthalle Basel. 

Art Basel, Basel
June 13–16, 2013
Aoife Rosenmeyer shakes her head as she cruises past the makeshift favela on the Messeplatz and delves into this year’s Art Basel fair. Despite such an entrance, she’s surprised to discover some compelling and critical work inside—”a reflection on reality, and just how I wanted to experience it in an art fair.”

Jesper Just at Galerie Perrotin, Paris
April 20–June 15, 2013
Mara Hoberman reviews three films by Jesper Just that combine high production value with platitudinous female characters, discovering an equation of the “constructs of femininity with the artifice of cinema itself.” 

“Trade Routes” at Hauser & Wirth, London
May 3–July 27, 2013
Hauser & Wirth’s international group show brings together non-Western artists with a particular focus on those from the Middle East. Omar Kholeif is a bit disappointed that the gallery’s “move beyond the confines of its largely Eurocentric artist portfolio” is performed by “beckoning the nostalgic metaphor” of the trade route.

Eva Kotátková’s “They are Coming” at Meyer Riegger, Berlin
April 26–June 8, 2013
Kirsty Bell visits the newest iteration of Eva Kotátková’s “Theatre of Speaking Objects” project, in which the artist’s collage work distinguishes her “as a lucid visual analyst of complex social situations.” 

Venice Biennale Off-Site and Museums, Venice
June 1–November 24, 2013
Filipa Ramos gives alphabetic treatment to the abundance of exhibitions in Venice outside the Giardini and the Arsenale, discovering “magical and secretive” spaces alongside “parallel and lesser-known art histories.” 

National Pavilions, 55th Venice Biennale, Venice
June 1–November 24, 2013
Quinn Latimer offers a survey of this year’s national pavilions, whose “representatives of culture and country felt antique and obvious and a mess,” but also a “relief” in the face of the “stylized interior design aesthetic” of Gioni’s main exhibition.

“Il Palazzo Enciclopedico,” 55th Venice Biennale, Venice
June 1–November 24, 2013
Vincenzo Latronico reviews the international exhibition at the center of this year’s Venice Biennale. Curator Massimiliano Gioni takes the model of the encyclopedia as a point of departure, and such variations on the attempt to organize all forms of knowledge “pre-emptively frame his own project as utopian, relegating it to the realm of imperfection, if not failure.” 

Zbyněk Baladrán’s “Preliminary Report” at Galerie Jocelyn Wolff, Paris
May 4–June 22, 2013
Zbyněk Baladrán’s work blends political texts, anachronistic diagnoses, and imagery of mechanical labor into an exhibition that reads, for Elena Sorokina, like a “disavowal of the neat ordering of phenomena.” 

Art Basel Hong Kong
May 23–26, 2013
Venus Lau writes from Art Basel HK’s inaugural edition,whose organization is “not about secluded spheres of ‘Asian art,’” but rather positions itself “towards constructing a sphere of visibility—what artistic landscape is going to be made visible when we talk about Asia in an artistic context.” 

Gabriel Lester’s “The Secret Life of Cities” at Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam
April 27–June 1, 2013
Gabriel Lester’s photographs of cities from the vantage point of their foliage defamiliarize urban spaces with an “an uncertain anonymity.” Judith Vrancken discovers an attempt to find “a new sense of direction to the untamable and unpredictability of city life.”

“U.F.O.-NAUT JK (Július Koller) orchestrated by Rirkrit Tiravanija” at Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna
April 10–May 25, 2013
Simon Rees looks at Rirkrit Tiravanija’s installation of—and additions to—conceptual artist Július Koller’s “U.F.O.-NAUT” series, finding a common, cross-generational interest in using sports as a “a reasonable and universal signifier” to stage social and political realities. 

Henri Chopin’s “La Crevette Amoureuse” at Supportico Lopez, Berlin
April 26–June 8, 2013
On display at Supportico Lopez is a selection from prominent experimental poet and performer Henri Chopin’s unfinished novel, a typographic work that complicates the distinction between text and illustration. Vincenzo Latronico considers how to read this novel-exhibited-in-a-gallery space.

New York Gallery Round up
April/May/June 2013
Tyler Coburn visits Lili Reynaud-Dewar’s exhibition at CLEARING, Edgardo Aragón’s “Tesoro” at Laurel Gitlen, Alex Hubbard’s “Magical Ramón and The Five Bar Blues” at Maccarone, and Paul McCarthy’s show at Hauser & Wirth. As for McCarthy’s Balloon Dog (2013) outside the Frieze Art Fair tent, Coburn deems it “by far the dullest jewel in the Los Angeles artist’s crown.”

Frieze New York
May 10–13, 2013
With the words “Contemporary art: one, us: zero,” Karen Archey kicks off her take on the sophomore edition of Frieze New York. After all, she writes, “New York has yearned so long for a hip, commercially viable fair”—is this London import officially it? 


Coming soon, reviews of Sarkis at GaleriManâ, Istanbul; Stephan Janitzky and Max Schmidtlein at Deborah Schamoni Galerie, Munich; Jack Lavender at The approach, London; Amalia Pica at Johann König, Berlin; and many more. 

Art-agenda’s exhibition announcement service distributes press information on select international exhibitions of contemporary art. 

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