When something is lost, connections or clues are sought in order to try and locate it again. The recent passing of significant artists—Dorothea Tanning (1910–2012), Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), Antoni Tapies (1923–2012), Gianfranco Pardi (1933–2012), and Mike Kelley (1954–2012)—is a meaningful loss for contemporary art. These artists’ lineage will inevitably be traced alongside the development of contemporary culture, assigning them responsibility for steering its path. This alignment reveals curious relationships: Szymborska’s poetry to Tanning’s writing later in life; Tanning’s early installation soft sculptures from the ’70s to Mike Kelley’s soft forms found on the cover of Sonic Youth’s 1992 album Dirty. Weaving themselves between and through all forms of creative practices—music, poetry, architecture, and visual art—the connections are infinite. Automatically locating these accomplishments as things that have passed risks demarking them as histories, of an idea, a work, or a person. Their zealous determination demands the artists’ achievements be activated in the now rather than simply historicized.
In reviews of David von Schlegell and Peter Fend, Joanna Fiduccia and Colby Chamberlain explore the complexities of showing work by artists who have, or are being positioned in the still developing contemporary art historical cannon. JJ Charlesworth actively speaks out against shortsighted remembrance in his review of Anselm Kiefer at White Cube, London, “Kiefer has recently stated that ‘only by going into the past can you go into the future’—but in his repetitive performance of the traumatic-cathartic return of history, he seems eternally stuck in a present from which he can do nothing but look backwards.” Wisława Szymborska offers an alternate, liberating methodology, “A conversation with you is necessary and impossible, urgent in a hurried life and postponed for never,” that anchors these artists’ in the present, now and in the future. John Miller’s personal remembrance of Mike Kelley enacts this exact sentiment in his stirring account of his friend and colleague.
Recently on Art Agenda:
Mike Kelley (1954–2012)
Mike Kelley: FROM MY INSTITUTION TO YOURS, A Personal Remembrance by John Miller
Peter Fend’s “Über die Grenze. May Not Be Seen Or Read Or Done” at Essex Street, New York
January 8–February 12, 2012
Colby Chamberlain explores Peter Fend’s boundary issues at Essex Street, New York.
Fredrik Værslev, Johan Berggren Gallery, Malmö
January 27–March 3, 2012
Matthew Rana charts the conspicuous absence of Fredrik Værslev at Johan Berggren Gallery, Malmö.
Karl Holmqvist’s “The Hours of This Watch is Numbered” at Gaga Fine Arts, Mexico City
January 14–March 3, 2012
Chris Sharp tells us why the hours on Karl Holmqvist’s watch is and not are (what?) at Gaga Fine Arts, Mexico City.
Rearview: “Environments, Situations, Spaces” at Martha Jackson Gallery, New York
May 25–June 23, 1961
Media Farzin on Jill Johnston’s 1961 review of “Environments, Situations, Spaces” at Martha Jackson Gallery.
David von Schlegell at China Art Objects, Los Angeles
January 7–February 4, 2012
Joanna Fiduccia outlines the difference between retrospection and resurrection in the work of David von Schlegell at China Art Objects, Los Angeles.
Michael Wang’s “Carbon Copies” at Foxy Production, New York
January 6–14, 2012
Media Farzin tells us how Michael Wang’s “Carbon Copies” has nothing to do with being a copycat at Foxy Production, New York.
Ei Arakawa and Sergei Tcherepnin at Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo
December 17, 2011–January 14, 2012
Kevin Mcgarry touches Ei Arakawa and Sergei Tcherepnin’s sounds of silence at Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo.
Allan Sekula’s “Polonia and . . .” at Galerie Michel Rein, Paris
November 10, 2011–January 14, 2012
Jian-Xing Too gives us Allan Sekula’s new fishy take on Europe at Galerie Michel Rein, Paris.
Anselm Kiefer’s “Il Mistero delle Cattedrali” at White Cube, London
December 9, 2011–February 26, 2012
J.J. Charlesworth tell us how “[Anselm] Kiefer’s shtick invariably plays to a mainstream, liberal notion of the experience of recent history” (and that’s just the beginning) at White Cube, London.
“EXHIBITION” by MOREpublishers at Galerie Van der Mieden, Antwerp
December 9, 2011–January 21, 2011
David Catherall explores an exhibition where the ellipses are in italics, and we like it that way at Galerie Van der Mieden, Antwerp.
Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys’s “Im Reich der Sonnenfinsternis” at Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin
December 16, 2011–February 4, 2012
Ana Teixeira Pinto gives us her own theory of “Germanness” in Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys’s show at Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin.
Douglas Gordon’s “Phantom” at Galeri Mana, Istanbul
November 26, 2011–January 14, 2012
Merve Unsal shows us Douglas Gordon’s play on eyes and “I’s” at Galeri Mana, Istanbul.
Laura McLean-Ferris on Andrea Buettner at Hollybush Gardens, London; Dina Ibrahim on “THE STATE: Domination, Hegemony and The Panopticon” at Traffic, Dubai; and Filipa Ramos on Ilya and Emilia Kabakov at Lia Rumma, Milan, among others.
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