Now more than ever, contemporary art should be a tool with which to propose alternate tactics. But the hammer’s handle is worn, warmed-over. Far from boastful of their political origins, the artworks being made today are much less aggressive in the presentation of their ideas than those created in the 60s and 70s. Indeed, it seems that contemporary artists, on the whole, actively reject the spotlight. Hence, the critics, so reason follows, are left to bathe in lukewarm waters. And while reactions to recent political events across the world appear vague, even diluted, the desire for further discussion is palpable. Reviews of Alicja Kwade, Andrea Büttner, Dan Graham, the Kabakovs, and Marjetica Potrč address work that plays with various forms of architectural power and manipulation. These artists have built up their own internal power structures in the work, which move beyond trends, situating themselves outside strategies altogether, new or old. Disobedience (albeit civil more so than not) is ever present. The discussion of how contemporary art can propose radically new ontologies of “political art” will continue in upcoming reviews by Stephen Squibb on the Whitney Biennial 2012 and Arnaud Gerspacher on The New Museum Triennial, ”The Ungovernables.”
Recently on Art Agenda:
Marjetica Potrč’s “Acre: Rural School” at Nicolas Krupp, Basel
Quinn Latimer gets a lesson in dystopian weirdness at Marjetica Potrč’s “Acre: Rural School,” Nicolas Krupp, Basel.
Rearview: Cindy Nemser’s “The Art of Frustration”
Anna Gritz introduces Cindy Nemser’s 1971 text “The Art of Frustration” on “Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, May 19–July 6, 1969.
“Crime is on Both Sides” Galeria Stereo, Poznań
3 February–10 March 2012
Karol Sienkiewicz isn’t sold on the the story told in “Crime is on Both Sides” at Galeria Stereo, Poznań.
Ursula Mayer’s “Gonda” at Juliètte Jongma, Amsterdam
3 March–7 April 2012
Maaike Lauwaert gets her rocks off over Ursula Mayer’s “Gonda” at Juliètte Jongma, Amsterdam.
Dan Graham’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Show. Unrealised Projects for Children and Boutique Architecture” at Hauser and Wirth, Zürich
11 February–7 April 2012
Aoife Rosenmeyer sees through Dan Graham’s “beguiling game of smoke and mirrors” at Hauser and Wirth, Zürich.
Alicja Kwade’s “In Circles” at Johann König, Berlin
18 February–17 March 2012
Kimberley Bradley circumnavigates Alicja Kwade’s “In Circles” at Johann König, Berlin.
Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, Lia Rumma, Milan
19 January–3 March 2012
Filipa Ramos is disappointed in the commercial aspects of Ilya & Emilia Kabakov’s show at Lia Rumma, Milan.
“Domination, Hegemony, and the Panopticon” Traffic, Dubai
2 February–31 March 2012
Dina Ibrahim power struggles with Foucault and Baudrillard at Traffic, Dubai.
The Otolith Group’s “Westfailure” Project 88, Mumbai
11 January–3 February 2012
Gitanjali Dang is peeved by the cacophony of theory in the Otolith Group’s “Westfailure” at Project 88, Mumbai.
15–19 February 2012
Lorena Muñoz-Alonso heads out and about ARCOmadrid to find a citywide takeover by the Dutch.
Andrea Büttner’s “Moos/Moss” at Hollybush Gardens, London
27 January–4 March 2012
Laura McLean-Ferris finds the tension between humility and shame in Andrea Büttner’s show at Hollybush Gardens, London.
Coming soon: Karen Archey on Superflex at Peter Blum, New York; JJ Charlesworth on Raqs Media Collective, Frith Street Gallery, London; Judith Schwarzbart on “Abstract Possible: The Stockholm Synergies” Tensta Konsthall; Sarah Rifky on Art Dubai; Emily Cormack on Angela De La Cruz, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne; Sohrab Mohebbi on Stanya Kahn, Sussane Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, LA; Alan Gilbert on Hans Peter Feldmann, 303 Gallery, New York; Catalina Lozano on Aleksandra Domanović & Sharon Hayes, Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City; Marina Fokidis on Dirk Bell with Frederic Detjens and Marcus Steinweg, Helena Papadopoulos, Athens; and Media Farzin on Mounir Fatmi, Lombard-Freid Projects, New York.
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