These days, prophesies of doomsday are not limited to the calendars of lost civilizations or ancient scripture. As 2012 winds down, it seems as if we’re bombarded from all sides with pronouncements of “ends.” The end of the seasons (climate change and its increasingly catastrophic consequences); the end of the economy as we know it (the US government’s “fiscal cliff”); and lest we forget the mother of all end-game scenarios, the end of the world proper (coming on or about December 21, if you’re partial to the Mayan timeline).
The art world seems to have added its own “end of times” refrain to the chorus. Reaching a fever pitch during the love-to-hate-it Art Basel Miami Beach fair and myriad parallel events last week, the pronouncement goes that the influence of the art market and a handful of powerful collectors are destroying art by dictating what gets seen and how it is valued. Like all such damning verdicts, we have a “culprit” (collectors with unprecedentedly deep pockets whose buying power, we are told, is distorting the entire realm of artistic production and reception), and the “good guys” (pure-of-heart art lovers and artists themselves). The truth, if we can approximate it, is probably to be found somewhere in the middle. Prominent collectors may wave off these charges with arguments that recall the refrain of a pop song—”same as it ever was”—but the simplistic jabs on both sides could do with some critical analysis.
A good place to start is Ana Teixeira Pinto‘s report from Doha. With candor and self-reflection, she recounts her experiences during a press junket on the occasion of an opening at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, which houses the collection of Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Thani. The Sheikh’s purchase earlier this year of Paul Cézanne’s The Card Players for more than 250 million dollars blew all previous records out of the water, and the ruling family of Qatar is now the biggest buyer of modern and contemporary art in the world. Hyperbole aside, the stakes have never been higher, and that’s why space for real argument is the one thing we can’t risk losing.
Recently on Agenda:
David Zink Yi’s “Ángel, ¿Eres tú?” at 80m2 Livia Benavides, Lima
November 14, 2012–January 13, 2013
Miguel A. López considers how David Zink Yi’s current solo show at 80m2 Livia Benavides signals promising recent developments in Peru’s “cultural infrastructure and art-market dynamics” and its contemporary art scene as a whole.
Miami Beyond Art Basel. NADA/Untitled/Scope fairs & Museum Highlights, Miami
In part two of her coverage of the goings on surrounding Art Basel Miami Beach, Jane Simon reports back on few of the nearly two-dozen “satellite” fairs, and picks two museum exhibitions that are worth checking out long after the art fair crowd has vacated Miami.
Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami
December 6–9, 2012
Amidst lamentations about the dominant influence of the art market on the contemporary art field, Jane Simon takes stock at Art Basel’s strong eleventh edition in Miami, and finds that there are plenty of curated presentations and serious works to delight buyers and lookers alike.
Etel Adnan at Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg
November 2, 2012–January 12, 2013
In the wake of Beirut-born Etel Adnan’s well-received contribution to Documenta 13 earlier this year, Steffen Zillig considers the limits of a biographical reading of Adnan’s works.
Sharon Lockhart & Noa Eshkol at Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), Vienna
November 23, 2012–Feburary 23, 2013
Judith Vrancken takes in the “dance” between Sharon Lockhart and the work of Israeli dance theorist and choreographer Noa Eshkol (1924–2007), and concludes that the dialogue between them—a “posthumous engagement”—yielded gorgeous results.
Miriam Böhm’s “Before in Front” at Ratio 3, San Francisco
November 9–December 14, 2012
In Agenda’s first dispatch from San Francisco, Tara McDowell puzzles over Miriam Böhm’s photographs. Simple at first glance, yet intricately layered and cerebral, they promise “games of decipherment on offer, an old art-historical enjoyment.”
Pilvi Takala’s “Random Numbers” at Carlos/Ishikawa, London
November 15–December 15, 2012
Anna Gritz explains how artist Pilvi Takala manages to “cleverly rework” the figure of the jester (usually the artist herself in various guises) to deliver biting social critique and complicate lines of identification in her videos and installations.
PR Kingdom: Press Debriefings and a Bit of Art in Doha, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
October 17, 2012–March 31, 2013
Ana Teixeira Pinto spends a few days in Doha, glimpsing art here and there as she is shuttled from one press conference to the next. En route, Pinto tries to figure out what the conditions of production underpinning all this pomp and circumstance really are.
Kutluğ Ataman’s “Mesopotamian Dramaturgies” at Sperone Westwater, New York
November 1–December 22, 2012
In his first exhibition with Sperone Westwater, Kutluğ Ataman presents four video installations that remind Arnaud Gerspacher of the continued potentials of “interrogating documentary conventions.”
Hito Steyerl’s “Adorno’s Grey” at Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam
November 11–December 15, 2012
In Rotterdam, Adam Kleinman decodes Hito Steyerl’s new filimic installation—a detective story of sorts, starting with the baring of a few breasts in Theodor W. Adorno’s Frankfurt lecture hall in 1969—which manages to advance a visual and spatial analysis of cinema itself.
Nairy Baghramian’s “Fluffing the Pillows” at Galerie Buchholz, Cologne
November 9, 2012–January 5, 2013
Katharina Neuburger unpacks the meanings contained in Nairy Baghramian’s exhibition at both Cologne locations of Galerie Buchholz; here the works—ropes, moorings, pillows—are as rigorous as forms as they are playful as concepts.
Chelsea After Sandy: A Roundup with Diana Thater’s “Chernobyl” at David Zwirner, Jennifer and Kevin McCoys’ “Twenty One Twelve” at Postmasters, and more
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation of many Chelsea galleries, Kareem Estefan returns to survey the damage and join in on some of the first post-storm (re)openings.
Artissima, Oval – Lingotto Fiere, Turin
November 9–11, 2012
Filipa Ramos finds that this year, Artissima seemed to get back to basics, a “radical gesture” that bucks the trend of augmenting already-packed fair schedules with the intellectual ballast of discursive and other “extra-fair” activities.
Füsun Onur’s “Variations” at Maçka Sanat Galerisi, Istanbul
October 9–December 1, 2012
Newly on the international map after her presentation in Documenta 13, Füsun Onur’s latest exhibition in Istanbul is at Maçka Sanat, where she has been showing since the late 1980s. Merve Unsal explains how the work is a continuation of the artist’s long-term, sensitive engagement with the gallery’s particular architecture.
Jean-Marie Perdrix’s “A Carne Périda” at Galería Desiré Saint Phalle, Mexico City
October 12, 2012–January 13, 2012
Chris Sharp wanders off the beaten path in Mexico City, and considers the ethical dimension of the unsettling sculptures by Jean-Marie Perdrix he finds there.
Coming soon, reviews of Mickalene Thomas at Lehmann Maupin, New York; Miroslav Balka and Roni Horn at Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan; Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor at D+T Project Gallery, Brussels; Omer Fast at Arratia Beer, Berlin; and many more.
Art Agenda’s exhibition announcement service distributes press information on select international exhibitions of contemporary art.
Subscribe to Art Agenda.