“We couldn’t launch an astronaut if we had to,” stated CBS’s Scott Pelley during the opening of a recent 60 Minutes. Space: it’s a highly contested commodity. Obama has cancelled the US space program and, in turn, thrust the politics of space back into the spotlight. It’s the latest entry in the larger history of galactic space, architectural space, or even personal space. The politics of the “art space” span a particularly complicated history. Institutional critique transpired into relational aesthetics, but where are we now in this moment of new-institutionalist slumber? As globally branded museums and galleries (with corporate and privately accumulated corporate sponsorship at the core) become embedded deeper in the politics of finance, we are likely to be confronted with a prolonged protest from artists and practitioners. Or so one would think. Artists are trying, at least, to create work that deflects the responsibilities implicit upon dealing with such institutions. Yet the artists’ intentions risk being undermined by institutional tendencies that facilitate these radical moves.
Some of the recent reviews on Art Agenda address the limitations of the art space and the institutions’ attempts to move beyond these by hosting exhibitions where the work itself is often inscribed in politics. Steven Squibb points to the Whitney Biennial’s free space on the building’s fourth floor as its “signature” that creates “a shifting and inconclusive mandate,” which, the writer argues, is a wholly positive trait for artist and viewer. Arnaud Gerspacher grapples with the subtle contradictions that transpire in the New Museum’s “The Ungovernables,” a bold concept show with implied space for misbehavior and unruliness that is tethered to acts of hopefulness and compassion. Karen Archey is suspicious of Superflex’s apparent complicitness with the commercial gallery context in “Bankrupt Banks” at Peter Blum, New York: when Superflex had placed a replica financier toilet in a Lower East Side diner, it was a statement outside the normal realms of contemporary art institutions, but when their work enters the commercial gallery space, the jokes seem to have run dry. And finally, in Sweden, Judith Schwarzbart notes how Maria Lind’s valiant inclusion of a Stockholm auction house as one of three exhibition venues of “Abstract Possible: The Stockholm Synergies” makes transparent the inner structures of the art market and their impact on the production and display of work.
Recently on Art Agenda:
Mounir Fatmi’s “Oriental Accident” Lombard-Freid Projects, New York
March 9–April 14, 2012
Media Farzin finds that “blunt symbolism and slick design suggest an opportunist aestheticization of the politics of the Arab Spring” in Mounir Fatmi’s “Oriental Accident” at Lombard Fried Projects, New York.
Nina Beier’s “Shirts vs Skins” at Laura Bartlett Gallery, London
February 17–March 30, 2012
Anna Gritz peels away the layers (and not just those of the cheesy hair models) in Nina Beier’s “Shirts vs Skins” at Laura Bartlett Gallery, London.
Hans-Peter Feldmann, 303 Gallery, New York
February 24–March 31, 2012
Alan Gilbert gets all warm and tautological about Hans-Peter Feldmann’s latest at 303 Gallery, New York.
Angela de La Cruz’s “Transfer” at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne
February 4–March 17, 2012
Emily Cormack reads transference into Angela de la Cruz’s “Transfer” at Anna Schwartz in Melbourne.
“Abstract Possible: The Stockholm Synergies” at Tensta Konsthall
January 12–April 22, 2012
Judith Schwarzbart outlines the twists in abstract synergies in Maria Lind’s tri-part show on the outskirts of Stockholm.
Stanya Kahn’s “A Cave Walks Into A Bar” at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, LA
February 18–March 30, 2012
Sohrab Mohebbi tells us why Stanya Kahn is wearing a penis costume at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.
Superflex’s “Bankrupt Banks” at Peter Blum, New York
March 1–April 14, 2012
Karen Archey is disappointed by the bankruptcy of meaning in Superflex’s new flags up at Peter Blum, New York.
Raqs Media Collective’s “Guesswork” at Frith Street Gallery, London
February 24–April 14, 2012
JJ Charlesworth tells us that “there is little in Raqs’s visual idiom that poses any threat to the present” at Frith Street, London.
Art Dubai, 2012
March 21–24, 2012
Sarah Rifky rips open fortune cookies to find someone’s bank statements at Art Dubai.
Whitney Biennial, New York
March 1–May 27, 2012
Stephen Squibb describes how the 2012 Whitney Biennial resists any one reading and why that’s a good thing.
Aleksandra Domanović & Sharon Hayes, Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City
February 4–March 24, 2012
Catalina Lozano looks at the uneasy pairing up of Aleksandra Domanović & Sharon Hayes at Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City.
“The Ungovernables: 2012 New Museum Triennial” New York
February 15–April 22, 2012
Arnaud Gerspacher posits Dostoevsky against Diogenes at the New Museum’s Triennial.
Max Henry on Jimmie Durham and Ricardo Brey at Christine König Galerie, Vienna; Kimberly Bradley on Candida Höfer, Johnen Galerie, Berlin; Kate Sutton on Zona Maco, Mexico City; Rearview: Tyler Coburn on Peter Plagens’s “Los Angeles: Ecology of Evil”; Chris Sharp on La Triennale “Intense Proximity” 2012, Paris; Kevin McGarry on Elad Lassry at David Kordansky, LA; Ana Teixeira Pinto on 7th Berlin Biennial; Aoife Rosenmeyer on Melanie Smith at Peter Kilchmann, Zurich; and Alan Gilbert on Frieze, New York.