July 24, 2014 - art-agenda - Reviews: Art Basel, Berlin Biennale 8, Berlin Documentary Forum, Manifesta 10, and more
July 24, 2014

Reviews: Art Basel, Berlin Biennale 8, Berlin Documentary Forum, Manifesta 10, and more

Francis Alÿs, Lada Kopeika Project, 2014. Installation with crashed Lada car, dimensions variable. Image courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery, New York and London, and Manifesta 10, St. Petersburg.

Summer Round up

We never stop being animals, even as we engage in artistic expression and cultural consumption—certainly two of the most gracious interests that define our range of action, and which strongly contrast with the equally determining, yet far less noble, brutal features of our species, and which have been shockingly visible in these past months in so many parts of the world.

In being animal we follow nature’s rhythms of accelerating and easing up. Every year we find ourselves like a swarm of insects rushing to finish our work before the summer, to then slow down to the sultry weather and regain energies for the harvest period. Going through art-agenda’s recent program reveals this crescendo of more or less memorable events before most commercial galleries take a late summer hiatus, even those that came as last-ditch efforts. They started in May, with the Gallery Weekend in Berlin, followed by Art Basel in both its franchised Hong Kong version and its traditional Basel venue, and by the succession of group shows that, regardless of geopolitical circumstances, appears every year between the end of June and the beginning of July. 

Meanwhile, other offerings took us adrift through wider reflections on cultural production and its role during “the general crisis of intellectual life today, here in what we could call a kind of democratic despotism that makes for the world we live in,” as French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard puts it in a conversation with Bernard Blistène that constitutes the most recent entry to our Rearview column, introduced by Tara McDowell.

Within such a troubled context, the problematics of cultural transmission— alongside hopes of turning the visitors of an exhibition into a community of testifiers to the radical changes of a city—were a central aspect of Adam Kleinman‘s report on the 8th Berlin Biennale. 

At the same time, and also in Berlin, Ana Teixeira Pinto analyzed another stage for experiments in connecting culture to the world: that of the Berlin Documentary Forum, whose focus on narrative gave way to important discussions about art’s relevance in representing the present. Sharing these preoccupations, Gleb Napreenko‘s response to Manifesta 10 focused on the missed opportunity to use art to generate a larger dialogue. Taking place in St. Petersburg, and still on view until the end of October 2014, this large-scale exhibition falls short of what it could have done to touch on fundamental issues about the political context in which it’s been hosted.

So let the critter in you be prepared for what is coming next, as more major projects await us in September following art-agenda’s month-long summer break, with the São Paulo and Gwangju biennials signaling the rentrée; Pierre Huyghe’s first-ever gallery solo show in London at Hauser and Wirth; Peter McLeavey’s “I Like Girls” show of female artists in the gallery’s new pop-up space in Wellington; and more to come, hopefully hand-in-hand with a respectful season in the world around us. 

Recently on art-agenda:

Pamela Rosenkranz’s “My Sexuality” at Karma International, Zürich
June 14–July 26, 2014
Marking a departure from the “sleek style and execution” that characterize Rosenkranz’s previous explorations of “visual codes and branding techniques used to commodify the natural world,” “My Sexuality” is “a definitive turn in her practice.” In these new works, Mitchell Anderson finds “provocative references” and “seemingly effortless skill.”

“Dark Waters” at Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
June 12–July 26, 2014
This themed summer group exhibition uses the sea as “an allegory that allows us to speculate” on “cultural and political histories.” Sabrina Tarasoff wonders if “gloomy waters are all too easily equated with the stifling of criticality under a capitalist market that prefers its waters to remain still, reflective, and unobtrusive.”

Andrea Büttner’s “Tische” at NoguerasBlanchard, Barcelona
May 30–July 11, 2014
Featuring four out of an “original thirteen tabletop compositions” created for a dinner at the Museum für Moderne Kunst Zollamt in Frankfurt last year, Büttner’s latest exhibition “addresses notions of the ‘blessed poor.’” The project’s Barcelona presentation, however, leaves Max Andrews and Mariana Cánepa Luna wanting for “local specificity.”  

“Apparition” at Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
June 12–August 23, 2014
Daniel Horn reviews this “multifaceted” summer group show featuring both international and Israeli artists, noting that “the specter of the contemporary surveillance state” in “an exhibition focusing on visions” is conspicuously absent.

“Phantom Limbs” at Pilar Corrias, London
June 27–August 1, 2014
Pilar Corrias’s “smarter-than-most” summer show incorporates “current post-internet art debates concerning the shifting relationship of real to virtual, digital to material.” JJ Charlesworth finds a number of works “noteworthy in their articulation of some of these supposedly epoch-defining questions.”

Gabriella Mangano & Silvana Mangano’s “Of Objects or Sound” at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney
May 31–July 21, 2014
This exhibition of video works underscores the “mobility and diversity of references” in the practice of  Melbourne-based collaborating twin artists Gabriella and Silvana Mangano. Despite their formal rigour, the works “embrace uncertainty,” manifesting a “productive doubt” that will keep Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh “wondering where their practice will next take them.”

David Lamelas’s “Mon Amour. Reading Films” at Jan Mot, Brussels
June 11–July 19, 2014
This “austere” exhibition from David Lamelas, an “atypical, unorthodox, and almost marginal example of Conceptual art,” inaugurates Jan Mot’s new location in Brussels. Dessislava Dimova reflects on whether Lamelas’s heterodoxies have been absorbed into “a globalized and heterogeneous field of contemporary art.”

Trisha Baga’s “Free Internet” at Giò Marconi, Milan 
June 6–July 18, 2014
“Free Internet” is a “scrappy, energetic, stoned out tour de force,” reports Barbara Casavecchia. Combining 2D and 3D video projections with a huge variety of material works, this “continuous ping-pong of vacillating images” “plays the immersion card.”

Manifesta 10: The European Biennial of Contemporary Art, St. Petersburg 
June 28–October 31, 2014
While Curator Kasper König’s Manifesta 10 addresses the increasingly repressive Russian political climate—”making room for discussions of both homophobia and the Ukrainian crisis,” writes Gleb Napreenko—the exhibition “apparently wants to respond to all the demands made of it right off the bat, but so gracefully that no one is ruffled” and comes off as “insipidly proper.” 

Karen Mirza and Brad Butler’s “The Unreliable Narrator” at waterside contemporary, London
June 12–August 9, 2014
This “somber, disquieting, and contentious examination of power and privilege” from Mirza and Butler considers the “psychological and socio-cultural effects” of the divide between “haves and have-nots in the UK and India.” Morgan Quaintance wonders, however, if the artists deliver “a critique that raises more troubling questions than galvanic answers.”

“The Bigger Picture: Work from the 1990s” at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
June 12–August 1, 2014
Tonya Bonadkar revisits the 1990s in this survey exhibition, whose focus on new media and installation work is “as much a celebration of the gallery’s first twenty years as it is any kind of time capsule or historical summary of the period,” notes Alan Gilbert.  

Basel Round Up
June 2014
Aoife Rosenmeyer visits Basel openings and exhibitions organized in tandem with the behemoth annual fair, reporting that this year’s shows “were a mix of resistance, submission, and direct confrontation with the forces that prevail during Art Basel.”

Art Basel
June 19–22, 2014
“Is everyone tired? Or is everything just running extremely smoothly?” wonders Laura McLean-Ferris amid the “subdued atmosphere” of this year’s Art Basel. “Still the jewel of the art fair crown,” the 2014 edition delivered “little experiment, and little failure.”

Basma Alsharif’s “DOPPELGÄNGING” at Galerie Imane Farès, Paris
April 3–July 30, 2014
Barbara Sirieix takes in Basma Alsharif’s first solo exhibition with Galerie Imane Farès, where experiments with fictionalized autobiography open up “a critical space” and create “an indeterminacy between imaginary and personal” experience. 
Geta Brătescu’s “Atelier Continuu” at Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin
May 3–July 26, 2014
“Atelier Continuu,” is organized around 60 years of ongoing artistic practice from the Romanian “grande dame” of Conceptualism who, Ana Ofak notes, has recently come to represent the art world’s interest in 20th-century Eastern Europe’s “manifold visual territories.”

Frances Stark’s “Bobby Jesus’s Alma Mater” at Marc Foxx, Los Angeles
May 17–June 28, 2014
“Bobby Jesus’s Alma Mater” at Marc Foxx samples imagery from Frances Stark’s widely acclaimed video installation Bobby Jesus’s Alma Mater b/w Reading the Book of David and/or Paying Attention is Free (2013), a “furious and polemical work” first shown at the 2013 Carnegie International in Pittsburgh. Jonathan Griffin wonders if the supporting materials on display here are meant to communicate that the artist’s “grand thesis on race, class, sex, motherhood, business, and pedagogy is affirmed everywhere she looks.”
“World Music” at Carlos/Ishikawa, London
May 2–June 14, 2014
By appropriating a term that ignores “the specificity of a diverse range of musical styles” for a title, the two artists responsible for this London group show, Steve Bishop and Richard Sides, “strategically undermine their temporary role as curators,” Shama Khanna writes, “allowing the works on view to make much bolder and irreverent gestures.”
Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Fireworks” at kurimanzutto, Mexico City
May 20–June 14, 2014
The “main attraction” of Thai filmmaker and artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s first exhibition with kurimanzutto, writes Chris Sharp, is Fireworks (Archives) (2014), the first part of a forthcoming trilogy of films. Projected on a large screen at the center of the darkened gallery’s main space, the film is shown “among a furtive constellation of shorter and spatially slighter projections as well as a selection of lightbox photographs.”
Berlin Documentary Forum 3 at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
May 29–June 1, 2014
Ana Teixeira Pinto takes in the screenings, talks, performances, and installations that constitute the third edition of the Berlin Documentary Forum. With its “ambitious and thoughtful program,” she writes, the weekend’s events “fully justified” the Forum’s reputation as “a cultural reference in Berlin’s often-slight institutional landscape.”
8th Berlin Biennale
May 29–August 3, 2014
Adam Kleinman visits the 8th Berlin Biennale, finding that while the previous edition of the biennial perhaps “pushed the art out in favor of some form of advocacy,” this year’s exhibition seems to “reverse this logic,” presenting “exceedingly rich” and “often highly political work,” but in a format that “appears to be more about dramaturgy than declarations.”
Les Immatériaux: A Conversation with Jean-François Lyotard and Bernard Blistène
Shortly before “Les Immatériaux,” a group exhibition organized by Jean-François Lyotard at the Centre Georges Pompidou in March 1985—the most expansive ever organized by the museum at that time—the French philosopher and author of The Postmodern Condition (1979) sat down for an interview with the Pompidou’s now-director, Bernard Blistène. Their discussion is introduced by Tara McDowell.
“Who Shall Deliver Us From the Greeks and Romans?” at Galeri Manâ, Istanbul
April 3–May 10, 2014
Mining classical Greek and Roman visual culture for sources and inspiration, this group show combines “mimetic homages of the classical ideal” with more “self-reflexive critique” of the influence of Antiquity on the history of art. Merve Unsal reviews.
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s “euqinimod & costumes” at 303 Gallery, New York
April 17–May 31, 2014
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s debut solo exhibition in a US gallery, writes Media Farzin, is “a surprisingly personal encounter with an artist who, despite her interest in the intimate and the domestic, has never directed the spotlight onto herself to quite this extent.”
Friedrich Teepe at ARRIATA BEER, Berlin
May 2–June 14, 2014
This year’s edition of Gallery Weekend Berlin saw the opening of late German artist Friedrich Teepe’s first exhibition in over twenty-five years. Judith Vrancken visits this “exploration of art on the periphery,” finding “work that is, in a sense, invisible despite being in full view.”
Art Basel Hong Kong
May 15–18, 2014
Melanie Pocock shares highlights from the second iteration of Art Basel Hong Kong, a fair whose efforts to represent a “truly global” art market generated responses from participating artists emphasizing “the latter’s increasingly oblique and virtual character.”

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