March 19, 2014 - art-agenda - Reviews: Braco Dimitrijević, Whitney Biennial 2014, Alexandre Singh, Tacita Dean, and more
March 19, 2014

Reviews: Braco Dimitrijević, Whitney Biennial 2014, Alexandre Singh, Tacita Dean, and more

Tacita Dean, JG, 2013. Still from 35mm color and black-and-white anamorphic film with optical sound on continuous loop, 26:30 minutes. Image courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris and New York.

February Round up

Lately do you get the feeling that if it’s a day that ends on “day,” there’s another headline about the art market reaching new highs (sales records, hype for young artists, mega-galleries)? But it’s not only speculation that’s the talk of the town—these reports are often accompanied by an equal hunger to see the market’s horizons expand into every last corner of metaphorically unclaimed geographical “real estate.” 

Last month, texts by Sarah Rifky and Adam Kleinman introduced the establishment of new commercial galleries in two very different local scenes—Cairo and Ciudad Juárez—where a market for contemporary art has been marginal to non-existent due to a combination of complex political and economic factors. On the other side of the globe, with talk of the Indian art market going from strength to strength, in early February buyers’ attention tended to orbit around the India Art Fair, billed as “South Asia’s leading art fair.” An interesting contrast to the fair could be found in two other events taking place roughly in parallel: “INSERT2014″ in New Delhi and the Dhaka Art Summit in Bangladesh.Lawrence Liang‘s review of the former—curated by Raqs Media Collective—suggests that the exhibition managed to present an alternative view of the currency of art, at least when it comes to its ability to propose different visions of the future. And in her dispatch from Dhaka, Natasha Ginwala wrote that in bringing together many professionals from the region, the summit was a step toward strengthening previously marginalized alliances, and may provide a “much-needed, cultural counter-balance to India’s current geopolitical role as the region’s ‘Big Brother’ state.”

And in case you’re wondering if all the talk about the market is just an amped-up version of the usual hype or represents some kind of fundamental shift, look out for new contributor Ben Davis’s forthcoming feature “On Art and Investment,” in which he revisits a classic Robert Hughes text from 1984, and tries to figure out what all the fuss is about. 

Recently on art-agenda

“INSERT2014″ at Mati Ghar, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi
January 31–February 28, 2014
Reporting on “INSERT2014,” curated by Raqs Media Collective, Lawrence Liang writes, “there is no doubt that the members of Raqs see themselves less as curators and more as archeological adventurers, skillfully excavating our uncertain future.” Liang finds that the exhibition stakes out a claim for art’s ability to help us think past the present moment, both politically and aesthetically. 

Braco Dimitrijević’s “Early London Years” at MOT International, London
February 7–March 22, 2014
This careful selection of early works by the Paris-based, Sarajevo-born pioneer of Conceptual art highlights the artist’s paradoxical fascination with the official language of history, prompting Lorena Muñoz-Alonso to ask “how effective a cultural critique can be that reproduces the same codes it targets, be it bureaucracy, history, or the visual language of corporations.”

Zin Taylor’s “The Story of Stripes and Dots (Chapter 7)” at Jessica Bradley Gallery, Toronto
February 20–March 22, 2014
Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh consider the work of Brussels-based Canadian artist Zin Taylor, whose “visual vocabulary is intentionally limited to black and white stripes and dots.” Referencing a wide range of aesthetic traditions and theories, it is in the “unpredictable approach to strategies of appropriation and homage that his work comes to life.”

Whitney Biennial 2014 at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
March 7–May 25, 2014
Kevin McGarry visits the 2014 edition of the “inimitable, enduringly anachronistic, and extremely self-referential institution” that is the Whitney Biennial. This year’s experiment in bringing in three curators—Stuart Comer, Anthony Elms, and Michelle Grabner—to each curate a distinct exhibition within the biennial, McGarry writes, is a failure, yet “testing its own form is exactly what the Whitney Biennial should always endeavor to do.”

“how to write III | artists read their texts” at Galerie Wien Lukatsch, Berlin
February 22–April 4, 2014
This group exhibition of four late contemporary artist-writers—Arthur Köpcke, Dieter Roth, Tomas Schmit, and Emmett Williams—”consists solely of recorded voices with no visual props whatsoever.” In reconsidering “the relationship between an artist’s works and their words,” Kirsty Bell finds that “this constellation of texts and voices suggests an oblique conversation of sorts.”

Zarina’s “Folding House” at Gallery Espace, New Delhi
January 24–February 28, 2014
Agnieszka Gratza reads the material fetishism of Zarina’s collage and sculptural work as “a way of promoting traditional, craft-based techniques.” With its eponymous work “unmistakably [alluding] to the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan,” however, the exhibition “could hardly be accused of lacking political edge.”

Dispatch: Dhaka Art Summit
February 7–9, 2014
This three-day arts festival taking place one week after New Delhi’s commercial India Art Fair invited artists and institutions from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and other parts of the region “who have rarely had the occasion to physically gather as part of the same platform in such large numbers.” Natasha Ginwala writes that this “de-centralized engagement with the arts” in the Bangladeshi capital “marks an attempt to strengthen ‘Southern’ alliances by actively broadening the cultural field.”

Alexandre Singh’s “The Humans” at Sprüth Magers, London
January 24–March 29, 2014
The Humans (2013), a three-hour, three-act play, exhibited here in high-definition video, is a “wildly absurd remix of an origins-of-man narrative, borrowing and stealing from the Bible, the classics, Shakespeare, and other references too numerous and intertwined to keep straight.” JJ Charlesworth finds the work to be “genuinely, confidently post-medium” and “engagingly bonkers.”

Kilian Rüthemann’s “hatch up your troubles” at RaebervonStenglin, Zürich
January 31–March 8, 2014
In Swiss artist Kilian Rüthemann’s recent exhibition of three new sculptures, “both social and physical connotations come to the fore.” Aoife Rosenmeyer considers the artist’s engagement “with the inherent qualities of his material,” for which he proposes “entirely new outcomes.”

“A MadMax Community” at YONKE, Ciudad Juárez
January 25–February 15, 2014
In Ciudad Juárez, the inaugural exhibition of a new commercial gallery venture “brands its artists, and possibly the gallery’s endeavor as a whole, as a kind of ‘community’ that seeks justice within a barren landscape still wrought by a past economic disaster.” Adam Kleinman wonders if the gallery undertaking will manage to “stick to their lovable, vigilante-underdog characterization,” or “devolve into just another slick corporate franchise.”

“Bad Conscience” at Metro Pictures, New York
January 16–February 22, 2014
Jennifer Piejko visits this salon-style group exhibition curated by artist John Miller and discovers an array of friendships and associations permeating the show. While Miller doesn’t include any of his own work, the exhibition “expands on a number of his styles and lines of inquiry, fully illustrating his central position within a constellation of artists.”

Paramount Ranch, Los Angeles
February 1–2, 2014
Taking place the same weekend as the city’s preeminent art fair, Art Los Angeles Contemporary, the first edition of art fair newcomer Paramount Ranch is positioned to address something lacking in Los Angeles’s “often complacent and self-regarding art world.” Jonathan Griffin enjoys getting out of town to take in “a tangible mood of collegiality between exhibitors” and “no resoundingly bum notes.”

Isaac Julien’s “PLAYTIME” at Victoria Miro, London
January 24–March 1, 2014
This solo exhibition centers on Isaac Julien’s new video work PLAYTIME (2014), a “seven-screen, high-definition video installation” undertaking a discussion of “urgent issues surrounding global capitalism.” Using clichéd narrative tropes and stock characters—the Hedge Fund Manager, the Art Dealer, the House Worker, etc.—the video, Omar Kholeif finds, might benefit from critical self-reflexivity on the part of the artist.  

Tacita Dean’s “JG” at Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris
January 15–March 1, 2014
Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970) is the central figure of Tacita Dean’s most recent film, JG (2013), titled after the late author J.G. Ballard, “with whom Dean enjoyed a long-running correspondence based on their mutual interest in Smithson’s work,” writes Mara Hoberman. This exhibition presents the film, a “slide show-like succession of landscapes ranging from snowy-white salt flats and crystalline stalagmites to turquoise-blue thermal lakes and fiery sunsets,” alongside related prints and works on paper.

Dispatch: Gypsum Gallery opens in Cairo
February 5, 2014
While the Egyptian capital has seen the growth of an “unprecedented number of recent art initiatives” in recent years amidst political tumult, Sarah Rifky notes that its “growing art milieu has lacked a serious commercial gallery to introduce artists to markets.” The newly opened Gypsum Gallery demonstrates an interest in “cultivating Cairo’s contemporary art scene—with private advocacy standing in for a lack of public support for art and artists.”

Coming soon: reviews of the miart fair plus a gallery and museum round up from Milan; 12 Bienal de Cuenca, Equador; Carolee Schneeman at Hales Gallery, London; “The Witness. Teresa Margolles” at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid; and many more. 

Art-agenda’s exhibition announcement service distributes press information on select international exhibitions of contemporary art. 

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