April 1, 2009 - Artforum - April 2009
April 1, 2009

April 2009

April 2009


This month in Artforum: “Figures and Grounds: The Art of Barkley L. Hendricks.” By turns extravagant and direct, the portraits that Hendricks has made of his African-American friends and neighbors since the late 1960s variously recall the indolent nudes of Philip Pearlstein and the deadpan chic of David Hockney. On the occasion of the Nasher Museum of Art’s major exhibition of Hendricks’s work, which stopped off at the Studio Museum in Harlem before traveling to the Santa Monica Museum of Art this summer, Artforum asked art historian Huey Copeland to engage the painter’s alternate realisms.

“Cool, aloof, and ethereal, the figures in Hendricks’s 1974 canvas What’s Going On are packaged together, in an assembly that evokes at once the rhetoric of grand peinture and that of the Pictures generation—one part Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, one part deconstructed album cover.” —Huey Copeland

And: “Johan Grimonprez Talks About Double Take.” In the Belgian artist’s new film, an Alfred Hitchcock “sound-alike” describes the original director’s move from film to television during the 1950s and ’60s, as Grimonprez interweaves scenes from Hitchcock’s thrillers with archival footage of the Cuban missile crisis, Sputnik paranoia, atomic bomb tests, and Nixon and Khrushchev’s 1959 “kitchen debate.” Artforum‘s Alexander Scrimgeour sits down with Grimonprez to discuss the eighty-minute work, currently on view at the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow and Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, and its parallel worlds of suspense in cinema and life.

“The film looks at how fear was projected into society, like a fiction, on both sides of the ideological divide between East and West. It’s also about the fear industry and how fear has become a commodity.” —Johan Grimonprez

Also in April: “Moral Hazard: The Art of Artur Zmijewski.” Curator Norman L. Kleeblatt considers the artist’s engagements with ethical dilemma in his work—showing the hearing-impaired sing Bach, for instance, or asking Jews who left Poland for Israel after World War II to recall the country of their youth—while curator, scholar, and sociologist Sebastian Cichocki talks with Zmijewski about the potential for “critical” artistic practices.

“Art can stop maintaining stubbornly that the answers it provides are really questions, since question marks often merely camouflage the real status of artworks. Change will happen only when artists consciously enter political structures with the intention of putting their own capabilities to use in negotiating the shape of our common reality.” —Artur Zmijewski

Plus: P. Adams Sitney offers a critical overview of the work of filmmaker Lawrence Jordan, who, at age seventy-four, has just completed Circus Savage, a twelve-hour “visual autobiography”; Scott Rothkopf unravels the multifarious paintings of Richard Aldrich; Tom Gunning reviews the collected writings of filmmaker and theorist Hollis Frampton; Amy Taubin finds absurd yet tender humor amid the stark Kazakhstan landscape of Sergey Dvortsevoy’s film Tulpan; Ed Halter parses Derek Jarman’s “cinema of small gestures”; Daniel Birnbaum has a night out at Carsten Höller’s Congolese-European Double Club; Christian Wolff and Rhys Chatham remember fellow musician and composer Arthur Russell in 1970s downtown New York; Alex Waterman looks at composer Robert Ashley’s recent “television operas”; Joshua Decter assesses Yael Bartana’s recent survey at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York; Farah Jasmine Griffin profiles singer and activist Odetta, who died this past December; and filmmaker Michael Almereyda picks his Top Ten.

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