January 2, 2009 - Artforum - January 2009 in Artforum
January 2, 2009

January 2009 in Artforum

January 2009


This month in Artforum: Prospect.1 New Orleans. International biennials of contemporary art have long ventured into the cities that serve as their hosts, but few have reckoned with so loaded a locale as Prospect.1 New Orleans. More than three years after Hurricane Katrina, much of the Crescent City remains in disrepair, making it a setting where critical designations such as “site-specific work” and “socially committed practice” can seem tenuous at best. On the occasion of New Orleans’s first biennial—and the largest ever in the United States, curated by Dan Cameron and featuring more than three hundred works by eighty-one artists—artist Glenn Ligon and Artforum senior editor Elizabeth Schambelan take stock of the show and ask how any such exhibition or artwork might truly engage its context.

“Perhaps it’s not surprising in a place so full of contradictions, so creolized, so invested in masquerade, that I sometimes mistook life for art.” —Glenn Ligon

“More problematic than Prospect.1′s relation to the tourism economy is its relation to the tourist optic—a detached, indulgent mode of viewing that can and does aestheticize all that comes before it, the more picturesquely decrepit the better.” —Elizabeth Schambelan

Also: On the occasion of his survey opening this month at the Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris/ARC, artist Jimmie Durham speaks with curator Anne Ellegood about works new and old, explaining his enthusiasm for stones and various uses of scale.

“Throwing stones at man-made objects, or dropping boulders on them, is not like May ’68; it’s not even an echo. For me, it is more like a mimetic reenactment of nature.” —Jimmie Durham

And: “What Is That Person Thinking?” For decades, artist Matt Mullican has performed under hypnosis in venues around the world, subsuming his own waking consciousness within his alter ego, That Person. In the current issue, Artforum editor Tim Griffin—with the generous assistance of hypnotist Dr. Clifford Passen—interviews Mullican about performance, daily rituals, and the risks of expecting “deep” content in art.

“Stupid questions. Stupid questions. Stu-u-u-pid.” —Matt Mullican

Plus: Rachel Kushner encounters contemporary disasters in Silvia Kolbowski’s appropriation of Hiroshima Mon Amour, recently on view at LAXART in Los Angeles; Philip Tinari announces the twilight of the “Asian biennial”; Martin Herbert follows story-telling British artist Tris Vonna-Michell down the rabbit hole; Rachel Withers gives her read on Nancy Spero’s bookish retrospective at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Robin Kelsey picks up the gauntlet thrown down by critic Michael Fried’s new book on photography; Brian O’Doherty finds savage eloquence in Steve McQueen’s new feature film, Hunger; Lynne Tillman muses on Barack Obama’s “virtual presidency”; Suzanne Hudson details the quotidian plenitude in sculptor Tara Donovan’s first museum survey; Christopher Wood pays tribute to art historian Michael Baxandall; and musician and filmmaker Jim O’Rourke counts down his Top Ten.

Plus: Artforum looks ahead to the winter and spring seasons with previews of fifty shows opening worldwide, from Dara Birnbaum in Ghent to Unica Zürn in New York, offering first glimpses of both Dan Graham’s forty-year survey at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the New Museum’s inaugural triennial in Manhattan.

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Visit artguide—Artforum‘s free directory of the international art world, listing art fairs, auctions, and current gallery and museum shows in more than four hundred cities—at www.artforum.com/guide

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