October 1, 2008 - Artforum - October 2008
October 1, 2008

October 2008

October 2008


,p>This month in Artforum: “Tools of Engagement: The Art of Franz West.” The Vienna-based artist has long been recognized for his boundary-blurring installations of sculpture, furniture, and their perplexing mongrel offspring. Less well known, however, are West’s formative efforts within the Viennese cultural scene of the late 1960s and early ’70s, where he forged the participatory aesthetic and subtly political tactics that have since made him a touchstone. On the occasion of the artist’s first US retrospective, at the Baltimore Museum of Art, art historian Christine Mehring unearths these roots and explores their continuing relevance to West’s work today.

“West has always worked—both literally and figuratively—in the ruins of political utopia.” —Christine Mehring

Plus: “Merce Cunningham: Dancers, Artworks, and People in the Galleries.” As Cunningham’s series of Events continues to take place at upstate New York’s Dia:Beacon—where his dancers and musicians have performed amid works by Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, and Andy Warhol, among others—art historian Douglas Crimp reflects on the choreographer’s career and stirring equanimity as the subject of a portrait by Tacita Dean.

“Is it the dancer and her dancing or is it the dance that I most want to see? Cunningham implicitly poses this question, but he also renders it irrelevant by making the dance, as such, impossible to see. What you see is dancing.” —Douglas Crimp

And: Artist Charline von Heyl talks with John Kelsey about her new book project, Sabotage, 2008, a sampling of which appears here in a portfolio of imagery.

“Mylar pages do very different things when you turn them: They cover up and reveal; they add up, change, and destroy. These effects work in a kind of narrative way, as you take away and add and take away and add. Sabotage is a book that cannot take the whole into account.” —Charline von Heyl

In addition: The Cinema of Nagisa Oshima. Perhaps best known in the West as a proponent of the Japanese New Wave in the ’60s and ’70s, seminal director Nagisa Oshima has spent more than forty years making films not for the faint of heart. Critic Jonathan Rosenbaum probes the work of the Japanese provocateur, which shows this month in a complete retrospective as part of the New York Film Festival.

“The focus on aggressive or outlaw eroticism in Oshima’s five most recent features could be seen as a function of his growing political despair, an overall shift in his explorations of freedom from public to private spheres.” —Jonathan Rosenbaum

Also in October: Jeffrey Weiss weighs in on fifty years of Cy Twombly at Tate Modern; Jordan Kantor highlights tensions between form and content in South African artist Marlene Dumas’s midcareer survey at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles; art historian Huey Copeland takes stock of “Black Is, Black Ain’t” at the University of Chicago’s Renaissance Society; Nick Mauss contemplates the coded ornamentation of Jochen Klein’s painting; Martin Herbert ventures to Manifesta 7′s “geopolitical frontier”; curator Jessica Morgan surveys the work of Paris-based artist Aurélien Froment; Caroline A. Jones takes stock of Anish Kapoor’s recent survey at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Amy Taubin finds renewed American regionalism in the recent films Ballast and Wendy and Lucy; P. Adams Sitney makes the pilgrimage for Gregory J. Markopoulos’s newly restored films at Temenos 2008; architect Markus Miessen chronicles Rem Koolhaas’s makeover plans for the Hermitage; Bruce Jenkins pays tribute to artist Bruce Conner, who died this past July at the age of seventy-four; and Tauba Auerbach presents this month’s Top Ten.

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