London Roundup
              Chris Fite-Wassilak
              It’s an unlikely benediction: two identical photos frame Dozie Kanu’s exhibition “Owe Deed, One Deep” at Project Native Informant: a small, slightly blurred image of a tower with a hand at the top, reaching awkwardly towards the sky. Emo State (2020) seems to have been taken from a moving car, the landscape around it giving some sense of the sheer scale of the tower, a religious monument modelled on the tower of Babel in southern Nigeria, constructed only a few years ago and torn down in 2019. The ghost of this demolished structure, the two hands waving over the five sculptural assemblages gathered below them, casts the works as their own temporary monuments, momentary markers to whatever spirit or feeling has possessed us, before disappearing. In a corner, St. Jaded Extinguish (2020) is a gray fire extinguisher stand placed forlornly on a flimsy, short set of black stairs, a bottle opener attached to its base that spells out a nihilistic mantra: “SELF SERVE.” Making my way around exhibitions for the first time since February, it was such slight, haunted gestures that stuck with me. It feels disconcertingly normal to traipse around the city at this time of year, albeit with pre-booking …
              London Roundup
              Ben Eastham
              Every time I approach White Cube’s gleaming south London base, I am reminded of a trope in science-fiction films: a professor of linguistics is whisked to a top-secret government facility, decontaminated, and introduced to an alien intelligence whose ominous burps she is tasked with translating. These daydreams are no doubt prompted in part by mental association with Brian O’Doherty’s Inside the White Cube (1976), which drily observes that the “ideal” contemporary art space “must be sealed off from the outside world” in order to preserve the closed system of values that operates within it. But pulling on a mask, sterilizing one’s hands, and confirming one’s identity with a security guard lends these visions a new lucidity. Beyond the hermetic seal, Cerith Wyn Evans’s experiments in sculpture and installation are right at home within the self-contained network of relations that O’Doherty describes, with a roomful of smashed glass screens referencing the high-modernist touchstones of Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (1915–23) and its documentation by Man Ray. Two potted trees rotating slowly on turntables, their branches splayed over a cruciform bamboo trellis and illuminated by a spotlight that casts their silhouettes over the far wall, suggest an …
              Theaster Gates’s "My Labor Is My Protest"
              Gil Leung
              In 1973, Hollis Frampton sent a letter of protest to the curator of MoMA who had asked him about the possibility of doing a retrospective of his work, “for love and honor and no money.”(1) The working conditions of artists may not have changed much today, but perhaps there has been a shift in the way the problem is approached. Theaster Gates’s “My Labor Is My Protest” at White Cube, Bermondsey, is less about protest as strike, or critique via deconstruction, than the positive production of social change through work: that is, labor as protest. This notion of labor as a form of protest is perhaps most evident in the exhibition’s reference to Johnson Publishing Company, Chicago, most specifically in the works Johnson Editorial Library (2012) and On Black Foundations (2012). JPC is the largest African-American-owned publishing firm in the United States; they are the publishers of Ebony and JET magazines (2) as well as the owners of Fashion Fair Cosmetics, a cosmetic line created in 1973 and now the largest Black-owned cosmetics company globally. (3) Founded by John H. Johnson and Eunice W. Johnson in 1942, JPC combined humanitarian and industrial affinities, utilizing entrepreneurial business as a means to reinstate …
              Anselm Kiefer’s “Il Mistero delle Cattedrali”
              JJ Charlesworth
              Commenting on new work by a “great” artist is always difficult. The task is fraught with paradoxes. After all, the moment you’re faced with recent work from an artist who has long ago been elevated to the canon of contemporary art history, what is there left to say? The work is a bit better than before? It’s a bit worse? It’s completely changed but the new stuff is still OK too? In essence, the more provisional, fleeting act of criticism grinds up against the massive gears of institutional validation—all the scholarship, the essays, the catalogues, the market values… the sheer sense of reputation that is at stake. And, of course, great artists nowadays no longer do us the courtesy of dying young, but carry on, being relentlessly great, making new work, for decade after decade after decade. Like Mick Jagger. Now, if any artist’s work bears down on you in these terms, it’s that of Anselm Kiefer. Here in the huge, museum-scale galleries of White Cube’s newest branch, Kiefer presents six typically enormous paintings, and a host of sculptures, mostly from the last two years, but with a few dating back to the end of the 1980s. Winding through them is …

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