Friday, January 31, 2020

Peter Wächtler at Josey


THIS THEME OF OBSOLESCENCE and nostalgia runs through Wächtler’s entire practice, and not only on the level of narrative. [...] These works’ antiquated, low-tech quality and the artist’s conspicuous investment of long hours of manual labor contrast sharply with more zeitgeisty aesthetics, modes of fabrication, and artistic strategies. [...] The imperfections that mark the films testify to their maker’s stubbornness, blood-sweat-and-tears stamina, and, perhaps, hubris, while reminding viewers that these images have been produced by hand.[...]
Wächtler presents individuals moving aimlessly among an array of simulacral roles, which in turn are subsumed in a welter of images, aesthetics, formats, genres, and techniques that—like the various identities to which the artist alluded in his ostensibly autobiographical talk—all feel somewhat outdated and hand-me-down. Here and there, his protagonists cite particular culture-industrial templates to which they owe some portion of their self-conceptions.[...]
But for the most part, the figures of speech, metaphors, and character types that appear in Wächtler’s tales trigger only a vague sense of familiarity, suggesting that the artist is excavating psychic sediments left by repeated exposure to certain idioms, images, or aesthetics.[...]
AGAINST THE FOIL of current trends or problematic genre labels such as post-Internet, and in contrast to the attitude of elusive detachment so prevalent among younger artists (who endlessly repeat the studied gestures of supposed dandyism and ironic coolness familiar from the early 2000s), the pathos of Wächtler’s work, its embrace of craft, and its sense of personal investment register as idiosyncratic and even egregiously earnest, which may account for part of its attractiveness.[...]
Wächtler’s work articulates irony not simply by depleting forms of expression, nor only by inflating those forms with “subjective” content, but by doing both. The work vehemently amps up the sense of palpable investment—then punctures that impression at the points of maximum intensity, of which there are plenty. What is thus rendered ironic is not so much the notion that any actual artistic form could adequately capture the artist’s boundless subjectivity, but the inflated, idealized image of the artist itself. -Jakob Schillinger, Artforum

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Jonathan Monk at CCA Tel Aviv


Before the internet, in 2008, there was a show called Who's Afraid of Jasper Johns? created by Gavin Brown and Urs Fischer at Tony Shafrazi gallery. The previous exhibition was photographed and printed back onto the walls (at 1:1 scale) and Gavin and Urs' new show was hung over the image. (There was also a shag white Stingel carpet throughout the space, a false waterfall tainted with viagra running down flights of stairs.)* It was bad taste toasted in an era of good taste, in 2008, just on the cusp of the hyperweb of Dispersion and hegemony of the image, a documentation overload which we were just getting our first taste of and making the exhibition feel titillating, looking over a cliff. Which we were. Looking back at it, the exhibition looks sorta bland. Exhibition documentation vertigo is both just the water of our current digital era, swimming is all we do now, but also, maybe you just had to be there. Maybe by embracing all the most nauseous parts of the digital they become wards against it.

*The show traded conceptual decorum for psychedelia, and as such became something of lightning rod of opinion. It seemed a celebration of excess, seemingly riffing on Christian Leigh's notorious Silent Baroque with its whole gluttony ordeal and quasi-hijacked gallery. There was also some irreverent metatextual stuff going on as well, Shafrazi gallery being its own character, sort of culminating in a story of the dinner's cake. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Renée Green at Nagel Draxler Kabinett


This - the only photo of this vitrine - is peak exhibition documentation. As if to say, you won't know what's in the vitrine, but you will know there was one. Less important to know what was than to know that there was a was. That there had been. "Having been" is the coronation anyway, surrounded by its "else," the halo around, glow. Which we see here.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Cosima von Bonin at Marianne Boesky


The commodity is the form we now think in. The variations of fish getting more and more micro, they blur together, or are these just the same sculptures as before?  Which may be the point, the purchaser isn't buying the particular product on the shelf but the idea behind it. This store's Scotch-Brite® Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge might be pink and the one in the commercial is a more regal yellow, but you are not any longer buying the sponge for its color, you're buying it for what it can accomplish in your home.

Se too: Cosima von Bonin at House of Gaga & Magasin III JaffaCosima von Bonin at Friedrich Petzel

Monday, January 27, 2020

Kyung-Me at Bureau & Silke Otto-Knapp at The Renaissance Society


One has its own internal world; one uses your internal world. You look into Kyung-Me's, awaiting you is a little snow globe of a world inside it. But the other reflects you, displays vessels for your pour over. Its why Otto-Knapp's feel like memories, they're projection screens for home films of your - like Koether - cultural baggage.

See too: Silke Otto-Knapp at greengrassiSilke Otto-Knapp at Taylor MacklinJutta Koether at BortolamiJutta Koether at Museum Brandhorst

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Helmut Federle at Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder


It seems artworld is hard to parody well since most depictions aren't particularly comedic or even apt. (e.g. the opening's tray of grapes that marks the most naive scenes.)  If not just wrong, the worse blunder is attempting a cartoon satire; it's far better to leave the the depiction dry, unchanged, art parodies itself. I mean the artworld actually has a polished cranium that floats around having practically sedimented socializing as a career and sleeps 3 hours a night. We have statements like this: “Federle has destabilized the square, its solid form, and turned it into something that no longer represents authority. His squares are defined by their relationship to the space around them. His compositions are decidedly non-hierarchical.” What's best: I believe it, it's a good description, good art writing, accurate. And it is totally ludicrous. Art is superposition of inanity and grave seriousness. That I like these paintings.

Alex Hubbard at Regen Projects


More and more it's become important that images are "striking." They look powerful on walls or bus stops. Big colorful bonanzas about an inch deep. This is the language of advertising. Painting, it turns out, is the advertisement that advertises itself. Self-advertisement in painting. It's what artists are becoming wise to. You could strap any tagline from Coca-Cola onto these paintings and it would make sense. It's just now the product name is scrawled on the back. Big dumb abstractions sell for more.  For a more complicated take on this transactional form of visual language look at Charlene von Heyl.

(Also, I thought we put a pause on the "process based abstraction" thing after the whole stumbling in search of brains thing?)

See too: Alex Hubbard at House of Gaga (1)Alex Hubbard at House of Gaga (2)Charline von Heyl at Petzel & DeichtorhallenCharline von Heyl at Gisela CapitainCharline von Heyl at Capitain Petzel

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Christopher Williams at C/O Berlin


"If I hang these pictures low maybe the workers will revolt" and here maybe if you post only two photos the art-polloi will re, uh, joice. Feel lucky, C/O Berlin's instagram got only the apples, posted like 4 times with differing amounts of, sigh, white framing around it. Read with sarcasm: "Williams’s work does not end when the photograph is taken, but includes all elements of its display, such as printing, matting, framing, hanging height, titles, and so on, as crucial aspects of the reception of the image." Isn't this all starting to sound like a brand package of institutional critique from the Pictures Generation? Blankness becomes its own commodity, its own bowtie. And you there, David Zwirner shopper, you get a lovely photograph and perhaps a piece of a museum wall to coronate it. That's right Williams ships the walls from the previous museum because one institutional halo is not enough. The curator is coming to elucidate it with a long text any moment now. Any moment now.

Oh and the greatest ploy of all? There are installation shots of the exhibition on Zwirner's website.

Playing CAWD like Golf, aiming for the lowest score possible: Ian Rosen at The Finley
Read too: Christopher Williams at MoMA

Monday, January 20, 2020

Ghislaine Leung at Künstleraus Stuttgart


So the point intended,
1. The continual retelling (1 novel, 2 films, 3 made-for-tv movies) of The Stepford Wives is evidence of the films resonance, to a common cultural fear: suspense/horror story of human subjectivity molded to robotic subservience.

2. This fear, plotted during a time of accelerating convenience of "modern miracle" kitchens, is predicated on a subconscious understanding that we are in some way socially reproduced by the objects around us. As our kitchens become increasingly convenient so too we will need to become convenient: the level of pleasance required around our tyrannical-husbands we intuit is in direct correlation to the level of convenience of everything surrounding us. As the world become more convenient, as kitchens threaten to replace cooks, as what we provide is continually warned to be replaceable, we must increasingly match the ease of the others/objects who threaten to replace us, and we adopt an unnatural pleasantness. This is implicit fear of the film.

3. Commodities by nature limit individual expression, and we are molded to their voice. We become subservient to what the commodity can allow us. So you join in choir with all the others who purchased their employer/partner a mug singing "THE BOSS." The commodity turns the world into a cartoon, slapstick, as everything becomes exchangeable, the backgrounds getting more repetitive in a drive towards efficiency. The cartoon, slapstick, rendered in the real is gore.

4. Leung's Hugo Boss sterility is a suburban horror movie. 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Group Show at Group Show at Group Show


Group exhibitions have become like scrolling a feed of a feed, exhausting. Whereas before the smorgasbord provided little nouveau bites of artistic palates, now the particalizing of everything into little squares, fractured sent and scrolled has become the little bites we accumulate as dinner, gorging on snacks. The group show ostensibly provides more orchestrated snacking, but it is snacking nonetheless. Does anyone feel satisfied after of a buffet of bites? No, you feel sick. That's what group exhibitions feel like, hors d'oeuvres to a meal that is, contemporarily, not coming. The world no longer has meals it is a feed. A continuous heterogeneous bin. We want a reprieve, a moment of contemplation, any kind of slowness, relief, I don't want to open my eyes and see 50 artists anymore.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Marianna Simnett at Kunsthalle Zürich

The documentation here comes from at least three different Museums: the, as stated, Kunsthalle Zürich, but also Frankfurt's MMK ZOLLAMT, and the above image from NYC's New Museum. Glitches as evidence of dislocation, of images just completely adrift at this point, does it even matter at this point, who cares at this point. Put anything anywhere, the video-stills are photoshopped in anyway. Drag and drop. An exhibition appears. It's the metadata that counts. How far can we dissociate. Someone should standardize the museum, to be more like the suburbs its already become, you could find anything anywhere, a McDonald's like a Guggenheim, in every metropolis, a LOVE sculpture in every park, tastes standardized across continents, fly to Zurich and still feel at home with real New York artists or cheeseburgers, anywhere. Is this dissociation?

See too: Nairy Baghramian at Walker Art Center?

Monday, January 13, 2020

Jutta Koether at Galerie Buchholz


Well these are as ugly as they come. There is almost weight to the ugliness, like it sags off the picture, obese with garishness. Koether seems continuously giving painting an excess content, the hyperlink references, the hung on glass, adding layers until it's gluttonous, unwieldy, here: bloated.

See too: Jutta Koether at BortolamiJutta Koether at Museum Brandhorst

Jutta Koether at Museum Abteiberg


I had always wanted to take a Morandi painting out of its frame, hang it on a glass wall, and write an essay about erotics and pornography.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Win McCarthy at Atlantis


As updates on Kelley's arenas, tchotchkes on blankets, these add a box. It's a more literal symbol of repression that Kelley's, an artist with a lifelong interest in cultural repression, had left as perfume. These are like Brad Pitt crying "What's in the box?" The PR narration's spells it out ominously: "we tend to have to wait to find out what’s lying beneath" like a Kevin Spacey line. What's latent in a culture? And it's again literal, turns out the clown was a pedophile. A joke we've heard before.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Calvin Marcus at David Kordansky


Against a bedrock fear, of death, of castration, the nervous person searches for vitality and extension to ward off impotence and death with a "big one" like a muscle car, a militarized gun, a mid-life crisis and a trophy bass, and here a harhar painting to cover fear. You have sublimated your anxiety of death to a painting mocking that fear, but it's still a Mustang against death, a painting equivalent of a truck with nuts, underneath the irony, the wet-eyed naiveté, the fear, the fear.
Past: Calvin Marcus at Clearing

...paints like a kid, draws like a kid, had huge crayons made for his big kid self. It would be an interesting history correlated, the desublimation of painting, its id-ification, from the surrealist's subconscious, to Pollock's becoming "nature," to finally the triumph of neanderthalism of say Joe Bradley, the history of men's important doodle. The mythology of the infantilized artist. We must care for him, them, genius whose diapers we exchange.

See full: Calvin Marcus at Clearing

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Gabriel Hartley at Foxy Production


Hartley always developing some new process, techniques-yet-named, aerosoling impasto, rubbing wood blushes, printing crumpled flat, etc. Processes for abstraction like all those modern photographers solarizing, photogramming, or just pouring light concrete. Processes to fulfill our need for the novel. And nice. But maybe the best analogy would be Tillmans' "Blushes" where the very thing at stake, their tension, is in seeming to be both lovely and arbitrary. Our fear.

see too: Wolfgang Tillmans at Maureen Paley

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Virginia Overton at Francesca Pia


Cut up and rearrange the objects of capital, they will hint at their previous legibility but they will not mean, it is something we will be forced to assign. Playing in the sandbox we've been left.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Brian Belott, Rhoda Kellogg at San Francisco City Hall


Before a certain age pretty much every drawing a child makes is unambiguously good. Pre- selfconscious drawing is more an act than an accomplishment. Children's drawing is more akin to carving, space has no natural means, like middle period Gustons' wads in every child's dreams. No joke that "my kid could do that," so many modern artists attempting to reaccomplish their childhoods. The thefting of art from childhood for "mature" intents we could mock, but since every artist today is mining theirs for the cartoons that litter their surrealist landscapes who are we to judge.
Passed: John Baldessari

"Baldessari's career spent on a mockery of art's formal givens, puppeteering its dumbified literal versions and removing the protective aura of seriousness so a skepticism could seep into it cracks, paving the way for today's boorish Pop conceptualism.

"Here, dissonant image/text relations leaves a viewer floundering to connect the basic formality of art: that the text relate. That we still find this Baldessarian gimmick relevant 800 exhibitions later, sometimes even comically worth it, shows how strong this base impulse is ingrained."

"The text's irrelation performs the poetic fissure lamely, mechanically, i.e. Baldessari's engineered breakage of logical closure, conclusion. The space we rush to fill with guesses, the INTERPRETATION of art, that interminable precursor to MEANING. The poetic is the process for staging these interpretive fissures, founts for guessing, which Baldessari's plain creation of feels like a corpse made to dance. That dullness feels a point."

Click here for full John Baldessari at Marian GoodmanJohn Baldessari at Sprüth Magers

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Meredith James at Jack Hanley


A notable rise in couch art, in furniture displays, as we continue our archaeology unearthing artifacts of the body. In anthropological remains seeking human representation. So the couch becomes the projection screen for us, the surveillance into us, like looking back asking the question: "Before our we uploaded to the cloud what were we?" back through the screen to see reality - or its cave - through the remains. What the exhibition titles "shadows on the wall."

see too: Lisa Herfeldt at Between BridgesAnna Uddenberg at Kraupa-Tuskany ZeidlerJessi Reaves at Bridget DonahueSarah Lucas at CFA Berlin

Friday, January 3, 2020

Past: Hun Kyu Kim at The Approach

"Or is it a means to alienate the world so as to see our own actions as helpless stupid critters. We've been anthropomorphizing animals since pretty much forever with 30,000BCE zoomorphic figurines. Which gave rise to Saturday Morning Cartoons and then now Furries in adulthood. A study showed people were able to identify human traits in simple shapes, the triangle was bossy, violent, imprisoning the circle. Angular shapes in general are shown to be associated with "bad" while the curvilinear is associated with "good," which is probably why we love all those rotund creatures drawn with curvaceous softness like every Disney squirrel a Venus of Willendorf. Of course kids are going to grow to sexualize them, franchise films of them, they've been genetically bred for appeal. Crushed by capitalism. Dogs bred for pureness with destroyed hips."

Past: Hun Kyu Kim at The Approach

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Leigh Ledare at Office Baroque


Leigh's is titillating surely, anxious, naughty, filled with all the nervous transgression of an arthouse "social experiment". Haha what if we took an anxious group psychology project but added a documentary panopticon. Of course the projects are interesting as they are well polished mirrors, psychology is turned into a formal exercise of cinema. And this thing is made for essay explicating all the formal structures that mirror its conflict. Watch "psychology" made into object of art, humans into a petri-dish, cross-sections of a people for microscope slides. "Arguably more anthropological than therapeutic..." The problematization method,* a sort of making-confounded. Greying the waters with the tangling of culture: people made demographics made signifiers, and forced to abut and spark. People are made to be art's object which gets conflated with analysand. Good cinema is not necessarily healthy outcome.

*Think Renzo Marten's Enjoy Poverty, Jordan Wolfson's Animation Masks, Korine's Spring Breakers.  
(Watch the film through Ledare's website here.)

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Rasmus Høj Mygind at Jir Sandel


Personally I think Epstein did kill himself.* But in an exhibition about contingency this is hardly the point. It's about enacting a viral birth in reality, the Epstein meme is its own title, its own reality in meme-like propagation, simply reading/thinking it propagates it, which like the far-right's conspiracies spread less by truth than by simply continuing to collect consciousness of. This becomes akin to art/entertainment where consensus/agreement is less powerful than commonality, fame reduced to shared-knowledge-of, Kardashian-like, as art and things become self-reflexive self-illustration. Pollock illustrates abstraction, Judd minimalism, enter the history books. Which these are self illustrations, self-propagate. The point isn't abstraction it's amoebic survival in consciousness. Against self-annihilation, towards extending consciousness, what we call viral may simply be confused life.

* Even if we're feeling conspiratorial, the shadow org would only have to tell him he must. Perhaps a semantic argument. But it is a scarier thought, rather than being strangled by gloved assassins, that someone doesn't need assassins at all. Instead people follow orders to kill themselves because alternatives to suicide are worse. Someone who can conjure worse-than-death.