Alissa Guzman


Art and Liquor in Greenpoint

by Alissa Guzman on February 20, 2014

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Chelsea openings, for the most part, are what they are: slightly glamorous events drawing fashionable crowds that are held in lovely, spacious galleries that tend to show predictable, big-name artists.

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Post image for Living or Being Seen in Alex Prager’s Sun-Soaked Psyche

The sentiments of Bethany Cosentino from the band Best Coast float through my head whenever I view the artwork of Los Angeles–based photographer and filmmaker Alex Prager.

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Post image for The Rise and Fall of Polaroid

Instant: The Story of Polaroid, an entertaining book by the New York-based writer Christopher Bonanos, follows the long and twisting career of Edwin Land and his brainchild corporation, Polaroid.

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Post image for The Bold Murals of Puerta de Tierra, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Sandwiched between the pristine cobblestone streets and bright houses of Old San Juan and the ritzy, high-rise condos of costal Condado lies the neighborhood of Puerta de Tierra. A thin strip of real estate, once part of colonial San Juan but situated just outside the walled city, this neighborhood was historically the first attacked by various invading armies.

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Post image for Manufactured Dreams — Stepping Inside Televisa

The Aperture Foundation publishes beautiful photography monographs that are designed to look more like a portfolio than a book; such is their emphasis on image plates over explanatory text. The Factory of Dreams: Inside Televisa Studios, one of Aperture’s recent publications featuring the Brooklyn-based photographer Stefan Ruiz, is a monograph that presents a single body of work. The Factory of Dreams is a collection of photographs Ruiz began working on eight years ago, depicting one of Mexico’s largest exports: televised fantasies of “love, wealth, and betrayal.”

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Now Dig This! Too Obtuse to Read?

by Alissa Guzman on November 29, 2012

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At roughly 350 pages, Now Dig This! Art & Black Los Angeles 1960-1980, is a conceptually massive, literally heavy and generally ambitious catalogue that questions our expectations of what an exhibition catalogue should be.

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The Invention of the Teenager

by Alissa Guzman on October 26, 2012

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It’s strange to be reminded in the 21st century that there was a time before “teens” and “tweens,” before those years between childhood and adulthood, i.e. adolescence, had a name and now, a stereotype. All of us who attended the Books & Talks lecture Friday night, however, at Artists Space’s new offshoot on Walker Street, were reminded that before the 1950s teenagers as we know them didn’t exist.

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Post image for Rineke Dijkstra: Contemporary Photographer or Old Master?

It’s very rare that museum directors or curators, when introducing a new show to a room full of writers and critics, say anything remotely thought-provoking or profound. Introducing the Rineke Dijkstra mid-career retrospective at the Guggenheim, however, the museum director Richard Armstrong made a simple, obvious, but truly striking declaration. “Rineke Dijkstra,” he said, “is an artist with very few peers.”

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The Sore Subject of Family Dynamics

by Alissa Guzman on September 20, 2012

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The family unit, siblings, extended family, and the individuals who make up these large trees, is the subject of photographer Lydia Panas’ hardback book of glossy, meticulous portraits, aptly titled The Mark of Abel. Thinking back on the biblical story of Cain and Abel, Panas’ clever reverse of the “mark” seems to imply that her subjects and viewers alike suffer Abel’s curse of brotherhood, fraternity, and family. It’s a rich theme for rich photographs, set in an Eden-like location of lush and overgrown greenery. Ninety-five pages long, containing fifty perfectly paced photographs, The Mark of Abel presents us with hundreds of strangers, all of whom feel bizarrely familiar. Panas’ family portraits are tender rather than sentimental, serious though not cynical, and dysfunctional without being cliché.

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Post image for Wisdom Testicles and the Messy Process of Collaboration

At first glance, the exterior of Wisdom Testicles, a collection of collaborative works on paper by three artistic schoolmates, looks to be a relatively unassuming artist book. Setting aside its confusing title for a moment, it has the well-crafted and unique appearance of a handmade book. Smallish in size and easy to page through, Coptic bound with an open spine, it has raw, unfinished covers made of gray speckled bookboard. The cover of the book, however, on which a anatomical looking drawing of male genitalia has been printed, is provocative enough to immediately dispel any preconceived notions about the book’s modest appearance. The non sequitur nature of the title and cover succeeds in catching your attention, raising a certain amount of curiosity about what lies between the covers.

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