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Dancing at the Whitney

When the list of the 2012 Whitney Biennial artists was made public, it included a very interesting trio of names, probably not immediately recognizable to most of the visual arts world: choreographers Sarah Michelson and Michael Clark, and theater director/playwright Richard Maxwell. All three are extremely well known in their respective fields, but how and why are they relevant to the Biennial audience? Hyperallergic asked me to write a series of articles looking at performing arts, not performance art, in the museum context, and whether it’s an important, or completely arbitrary, shift in visual arts programming.

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A Site to Trade Lives and Trade Dreams

LOS ANGELES — Forget Art, the Beijing-based collective run by Ma Yongfeng, wants to get people talking to each other. Youth Apartment Exchange Project (青年公寓交换) is an initiative to encourage urban dwellers in China not just to share their items, but to exchange them. This could range from a simple exchange, like cell phones, to even trading and sharing apartments.

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When Outsiders Feel More Familiar than the Mainstream

America is a country of immigrants, and the perspective of foreigners, newcomers and outsiders has always played a large a role in the history of contemporary American photography. Immigrants often have a way of showing us that which we cannot see for ourselves. In keeping with the tradition of outsiders looking in on our culture, a small exhibition on the first floor of the International Center of Photography, titled Perspectives 2012, showcases the work of three non-American photographers — Chien-Chi Chang, Anna Shteynshleyger and Greg Girard — who all focus their cameras on different facets of American life.

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Opening Up the Museum to an Emerging Artist

The first view of Shura Chernozatonskaya’s work is on the soaring white wall of the Brooklyn Museum’s lobby, spanning over forty feet and high above viewer’s heads. “Domino” (2012) is a painting installation of thirty-three canvasses set-out in a recognizable game formation: a yellow-to-blue chain tic-tacking its way across the threshold to the galleries. Each canvas is marked with approximations of the traffic-light symbol with circles of red/amber/green applied, in glowing transparency, to grounds ranging from pale lemon to deep indigo. Graphically cheerful in tone, the work nonetheless sparks significant cognitive tension. The integration of two distinct pictorially communicative systems, “domino” and “traffic light,” here orchestrates a string of yes/no, stop/go associations in a reception space where viewers’ expectations are strongest. “Domino” is a youthful work. It suggests a brave execution — an exuberant, if harmoniously imperfect, immersion in color and play — and is a fitting symbol to Raw/Cooked, the Museum’s bold new exhibition series of emerging artists of which Chernozatonskaya is the featured third.

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Without Elaboration

Forrest Bess was born in Bay City, Texas on October 5, 1911, one year before Agnes Martin (1912-2004) and Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) joined him on this planet. Martin’s entry point was Macklin, Saskatchewan; Pollock’s was Cody, Wyoming. Martin and Pollock moved to New York in order to study, and left in order to preserve themselves. Both made the paintings by which they became famous after leaving New York.

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Neither Under Construction Nor Complete

CHICAGO — We’re now a quarter of the way through Scottish artist Martin Creed’s year-long “residency” at the MCA Chicago. I put “residency” in quotation marks because Creed is only going to be here sporadically throughout 2012. So far, the MCA has put one new work by Creed on display each month, none of them new, so it’s more of an incremental retrospective at the moment.

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Art Rx

This week, we’re all in recovery and laying low but the doctor says you need to get out of the house. We’re cleansing our systems of the New York art fairs and moving onto something new. The doctor has written you a prescription that involves lots of crocheting, timelines galore, artful dinner conversation, an update on Latin American art, a chat about memes and some heavy-duty critical theory.

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Crime as American Idol

SAN FRANCISCO — About twenty years ago, Sega released a video game titled Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. As a young lad, me and my friends spent hours in front of the television playing as Michael Jackson as he scurried through dark alleys killing bad guys with high kicks and fedora hat throws. The Stage 1 background music was “Smooth Criminal” and it created the perfect ambience for a pop crime fighter saving kidnapped children from urban horrors. I Am Crime: Art on the Edge of Law, the newest exhibition currently on view at San Francisco’s SOMArts Cultural Center, plays out much like Moonwalker: artists doing high kicks as an attempt to, as the exhibition states, “challenge, question or circumvent the law through their work.”