DALLAS — It was a normal day in downtown Dallas in June. The heat and humidity were bearing down on me with intense aggression, the traffic on Harry Hines Boulevard was jammed as usual, and glare beaming off of Museum Tower almost blinded me as I made my way to the arts district. Destination? The Nasher Sculpture Center, to see the installation by Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse. WUNDERBLOCK, which opened June 1 and runs until September, features site-specific works by the artist that blur the lines between painting, sculpture, and installation.
The first survey of Chinese installation artist Lin Tianmiao at Asia Society, called Bound Unbound, could not have a more fitting title. The artist’s sartorial sculptures, grotesque bodies, and fibrous compositions illustrate an artist bound by cultural convention creating art unbound in technique and concept.
In a side gallery off the Guggenheim’s main spiral, it looks like a tide of water came and went, leaving behind piles of bricks, wood, and detritus ripped from their original contexts and tossed into disarray. It’s not unlike certain parts of the New York City area, post-Sandy. The difference is that in the museum, the scrabble is neatly arranged into a rectangular patch of floor and organized by color in a rainbow gradient only slightly darkened by mud.
CHICAGO, Illinois — Walking down an urban Chicago street on a quiet Sunday afternoon, I noticed a gathering of greenery nestled in the crack of a sidewalk jutting up against a cement wall. These small moments of nature poking through the urban landscape reveal themselves when we are not paying attention to anything particular, but rather reveling in what is alive around us. It is in these moments that Chicago-based artist Jenny Kendler’s work situates itself, wrapping around the mind like a vine crawling up the exterior of a 100-year-old brick building.
BERKELEY, California — At Haines Gallery in San Francisco’s Financial District, I finally got to see Ai Weiwei’s notorious “Kui Hua Zi” (Sunflower Seeds). There has been much hype around Ai Weiwei and this particular installation, and seeing it caught me by surprise. The Haines Gallery installation was smaller than I expected and much calmer than the media surrounding it. Yet as I looked on, the piece and its maker’s history withdrew into the background, while its powerful implications and art historical relevance grew. It is a truly remarkable piece.
Nineteen years ago, Anselm Kiefer unveiled an installation at Marian Goodman Gallery called “20 Years of Loneliness,” which featured two decades’ worth of the artist’s work stacked in a towering pyramid (there were rumors that Kiefer was planning to set it on fire) along with two tables filled with large ledgers whose blank pages were stained with squirts of the artist’s semen.
Claymation has always had that special something — a lilt of life that its too-perfect digital counterparts can’t touch. Its magic resides partly in its imperfection, namely its inability to disguise its own processes. The herky-jerky motions and the impressions of the animator’s fingers reinforce its material condition as inert matter relying on manipulation, stop-motion photography and the persistence of vision to appear as if it is moving of its own volition. It’s an illusion that, not to put too fine a point on it, resonates with the creation myth.
Phyllida Barlow’s installation at the New Museum, siege, doesn’t waste any time telling you who’s boss. Post-industrial, post-modern — post-everything but post-sculptural — it all but pushes you back inside the elevator.
Moving through Caroline Cox’s immersive installations at the Clocktower, the venerable exhibition space on the 13th floor of a city-owned building in Lower Manhattan, is like peeling free from gravity. Although you don’t literally leave the ground, the sculptures’ pulsing aureoles do their best to convince you otherwise. One moment you’re in the institutional-white hallway of a neglected municipal building and the next you’re among star clusters and jellyfish, crepuscular clouds and aggregating amoebae.
The United States, under the leadership of George W. Bush, launched its unprovoked, premeditated invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003. On November 20, 2004, the Museum of Modern Art opened its 630,000-square-foot Yoshio Taniguchi-designed building.
I’ve never thrown a beer bottle across a room but I’ve definitely seen one break. The pieces shatter and scatter, and like a laundry detergent commercial, I wish I could just hit the rewind button and see it all come back together. Brooklyn-based artist Jonathan Schipper taps into this desire with a slow-moving installation called Measuring Angst.
Mad Homes is a fascinating lo-fi community approach to public installation. A local nonprofit, Mad Art, invited 14 artists to create interventions in homes that are soon to be demolished in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The result is a mixture of installations that consume, infiltrate and surround the soon to be doomed and still perfectly well kept and usable houses.