Gursky, at Matthew Marks Gallery
Mixing documentary and a personal journal style of photography,
Gursky captures interiors and exteriors; realism and abstraction.
Massive in scale, these works arrest the viewer with their
Gursky has an eye for geometric patterns
in natural and man-made objects. The majority of these works
are aerial shots, bird's-eye views of landscapes marked
by lines, boxes, rectangles, spirals and other forms dotted
with people, animals and objects. Whether in realistic or
abstract compositions, Gursky emphasizes the dramatic. PCF,
Paris (2003) is an abstract rendering of a spiraling vortex
which is the ceiling of the French Communist Party Headquarters.
In this silver grey spiral that fills the picture plane
Gursky captures the eternal image of a spiraling galaxy,
like the image of the spirals formed from a drop into water.
Color also plays an important role in Gursky's work. Rimini
(2003) combines geometric patterns and color; rows of beach
umbrellas are sectioned off by color, red, yellow, blue
and green. The sections on the sand mimic the curve of the
shore and the buildings behind it. In Untitled XIII, Mexico
(2002), Gursky depicts a land fill dump, showing one-third
of the photograph as white sky with birds circling and two-thirds
as a contrasting riot of color and texture in the sea of
cardboard, plastic, wood and metal that comprise the scattered
Nha Trang Vietnam (2004) shows factory
workers making chairs; the workers can be distinguished
from the uniformity of the color of the straw, by their
black hair and orange shirts. An interesting trompe l'oile
effect is created in this photograph, which at first appears
to have been cut and divided into strips but on closer inspection
we see that the horizontal lines are actually suspended
lights on cables across the factory floor.
The success of
this show hinges on Gursky's unique combination of technical
prowess and an uncanny ability to distill abstract imagery
from seemingly ordinary, everyday pictures of the world
at Exit Art
CAPASSO & DIANA KORCHAK
and geopolitical framework within which a work of art is
presented has always informed the creative process. Today's
heightened awareness of terrorism, as a nihilistic force
made vastly more lethal through the same technologies that
once promised a world of peace; satellite communications,
the internet and global travel for the masses, seem to permeate
every human act and thought. Against this backdrop, this
mega-group show, dubbed Terrorvision, processes the present
state of world affairs through the eyes of fifty-nine artists;
in multiple disciplines, from photography to sculpture and
interactive installations, as well as ongoing video screenings
Upon entering the enormous exhibition space, the viewer
begins a journey in which the senses are saturated with
a myriad of pre-fabricated menaces. In some instances, the
viewer is, in effect, seduced into participating in vicarious
acts of death and destruction. For example, the interactive
video projection by Robert Hickman, You¹re Killing
Me, engages the audience by offering the opportunity to
shoot and kill an innocent passerby. In another case, Saoirse
Higgins and Simon Schiessl's Mechanism 1: War, the viewer
is asked to wind a toy drummer boy, which unwittingly triggers
the the release of falling bombs.
Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor¹s video projection,
in which a woman puts herself in the "other's shoes"
by dressing in an attire foreign to her, attempts to shift
our perspective so as to promote understanding across a
Personal fears are addressed through dark humor, such as
the artist, Flash Light, whose apprehension about the ominous
"Patriot Act" passed by U.S.
lawmakers in the aftermath of 9/11, finds expression in
the interactive experiential piece, I am Terrified of the
Patriot Act. Approaching a computer monitor, in an effort
to read its small text, the words "I am Terrified of
the Patriot Act" suddenly pop up on screen in large
We look around trying to figure out what we have done wrong,
worried that the computer has read our thoughts. This work
is quite effective in putting the viewer in an irresoluble
state of unease.
Despite its heady title, this show manages to steer clear
(more or less) of predictable cliches, yielding an intelligent
and engaging multifaceted convergence of ideas shaped by
a world in which the consequences of miscalculation grow
exponentially. To be sure, fear, on an existential level,
is not an entirely new phenomena; once the nuclear cat was
let out of the bag at the end of WWII, the rational for
fear had already begun to seem a little absurd.
Harkness, at Mary Boone Gallery
by Joyce Korotkin
With three small
paintings spotlighted in the cathedral size space of Mary
Boone¹s Chelsea gallery, Hilary Harkness creates a
fantasy scenario of forbidden, super-sexed navy life; wild
vixens engage in lesbian erotica that runs the gamut from
S&M bondage to the unspeakable.
her invented revelations on intricately painted and radiantly
lit cross-sections of naval ships. Gun images abound, lots
of rifles and the like, which read as phallic symbols in
pictures where males are conspicuously absent. In Matterhorn,
for example, two women flirt while one inserts a rifle into
a fire, above which hangs a cauldron filled with skulls.
the nature and unconscious sexual allure of institutionalized
authority, exposing none too subtly the sublimated sexuality
that fuels it. Dominance and submission define the perimeters
of these relationships; devoid of romance or the threat
of love, they nevertheless edge all too close to reality.
Titarenko, at Nailya Alexander Gallery
In this series
of somber black and white, square formatted photographs
dubbed Time Standing Still, Titarenko (b. 1962) documents
Russian street life in the aftermath of the breakup of the
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The predominant
tonality of the images is grey, with an aural luminescence
here and there. Titarenko uses extended time exposures for
these images, taken under mostly low light conditions. The
result is an eery glimpse into a suspended past, wherein
the unmistakable look of East European life (in the Cold
War) seems to rise from the grey mist of blurs, transparent
fragments and crowd-streams of light that comprise human
beings shuffling by.
In less capable hands, the use of time elapse photography
could become a gimmick, but to see the variety of Titarenko's
hurried, preoccupied, often incomplete human figures against
the rows and rows of corniced windows of the residential
districts (or the bus stop,or the newspaper stand) more
often than not in the snow, is to feel the tension of that
historical moment, the anonymity of the Soviet man and woman
intensified by a time of uncertainty.
Titarenko admits that his results are aleatory ‹ a
matter of what the film manages to capture when the shutter
is loosed upon a crowd. This body of work consists of the
happy discoveries from among the images he's made over the
years. It's not what the eye saw, nor even what Titarenko
may have conceived of at the time, but something else, something
that he recognizes as true about that unreal period after
the breakup. He is also offering a meditation on time (Proust
is one of his main influences). The contrast between the
moving subjects and the still backgrounds seems to suggest
a disconnect between the lived human time of the citizens
and the fixed historical setting, as if individual human
time were somehow irrelevant to the historic changes happening
invisibly in the background.
In one particularly striking image, the dominant form is
a rounded, iron banister that divides an outdoor public
stairway. There are city streets, shops and buildings in
the background, but the space between them and the railing
is filled with a restless blur of a moving crowd, entirely
de-individuated into a sea of light and dark grey. A row
of disembodied hands grasps the railing. The symbolic message
is loud and clear; a faceless crowd grasping for something
‹ anything ‹ to hold onto during this unprecedented
time of institutional breakdown (in a society where the
paternalistic institutions of government offered cradle-to-grave
In a paired set we see the same market square by the train
tracks in winter and summer, populated by a mixture of well-defined
standing figures amid a wash of blurred figures in motion.
One of the most haunting images in this series shows the
side of an apartment house on a rainy day, with a parked
car across a leaf-strewn street, and three transparent women's
legs walking across the foreground. Their owners seem to
have faded into the past and not quite taken their legs
4/1 through 5/15.
Editor's Note: Nailya Alexander will be mounting a major
exhibition of Socialist Realist photography next fall.
Red Books, at Pace MacGill Gallery
As unlikely as
it may seem, there are still never-before-released works
by Andy Warhol. Compiled in little red photo albums, these
"Red Books" feature drag queens, celebrities and
artists such as Giorgio di Chirico and Larry Rivers, as
well as several self portraits that Warhol made, using Poloroid
snap-shots. These Red Books are often themed around certain
people and events in Warhol's life, such as one about Mick
Jagger, another about Paloma Picasso, one about the summer
fun at Warhol's Montauk home of the Kennedy and Radziwell
family, and others about various luncheons in cities across
Celebrities such as Bianca Jagger, David Bowie, Marisa Berenson
and Jack Nicholson figure prominently in these albums. Shot
from the chest up, these photographs offer candid, unvarnished
glimpses of bigger-than-life figures.
Some of them are affectionately dedicated to Andy and signed
by the sitter e.g. "To Andy - Love Lee. May 6th Montauk.
1972." John Lennon and Yoko Ono make a beautiful couple
in yet another unguarded pose.
There are some pretty wild images too; Factory fixture Brigid
Berlin is shown cavorting naked around the studio, while
in another series we see an unknown artist with a paintbrush
stuck up his bum, painting a canvas.
In these irreverent shots, as well as the more formal portraits,
we a get a sense of the inspiration that Warhol derived
from the world that found its way to his door; inspiration
filtered back into the world of mass media.
at Marvelli Gallery
Frank's new series
of large scale black and white photographs of trees presents
an expansive vision of nature, linked to human endeavors,
that emphasizes both spiritual and physical regeneration.
From a vantage-point on the ground she focuses on the upper
regions of trees, where towering tree tops, tree climbers
and open space converge far above the earth. The idea is
that somewhere up there in the tops of trees, there's a
spiritual place that is above the day-to-day concerns of
Revered by ancient Northern and Central European tribes,
the forest, a natural cathedral, serves as a sanctuary and
refuge for us that is far removed from the complexities
of social interactions. These photographs evoke a yearning
for freedom, for a sense of oneness with nature. Frank captures
the ecstatic aspect of natural settings that bring the viewer
in touch with this yearning. The focus of these images is
the tree as such; the people climbing them take on a supporting
role in quiet drama.
Frank makes use of the contre-plongee photographic technique
used by Bauhaus photographers, who shot tall buildings.
Like them, she captures her tall subjects from far below,
from a viewpoint where the trees and sky activate each other
to produce a complete, unified visual statement. Using infra-red
film, Frank employs closely related tones that create a
subtly luminous, other-worldly quality of twilight that
mirrors the transition between day and evening. The small,
partially visible, climbing figures in the trees merge with
the tree tones, implying the symbiotic quality of their
relationship. In the activity of tree-climbing, people experience
a sense of wonder that nurtures their need for both fantasy
and sensory stimulation derived from physical exertion.
They express their independence by escaping the tedium of
conventional routine activities.
In Search #2, Frank captures a severely foreshortened image
of a dark, double tree trunk that provides a niche for a
tree climber. In this format, all the inter-twining spaces
are activated with either branches or contrasting silvery
white and gray tree trunks. The variety within the elements
that range from small to large, or light to dark, produces
a dynamism and plasticity that opens up the picture plane
to express air and space. On the top right format, a tangle
of various shades of gray, white and dark branches interact
with splashes and spots that are in fact poetically interpreted
canopies of leaves.
In another photograph, Search #4, a diagonal tree trunk
extends to both left and right, revealing the shadow of
a figure barely visible behind a central branch. The sky,
marked by innumerable white twigs that proliferate in a
profusion of vein-like networks, evokes an imaginative vision
of transformation. The provocative picture is linked to
fantasies of boundless freedom and euphoria that often originate
in dream imagery. In Search # 6, the white space behind
two powerful, twin tree trunks contrasts dramatically with
the dark tree branches. This creates intricate airy veils
of interlocking and overlapping branch forms. The highly
charged emotional expression is informed by touches of dappled
gray leaves that linger on the edges of the frame, adding
subtle variations in the diverse and strongly contrasting
These photographs are conceptually most effective when both
the figure and the tree subtly merge to create unexpected
dramatic metaphors for human growth phases. The qualities
of nostalgia, euphoria and brooding that pervade these images
probably originate in dreams, with psychological links to
a mythic, collective unconscious. In our quest for meaning
in the lives we live, we often strive to rise to higher
levels of growth, understanding and maturity. These works
are, in effect, visual metaphors for our human efforts to
reach a higher ground.
4/23 Through 5/22.
Burri, at The Gallery at Hermès
by Joel Simpson
retrospective of the work of Swiss photographer René
Burri (b. 1933), whose work examines the relationship between
architecture and the human figures who give it meaning,
presents an excellent introduction for those unfamiliar
with his photographs.
Burri was inducted into the prestigious Magnum photo agency
at the recommendation of Werner Bischof in1955. He first
attracted international attention as the photo-documentarian
of Le Corbusier, and this show features a generous selection
of that work. We see Le Corbusier in his Paris studio, involved
in the construction of two of the architect's religious
buildings (Notre-Dame-du- Haut church, Ronchamp, and La
Tourette Monastery in Eveux-sur-Arbresle, both in France),
both sensitive examples of photojournalism in the service
of the arts.
On another wall
in the show, the scale of vision broadens out to document
Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and his masterpiece,
Brazilia, the inland capital of Brazil that replaced Rio
de Janeiro in 1960. Then we visit Mexican architect Luis
Barragán and his Mexico City Satellite Towers.
Most of the rest of the show is given over to the insights
of Burri's architecturally sensitive eye. His graphic sense
is infallible, and he frequently achieves a penetrating
irony. The statue of a Native American warrior glares silently
through the tangle of traffic lights in on Michigan Avenue
in Chicago. A dark, blurred pedestrian nearly blocks our
view of Adolph Eichman's hideout in Buenos Aires, underlining
its banality. Endless clay skeletons of an abandoned desert
city reticulate the landscape in Oman, while the decaying
hulks of a myriad of helicopters do nearly the same thing
in the helicopter cemetery of Tucson.
Burri makes arresting
compositions of war ruins in Berlin and Beirut. He juxtaposes
silhouettes and ruined classical columns in the Jordanian
desert, then reprises nearly the same motif with suited
figures on a rooftop paralleling the smokey traffic bustle
many stories below in Saõ Paolo. The Great Wall snakes
imperturbably toward the horizon, and rounded trapezoidal
cement aeration towers form their own somber henge on a
New Mexican grassland.
Most of the photographs
are black and white, shot with a classic (rangefinder) Leica
and a single fixed focal length normal lens (like Cartier-Bresson).
The exhibition also includes a rich selection of more recent
images in color, arranged four-in-a-row in thematic units
that frequently draw from widely divergent settings, a presentation
particularly suited to Burri's sense of irony.
Ed Note: The Gallery at Hermès is located at 691
Madison Ave. at 61 Street, 4th floor, New York. Hrs Mon-Sat
10-6, Thu 10-7
of View, at The Museum Of Contemporary Art
Christened A Point
of View, this anthology of contemporary videos, with newly
commissioned works by eleven artists invited to articulate
their own particular points of view, showcases some interesting
videos, even if the curatorial point of view is not so clear.
Curiously, artists who have been a seminal force of video
art in recent years are absent here, notably Nam Jun Paik
and Bill Viola. Moreover, the show seems to have assumed
an entirely Western and male dominated "point of view,"
as there is no representation here of Eastern or Asian artists,
and only 18% of the artists featured are women. Conspicuously
missing are Shirin Neshat, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Michal Rovner
to name a few.
Of the two women artists chosen for the anthology, Joan
Jonas represents a considerably older generation; her work
is rooted in performance art and the women¹s movement
of the 1970s. Influenced by 18th Century French outdoor
theater, she is closer to performance-art than video art;
her contribution WALTZ (2003) offers an unstructured, fragmented
performancevideo, with references to mythology, gender
Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist composed a music video, I WANT
TO SEE HOW YOU SEE (2003), in which a composite of floating
images of architectural interiors and body parts symbolically
represent different parts of the world.
Gary Hill's video work is demanding of both our intellect
and senses. In BLIND SPOT (2003) he focuses on a seemingly
random man, unaware of the camera, in a street of an undisclosed
town. While slowing down the man's movements, the image
is intercepted with pulsating sounds and throb light effects.
The viewer's inclination to study the main protagonist is
thwarted by the flashing lights and pounding audio.
A conceptual video by Belgium artist Francis Alÿs (now
residing in Mexico City), EL GRINGO (2003) makes the viewer
(represented by the camera) into the unseen protagonist
who experiences an unwelcome reception by a group of growling
dogs in the street. Part metaphor and part real experience,
the viewer is made to feel the physical sensation of being
Isaac Julien's ENCORE (PARADISE OMEROS: REDUX) (2003) presents
a poetic photomontage of pieces that did not make it to
the final cut of his previous films, while William Kentridge,
best known for his superb animations of black and white
charcoal drawings depicting apartheid in South Africa, offers
a work titled AUTOMATIC WRITING (2003). The video's title
alludes to the attempt to make contact with one's unconscious
or presumed spirit. Here, the movement away from political
art to a focus on the individual is a noteworthy trend.
at Axel Raben Gallery
by Joyce Korotkin
An embossed figure
enters a blank piece of paper through the single line of
an embossed door, then turns around and disappears back
from whence it came.
With little more than this charming vignette accompanied
by a soundtrack of the squeaky door opening and closing,
Shin-il Kim's slyly witty video, Door, drawn laboriously,
cell by cell, beckons the viewer. Curated by Renee Riccardo,
this exhibition, dubbed Paper Chase, consists of works made
from paper, as opposed to more traditional works on paper.
Paper has come up in the world of art, lately. No longer
merely a surface on which to create work, it is seen by
artists as a flexible medium for sculptural installation
Molly Smith's Drip and Fall, for instance, transform the
gallery walls, out of which faux paper water pours in minimalist
simulation of the real thing.
tiny, intricately detailed sculptures, lined up on a shelf,
each pack an unexpected punch in an exhibition in which
the unexpected is emblematic. His Phasmid depicts an adorable
little insect whose pincers are poised to sting, while Luge,
a roller coaster whose track stops in mid-air, will pitch
riders into nothingness at breakneck speed.
In this vein
are Margaret Lee's color-saturated drawings of pouting Bambi-like
deer; slightly sinister, like evil children up to no good,
set against the graphic sunny rays of a Pop sky. Likewise,
Chris Caccamise's paper sculpture, The Mountain Splitter,
is another work with an edgy twist. This toy-like tractor
supports an immense red ax, while Don't fail me now literally
spells its title out in 3-D letters aboard a toy boat that
recalls both Robert Indiana¹s iconic love sculpture
as well as Ed Ruscha¹s work.
floor sculptures, in papermache and styrofoam, playfully
simulate work vehicles, while Troy Richards combines a sculpture
of flowers in a vase (the kind children might make in art
class) with more formal pastel painting in his Observatory.
The preponderance of this Pop toy-like approach is curious,
and one wonders if it is inspired by a zeitgeist aesthetic
or by the nature of the medium itself.
The frothy sculptural wall pieces by Doug Morris take craftsmanship
to an astonishing new level. Entirely abstract and brilliantly
colored, they are built up from hundreds of bits of this
and that; paper, ribbon, ink and foam into Untitled abstractions
that yet recall recognizable objects; a child's party hat
taken to an extreme of design, or a veritable 3-D cloudburst
of tiny snowflakes that seem to have emanated from a cut-out
cloud adhered to the wall. Each of Morris'works looks vaguely
familiar in this manner; phantasmagorical and full of implications
at which one can marvel.
Somewhat more traditional approaches with paper are taken
by Charlene Liu, whose cut-paper silhouettes of delicately
painted flora overlap an orange sherbet colored stream,
and by Deborah Grant, whose comic-inspired text-filled Draft,
Ham and Swiss on White presents a cacophony of voices.
Grant fills her house-shaped large sheet of paper with numerous
"rooms" in which disparate scenes unfold, each
one chronicling an event, argument, humorous anecdote or
just plain hissy fit; the flotsam and jetsam of other people's
everyday lives that we catch bytes of in passing.
Paper Chase offers a fascinating glimpse beyond the boundaries
of this oldest of mediums, paper, as it finds new respect
among more and more artists and curators.
4/1 Through 5/8.
Ed Note: Axel Raben Gallery is located at 526 West 26th
Street, suite 304.
New York, NY 10001. Tel 647.9064 Fax 647.9065 www.axelRaben.com
at Metro Pictures
by Joyce Korotkin
her real Self, Cindy Sherman's ability to transform into
invented characters, leaving no trace behind of her actual
persona, is astonishing. When watching cinema, we suspend
disbelief even while recognizing known actors. Sherman,
however, melds into her roles without interference, becoming
just another prop on her sets. The Clown images, on which
she has worked for the last eighteen months, exemplify this.
Echoing the way Sherman morphs into her characters, the
clowns here seamlessly meld into their backgrounds. Spectacular
canvases on which to paint complex images, they are full
of delectable color, pattern and dizzying space. The razzle-dazzle
of props, such as glistening cherry vinyl mouths and translucent
lemon balloon sculptures, polychromatic wigs and exquisite
brocade and satin costumes all blend into fabricated, digitally
created backgrounds of lollipop colors and psychedelic patterns.
Clowns are potent symbols of the human condition, so much
so that they automatically invite skepticism. Sherman's
clowns, however, go beyond the obvious; rather than hackneyed
metaphors of the tortured soul, they are emblematic of the
false face. Like politicians, they are masters of the artful
spin, with deceptive smiles, cunning and vaguely sinister
expressions. In one image, a luxuriously flower-embroidered
jacket such as what an English dandy might wear is combined
with a silver spangled bowler hat reminiscent of the type
Joel Gray¹s emcee wore in the film, Cabaret.
Twisted several times around her waist and up around her
shoulder is a belt with a black and white pattern of piano
keys on it. It bears more than a passing resemblance to
a gun belt. In her white-gloved hand, she holds a bottle
of what could be pink lemonade or a molotov cocktail, about
to be thrown. The wide red-painted smile is belied by the
dispassionate and menacing look in her eyes, focused intently
on the viewer. This clown poses an overt threat. Perverse,
scary and subversive, it is hardly a delightful image intended
to distill the essence of childhood wonder.
One expects, in clown images, to see the stereotypical eyes
of the world-weary Pagliaci that expose the seared heart
of the clown within us all, but Sherman's eyes are opaque
and expressionless, baring nothing as they stare back at
the viewer. Menace lurks behind the façades, but
no clues are given as to what it might be.
Between the eyes
and the fanciful costumes rife with symbols that imply more
than their face value, the viewer is braked from imposing
pat interpretations on the work without investigation of
its hidden meaning. Sherman thus questions the veracity
of perception by invalidating pre-conceived notions of what
we think we see and know.
Concurrently, Sherman's very early works, created during
and just after her college years, are on exhibit at the
Montclair Art Museum.
at The Museum Of Sex
and emerging artists working in various media from video,
painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and furniture
design, Get Off humorously portrays all types of sexual
pleasure; from autoeroticism to copulation and various forms
Standouts include Lisa Dilillo's Engorge, Gobble and Gulp
(1994), a video of a talking vagina that addresses women's
sexual appetites. From munching carrots to smoking a cigarette,
this "pussy" is not deterred by societal conventions.
Laurel Nakadate and Dora Malech's video Blue Ribbon Fun:
A Love Story (2003) offers a sexy-girly take on lesbian
love. The boundaries between a very close friendship and
gay lovers is blurred in the two girls' antics; peeing in
public, spitting, playfully licking the ears of their pet
dog and rabbit, showing their breasts, chewing gum and blowing
bubbles while holding hands and prancing around to the accompaniment
of music by Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke and other classic oldies.
Michael Shmelling and Matthew Salacuse's black and white
photographs capture the raging excitement of a strip show
featuring buxom black women and well endowed black men,
along with the orgiastic pleasures of sex in a public space.
Jane Dickson's (1980) monoprints poke fun at the male obsession
with his own penis in humorously titled works such as Where¹d
It Go?, Kissing The Big Cock and Dr. Freud. Her works, made
with oilstick on sandpaper on emery cloth, capture an erotic
world of fire and heat in shadowy nude figures that glow
with red and gold light against a black background.
The exhibition also features a collection of advertising
images; cartoons, drawings and posters curated by art historian
Kirby Gookin. These include works by Vito Acconci, Lynda
Benglis and Jeff Koons.
Concurrent with this contemporary look at changing sexual
attitudes in Western society, the museum is also showing
also a comprehensive selection of works from China on the
second floor, titled Sex Among The Lotus, curated by John
E. Vollmer. This show takes a more scholarly look at sexual
practices in China over the past two millennia, utilizing
a range of texts and items that include pillowbooks, photographs,
sculpture, paintings, cloissone enameled boxes, engraved
opium containers, miniature vases, sexual toys, literary
texts, and embroidered silk and satin shoes.
The exhibition is not laid out chronologically but instead
moves back and forth in time, according to theme. For example,
models of penises made from jade, painted earthenware and
rock crystal date as far back as the 10th century, while
later in the exhibition we see an 18th -19th century soapstone
dildo, a late 19th - early 20th century carved wood dildo
and a wood and gold cock ring in a tin box circa 1900.
Elsewhere in the exhibition, small statuettes made in cast
bronze dating from the 19th century, of Jade Maidens who
instructed mortal men in the art of sexual pleasure, are
placed ahead of 18th century ivory figurines of nude women
that were made for men's viewing pleasure.
Photographs of prostitutes and brothel scenes from the late
19th century appear the 19th century photographs of women
and girls sewing; a bridal couple and boys in school that
are placed alongside a 19th century pillowbook depicts various
sexual positions, while a 19th century erotic album in ink
and color on paper, with goldleaf, follows this work.
One of the earliest illustrated guides to healthy sex, Xing
ming guizhi or Directions for Endowment and Vitality (1615),
shows diagrams of an anatomical chart. Next to it is a Scholar's
Rock, the hollows and projections of which denote physical
and cosmic realities, as well as symbolizing worlds within
worlds and the yin and yang.
Footbinding as a social norm and sexual fetish is given
prominence in the exhibition. A mummified frostbitten bound
foot from 1874, the Mutter foot, is on display alongside
samples of footbinding cloth, photographs of bound feet,
an instruction manual for footbinding, a documentary and
various styles of shoes.
Posters from the 1920s and 1930s show a strong Western influence
and Reagan Louie's Couple; Hong Kong 2000 offers an up-close
view of present sexual mores, but still leaves the viewer
puzzled because the pair's backs are to the viewer, thus
rendering their actions somewhat ambiguous.
Editor's Note: The Museum of Sex is located at 233 Fifth
Ave. @ 27th Street, New York, NY 10016. www.museumofsex.com
Richter, at David Zwirner
Daniel Richter's first solo exhibition in New York uses
news media images as a launching pad for many of his works.
Populated by costumed characters and animals set against
urban and pastoral backdrops, many of these large scale
works have a theatrical, carnivaleque theme and reflect
excitement, drama, fear and angst. Photographs of demonstrations,
protests and political conflict serve as inspiration here.
In Ebb (2004) Richter's early penchant for abstraction is
still evident in the amorphous ghostly figures. Outlined
in fluorescent yellow and pink, these fleeing cyber ghosts,
with their splashes and drips of paint, harken back to the
action painting of Jackson Pollock.
Urban angst, nervous energy, paranoia and fear characterize
another piece in the show, Tuwenig (2004). In this painting,
a ghostly figure of a woman in a cabaret costume stands
within the ring of a pack of wolfish black dogs, set against
a night-black forest with a post-nuclear violet sky in the
background. Whether the dogs have surrounded her threateningly
or whether she wields control over them is unclear. In Erben
von Burden (2004), the victorious female hunter (in a super-hero
costume) appears to be hanging her animal trophies on blood
stained walls, while the shadow of a man seemingly erased
on the wall stares back through the blood.
The apocalyptic extremes of good and evil, life and death,
as propounded by the color field artists Newman and Rothko,
is echoed in Richter's White Horse Pink Flag (2004).
In this painting, a white and black horse battle against
a black night. In between the two rearing horses is a pink
flag. It appears that the white horse will win the battle
with the black horse, since it dominates the picture plane.
In these surreal, carnivalesque scenes in which drama and
theatricality take on menacing traits, Richter taps into
a nihilist zeitgeist that seems to be slowly creeping into
our everyday public discourse.
Ed Note: David Zwirner Gallery is located at
525 W 19th Street, New York, NY 10011.
Zhuravel, at Ukrainian Institute of America
with the earth and its mysterious phenomena is pivotal to
Mykola Zhuravel's aesthetics, as articulated in his numerous
paintings, drawings, photographic documentation and video
work in this show. The spherical form of this planet, as
well as occurrences within its natural order, from the beneficent
bees to the elusive fog, become conceptual points of departure
for this artist from the post-Soviet era Republic of Ukraine.
His works, layered in rich interpretations, are visual and
symbolic constructs that reflect the overlapping of conventional
modes of expression, such as paintings, with the photographic
and electronic media.
Zhuravel's poetic examination, Conservation of the Mist,
documents the ephemeral mist as it hovers on the banks of
the Psel River, in the village of Mogritsa, Ukraine. Physically
collecting the misty fog in glass jars at 4 a.m., on an
unspecified morning in 2002, the artist isolates the enigma
of fog itself, converting its eminent mystery into mundane
droplets of water condensed on the interior of the jars.
Extracted from its surroundings, the mist is lost, raising
issues related to the fragile nature of life, and of knowledge,
itself. In capturing the illusory landscape through the
distortion of fog, the dozen photographs that comprise this
work juxtapose moments of clarity with moments of haze,
effectively reflecting the fleeting nature of time. In some
of the images, the fog forms a backdrop to the activities
of the artist as he collects the mist in jars; in others,
he is immersed in fog, his silhouette barely discernible
in the blur. The combination of the sharp and the unfocused
images parallels the duality between fact and fiction, reason
and imagination, the apparent and the implied.
Another series in the show, titled Apiary Project, centers
on the activity of humans who cultivate and exploit bees.
Zhuravel, who comes from a family of beekeepers, dedicated
this series of paintings and sculptural objects to the inventor
of the contemporary beehive, the Ukrainian Petro Prokopovich.
Utilizing shades of pale and golden yellow, the color of
honey, as its core palette, the surface of these paintings
is incised with the rhythms of flight and the geometry of
hives. Linear motifs, such as rectangular and circular icons
that represent swarms of bees, hives, people and habitats,
enhanced by the surrounding delicate color, enliven the
pictorial plane. The sculptural work from this series, sliced
in places to show cross-sections of its interior, concentrates
on architectural models of beehives, an imaginary collection
of inventive forms, dome-like and visually engaging.
Aggressive Beekeeping, depicts the destruction of beehives
through the video and photographic recording of a performance
by the same name, which was staged in Kiev, Ukraine in 2002.
Documenting the inherent violence to beekeeping methods
used by people in the past in order to extract the sweet
rewards of nature, the work implies an inevitable hostility
in a world dominated (and not particularly well managed)
by humans. The image of the white beehive burning into a
charred heap call to mind ominous images gleaned from contemporary
world events that look awfully similar to the bees' fate.
Addict, at A New York Underground Art Fair
by Michael MacInnis
One could argue
the point, as to whether the art world really needs another
art fair right now. Truth be told, probably not. But what
about an "underground" art fair? In the great
food chain of art and commerce, little fish often get tossed
back into the sea.
That's fine if
you're a fish; but artists need to break out of the food
chain, to get noticed, and this is where the notion of an
underground art fair begins to make sense.
Organized by Thierry Alet and a small cadre of supporters
who comprise the non-profit Frére Independent, the
fair brought together some twenty exhibitors in an intimate
setting at New York¹s Four Points Hotel, which is located
at 160 West 25th Street, in Manhattan.
included independent curators, private dealers, arts organizations;
such as The Artist Network, off-beat artists groups; such
as The Museum of Truth and Beauty, film and video from Intersections
Films Presents, and a modest sprinkling of international
participants from Germany and Finland.
The timing of
the fair, during the contemporary art auctions at Christie's,
Sotheby's and Philips early last month (May 13 - 16), helped
bolster the turnout on opening night. To great relief, the
hordes of party-goers that typically overwhelm opening events
in New York did not crash this one. The fair drew a mostly
mainstream crowd of visitors who appeared to have come for
the art (and not the booze). While there weren't many buyers,
people looked, and connections were made.
If the objective of the fair's organizers is to call attention
to the efforts of serious artists, whose work is often overlooked,
then by this measure the inaugural of Pool Art Addict, marks
a promising start.
5/13 Through 5/16.