Swedish-born, Berlin-based artist Karl Holmqvist uses a wide range of formats—poetry readings, installation and sculpture—to bring out the primal qualities of language. In his hands, news articles, conversation snippets, and pop lyrics form a textual mesh and blend into a multiplicity of private indictments, incitements, and convictions, decoding and recoding the experiential and communicative possibilities of reading, listening and seeing.
Although "Words Are People," recently on view at Alex Zachary Peter Currie, was Holmqvist's first solo show in New York, his influence can be seen on the investigative, identity-based practices of multidisciplinary performance artists like K8 Hardy (who is name-checked, among others, in a text work installed in the gallery's courtyard) and Ei Arakawa (with whom Holmqvist has collaborated), and filmmaker Ryan Trecartin, whose brash mellifluous scripts, like Holmqvist's poems, repeat and rearrange expressions and utterances to unsettle their original meanings. Read More
"I am a person who really had to experience what it would be like to be in jail," Chris Kraus muses out loud in character, in her 1986 film Foolproof Illusion. Kneeling outside on a winter day, she wears a black bra, studded belt and fingerless gloves, pencil skirt and sheer black pantyhose while patting handfuls of snow into a strange, two-pronged phallic sculpture. Shaking her wig of enormous blond curls, she sniffs, "But when I got there I was very unhappy because nobody would talk to me. Now, if Artaud had been in jail, he would have been a hero in steel pantyhose. But I was insignificant."
Kraus has a mind-bending talent for theorizing and performing femininity in the same monologue. The Los Angeles-based author and Semiotext(e) editor spent years directing independent films after training with the innovators of avant-garde theater in 1970s New York, a lineage that includes actress and theater director Ruth Maleczech and filmmakers Barbara Rubin and Marie Menken.
Describing the work of Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard, it's difficult to avoid a manic, rambling inventory of the materials and images used in his paintings and installations, which, in the case of "The Synthetic Slut: A Novel," currently on view at Greene Naftali, range from huge painted enlargements of 70s nightclub snapshots and nature photos of the duck-billed platypus, to a rack of rumpled Maison Martin Margiela suits and half-human marble figures caked in impasto and littered with abject photographs from the Serbian War and beefcake portraits of the artist. As his assistant for the past two years, I've helped him turn out the big brightly-colored canvases, cute animals, and piles of pricey stuff (furs, medical waste), trimmed with the gorey imagery and unsettling yarns that have been Bjarne's trademark since the 1990s, when his career in Europe took off with an early solo exhibition at the Stediljk Museum, Amsterdam. That also makes me something of a trimming, in Melgaard's aggressive interpretation of the relationship between artist, artwork, and art apparatus.
2012, aluminum, wood, sublimation print on polyester and concrete, 71 3/4 by 122 1/2 by 135 inches overall. Courtesy Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New Yor