"There is always a cup of sea to sail in" is the theme of the 29th São Paulo Biennial, a line that lead curators Moacir dos Anjos and Agnaldo Farias excerpted from Brazilian poet Jorge de Lima. An accompanying guidebook is conceived as a nautical chart, and visitors are encouraged to navigate various paths through the Ciccillo Matarazzo pavilion's four floors and 100,000 square meandering feet, and works by over 150 participants. The curators have installed artist-designed "way stations," (terreiros
) throughout the exhibition as sites for rest, reflection, and debate. The Lima citation suggests that utopian aspirations lie at the heart of contemporary artistic practice; yet the inseparability of art and socio-political life is a more pervasive conceptual frame in this iteration of the Biennial. Read More
The Whitney Museum's show of contemporary work, "Off the Wall," opened last week, the most recent in a slew of institutional attempts to preserve and display performance. Featuring 30 performative actions of work authored from 1946 to the present, curator Chrissie Iles' survey focused on performance-based works that marshal the body as an artistic medium or tool, employing the museum's architecture as a stage, and disorienting that site in the process. The show extends issues raised by Marina Abramović's "The Artist Is Present" at MoMA. Both exhibitions foreground the ways the performer manifests in the exhibition space, and how their presence mediates the viewer's experience.
As the foremost practitioner of a type of de-materialized institutional critique, Michael Asher is known to call aesthetic spaces into question by manipulating predetermined elements found just behind (and sometimes including) their white walls. For the 2010 Whitney Biennial, Asher's untitled, altered readymade is an extension of the museum's public hours, keeping it open around the clock. Read More