NEWS

Picturing Prison at Anthology Film Archives

The series “Prison Images” at Anthology Film Archives grapples with the invisibility of prisoners, and the challenges of adequately representing incarceration.…Read more
NEWS

Black Ghosts: Basquiat’s “Defacement” at the Guggenheim

There is no way the show would have been possible without Black Lives Matter, and the discussions around state violence and blackness that the movement mainstreamed.…Read more
MAGAZINES

Open Score

Suzanne Lacy's retrospective highlights how the performance artist has extended her feminist analyses to political issues of labor, climate change, religious difference, and global capitalism.…Read more
MAGAZINES

Moving Target

Gretchen Bender likely knew better than anyone that her work would be mostly forgotten with time. Erasure was not just her fate, but her subject. …Read more

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Reviews

“A Tale of Today: Yinka Shonibare CBE” inaugurates the Driehaus Museum’s exhibition series spotlighting the work of contemporary artists of color, an exciting new direction for this Gilded Age mansion–turned–museum, whose programming has focused largely on art and design from the home’s original era. Hardly a neutral backdrop, the space dazzles with ornate woodwork and marble and stained-glass fixtures, while the decor, exemplifying the

nineteenth-century Aesthetic movement, is a mishmash of Egyptian, Italian, English, and Moroccan influences. This lavish hybrid environment is an optimal setting for London-based, British-Nigerian Shonibare’s work. Shonibare is best known for installations featuring headless mannequins in extravagant outfits that re-create eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European fashions using African wax print fabrics. A proto-postmodern commodity, such textiles were first made by the Dutch in the nineteenth century and have roots in Indonesia. Dutch traders failed to sell their cheaper, machine-made versions of traditional Indonesian batiks there, but found a receptive market for the fabrics in West Africa. The designs gradually changed to suit African consumers, and today wax prints are regarded as vital to local identity and culture....

In his classic 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell argued that jargon, hackneyed phrasing, and inflated diction plagued modern language and were favorable to insincerity and thus to political speech. When concealing one’s aims, he wrote, one turns to such linguistic vices like “a cuttlefish spurting out ink.” Philippe Parreno made this squidlike mollusk—which protects itself not only by emitting ink but also by

changing the color and texture of its skin—the star of Anywhen (2016), a video he created in collaboration with cinematographer Darius Khondji as the centerpiece of his 2016 installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. The installation was remarkably complex: sounds, images, and three-dimensional components continually reconfigured themselves according to a computer program that incorporated data from a live yeast colony whose movements were influenced by environmental conditions outside. Parreno’s recent show at Gladstone featured a newly edited version of the video, Anywhen in a Time Colored Space (2019). The exhibition was somewhat simpler than the one at Tate Modern and gave greater emphasis to the video, clarifying the function of Parreno’s marine protagonist as both an emblem of environmentally responsive art and an expression of anxieties akin to Orwell’s. ...

Most of the works in this poignant exhibition of assemblage-style paintings by Derek Jarman, “Shadow Is the Queen of Colour,” comprised canvases on which objects such as crucifixes, a whip, and bibles were slathered in tar. Jarman began this body of work in 1989, three years after he learned he was HIV-positive. The paintings were in part a howl against the homophobia of the church, the media, and Margaret Thatcher’s government, which introduc

ed a law prohibiting the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools in 1988. Jarman, best known as an experimental filmmaker whose work celebrated queerness, was one of few figures in Britain to publicly acknowledge his diagnosis and denounce the stigmatization of the illness.Jarman died in 1994 of AIDS-related complications. The last four years of his life were extraordinarily productive, involving a rich cross-pollination across disciplines. Around the time of his diagnosis, he bought a tar-painted fisherman’s cottage on the bleak coast of Kent, in the shadow of the Dungeness nuclear power plant, and set about cultivating a wild, borderless garden in the inhospitable stony landscape around the house. He created the paintings during a period in which he tended this garden; documented its flora in his diaries, which were published as Modern Nature (1991); erected lyrical sculptures fr...

For the past several years, Valentina Liernur’s primary points of reference have been the global fashion industry and the local vernacular of her native Buenos Aires. Her exhibitions have, for instance, featured furiously scribbled black Sharpie drawings copied from fashion ads and canvases covered in bleached, ripped, and safety-pinned denim, and been accompanied by press releases quoting lyrics to songs by the Buenos Aires rolinga (Rolling Stone

s–influenced) band Ratones Paranoicos or poems by Buenos Aires artist-poet Fernanda Laguna. In “Scarlata,” her recent show at Ruth Benzacar (all works 2019), she offered a series of paintings that is as fluent in the visual codes of international style as it is rooted in the atmosphere of Argentina’s capital. Fifteen large paintings rendered in various shades of red lined the walls of the gallery. Most were portraits of women—fashion models, a comic book heroine, children, café dwellers, women waiting for the subway, and Liernur herself—in settings around Buenos Aires. The intense color palettes—burgundy, magenta, cherry, maroon—and frenetic brushwork give the portraits a forcefulness that contrasts with their subject matter, the resulting works conveying both banality and urgency. Interspersed among the portraits were hazy abstract monochromes sliced with zippers, sugge...

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