Trans-China: Gender, Media, and Nation at the Venice Biennale

The Taiwan pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale not only far outpaces its national competitors (mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao), it also offers one of the liveliest viewing experiences in the entire global event. …Read more

Songs in the Garden: Performance at the 58th Venice Biennale

The performances lent the affair an experimental energy, often pushing ideas around gender, nationality, representation, and language further than works in other mediums on view in the Central Pavilion and the Arsenale did.…Read more

Small Talk: Art and the Weather at the 58th Venice Biennale

The landscape has tended to be a somewhat innocuous subject for the last few centuries. Now a more charged genre, it is still presented in mostly polite ways at the Biennale.…Read more

Alternate Timeline

The sight of artists using their hands and tools to make works of art through Facebook’s Artist in Residence program reminds employees that they are creating something too. But there’s nothing like it in the space it has built for its users. If Facebook is an engineer of social interactions, and it recognizes the importance of art and creativity in social space, then why doesn’t it incorporate that insight into the design of its product?…Read more

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The titular work in Chicago native Maia Cruz Palileo’s first hometown exhibition, “All the While I Thought You Had Received This,” was one of several paintings in the show depicting a not-quite-empty room thick with ominous energy. Roughly worked layers of scummy yellow oil paint form the long tables of a classroom, a ghostly white dunce cap perched on one of them. Three figures lurking in the back of the room are partly obscured by suspended

green screens, their upper bodies represented on the surfaces as shadowy silhouettes that do not quite match up with their lower bodies. The painting has the quality of a nightmare: the viewer senses that something bad has happened here, but the specifics remain out of reach. The works in the exhibition evolved out of research into colonial imagery from the Philippines that Palileo, inspired by her Filipino family’s history, conducted. At the Newberry Library in Chicago, she studied a collection of photographs taken by nineteenth-century American colonialist Dean C. Worcester, a fierce opponent of Philippine independence, who produced thousands of dehumanizing images portraying Filipino subjects as if they were zoological specimens. For Palileo, these photographs, produced in the service of white supremacist and colonialist narratives, suggested a challenge: can an oppressive visual ar...

During his lifetime, self-taught Miami painter Purvis Young (1943–2010) was something of a legend in his city and gradually gained national prominence in the realm of “outsider art.” Extraordinarily prolific, he created sprawling murals in Miami’s historically black Overtown neighborhood, where he lived, in addition to making countless paintings in his studio, usually on found wood panels. His work generally consisted of figurative compositi

ons that explored social issues and demonstrated a distinctive artistic style defined by squiggly brushstrokes and bold color combinations. Young, a high school dropout, began to paint while incarcerated in his teens for breaking and entering. From early on, his work conveyed a quest for freedom and alluded to his experiences as a black artist navigating a violent, segregated city and a disinterested, if not hostile, art world. Since Young’s death, his reputation has grown significantly. His work—like that of a number of self-taught African American artists from the South, including Thornton Dial, Bessie Harvey, and Lonnie Holley—has lately transcended the outsider genre and been embraced by the art world. The recent exhibitions at James Fuentes and Salon 94 offered viewers a chance to survey Young’s achievements. (A retrospective of his work on view at the Rubell Family Collecti...

The title of Jonathan Horowitz’s show at Sadie Coles, “Pre-Fall ’17,” alluded simultaneously to the language of fashion marketing and to Harvey Weinstein’s downfall after dozens of women publicly accused him of sexual abuse in October 2017. Horowitz, who was trained in philosophy, often uses witty juxtapositions of appropriated imagery to emphasize the mutual interdependence of politics, entertainment, and consumerism. The works in this ex

hibition (all 2019) highlighted the similarities between the branding of commodities and of political ideologies, implying an insidious, even criminal, coziness. The show’s highlight was the video Transfer of Power (Gucci Soul), a grid of four simultaneous clips that have Gucci as a common denominator. In one, presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway sports a military-style Gucci coat at Donald Trump’s inauguration; another shows the fashion show where Conway’s coat debuted, which took place at London’s Westminster Abbey—the site of royal coronations for nearly a millennium—and featured almost all white models. A third clip is from Gucci’s pre-fall ’17 campaign video, which was inspired by American and British soul movements of the 1960s and cast with only black models, and the final sequence is from Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s 2018 music video for “Apeshit,” in which the cou...

In “The Conditions,” the subject of Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s exquisite photographic portraits was often the camera itself—and portraiture in general. Sepuya became known in the early aughts for relatively straightforward shots of friends, lovers, and acquaintances that were perhaps most notable for their indexing of a particular queer, creative subculture in New York. But while Sepuya was in graduate school, between 2014 and 2016, his practice tu

rned strikingly self-reflexive, becoming as much about the context and space of the photograph—“the conditions,” to borrow this exhibition’s title—as the photograph itself as a “finished work.”On paper, this sounds as if the artist might be too fussily meta for his own good, recycling textbook postmodernist theories about photography, such as ideas concerning the construction of meaning, the importance of the framing of a work to the work itself (Derrida’s parergon and ergon). That Sepuya incorporated his camera into nearly every image in the show isn’t necessarily interesting in and of itself. What makes the work exceptional is how he implicates studio portraiture in a sometimes-graphic portrayal of queer sexuality that, in his hands, seems so contemporary and yet so rooted in the history of painting and sculpture, a history intertwined with that of the church. Indeed,...


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Ilana Harris-Babou, David Lebe, Zilia Sánchez, Brancusi, art at Facebook