Memories of Underdevelopment

Black Audio Film Collective trapped the howling voices of empire in a sort of cinematic seashell.…Read more

History Wars

Australian reformers often speak of the silence that has muffled so much of the country’s history. Aboriginal artists are speaking up to break it.…Read more

The Plasticity of Care

In her sculpture, writing, and sound art, Park McArthur reveals the intimacies that undergird functional infrastructures…Read more

From the Archives: An Interview with Roger Brown

Roger Brown’s paintings feature subjects drawn from the everyday environment, simplified and stylized form, silhouetted figures, indirect lighting, and a disturbing, even threatening narrative content. …Read more

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Justine Kurland’s monograph Highway Kind (2016) includes a short fictional piece by Lynne Tillman titled “Still Moving,” a collection of scenes that appear to be set in a single working-class town. Toward the beginning, one of Tillman’s characters finds herself struck with a moment of awe in an otherwise bleak world: “Estranged mountains bulged under the sky, the big sky, the endless sky. Anyway, no one could see an end to it, which reassu

red her, since so much seemed to be coming to an end. It felt that way.” This passage echoed in my head as I viewed “Airless Spaces,” an intimate presentation of Kurland’s new photographs alongside paintings by her late father, Bruce Kurland (1938–2013). The former were a significant departure from the photographer’s characteristic work: lush, staged color pictures in which subjects such as runaway girls and all-female communes convey themes of escapism and fugitivity and the feeling that the photographer might herself have been engaged in a form of running, as she crisscrossed the country to pursue these projects for almost two decades. Having given up the road-trip lifestyle in 2015 so that her son could have a more stable life, Kurland seems to be confronting the question of where she has been running to or, perhaps, where she was running from....

In 1976, representatives from the Philippines government and the Moro National Liberation Front, a splinter group of the Muslim Independence Movement, signed a peace accord in the Libyan capital. The resulting Tripoli Agreement established an autonomous Muslim region in Muslim-majority areas of Mindanao, or the southern Philippines. Researcher Renan Laruan’s group show at the Sharjah Art Foundation did not dwell on subjects like the degradations

suffered by Muslim Filipinos (Moros) during dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s brutal regime (1965–86) or the Moros’ four-century history of anticolonial resistance to the Spanish, Americans, and Japanese. Rather, the exhibition brought together work by contemporary artists, research collectives, and ethnographers to present slices of Moro culture. The show did not give any social or historical context, and thus seemed geared primarily toward the United Arab Emirates’ large population of Filipinos, who make up an estimated 20 percent of the population in Sharjah’s neighbor Dubai. It also lacked thematic coherence and, really, any clear premise. But this reluctance to explain and to serve difference up for consumption felt like a return to the solidaristic South-South spirit of the 1955 Bandung Conference, a meeting of (largely newly independent) African and Asian nations. ...

Jack Smith is known almost entirely for his playfully risqué film Flaming Creatures (1963); as noted in the pamphlet accompanying Artists Space’s exhibition “Art Crust of Spiritual Oasis,” the underground classic informed how Susan Sontag defined camp in her landmark essay “Notes on Camp” (1964). Suffice it to say, there was lots of that quality on display in the show, which presented the late artist’s work from the 1970s and ’80s—t

hough “work” is something of a misnomer, since most of what Smith produced during this time was strategically ephemeral performance events of which only documentation remains. Camp is kitsch glamour and Hollywood B movies; an emphasis on style over substance; exaggeration and absurdity; gender-bending characters; gay and drag; and porn that’s so bad it’s good. While Sontag defined camp as “depoliticized,” it was anything but for Smith. Rather, it was an effective tool against the increasingly dominant real estate and art markets. He railed tirelessly against both, and proved something of a soothsayer for contemporary times in New York. ...

Paris-born midcareer artist Dove Allouche’s abstract imagery seems utterly autonomous: tied to no philosophical system, no social cause, no psychological model, no aesthetic doctrine. His artwork is simply there, though how it came to be there, and to have its particular nature, is often fascinating—the result of a concatenation of offbeat subjects, materials, and processes.In the past, Allouche—who also shows with Peter Freeman, Inc., in New

York and in 2013 had an exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris—has made works alluding to stalagmites and stalactites, oceanic hydrothermal vents, Venezuela’s Angel Falls, World War I battlefields, sunspots and solar flares, Paris sewers, and forest fires in Portugal. To do so, he has subjected substances including lampblack, ethanol, metallic powders, zinc, and lavender oil to obscure, frequently antiquated and time-consuming techniques: heliogravure, ambrotype, physautotype, chalcography. In many cases, the works are an amalgam of photography, drawing, and printmaking....


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Ursula von Rydingsvard, John Akomfrah, Park McArthur, Harun Farocki