The Schmutzfink

Farocki's career offers an important touchstone for artists and critics grappling with representations of violence in contemporary art.…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

Issues & Commentary: Truisms and Lies

Jenny Holzer sought to counter the abuse of power; Trump seeks to perpetuate it.…Read more

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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. ...

The Barcelona-born, Rio de Janeiro–based artist Daniel Steegmann Mangrané creates sculptures, installations, films, holograms, and drawings that address ecological issues arising from the intervention of human technology into nature and that frequently focus on the endangered Amazon rain forest. In some works, he engages with the geometric abstraction of Concretism and Neo-Concretism—movements that were key to the evolution of Brazilian art in

the latter half of the twentieth century and that are pertinent to contemporary Latin American art as a whole—though often in ways that relate to his other theme. Organized by Lauren Cornell, Steegmann Mangrané’s Hessel Museum exhibition, “A Transparent Leaf Instead of the Mouth,” gathers fifteen of his pieces from the past nine years. In an interview with Cornell published in a recent monograph on his work, the artist discusses his notion that an exhibition is an “ecosystem” unto itself, with “the ability to physically influence feelings and thoughts.” Toward that end, he aims in the current show for an immersive experience evocative of virtual reality. ...

Most of the photographs in Jack Shainman’s latest exhibition of Malick Sidibé’s work had two dates. The first, which fell largely in the 1960s or ’70s, represented when Sidibé (1936–2016) originally snapped the photographs. The second, in the aughts (usually 2004), indicated when he had the negatives printed for public display. The dates hint at the story of his unlikely career. From the late ’50s through the ’80s, Sidibé ran a popula

r portrait studio in Bamako, Mali, by day and made the rounds of parties, concerts, and dance floors in the young, newly independent capital by night. Studio Malick was a local establishment, but one belonging to a businessman: Sidibé had no pretension to “art.” This changed in the early 1990s, when he was “discovered” by French curator André Magnin, who organized a retrospective of his work at the Fondation Cartier in Paris that was an enormous success. Within a decade, African studio photography became (yet another) established sector in the voracious global art market, and the subject was embraced by academics, mainly those of the postcolonial persuasion. The explosion of interest has made for a mad scramble into commercial archives, with studio hands from across the continent living a second life in the West as artists: Senegal’s Mama Casset, Benin’s Joseph Moïse Agbod...

Counterfactuals are back in fashion. The election of Donald Trump catapulted sales of Philip Roth’s novel The Plot Against America (2004), which describes what might have occurred if Charles Lindbergh, running on his anti-Semitic “America First” platform, had won the presidency in 1940 instead of Roosevelt. Philip K. Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle (1962), an imagining of a world in which the Axis powers had won World War II, has bee

n made into a popular television series, as has Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). The latter is perhaps more dystopian than alternative history, though many people consider Atwood’s Republic of Gilead to be a through-the-looking-glass version of the United States.After I saw the immensely moving retrospective of work by Charles White (1918–1979) at the Art Institute of Chicago, which opens this month at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, another counterfactual came to mind: “What if Charles White had been white?” If he was white, his Works Progress Administration murals (1939–43) would likely have focused on modern industry, rural labor, or the conquest of the frontier, not the struggle of black people for emancipation and respect. The Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America (1943), a mural he made for the historically black Hampton University in Vi...


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