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This collection of essays came together as I asked perhaps a simple question. How do we recognize, honor, protect, and cultivate mentorship in contemporary art? This is an urgent question for all of us that wont fit in history books; we who make and write in a language that is not our own. Political, social, cultural, epistemological, systemic, violence has happened, is happening. The ground is shaking. Im not unique in this. Were surrounded by a world full of artists navigating this relation.
Kevin Beasley has gained a reputation for his playful sculptures and activated sound-installations where everyday objects and dismissed voices are turned into signifiers to reflect on culture, politics, and history. A view of a landscape is a project that started in graduate school, and now, after many productive years, it is brought to the public at the Whitney Museum. Separated into three rooms—a running cotton gin motor encapsulated, an immersive sound-room dedicated to its forgotten voice, and three sculptural reliefs in the hallway that narrate Beasley’s journey—the exhibition becomes an occasion to reflect on the artist’s unique practice and his deep concerns: political, historic, and ever-so personal.
Jane Benson stubbornly magnified the fake to draw attention to the shaken notion of the real. Happy Faux Flora (2002)which would become one of the young artists most iconic interventionswas as captivating and contemplative as it was unsettling.
What Im most engaged with is the process of my work; meeting new people, seeing if we can be open to each other, losing control then regaining control, and making an image somehow from the different situations Im placed in.
Mark Dion is an artist with a many layered practice. Rooted in deeply personal interests, it begins in the back rooms of museums and collections, grows through historic research and scientific collaboration, and comes to being with mesmerizing drawings and obsessive taxonomy.
Yasi Alipour speaks with Sanford Biggers about his exhibitions, Codeswitch and Soft Truths, the history and significance of quilts, and the mythological, biblical, and cinematic references in his works.
Yasi Alipour speaks with Allison Janae Hamilton about her performance work, her family legacies, and her affection for swamp country as the artist prepares for her debut solo exhibition at Marianne Boesky Gallery.
Artist and activist Gregg Bordowitz speaks with Yasi Alipour about his multi-faceted practice, from political activism and protest to writing and lecture-performances.
New Museums Hans Haacke: All Connected finally brings to New York a comprehensive retrospective of the nearly six decades of the artists defiant practice. Haacke has played such a pivotal role in giving way to what we may now call political art that it is hard to believe it has taken so long. The following is a generational conversation that only became possible through his generosity.
Craig Kalpakjian sits with Yasi Alipour for a discussion around politics, systems, student protests, graveyard maps, and Jacques Tati’s Playtime, and much more.
“Thus we begin to catch a glimpse of the paradox of freedom; there is freedom only in a situation and there is a situation only through freedom,” said Sartre, and such is the angst that informs the work of Iran’s most celebrated artist, Shirin Neshat.
The Jewish Museum’s Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film is a simple exhibition aiming to battle an enormous subject. The artists exhibited and the tale of their failed revolution may be well known, but through its telling and retelling its narrative has become part of a simplified history. This exhibition succeeds in representing this material in a way that allows for a reconsideration of these artists and their environment, and it provides a timely opportunity to meditate on the ever-pressing subject of art, war and politics.
Nicky Nodjoumi’s exhibition, You and Me, fills two floors of the Ta ymour Grah ne Gallery. The show is made up of his familiar large paintings and a group of sketches that, taken together, represent a new iteration of old thoughts.
Deep within the labyrinthine halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, tucked within a makeshift darkroom, Phil Collins’s how to make a refugee (1990) asks hurried visitors to pause.
Months of political unrest and now the question of art—its role, responsibilities, and possibilities—weighs on New York. Addressing both currents, the Met Breuer houses Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms, the first major retrospective of the artist in the United States.
In the book Thinking: The Ruin (2010) the contemporary Lebanese writer Jalal Toufic offers a paradoxical definition of ruins as places haunted by the living who inhabit them. It is through this notion of ruins that he approaches his own city, Beirut, and the trauma of civil war.
After twenty years of meditating on social psyches, Shimon Attie has brought the Israel/Palestine conflict to Jack Shainman Gallery. Celebrated for his experimental approach, which blurs the line between installation and photography, Attie has spent his career moving from one city to the next to explore the trauma and history of the marginalized and to reflect on social memory and the construction of identity.
But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise... fills the fourth and fifth tower levels of the Guggenheim with seductive works on paper, elaborate installations, large-scale sculptures, and magnifying videos.
The familiar image of Diane Arbus’s iconic twins greet viewers by the entrance. Yet something is immediately amissit is not a photograph but a meticulously enlarged replica of the image drawn in pencil. Daniel Davidson’s Mirror (Diane Arbus) (2015) gives the first hint at the challenges of this exhibit. Three rooms of the gallery have been packed with a wide range of work, from text-based pieces to traditional oil paintings. Although not a single photograph is on display, each artwork addresses an old concern: “How has photography influenced our perception?”
The widely celebrated Egyptian artist Wael Shawky has finally received the attention he well deserves in America. The Cabaret Crusades, the artists most ambitious, layered, and successful work to date, is currently on view at MoMA PS1.
Tehran is a paradox. The airplane begins its descent and the flight attendant announces, “Alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited and Islamic attire is mandatory.” Somewhere in the sky of Tehran, the silent protest of normality ends; wearing jeans and t-shirts, women give in, get up, and put their hijab on. “Welcome to the Imam Khomeini Airport.” You are officially in Iran.
Fussthe spiritual symbolist among the non-conventional photographersreturns to New York with λόγος, an exhibition of new works exploring old thoughts. He continues to mine the space between the rational and the spiritual through the most unlikely medium: excluded, modern, mechanical, cynical, nihilist, self-negating photography.
A documentation of Yoko Ono performing her seminal 1964 Cut Piece lies at the center of Please Touch, Mana Contemporary’s expansive two-part exhibition on femininity, bodies, and consent. In the piece, Ono puts her body on the line, sitting solemnly on a stage, and inviting the viewers to participate in the performance by cutting off pieces of her clothing. As one observes the video, the tension grows: With each cut, the potential for violence grows. The audience members approach her with sharp scissors. With each piece of clothing taken, less and less stands between them and the artist’s skin.
Spending time with Dense Lightness, Ivan Forde’s first solo-exhibition with Baxter Camera Club of New York, is to take a journey through large-scale works on paper and fabric that echo the ancient myth of Gilgamesh.
To reach Infinite Possibility, the viewer passes the Guggenheims permanent collection, and all of its iconic works that shape the common understanding of art history.
Piazza Universale/Social Stages is the first major exhibition of the Italian artist Marinella Senatore, whose work deals deep with themes important to the mission of the Queens Museum, namely: self-examination, community orientation, and political responsibility.
Hiwa K’s experimental art meditates on everyday life of his hometown, Sulaymaniya, a Kurdish city that is stuck by the border of Iran and Iraq—historically burdened by the turmoil of two oppressive nation-states yet robbed of its own nationhood.
As inspiration, Ill focus on three subjects that you have been mentioning in the past years: music, revolution, and failure. Starting with music, I want to hear your thoughts on Nina Simones Flo Me La (1960). You have a painting from 20172018 that carries the same title. The three utterances Flo-Me-La become the whole lyrics for Nina Simone.
I entered Dorothea Rockburnes studio; I am an artist sitting in front of an artist I admire. I had never met her before. Yet, shes always been a mentor, even as I only knew her through her work.
The following narrative is made of conversation fragments stitched togetheran attempt to capture a day. This is how conversations often happen: hours pass, we talk about everything and nothing, our voices move in and out of focus. It was a Thursday, like many others. I start my day teaching a six-hour class. Rirkrit Tiravanija and Tomas Vu, collaborators and co-conspirators, began this conversation over a game of golf. Me and my voice recorder entered the scene long after the game ended. It took a few train rides and an uber to find the two deep in Long Island.
Behind all the news headlines, life in Iran is becoming increasingly difficult to grasp.
On yet another miserably freezing Monday evening, I searched between the identical buildings of New Yorks most iconic university, NYU, to find the department that was designated to observe, study, and understand my home regionthe unsolvable knot of the worldthe Middle East.
It was a simple formal email, received among hundreds more like it, sent to thousands like me: Paris Photo and Aperture Foundation are pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 edition of the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards. The right dose of curiosity and boredom made me continue reading. But only upon seeing the title of the award-winner, Hidden Islam, did I become fully alert.