And just like that…..it’s 2015. The New Year seemed to sneak up on us at ETTD as 2014 was busy and productive. When you look back on 2014, what stands out the most? Political and social upheaval were ever-present and at times seemed to cast a shadow over the art world. The story of Elliot Rodger, the young college student whose claim to fame were some YouTube videos, his BMW and a shooting rampage where he sought revenge for those who bullied him and ‘got all the pretty girls’ stands out. The unfortunate heroin overdose of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman made a splash in early 2014, while the suicide of Robin Williams put a chill back in the air that had started to thaw. Other events that eclipsed the art world were the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island where in each instance, the police who killed the victim weren’t charged in either case. Mass protests resulted across the country. In late 2014 the podcast sponsored by This American Life on NPR called SERIAL took the world by storm. In it, radio journalist Sarah Koenig presents the story of Adnan Syed who is serving a life in prison sentence for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. The podcast now holds the record of being the most downloaded (and maybe debated) podcast of all time. Also in the mix, although less political is SEEN 33 Days in the Art World, part of New York Magazine and a spin-off of VULTURE. Spearheaded by Senior Art Critic for NYMag, Jerry Saltz, the magazine recruited art writers who furiously cranked out art world news. Having been one of the chosen few, I happily contributed 4 articles to SEEN and can say that in retrospect the energy was old school, fast paced, slick rick, cool daddy-o, blow man blow! For art journalism, it had the pace of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
The site was a huge success attracting thousands of readers from all over the globe with articles such as my Assistant for 30 Years: Life With Louise Bourgeois to Saltz’ own ‘The Forever Now’ Is MoMA’s Market Moment. Just as Jesus, the site was laid to rest at 33, but rather than years, this was just days. SEEN was barely a teenager in the world of journalism, let’s hope for its return in 2015.
Where does the art world stand in all of this? As with every year, exhibitions were held, performances performed, controversies ensued. Below (and including Erika Ordosgoitti as shown above) are the Eyes Towards The Dove Top Picks for 2014.
RAGNAR KJARTANSSON: ME, MY MOTHER, MY FATHER AND I, NEW MUSEUM, NY
Ragnar Kjartansson’s incarnation of this exhibition at the New Museum was fantastic. Featuring 12 live performers who sang repeatedly-one of Kjartansson’s favorite mediums- a cinematic dialogue between the artist’s parents before he was born from an Icelandic film titled Morðsaga. The mythology surrounding the work is that Kjartansson claims that this scene -what could be considered soft-porn- is the moment he was conceived. The lyrical text in excerpt, “Take me, take me here by the dishwasher!” still works its way through my mind and can reappear in unexpected moments.
KARA WALKER: A SUBTLETY OR THE MARVELOUS SUGAR BABY, DOMINO SUGAR FACTORY, NY
This exhibition was enormous on so many levels. In the simplest way, it elegantly bid farewell to the Domino Sugar Factory. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, it reopened, as much of Kara Walker’s work does, an unfavorable yet truthful moment of American history. The sculpture, mammy as sphinx, was a glorious reclamation of an antiquated archetype who sat, looking down at us, bathed in her own sweetness, head held high.
MADE IN LA AT THE HAMMER MUSEUM, LA
Made In LA occupied the Hammer Museum offering, what I would call, an accurate peek into contemporary artists working in…you guessed it, LA. I enjoyed the exhibition and felt it was well curated, offering the visitor a diverse range of artworks from installation, to video, painting, photography and performance. Artists to watch in 2015 who exhibited in Made in LA include Piero Golia, Samara Golden, Gabriel Kuri (who has a solo show at the Aspen Museum of Art until March 15th, 2015), and Danielle Dean.
CAMILLE HENROT AT THE NEW MUSEUM, NY
On view at the same time as Ragnar Kjartansson’s exhibition at the New Museum, I was initially not that excited by her work. However, since then (it was on view May 7th-June 29th, 2014) I’ve found myself thinking about it often. The delicate sculptures each illustrated a nearby text offering a bizarre yet time-specific visual assemblage of an individual. Modestly installed, they worked so well against the white walls, each spindly form competing for and defining negative space.
JASON RHOADES AT DAVID ZWIRNER, NY
Each time work by the late Jason Rhoades is on view, I am never disappointed. Rhoades was a master at organized chaos. An invention of his making PeaRoeFoam, is both a functional material and the exhibition title of the show at David Zwirner, the artist’s second since 2007. A strange concoction of dried whole round green peas, salmon eggs and tiny balls of foam, the material was mixed in vats of glue and intended to be “revolutionary”-as described by the artist- both as an art medium and comprehensive ‘filler’ merging the utility of insulation and caulking.
JEFF KOONS AT THE WHITNEY MUSEUM, NY
Jeff Koons at the Whitney Museum of American Art was, for lack of a better word, a surprise. It did not disappoint. Organized by Scott Rothkopf, Nancy and Steve Crown Family Curator and Associate Director of Programs, “A Retrospective” was a comprehensive look into the career of a man stretching from 1978 until present. At times it can be easy to dismiss Koons but this exhibition reminded us where his practice comes from, how it has evolved, and where it rightly fits into art history.
ONE WAY: PETER MARINO AT THE BASS MUSEUM, MIAMI
On view for the gaggle of visitors who flock down to Miami for Art Basel Miami Beach, One Way: Peter Marino brings together the work of 47 artists, most from Peter Marino’s own private collection as well as unique commissioned works by Gregor Hildebrandt, Guy Limone, Farhad Moshiri, Jean-Michel Othoniel and Erwin Wurm. The exhibition is a testament to Marino’s own taste level, having some of the most important artists from past (Robert Mapplethorp) and present (Rudolf Stingel) in his collection. Hung salon-style floor to ceiling, much of the work was without a label presenting a challenge for the viewer; Did you spot the Francesco Clemente?
DONNA HUANCA, INSTALLATION WITH BRAND NEW GALLERY AT ABC, BERLIN
Donna Huanca exhibited with Milan based Brand New Gallery at Art Berlin Contemporary (ABC). Her dynamic, painterly approach to sculptural installation caught my eye via instagram which lead to our dialogue which you can read here. She has a unique way of thinking about not only three-dimensional space but how the body responds when other objects are present.
SIX PANELS: AL TAYLOR AT THE GLASS HOUSE, CT
Al Taylor sculptures are quite precarious. In Six Panels: Al Taylor, Organized by Robert Storr, various sculptural works by Taylor (1948-1999) were installed on the walls, floor and even dangled from the ceiling of the Painting Gallery at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Not quite pure abstraction or representation, his art was present not only in the substance of weighted material but also in the malleable and uncertain nature of shadows. A nearly scientific approach to observing or documenting volume, his sculptures and drawings sought out form all with the intention of Taylor’s interest in painting.
KORAKRIT ARUNANONDCHAI featuring BOYCHILD, THE MISTAKE ROOM, LA
On view at The Mistake Room, “Letters to Chantri #1: The lady at the door/ The gift that keeps on giving” by Korakrit Arunanondchai was a performative installation loosely based around the perception of presentation. In much of his work, the artist has made paintings using his body in a physical, almost violent, way. This two-part video series introduced us to Arunanondchai’s own psychological and physical cleansing, in what at times feels like an otherworldly music video. Boychild and Arunanondchai appear spiritually interchangeable, one at times simulating the other. Gender fluid performance artist Boychild in particular is extremely dyamic. Looking forward to what these two have planned for 2015.
NEW YORK MAGAZINE: SEEN
SEEN was badass. ‘Nuff said.