John Bock, Skipholt (detail), 2005

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May 18, 2005

Traveling to the spectacular terrain of Iceland, we discover the legendary artist Dieter Roth and discuss projects by artists following in his influential footsteps. Then, onto our featured curator's hometown of London, as we consider the work of the recent Beck's Futures Prize winner, who follows a similar vein of art-making. Venturing further, we find that art and life are linked in many ways, from the erotic drawings of a 90-year-old Spaniard to the pop meanderings of a dynamic pair of Muscovites to a crack in the door in Los Angeles. Puzzling as it may seem, it's all here for the taking.

  We have nothing to fear but fruit itself. Altoids Sours Chewing Gum.

Long Lost Pollock Trove Discovered
(Artnet News, May 10)
A group of 32 previously unrecorded drip paintings by Abstract Expressionist icon Jackson Pollock has come to light. The collection of small studies in oil and enamel on board will go on view next year at New York's Mark Borghi Fine Art. Found in a storage facility in 2002, the paintings are valued at $40 million.

Eisenman's Holocaust Memorial Dedicated in Berlin
(Deutsche Welle, May 10)
Prominent American architect Peter Eisenman's Holocaust memorial consisting of 2,711 cement pillars has been dedicated in Berlin. The project, approved by the German Parliament in 1999, represents the first such memorial authorized by a reunified Germany. The entire facility covers 4.7 acres and cost 27.6 million euros to build.

Are Female Artists Missing the Mark(et)? (NY Times, May 1)
Recent contemporary auctions in New York raise provocative questions about female artists in the art market. While today's male artists such as Maurizio Cattelan achieve prices above $1 million, contemporaries such as Elizabeth Peyton rarely enjoy estimates that high. (However, at the May 11 Christie's auction of contemporary art, one Peyton work sold for $800,000.) Given the subjectivity of art pricing, the question remains whether female artists are content with their lot.

Tate Modern, Five and Thriving?
(The Guardian, May 5)
London's Tate Modern celebrated its fifth anniversary on May 12. Since opening in 2000, almost 22 million visitors have passed through its doors — twice the number originally expected. Tate Modern is a major tourist attraction, known for the tremendous scale of its Turbine Hall. The museum's blockbuster exhibitions and site-specific installations such as Olafur Eliasson's Weather Project have further helped turn London into a center for the art world.

$250,000 varieties: Mark di Suvero honored with Heinz Award more »

Caged Brancusi Birds soars at auction more »

Maverick Iran museum director reinstated after artists rally support more »

Peter Max leaves vision for Vettes parked in Brooklyn garage more »

Guggenheim buys Richard Prince's country house more »

Chimp art on block alongside modern greats more »

Dia plans move to Meatpacking District more »

Street artist pastes proposed alternative to flailing WTC site more »

Andy Warhol's Liz sells for breathtaking $12.6 million more »

Troubled Prince Harry caught in high school art scandal more »

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Dieter Roth

Dieter Roth and His Influence on Contemporary Art

Dieter Roth's move to Iceland in 1957 marked a major turning point for Reykjavik's cultural legacy. The late radical Swiss artist introduced his rather conservative new neighbors to a nonconformist demeanor and a multidisciplinary approach to art. Concurrently, he found a wealth of inspiration in the ever-shifting landscape of his adopted city — the topic of Reykjavik Slides, his epic documentation of every building in town. Roth's fascination with transformation crystallized in his new environment, where his experiments with perishable materials epitomized his obsession with decay and regeneration. His work celebrates and seeks to capture the entropic, liminal state between death and rebirth, order and chaos. Roth's ability to encapsulate all aspects of quotidian life in his artworks — nowhere better realized than in Solo Scenes — has been an encouragement to his contemporaries and an emerging generation of artists.

This creative cross-pollination shines in both Train and Material Time/Work Time/Life Time, two exhibitions that form the centerpiece of this year's Reykjavik Arts Festival. The former is a retrospective of Roth's work, organized by his son, Bj�rn. The latter show, curated by Jessica Morgan (Tate Modern's curator of contemporary art), compiles an impressive range of artworks indebted to Roth's visionary practice. On Kawara's iconic Date Paintings mirror Roth's Flat Waste series, while Roth's endlessly proliferating Garden Sculpture precedes and informs both John Bock and Jonathan Meese's playful, faux-naive performances and installations. Matthew Barney, whose phantasmagoric Cremaster films merge mutation and ornament, presents Operazione Oesophagus and the Foodprocessors in collaboration with Gabríela Fridriksdóttir. Fridriksdóttir, who will represent Iceland at this year's Venice Biennale, creates folkloric drawings, films, and installations that link to Barney's through artifice and mythology, while the tension between alienation and communication places her squarely in Roth's lineage. Her creative countryman Olafur Eliasson, whose unforgettable Weather Project turned the everyday topic of meteorology into a sublime experience, takes part in the tribute with designs for a new outdoor sculpture. (AK)

The art exhibitions of the Reykjavik Arts Festival, including Dieter Roth: Train, curated by Björn Roth, and Material Time/Work Time/Life Time, curated by Jessica Morgan, continue through August 2005.

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Sue de Beer: Black Sun
New York
Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria
Now through June 24

  Brandishing Phil Collins' vocal stylings — an unlikely sword at best — Sue de Beer gives nascent female sexuality a much-needed voice in Black Sun, a double-projection piece installed (in a cardboard-looking castle no less) at the Whitney's Altria branch. Collins' 1982 cover of the Supremes' classic "You Can't Hurry Love" serves as an innocent, yearning backdrop to a sequence in which a lycra-clad 12-year-old shimmies with abandon, alone in her room. The disjunction between the doo-woppy lyrics and her partially self-conscious dance makes visible the muddling of love and lust in many a young girl's mind. Rather than giving us another gallingly empty reflection of male desire, de Beer has created a visual rarity: a teenage girl. (LG)

Pablo Picasso: Femmes Drawings 1971
Jablonka Galerie
Now through May 28

  The most celebrated artist of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso was 90 years old when he made the drawings in this marvelous show. Although he was near the end of his life, his direct, spontaneous style heralds the youthful neo-expressionism of the 1980s. Using an economy of means, Picasso captures each sensuous moment as though it were his last. With no need for money or the approval of others, he sketches what pleases him most: his alter ego and nudes. Aged men giddily gaze upon flaunting females; and in a Christmas Day drawing of five naked women, the old maestro recalls the brothel scene of his famous Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, painted more than 60 years earlier. (PL)

Urs Fischer: Jet Set Lady
Istituto dei Ciechi
Now through June 1

  Swiss artist Urs Fischer recasts everyday objects with unlikely materials to challenge the very objects they represent. Elbowing art history, he uses the past to endow the objects with his own distinctive and comically punk sensibility. The results make up a Fischer-ized world, ranging from waxen nude candles to poetic skeletons draped over washing machines and iron trees overwrought with framed drawings. Oddly enough, the show takes place at the classical Institute of the Blind — which opens its halls for the first time to a contemporary art exhibition, juxtaposing Fischer's subversively witty works with the pylons of tradition. (ML)

Dubossarsky & Vinogradov
XL Gallery
Now through May 20

  The Moscow-born duo Dubossarsky & Vinogradov apply their highly academic style to the fetishes of growing up behind the Iron Curtain and the culture of Westernization during perestroika. The outcome is a romantic realism that combines sentimental images, turning them into schizophrenic compositions of kitsch. In a new series of paintings set against the night sky, slick motorcyclists ride through skinny pellets of rain; in another, the head of a blonde-haired beauty bobs above the swimming-pool water while she practices arabesques. Their style, painterly but restrained, enjoys a Rosenquist sensibility that's tweaked to fit the irony of a propagandized past. (MS)

Lawrence Weiner
Los Angeles
Regen Projects
Now through June 9

  The latest work from Conceptual art giant and de facto poet Lawrence Weiner addresses issues of the narrative in visual art, while refusing to adhere to traditional strategies of representation or gestural expression. Its uppercase fragments — literally, writing on the wall ("THROUGH A CRACK IN THE DOOR/THROUGH A HOLE IN THE WALL/THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE") — refer equally to aspects of visual art and evocative narrative constructs by employing terms of conditions of perception, context, and perspective. Thus, Weiner continues to engage and confound with a light touch, privileging the contextual in his search for meaning while his relentless irony leaves this context maddeningly non-specific. (SND)

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Christina Mackie

Christina Mackie

Now in its sixth year, the Beck's Futures Prize is a prestigious contemporary art award. Yet looking at past winners, including Rosalind Nashashibi and Saskia Olde Wolbers, it's clear that carrying off the first prize (which this year totaled approximately $50,000) is no guarantee of overnight fame and fortune — unlike the Turner Prize. You still have to work for your future success.

The 2005 winner, Christina Mackie, was commended by artist Wolfgang Tillmans, one of this year's judges, for her sculptural installations, which resisted "the conception that art has to be about something or illustrating an idea."

Mackie's work is characterized by the combination of disparate objects to form a greater association. One of her most famous — and focused — solo shows was in 1999 at the Showroom, London, in which she investigated concerns surrounding genetic modification, drawing the DNA sequence of a cat and sculpturally inserting it into the DNA of a plant.

Her prize-winning installation, Version 2: Part 1, featured tree trunks, crystal balls, and projections of flower petals slowly being stripped, instilling the viewer with a sense of nature's fragility. (SR)

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Ragnar Kjartansson / Gabriel Kuri / Thomas Hirschhorn / Jonathan Meese

Jessica Morgan

In the midst of opening weekend of the Reykjavik Arts Festival in Iceland, Paul Laster quizzed Tate Modern curator Jessica Morgan about the exhibition she organized for the event.
AK: This is the first time in the 35-year history of the Reykjavik Arts Festival that it has been dedicated to contemporary visual arts. Considering that, how significant is it that the organizers decided to focus on the legacy of Dieter Roth?

JM: That was actually my curatorial decision. Having been invited to curate the Festival exhibition, I found out that a large Dieter Roth exhibition was taking place at the same time. As Roth was such a significant artist and his legacy somewhat underappreciated, I thought it appropriate to choose his work as a focal point for my exhibition.

AK: How has Roth's work influenced art being made in Iceland, Europe, and the rest of the world?

JM: The exhibition examines three aspects of his practice: work time, the way in which artistic practice in Roth's oeuvre is rarely differentiated from routine labor; material time, Roth's fascination with materiality, change, and flux; and life time, Roth's lack of distinction between his domestic or personal life and the space of production. All of these aspects of his work are related in a variety of ways to the work of the international artists.

AK: You include a large number of Icelandic artists in the exhibition. Were you familiar with any of these artists before setting out to curate the show?

JM: I had previously been to Iceland and had met with some of the artists who I later included. What was perhaps most interesting for me was to discover more about the '70s conceptual group SUM, and in particular the work of Kristján Gudmundsson, Sigurdur Gudmundsson, and Hreinn Fridfinnsson, all of whom have made a considerable contribution to the field.

AK: Could you tell us about Matthew Barney's collaboration with Gabríela Fridriksdóttir, the artist who will be representing Iceland in the 2005 Venice Biennale?

JM: Barney and Fridriksdóttir have made a unique installation that bridges three rooms: Barney in the two outer rooms with Fridriksdóttir between. I asked them to work together after noting the many similarities in their work and ideas — in particular, an alternately morbid and sometimes erotic fascination with the process of decay and becoming. Each shows video that is based on fairly graphic performance, in addition to drawings, photography, sculpture, and painting. The ideas, as well as the material of the two artists' works, crosses over and becomes almost one work at points in the exhibition.

AK: If you could acquire one project for the Tate Modern, what would it be?

JM: All of the Dieter Roth work!

Jessica Morgan is curator of contemporary art at Tate Modern, London, where she recently organized the group exhibitions Common Wealth and Time Zones. A former curator at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, she is currently preparing the first retrospective of Martin Kippenberger to be held in London.

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Fishing is Fun
by Allen Ruppersberg
Published by Christine Burgin

Allen Ruppersberg's new multiple is a puzzle, literally and metaphorically. One side of the puzzle when assembled depicts the artist's myriad media collections: a wall of postcards, books, movies, and letters. The other side consists of a series of sentences and phrases about Raymound Roussel and unknown soldiers. The viewer, or assembler, of this artwork must behave a bit like a hunter-gatherer, exploring and digging up a personal history while assembling the puzzle and "reading" the artist's archives, much as one peruses a new friend's bookshelves.

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Cover image
John Bock, Skipholt (detail), 2005
Mixed media installation
Dimensions variable
Courtesy the artist and Kling & Bang galleri, Reykjavik

Paul Laster
Melissa Lo
Shana Nys Dambrot
Andrew Maerkle
Mark Mangan
Shiraz Randeria

Christopher Elam
Mark Barry

Lisa Cooley
Nikki Columbus
Tim Evans
Jocelyn K. Glei
Leigh Goldstein
Allison Kave
Jessica Kraft
Christopher Y. Lew
Natasha Madov
Marlyne Sahakian
Michelle Weinberg
Matt Wolf

Anjuli Ayer
Sameer Shah

Mailer Design
Jessica Bauer-Greene
Mark Barry

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