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Cheryl Dunn, Fans 1 (detail), 2007

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New York's New Scene
October 17-30, 2007

As real-estate prices soar in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, galleries and museums are migrating to the grittier Lower East Side. Following the example of the New Museum, which is opening its new building on the Bowery, a slew of galleries is claiming space in the up-and-coming area. We speak with Lisa Phillips, director of the New Museum, about what drew her to the LES, and we survey current shows at CANADA, Envoy, Orchard, and other local galleries. Occupying Salon 94 Freemans with monumental, earthy sculptures, our One to Watch artist, Huma Bhabha, exemplifies the neighborhood's raw aesthetic. Our media pick spotlights Walter Niedermayr's photographic collaboration with Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA, architects of the off-kilter New Museum building, and we review shows around the globe by Gabriel Orozco, Ettore Sottsass, and Georgina Starr.

Artists Exposed as Mall Rats
(Providence Journal, October 3)
Is it performance art or simply squatting? Eight artists have been secretly living in a 750-square-foot studio apartment they fashioned within the Providence Place mall parking garage. Michael J. Townsend, the leader of the Tape Art collective, was recently arrested for trespassing on private property by a mall security guard. Townsend said that the pad — built from over two tons of construction materials lugged to the space by Tape Art members and, though lacking running water or heat, fully furnished — was both a refuge and a means of addressing the relation between community and commerce.

Andres Serrano's History of Sex Vandalized
(New York Times, October 9)
Four masked men recently vandalized an exhibition in Lund, Sweden, by controversial New York photographer Andres Serrano. The vandals entered the Kulturen Gallery during normal patron hours and filmed themselves jostling visitors who had come to see Serrano's explicit History of Sex show. The intruders then broke the glass covering the photos, yelling, "We don't support this," as they tore apart the prints. By the end of the rampage, half the show — seven large photographs, valued at $200,000 — had been destroyed. This is not the first time Serrano's work has been attacked; a print of his Piss Christ was wrecked in 1997 when it was on view at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.

David Chipperfield Snags Stirling Prize
(Guardian, October 8)
Germany's Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach am Neckar has won this year's Stirling Prize for architecture. Designed by David Chipperfield — whose America's Cup building in Valencia, Spain, also made the competition's shortlist — the updated neoclassical pavilion beat out projects by Rem Koolhaas' OMA, Norman Foster, Glenn Howells, and Haworth Tompkins. Some critics, in praising Chipperfield's accomplishment, wondered why the best British architects continue to work outside of the UK. The Stirling winner didn't even complete his recent work on BBC's Glasgow headquarters at Pacific Quay; Chipperfield lost the commission midway through the project.

Elton John Ends BALTIC Show
(Condé Nast, October 3)
An exhibition of photographer Nan Goldin's Thanksgiving series was cut short at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in northern England. Before the show's September 21 opening, a museum employee reported one of the works, Klara and Edda Belly-Dancing, to the police, concerned that it might breach child pornography laws. In 2001, Scotland Yard ordered London's Saatchi Gallery to remove the same photo, along with two others by Goldin, on similar grounds. Pop star Elton John, who had loaned the entire 149-photo series, had the exhibit taken down well before its scheduled closing in January 2008.

Architecture firm Asymptote unveils zero-carbon project in Malaysia more »

Chicago exhibition mixes art and rock 'n roll more »

Architect Zaha Hadid's radical proposal for run-down Bilbao peninsula more »

MASS MoCA looking to repair its reputation more »

Gallerist Marianne Boesky takes "home business" to a new level more »

Soviet architecture gets a second look at MoMA more »

Turner retrospective exposes prize's midlife crisis more »

Museum of Sex gets Kinky more »

Dubai and Abu Dhabi art scenes heat up more »

Looking back at LA architecture more »

With rents soaring, will Chelsea galleries shutter? more »

At age 95, Louise Bourgeois preps Tate retrospective more »

Inside India's new art scene more »

Christie's London gallery excluded from Frieze and Art Basel more »

Art Fag City blogger takes on My Kid Could Paint That more »

UNStudio's first US project shows an architectural firm at the top of its game more »

Bringing in strippers to sell art more »

Photographer Anthony Goicolea screens his Thom Browne fashion video more »

Gregor Schneider's cage installation on Bondi beach sparks discussion more »

Cincinnati Art Museum taps Neutelings Riedijk Architects for redesign more »

Communal art thrives in the City of Angels more »

Kohei Yoshiyuki's voyeuristic infrared photographs more »

Coop Himmelb(l)au win Chinese contemporary art museum commission more »

Herbert Muschamp, influential New York Times architecture critic, dies at 59 more »

Note: Some online publications require registration to access the articles. If you encounter a registration screen, try akreader1 as the username and password.

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[ LES Gallery Scene ]


Kanishka Raja / Henry Taylor / John Miller / Shawn Reed

Long home to a mélange of cultural attractions — burlesque clubs, anarchist squats, and Jewish delis — New York's Lower East Side is currently mesmerizing the art world. The neighborhood, with its friendly, DIY ethos, has recently birthed a host of new galleries, while more established galleries have also caught the LES bug and are setting up satellite spaces there. Venues range from smallish to smaller, but a quirky community vibe makes up for the modest square footage.

Part of the area's old guard, CANADA has lately expanded its Chrystie Street location to Chelsea-gallery proportions. The wistful, textured vignettes of painter Michael Williams, currently on display, contrast nicely with Kanishka Raja's unpopulated yet heavily patterned paintings on view just up the street. Raja's show at Envoy, another LES mainstay, continues uptown at Jack Tilton Gallery. Further north on Chrystie, Lehmann Maupin is busily converting the former East Side Glass Company headquarters into a second exhibition space, which will open late this year with work from Do-Ho Suh, a Korean artist renowned for his large-scale sculptures.

Over on Eldridge Street, one-year-old SUNDAY L.E.S. comprises a storefront and small project room in back, where visitors can glimpse a Mary Tyler Moore-themed installation by Sara Greenberger Rafferty. Further east, the co-op exhibition/performance space Orchard, named for its address, hosts Image Coming Soon, a month-long multimedia extravaganza headed by artist Karin Schneider. A few doors down, the elegant Miguel Abreu Gallery will soon boast a solo show by abstract photographer Eileen Quinlan.

Rivington and Stanton Streets are well represented by Eleven Rivington and Smith-Stewart, respectively. The former is affiliated with Midtown's Greenberg Van Doren Gallery and features a three-person show with tie-dyed canvases from Michael Phelan offset by Tamar Halpern's manipulated C-prints and Florian Morlat's fabric mobiles. The latter, opened by accomplished curator Amy Smith-Stewart, recently debuted Turkish-born Elif Uras' The Occidentalist — a series of paintings coupled with color-coordinated Iznik vases. The oddball of the LES pack is East Broadway's RENTAL, which selects other galleries to "rent" its space. Current tenant Los Angeles-based Sister presents video from Michele O'Marah and Black Panther-inspired paintings by Henry Taylor.

Many gems lie slightly outside the neighborhood confines, such as Little Cakes on 6th Street, which hosts "gentle arts" ranging from crafty to folkloric to psychedelic. The nearby Fuse Gallery runs the gamut and currently features Cheryl Dunn's high-octane photographic series No One's Not Happy When They're Dancing. In Chinatown, the small gallery James Fuentes holds court, currently exhibiting large celebrity portraits by David Perry, who made his paintings while living and working in Julian Schnabel's studio.

The spirit of the LES may be best exemplified by Cuchifritos, a tiny exhibition space sandwiched in the grocery-buying bustle of the Essex Street Market. Or does the studiedly rustic Salon 94 Freemans, designed by Rafael Viñoly, better capture the current moment? Perhaps, given the neighborhood's esprit des corps, both are equal epitomes of the downtown scene. (SK)

For more information about exhibitions and events on the Lower East Side, check out the ArtCal gallery listings and the Neighbors section of the SUNDAY L.E.S. site.

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RED HOT — Asian Art Today from the Chaney Family Collection

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Now through October 21

  Featuring more than 100 works by 66 cutting-edge artists, RED HOT surveys the dynamic contemporary art scene of East Asia. Beijing-based painter Feng Zhengjie's Chinese Portrait L Series No. 1 is a pop-art confection that skewers China's nouveau riche with its walleyed femme fatale staring out from the canvas. Karma, Korean sculptor Do-Ho Suh's monumental fiberglass installation, depicts a giant pair of authoritarian legs crushing the tiny masses running beneath its feet. Memories (Me), Sheng Qi's powerful photograph of his mutilated hand — the artist ritualistically chopped off his finger in a performance after the Tiananmen Square massacre — holding a small picture of himself as a child, presents innocence juxtaposed with loss while suggesting redemption through sacrifice and remembrance. (LLP)

Georgina Starr: The Face of Another
New York

Tracy Williams, Ltd.
Now through October 27

  British artist Georgina Starr plays all the characters in Theda, her recent 38-minute silent film about an artist's tragic infatuation with glamorous silent-film actress Theda Bara. At Tracy Williams, Ltd., Starr shows a selection of related artworks, including film stills, a limited-edition monograph, and Theda (Prelude), a 12-minute black-and-white video of herself dressed as Bara and performing a gamut of exaggerated expressions. Death, a plaster sculpture inspired by a 16th-century woodcarving by Gregor Erhart, lies in pieces on the gallery floor after Starr smashed it during the opening. Coupled with the title work, The Face of Another — nearly identical full-length portraits of Starr and her mother — the artist's rich, imitative performances breathe new life into forgotten figures. (HGM)

Ettore Sottsass: New Works 2005-2007
New York

Friedman Benda
Now through October 27

  At the age of 90, Italian architect and furniture designer Ettore Sottsass is still shaking up the design world with his irreverent flair. Co-founding the design collective Memphis in 1981, Sottsass became known for brightly colored, outrageously playful designs that defined '80s style. Although his more recent furniture is a somber mélange of polished aluminum, warm wood, and clear plastic, the tone is just as impudent. The towering cabinets on view at Friedman Benda are stacks of mismatching pieces — in Cabinet nr. 72, cold metal shelves rest on a dresser of polished tropical wood teetering on clear acrylic legs. Cabinets nr. 76 and nr. 67 also walk the line between subdued elegance and cheek, but his glass works are unapologetically bright and colorful. (BR)

An exhibition of Ron Arad's aluminum chairs is also on view at Friedman Benda through October 27.

Gabriel Orozco: Dépliages

Galerie Chantal Crousel
Now through October 20

  Globe-trotting sculptor Gabriel Orozco plays with form and symmetry in a show of new and ongoing projects at Paris' Galerie Chantal Crousel. Orozco brings an origami-like complexity to the grade-school practice of dripping paint onto paper and folding it; he fills two rooms with these Rorschach-style paintings, which reveal suggestive, corporeal forms. Five small paintings of multi-sized circles halved and quartered in solid blue, red, white, and gold-leaf — from his ongoing Samurai Tree series — resemble a Calder mobile frozen in a strobe light, while an accompanying animation changes colors like clockwork, reinforcing a contradictory impression of static movement. Two black, semiabstract sculptures and an imprint of Orozco's face in a back corner contribute an intimate touch. (EC)

Barbara Probst

Kuckei + Kuckei
Now through October 20

  German photographer Barbara Probst exhibits recent additions to her ongoing photographic series, Exposures. Comprised of images of the same subject taken by multiple cameras at the same instant, the four works at Berlin's Kuckei + Kuckei deconstruct single instants from different vantage points. The six images in Exposure #42: N.Y.C., Broome & Crosby Streets, 06.09.06, 7:12 p.m. — including a rooftop view and two close-ups — capture a woman on a street corner looking at her watch as she is photographed by another woman. In the left-hand panel of the diptych Exposure #44: Barmsee, Bavaria, 08.18.06, 4:37 p.m., a woman runs through an alpine landscape. The right-hand image depicts the actual landscape, with the subject and photographer captured in the lower corner, revealing the ruse: the woman in the left-hand image is set against a photographic backdrop. (CR)

A catalogue of Barbara Probst's Exposures series was recently published by Steidl and the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.

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[ Huma Bhabha ]

Huma Bhabha

After gaining prominence in the international art scene with her recent solo and group exhibitions, Huma Bhabha has graced New York this month with a trio of installations at three separate venues. Uptown at Salon 94, she displays two deific totems on an abstracted landscape, evoking a dystopian Giza Plateau. Her sarcophagus figure — half Templar knight, half Ganesha — joins other corporeal forms at edgy Salon 94 Freemans downtown, and in a recent show at Chelsea's ATM Gallery, Bhabha exhibited romantic photographs of sculptural works in situ. Simultaneously futuristic and archaic, Bhabha renders her gods with less-than-heroic, humble materials in states of partial decay.

Educated at RISD and Columbia University, Bhabha has developed a sculptural approach that sweeps from pre- to postmodernism. Her manipulation of clay surfaces is reminiscent of Auguste Rodin's, and she borrows the totemic forms of Alberto Giacometti and Jacques Lipchitz, but questions their naïve primitivism. From Constantin Brancusi, she learns to integrate the figure and the plinth, and she sees the potential of photographic reproductions of sculpture in Robert Smithson's work. As a Karachi, Pakistan-born woman, Bhabha finds her work persistently reduced to commentary about Middle Eastern conflict or the condition of women in Muslim societies. While her installations touch on these issues, a more complex consideration reveals her to be a modern-day bricoleur — intermixing materials, methods, and references to create new mythologies. (NB)

Huma Bhabha's work is currently on view at Salon 94 and Salon 94 Freemans until October 26.

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[ Lisa Phillips ]


Kristen Morgin / Isa Genzken / Urs Fischer / Anselm Reyle

The New Museum of Contemporary Art opens its new building on the Bowery in New York's Lower East Side neighborhood on December 1. The new New Museum, which is seven-stories high and occupies 60,000 square feet, is the first museum ever to be built from the ground up in lower Manhattan, and it is already impacting the burgeoning art neighborhood that surrounds it. Paul Laster interviews Lisa Phillips, Toby Devan Lewis Director of the New Museum, about the new building, its inaugural exhibitions, the museum's innovative education program, and the evolving Lower East Side.
AK: Since the New Museum first conceived its building program in 2000, contemporary art has taken galleries, auction houses, fairs, and other art institutions around the world by storm. Given this new atmosphere and appetite for contemporary art, can you tell us about the museum's ambitious transition from a comfortable SoHo kunsthalle to a world-class space?

LP: The New Museum opened 30 years ago with the daring vision to present new art and new ideas, and it's crucial that we continue to challenge ourselves and break new ground. For most of our history, we've succeeded by flying under the radar. With this reopening, we'll have a bigger audience and, in many ways, a more visible identity… But we've always been a big small art museum — a place with a great potency. The New Museum will retain the nimbleness and responsiveness that have always been its hallmarks, but the new building and the expansion of our programming will allow us to realize more ambitious exhibitions and public programming.

AK: The New Museum commissioned avant-garde architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the Tokyo-based partnership SANAA to design its new space. Why do you think the selection committee chose their building over the tough competition, which included London's Adjaye Associates and New York's Reiser + Umemoto?

keep reading the interview »

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  Walter Niedermayr/Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA
Moritz Küng
Hatje Cantz

Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa work independently and collaboratively as the principal partners of Tokyo-based architectural firm SANAA. One of the most prominent architectural firms working today, SANAA has been highly praised for its airy, volumetric plans for the circular 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (2004) in Kanazawa, Japan, and the transparent Glass Pavilion (2006), an exhibition and glassmaking facility at the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio. This unique book presents Italian artist Walter Niedermayr's atmospheric photographs of completed projects by Sejima and Nishizawa intermixed with the photographer's subdued alpine landscapes. While the world awaits the opening of SANAA's New Museum of Contemporary Art on New York's Bowery this December, these pages reveal much about the firm's aesthetics through Neidermayr's sublime images, editor and curator Moritz Küng's succinct text and project descriptions, and the architects' minimalist floorplans. (PL)

Walter Niedermayr's photography is on view in a solo show at Galerie Nordenhake Berlin from October 27 to November 24 and an exhibition of architectural work by SANAA opens at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle on November 30.

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Cover Art
Cheryl Dunn
Fans 1, 2007
Inkjet print from negative
Dimensions variable
Courtesy Fuse Gallery, New York
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster

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