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Loan Nguyen, Village de montagne (detail), 2004

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Paris Photo
November 14-27, 2007

Photographers, gallerists, and collectors congregate at Paris Photo this week to sample photography's latest trends and discover hidden gems. We discuss fair offerings from Asia, Africa, and Europe, and profile Jackie Nickerson, a fashion photographer turned adventurous portraitist, whose recent series examines Catholic religious orders in Ireland. We interview Laurie Simmons, known for her imaginative portrayal of dolls and dummies, and we recommend a new tome of Boris Mikhailov's superimposed images from the former USSR. Turning to the moving image, our reviews highlight an anniversary showing of the Fischli/Weiss film The Way Things Go in Brisbane, and a Stockholm multimedia group exhibition grappling with history and time.

Murakami Place Mats on eBay?
(Los Angeles Times, November 2)
Some of the hottest items at the opening gala for LA's Museum of Contemporary Art's Takashi Murakami exhibit were the round, fiberglass place mats set at the dinner tables. Though technically not for sale (unlike the bags, planners, and purses in the on-site Louis Vuitton pop-up boutique), the place mats were snatched up by guests — who had paid up to $10,000 for their seats and a performance by rapper Kanye West, whose new album features design and a video by the Japanese artist. However, some sticky-fingered diners left with more than one mat, while others left with none. One of the mats turned up on eBay and sold for more than $1000. In a related story, DreamWorks is said to be pursuing Murakami for a collaboration.

Gehry Sued by MIT
(Boston Globe, November 6)
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has filed a negligence suit against starchitect Frank Gehry, charging that flaws in the design of his Stata Center in Cambridge have resulted in leaks, cracks, mold, and drainage problems. The $300 million building was completed in 2004 to (mostly) critical raves, but the structure's amphitheater soon began to crack, and ice and snow fell from overhanging roof areas, cutting off emergency exits. Architecture critic and former Boston University president John Silber said that Gehry "thinks of himself as an artist, as a sculptor. But the trouble is you don't live in a sculpture, and users have to live in this building."

Warhol Scent Goes on Sale
(Radar Online, October 24)
What does Andy Warhol smell like? Scent makers Bond no. 9 have teamed up with the Andy Warhol Foundation to introduce a new fragrance for men and women, Andy Warhol Silver Factory. Described as "a smooth, smoky, spicy blend of interlacing incense (a key scent of the '60s), wood resin, and syrupy, seductive amber," with "dissonant florals" lending the perfume its titular metallic effect, the liquid aura of the artist costs $230. What, no top notes of cigarette smoke and amphetamines? In related news, actor Hugh Grant has sold his 1963 Warhol portrait of Elizabeth Taylor for $23.7 million, more than five times the price he paid for it six years ago.

Nouvel and Foster Team Up
(Building, November 2)
Two of the world's top architects have announced that they will co-design an Italian town. Jean Nouvel and Norman Foster revealed their plans at the recent RIBA conference. They have opened up an office, Atelier Foster Nouvel, and will be planning the town of Santa Giulia, located on the outskirts of Milan. The site will be designed for 12,000 residents and will include a square, an urban park, a nursery, and an 8,000-seat conference center. The two had already collaborated on London's Walbrook Square redevelopment, which earned its central building the nickname "Darth Vader's helmet" for its rigid contours.

Richard Neutra's Kaufmann House to be auctioned more »

Charles Saatchi gets a room of his own at the Hermitage more »

High-rise praise for Ian Schrager's new Herzog & de Meuron building more »

Nam June Paik collaborator Shigeko Kubota looks back more »

What's in the basement of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art? more »

Iván Navarro mixes furniture with fear more »

Art blogger responds to Art in America more »

How do you save a folk-art church? more »

The artists of Asia's boom more »

Sculptor Martin Puryear gets MoMA retrospective more »

Five things wrong with contemporary architecture more »

Christie's sets auction records for Middle Eastern artists more »

An appreciation of multimedia artist Shuji Terayama more »

Students compete to design the best solar-powered home more »

Sainsbury's $200 million British bequest more »

LA's Nokia Theatre opens to mixed reviews more »

Provenance of Mies van der Rohe photos questioned more »

Is the museum-building boom smart? more »

Film characters reunited in huge Eurostar sculpture more »

Rafael Moneo's tricky Prado extension more »

Manuel Álvarez Bravo's photos come out of boxes and onto walls more »

Tom Dixon wants to re-arrange the furniture business more »

Why artists should blog 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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[ Paris Photo ]


Hellen van Meene / Stéphane Couturier / DoDo Jin Ming / Zanele Muholi

Returning once again to the Carrousel du Louvre, Paris Photo acts as the ultimate arbiter of new styles and subjects in photography. European galleries feature prominently, with a significant contingent from Italy, this year's guest of honor. New York's presence is also strong, and the fair includes galleries from as far afield as Japan and South Africa.

China, one of the most exciting emerging markets in the art sphere, is extensively represented. DoDo Jin Ming's painterly photos of seascapes awash with drama and danger are displayed by New York's Laurence Miller Gallery. Marella Gallery, with spaces in Milan and Beijing, showcases Jiang Zhi's surreal and futuristic series Let There Be Light, which includes hyperreal, rainbow-lit cities and whimsical yet disturbing nighttime scenes.

Documentary is once again well explored. Paris Photo regular Simon Norfolk's hauntingly empty images of war-torn landscapes are presented by the Photographers' Gallery from London. At Paris-based Galerie Anne de Villepoix and Magnum Photos, Alessandra Sanguinetti exhibits The Adventures of Guille and Belinda, tender portraits of a pair of adolescent cousins, alongside her classic series depicting life on an Argentinean farm, On the Sixth Day. From Cape Town, Michael Stevenson exhibits Zanele Muholi's Being, powerful studies of hidden relationships within South Africa's marginalized black lesbian community.

Among the Europeans, the ongoing trend for large-scale images of urban landscapes continues with Olivo Barbieri's dreamy photographs of leisure activities, ranging from sporting events to museum visits, on view from Rome's Brancolini Grimaldi Arte Contemporanea. Stéphane Couturier, who's exhibiting with Galerie Polaris from Paris, redirects this style toward explorations of growth and change in cities, capturing construction sites, lonely office towers, and limitless stretches of tract homes.

In contrast to the documentary work, playful and fantastical images also have a presence at the fair. With her Fables project, Karen Knorr fuses photographs with digitally generated imagery to create tableaux inspired by fairy tales — foxes, rats, and pigeons awkwardly wander through sumptuous rococo French architecture. These works, marriages of nature and culture, can be found at Paris' Les Filles du Calvaire booth.

Paris Photo gives a snapshot not of the emerging underground, but of the players who have transformed photography from a lesser cousin of fine art into one of the most expansive areas for collecting and exhibiting. With more than 100 galleries and publishers and a plethora of talks, competitions, and subsidiary exhibitions, the fair offers a comprehensive overview of the latest developments in global photography. (JC)

Paris Photo 2007 is on view at the Carrousel du Louvre from November 15 through 18. Simon Norfolk's work is also being exhibited at New York's Bonni Benrubi Gallery through November 24; Stéphane Couturier's series Chandigarh is at Galerie Polaris in Paris through December 22; and Olivo Barbieri'sThe Waterfall Project is on display at New York 's Yancey Richardson Gallery until December 22.

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Fischli/Weiss: The Way Things Go

Institute of Modern Art
Now through December 1

  Brisbane's Institute of Modern Art presents Swiss duo Peter Fischli and David Weiss' 1987 film, The Way Things Go — the show-stealer at documenta 8 — on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. This feat of chemically enhanced engineering features bubbling liquids, pyrotechnic tires, exploding watering cans, spinning rubbish bags, bursting balloons, and overflowing trays of unidentifiable substances, all of which are arranged in a 30-minute-long chain reaction and captured in one continuous take. At times, the ripple of effects becomes painfully slow and appears to halt, but physical laws inevitably regain momentum, and the domino effect continues. Combining the moving image, kinetic sculpture, and the readymade in a single work, Fischli/Weiss charge a hobbyist's tinkering with metaphorical poignancy. (EB)

The Way Things Go is available on DVD through Microcinema International.

Anton Henning: Welcome, delicious ideas!
Los Angeles

Christopher Grimes Gallery
Now through November 24

  In his third solo show at Christopher Grimes Gallery, Berlin-based artist Anton Henning takes a schizophrenic journey through modernist art history, fusing highbrow references with quirky irreverence. The artist presents 13 paintings, two sculptures, and a video, and organizes the exhibition space like a traditional picture gallery, choosing somber wall colors and heavy, museum-grade frames with inset lighting and richly varnished wood. Portrait No. 218 is a sophisticated bronze statue reminiscent of a Matisse or Rosso sculpture, yet it's set upon a plinth clownishly decorated with imperfect, colorful stripes. Henning revels in this vacillation between seriousness and childishness; in Portrait No. 61, a nod to Manet's portrait of Berthe Morisot, he tags swirly target shapes over his sitter's breasts. (LK)

Fabian Marcaccio: Draftants
New York

BravinLee programs
Now through November 24

  Drawing from prior installations that fused painting with nontraditional materials, New York-based artist Fabian Marcaccio re-imagines his dystopian visions in a mixed-media series focused on the activity of drawing. Dubbed "draftants" — a hybrid of "drawing" and "mutant" — the 19 new black-and-white works begin with synthetic panels that Marcaccio marks, carves, and combines with multimedia elements such as video monitors and strobe lights. In Global Zombie, the artist's furious gestures flesh out an AK-47 toting, skull-faced warrior, who spews a noxious cloud punctuated with a dollar sign. A brutal, colorless universe, Marcaccio's Draftants depict children, soldiers, and monsters trapped in horrendous violence; they stand out as digital-age descendants of Goya's Disasters of War, presenting nightmares of our "gangster-capitalist" era. (CK)

Fabian Marcaccio has designed a 50-by-8-foot banner for the exterior of the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York for PINTA, the Contemporary Latin American Art Fair, which takes place November 16-20.

Lisa Yuskavage

Now through November 17

  Lisa Yuskavage's recent series of 23 oil paintings, pastels, watercolors, and drawings reveals her continued fascination with old master paintings and smut; splayed out like Playboy centerfolds, her women glow like Vermeer's. Yuskavage's mixed references are complicated by gender politics — women embrace each other with ambiguous intent, simultaneously protective and sexual — and atypical color palettes, which range from muted mustards to sunset neons. In Persimmon, a fruit and flower arrangement ballasts a wispy girl, whose clothes melt into the tableau. The milky blonde in Blonde Spreading sits in front of a sfumato pastoral background, but her nether regions receive far more attention than her facial features. Flitting between pornography and high art in her superb renderings, Yuskavage both flusters and entrances viewers. (LM)

Against Time

Bonniers Konsthall
Through November 25

  With a labyrinthine exhibition design by Klas Ruin of Stockholm architecture firm Spridd, Bonniers Konsthall's Against Time group show includes film, photography, text, and installation works by 20 international artists, who address time and history with diverse storytelling methods. Irish artist Gerard Byrne challenges preconceived ideas of the past in his arresting three-channel video installation, 1984 and Beyond, a contemporary re-enactment of a 1963 Playboy magazine interview with 12 famous sci-fi authors wittily speculating about life in 1984. Stage III, German artist Ulla von Brandenburg's wall painting, depicts silhouetted figures in a 1908 rehearsal of Strindberg's play The Father. Swedish artist Per Wizén's imposing reworking of Paolo Uccello's 1470 painting The Hunt in the Forest maintains the original painting's composition, but excludes the figures, evoking the calm before the hunt. (ES)

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[ Jackie Nickerson ]

Jackie Nickerson

In the tradition of crossover photographers such as Richard Avedon, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, and Steven Meisel, Jackie Nickerson switched from snapping fashion spreads to staging inventive portraits. After establishing a commercial and editorial career, which included shooting for Vogue, Elle, and Marie Claire, Nickerson decided to pursue her own projects and has since traveled the world in search of new subjects. In the last ten years, she has lived in South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ireland, and Spain, with each place facilitating her investigations of different cultural and religious practices.

Nickerson's Farm series documents migrant and plantation workers in southern Africa. Beginning with a trip to Zimbabwe in 1997, Nickerson toured the region, capturing the gaunt faces of agricultural workers. In her sparse, sensitive photographs, Nickerson uses strong, natural light to express hardship as well as vitality. Although influenced by documentary and commercial photography, her images defy the conventional detachment of those genres with their empathetic representation of their subjects.

In Faith, a more recent series, Nickerson explicitly uses her commercial training to produce surprising portraits of clergy. Documenting the Catholic orders of Ireland, she produced a suite of carefully composed portraits depicting warm and welcoming nuns, such as the jovial Sister Anne. The artist pairs these individual shots with photographs of quiet interiors. In Green Room, bright light from a window shines on her subjects to create a picture full of life, grace, and serenity. (PJ)

Jackie Nickerson's work is on view at Steidl's booth at Paris Photo 2007. A monograph of Faith is forthcoming from steidlMACK.

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[ Laurie Simmons ]


Laurie Simmons

Photographer and filmmaker Laurie Simmons has been at the forefront of New York's contemporary art scene since the late '70s. One of the featured artists in this season's Art:21 — Art in the Twenty-First Century series on PBS, Simmons makes photographs and films that draw from everyday life, fantasies, and pop culture. Artkrush editor Paul Laster interviewed Simmons after her recent return from a two-gallery exhibition in Madrid.
AK: What does a camera represent to you?

LS: I'm not and never have been a techie, so my camera is like a mysterious portal to the scene I want to shoot. I've never been completely sure how it works.

AK: Do you use only one camera, or do you have different ones for different tasks?

LS: I have two cameras that are old and basic and look like toys. One is a solid black Nikon my husband shot with in high school — it's like an extension of my right hand. The other is a used Contax 645 medium format that I bought a year and a half ago. I love holding it. When I need to shoot in bigger formats, I hire people to shoot for me.

AK: What kinds of subjects are you drawn to?

LS: Well, let's see…. so far, I've documented dolls in interiors, cowboy figures, plastic divers, fake fish, real people swimming in pools and oceans, rubber dolls falling into pools, ceramic ballet dancers, plastic Japanese dolls color-coordinated to rear-screen projected interiors and tourist sites, real girls in cheap polyester clothing, portraits of HO-scale train figures shot under an electron microscope (with Allan McCollum), portraits of ventriloquists and dummies at Kentucky's Vent Haven Museum, sculptures of dummies with thought bubbles showing their dirty fantasies, household objects connected to legs (both real and fake), interiors of a dollhouse I designed in 2000 called Kaleidoscope House, and, most recently, naked girls in color-coordinated interiors.

AK: Many of your works feature a strong chiaroscuro aesthetic. Can you talk about your use of light and shadow?

keep reading the interview »

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  Yesterday's Sandwich
Boris Mikhailov
Phaidon Press

Banned from official exhibitions during the Soviet regime, Ukrainian artist Boris Mikhailov's superimposed images, which conflate the beautiful with the grotesque, were first seen by his fellow photographers at secret shows hosted in artists' kitchens. Mikhailov stumbled on the process for making his Sandwich series when he accidentally combined two transparencies in the '60s. Recognizing the poetic potential of mixing diverse imagery, he created a significant body of work exploring the suppressed subjects of politics, religion, and nudity. Mikhailov, who now lives in Berlin and whose work documenting post-Soviet life has been exhibited internationally, revisited the project after 35 years, turning the original slides into photographic prints for the first time. Thanks to this publication, which presents a portfolio of 55 montages printed on separate unbound boards, viewers can enjoy Mikhailov's compelling and long overlooked contribution to the history of photography. (PL)

Boris Mikhailov's solo exhibition Banzai! is on view at Berlin's Galerie Barbara Weiss through December 22. Guido Costa Projects and Phaidon Press exhibit his work at Paris Photo November 15-18.

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Cover Art
Loan Nguyen
Village de montagne, 2004
C-print on aluminum
47 1/2 x 63 in./ 120 x 160 cm
Courtesy Galerie Esther Woerdehoff, Paris
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster

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Bryony Roberts

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Greg Zinman

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H.G. Masters

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Elna Svenle

Mailer Design
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