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Guillaume Bijl, The Concise History of Prehistoric Man (detail), 1996

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Installation Art
June 25-July 8, 2008

Over the last three decades, installation art has taken a firm hold on the world of contemporary art. In this issue of Artkrush, we survey the artists and collectives who continue to pioneer the genre. Florian Slotawa straps together scavenged furniture and fixtures to form sculptural assemblages; David Byrne creates a clamorous architectural instrument with Playing the Building; and Goshka Maçuga, who's shortlisted for this year's Turner Prize, constructs elaborate works of appropriation. Artkrush editor Paul Laster talks to Olafur Eliasson about his doubleheader shows at MoMA and P.S.1 and his extraordinary New York City Waterfalls. For your next trip to the bookstore, we recommend a new monograph on Rirkrit Tiravanija's socially interactive projects, and, in the galleries, we take a look at Tom Friedman's monstrous sculpture and name-brand minimalism at London's Gagosian Gallery and Cho Duck Hyun's homage to two venerable Korean leading ladies at Seoul's Kukje Gallery.

Pop Stars Make Art Splash
(BBC News, June 11)
Venerable new romantics Duran Duran played the first-ever pop concert at the Louvre, performing in the museum's I.M. Pei-designed Pyramid. The unlikely event was a fundraiser to restore a Louis XV drawing room in the museum's 18th-century Decorative Arts Gallery, which is due to reopen in 2011. Meanwhile, U2 are putting Jean Michel Basquiat's Untitled (Pecho/Oreja) (1983) up for auction at Sotheby's, with the painting expected to fetch as much as $12 million. Bassist Adam Clayton snagged the piece in 1989, and it has hung in the group's Dublin studio until now. In a related story, Swedish art collector Gerard de Geer has filed a complaint against Basquiat's estate for refusing to offer an opinion regarding the authenticity of the painter's Fuego Flores.

Libeskind's New Jewish Museum Opens
(New York Times, June 9)
San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum recently opened its doors to visitors. Daniel Libeskind's $47.5 million construction — which merges a 20th-century power plant with futuristic blue-steel structures — was described by the New York Times as "unsettling" and "vertiginous." The article also said that the institution "focuses not on the substance of Judaism, its laws, or history or ritual objects, but on perceptions of them." Two of the museum's inaugural exhibitions are the photography group show Being Jewish: A Bay Area Portrait and In the Beginning: Artists Respond to Genesis, a series of specially commissioned installations.

NEA Surveys Professional Artists
(New York Times, June 12)
The National Endowment for the Arts has compiled the first national profile of professional artists. Among the eye-opening results drawn from the 2005 census is the fact that more Americans ticked off "artist" as their primary occupation than "lawyer," "doctor," "police officer," or "farm worker" — that's two million Americans in all, with a combined income of roughly $70 billion, or a median of $34,800 each. More men than women identify themselves as artists, with women outpacing men only among dancers, writers, and designers. New York State has the most artists per capita, with California boasting the most actors and Nevada the most dancers and entertainers.

Guggenheim-Hermitage Gets Green Light
(New York Times, June 12)
The Lithuanian government recently gave the go-ahead for construction of a new art museum in the country's capital of Vilnius. The $117 million Zaha Hadid-designed building will be a joint venture between Lithuania, Russia's State Hermitage Museum, and the Guggenheim and is scheduled to open in 2013. Officials said that the new museum will include an art and information center dedicated to the Litvaks — Lithuanian Ashkenazi Jews — 95% of whom did not survive the Nazi's World War II occupation. In a related story, London is angling for a Guggenheim of its own, to follow the 2012 Olympics.

Damian Hirst to offer "Golden Calf" for 12 million pounds at Sotheby's more »

Renzo Piano tours his new Modern Wing for the Art Institute of Chicago more »

DIA names Philippe Vergne as its new director more »

Chris Burden constructs 65-foot Erector Set skyscraper in Rockefeller Center more »

Berkeley Art Museum unveils Toyo Ito's design more »

Feminist filmmaker Chantal Akerman returns with a decade's worth of installations more »

Mr. Brainwash bombs LA with graf art more »

At the Brooklyn Children's Museum, yellow tiles and green technology more »

R. Buckminster Fuller gets his geodesic due at Whitney more »

Kerry James Marshall offers "defiant kitsch" with an African-American theme more »

Charles Saatchi snatches student work from Royal Academy show more »

South African painter Marlene Dumas profiled more »

Antony Gormley and Yinka Shonibare chosen for Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth more »

Bruce Nauman illuminates San Diego more »

Seminal Paul Rudolph building faces demolition more »

Remembering psychedelic poster artist Alton Kelley more »

Rolex pairs emerging artists with master mentors more »

Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum asks patrons to sound off on audio guide more »

Vatican to present at 2009 Venice Biennale more »

Adam Cvijanovic revisits D.W. Griffith in painted wallpapers more »

Shigeru Ban's prefab pavilion underperforms at auction more »

Video-art pioneer Nan Hoover dies at 77 more »

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

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[ Filling Space ]


Gelitin / Florian Slotawa / Phoebe Washburn

One of contemporary art's ongoing projects has been seeking out new and innovative ways of filling the gallery space. Artists have moved from the canvas to found-object assemblages and sound installations, to video projections and architectural endeavors. As mixed-media and multimedia art slowly becomes a catch-all genre, the debate continues over what exactly defines installation art. It's clearly not just expansive sculpture — today's installation art, often directed at interventions and transformations of space, might encompass public art, institutional critiques, and curatorial practices.

Phoebe Washburn manufactures architectural meditations and self-contained sculptural systems. For While Enhancing a Diminishing Deep Down Thirst, the Juice Broke Loose (the Birth of a Soda Shop), her recent installation at the Whitney Biennial 2008, she constructed a floral ecosystem powered by Gatorade and built from two-by-fours, aquariums, tubing, and water pumps. Sarah Oppenheimer's architectural installations often consider the functions of the spaces they inhabit. Her current Horizontal Roll installation at the Saint Louis Art Museum literally creates new perspectives on the museum's collection by puncturing and reconfiguring its walls.

Urs Fischer skewered curatorial strategies for You, a recent solo show at Gavin Brown's enterprise. In a destructive institutional critique, the artist excavated the floor of the gallery, reducing it to an open pit of dirt. Artist collective Gelitin pulled a similar stunt with The Dig Cunt, in which the group dug a giant hole in a Coney Island beach every day, only to fill it back in once evening came. Fischer also teamed with Brown again to produce Who's Afraid of Jasper Johns? at Tony Shafrazi Gallery. The pair photographed the gallery's previous exhibition, Four Friends — security guards included — and plastered the images over the gallery space as wallpaper. Atop the simulacrum, Brown has hung works from Shafrazi's collection by Francis Picabia, Francis Bacon, and others. Nearby, Rob Pruitt's Viagra Falls — a Viagra-laced cascade — runs down the staircase, and Rudolf Stingel has padded the floor with white carpeting.

Another intersection in the ever-expansive category of installation art occurs where site-specific sculpture meets public art. Florian Slotawa constructs teetering works out of furniture scavenged from the institutions at which he exhibits. Meanwhile, David Byrne's Playing the Building revitalizes Lower Manhattan's nearly defunct Maritime Building, drawing large crowds eager to play an organ rigged to rattle the building's infrastructure. Mark Wallinger's interventions into public space — like the five-kilometer white thread strung through Münster at skulptur projekte münster 07 — subtly demarcate and transform their surroundings. Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset's broken corporate ladder, Social Mobility, is similarly disruptive, but their work more often consists of discrete public sculpture. The pair's Prada Marfa replicates the name-brand boutique in middle-of-nowhere Texas, and a recently unveiled memorial pays tribute to the homosexual victims of the Holocaust.

As this sampling suggests, installation art is a grab bag of strategies and media, one that is neither easily defined nor exhausted. An ever-expanding category, installation art makes clear the flexibility and variety of contemporary art.  - Anna Altman

Sarah Oppenheimer's Horizontal Roll is on view at the Saint Louis Art Museum through July 6; Gelitin has an installation in Psycho Buildings: Artists Take On Architecture at London's Hayward Gallery through August 25; Urs Fischer and Gavin Brown's Who's Afraid of Jasper Johns? continues at Tony Shafrazi Gallery through July 12; and Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset's work is on view as part of Other Than Yourself: An Investigation between Inner and Outer Space at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary in Vienna through September 21.

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  Cho Duck Hyun: re-collection

Kukje Gallery
Now through July 5

Mirrors and memories are central motifs in this solo show from Cho Duck Hyun, who pays homage to two legendary Korean women: Nora Noh, Korea's first modern fashion designer; and Maiko Joeong-shun Lee, who married into British aristocracy to become Viscountess Rothermere. Cho devotes a room to each, filling the gallery space with video, photography, and drawings on canvas, many of which are based on images from the women's private albums. In the bourgeois interior of the Noh room, where Cho's drawings are mounted in heavy wooden frames, dark patterned wallpaper and a large chandelier indicate a private life lived in the public eye. Upstairs, Cho examines Viscountess Rothermere's nostalgia for her own heritage. Seven white-lotus sculptures rest inside a large box lined with mirrors that reflect the sacred objects ad infinitum.  - Pontus Kyander

  Christian Marclay: Stereo
San Francisco

Fraenkel Gallery
Now through June 28

Subverted expectations are often the central refrain in sound-art pioneer Christian Marclay's mediated, music-inflected performances and objects. For those familiar with his video and turntable work, Marclay's show Stereo at Fraenkel Gallery may seem strangely quiet. Working with visual couplings and echoes — a pair of Plexiglas-encased speakers, a diptych of painted record covers, a collage of postcards from friends, Rorschach-like drawings of the word "echo," and a CD-covered mirror — the artist manages to explore sound without making any. This career-spanning exhibition reveals and often frustrates our call-and-response relationship with music, showing that Marclay's silent puns and double entendres are as keenly deconstructive as his punk plunderphonics.  - Laura Richard Janku

Christian Marclay's work is also on view at the Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain in Geneva, Switzerland, through September 21.

  Anita Dube: Recent Works
New York

Bose Pacia
Now through June 28

Art historian-turned-artist Anita Dube's latest exhibition comprises two rooms at New York's Bose Pacia. In the first room, Dube has created a five-foot-tall wax sculpture of the word "VOID," which dominates the space, while black-and-white photographs of cryptic phrases written in strips of raw meat line the walls. In the second room is Phantoms of Liberty, an installation of various domestic objects — including a toaster oven, a toolbox, and a sewing machine — completely enfolded in camouflage, alluding to the specter of the Iraq War and its insidious effect on daily life. On the wall, Dube quotes Nietzsche, implying that the root cause of the conflict is an "audacious manliness" that manifests itself in a "genius for war." Dube's shrouded sculptures undermine that audacity by pointing out the wounds that are particularly difficult to dress.  - Cynthia Lugo

  Tom Friedman: Monsters and Stuff

Gagosian Gallery
Now through July 25

You can't accuse Tom Friedman of favoritism: he'll work in any material, from pubic hair and dust to insulation foam and glitter. In his latest exhibition, Friedman's provocative humor begins with the show's title — the mention of monsters is immediately and amusingly enticing, while "and Stuff" breezily references the American artist's eclectic media with deliberate vagueness, a token of his disdain for restrictive narrative boundaries. The pieces on show have no obvious uniformity. The spiky, more-than-two-meter-tall Green Demon guards the entrance with toothpick teeth, standing next to a mirror-written message beginning "I am the supreme one!" Monster Collage's surreal canvas of magazine cut-outs is mounted crookedly on the wall, supported by a pair of photographic feet at its bottom; similarly, the pointed sorcerer's hat of Which is delicately constructed from shards of paper.  - Lucy Davies

  Eddie Martinez: New Paintings

Galleri Loyal
Now through July 6

Brooklyn-based figurative painter Eddie Martinez makes his third solo appearance at Stockholm's Galleri Loyal, affirming the gallery's dedication to art that communicates visually rather than conceptually. In 15 mixed-media paintings, all from 2008, Martinez presents improvised, chaotic explorations of everyday life. Inspiration seems to come from cartoons, films, and graffiti culture, although the artist's colorful clowns, blockheads, robots, and skulls also make the occasional, darkly edged reference to art history. Spastic Plant is a clever variation on a floral still life, but Martinez exchanges the elegant bouquet in a crystal vase for weeds and mushrooms growing in a clay pot; and elsewhere, van Gogh's boots become tricolor boat shoes.  - Elna Svenle

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[ Goshka Maçuga ]


Goshka Maçuga

Recently shortlisted for the Tate's 2008 Turner Prize, Goshka Maçuga is enjoying a rapid ascent to art stardom. The Polish-born, London-based artist is an alumna of Goldsmiths College — home of the infamous YBAs, who inspired successive generations of artists to strive for both critical and monetary success. Both celebrated and vilified for their curatorial mimicry and artistic appropriation, Maçuga's architectural installations skew history and context, incorporating other artists' work alongside an array of ephemera and curios.

For Picture Room, her 2003 solo show at Gasworks Gallery, Maçuga restaged a portion of the famous picture room at the Sir John Soane's Museum, displaying works by 30 artists, including Paul Noble and 2004 Beck's Futures winner Saskia Olde Wolbers, raising questions of authorship and trust among artists.

More recently, Maçuga borrowed the set designs of silent-film classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) for her installation The Sleep of Ulro, which premiered in 2006 at the A Foundation during the Liverpool Biennial. She again featured other artists, borrowing work from local museums and galleries. At this year's Berlin Biennial, Maçuga draped a glass structure entitled Haus der Frau 2 with fabrics designed by German artists Eva Berendes, Bernd Ribbec, and Klaus Weber. On view at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Maçuga's glass-paneled Deutsches Volk - deutsche Arbeit installation — considered the artist's most ambitious work to date — bears more than a passing resemblance to Dan Graham's airy, reflective pavilions.

In her 2007 Art Now: Objects in Relation exhibition at the Tate — for which she earned a Turner nod — Maçuga juxtaposed objects from the museum's collection in an exploration of archival and curatorial methods. The large-scale installation — full of books, artworks, and historical artifacts — provides an alternate commentary on the classifications of history and culture through museum practices.  - Sara Raza

Goshka Maçuga's work will be on view in the Turner Prize 2008 exhibition, which opens at London's Tate Britain on September 30.

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[ Olafur Eliasson ]  

Olafur Eliasson
View more images »
Olafur Eliasson creates temporary art installations that demand to be experienced rather than just seen. His current traveling exhibition, Take your time — now on view at New York's Museum of Modern Art and Long Island City's P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center — surveys a number of his phenomenal works, while the Public Art Fund kicks off his latest monumental project, The New York City Waterfalls, in the New York Harbor's East River this week. Artkrush editor Paul Laster recently caught up with the busy artist to discuss his works at all three sites.
AK: Take your time at the Museum of Modern Art and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center offers a wide range of your experimental works from the past two decades. The installations on display are minimalist and seem as if they could be viewed quickly, but the show's title implies otherwise. Why did you choose that title?

OE: I wouldn't necessarily say that the works are quick or easy to see. Of course, if you enter the museum with a fixed, preconceived idea of what you will experience, then you can run through the exhibition in no time. But to my mind, seeing is not enough. Take your time is more about engaging physically with the works, and the body is really slow — it takes time for different senses to be activated.

AK: Your Room for one colour light installation at MoMA makes for quite a surreal experience. It not only changes the way we see the space, by bathing it in yellow light, but it changes the way we see one another by tinting us in shades of gray, as though we've been transported back to the era of black-and-white television and film. How did you develop this installation, and what are the best conditions for viewing it?

keep reading the interview »

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  Rirkrit Tiravanija: A Retrospective (tomorrow is another fine day)
Gridthiya Gaweewong, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Rochelle Steiner, Philippe Parreno, Bruce Sterling, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Francesca Grassi
JRP Ringier

Rirkrit Tiravanija, who built his reputation on cooking delicious curry dishes as installation art, is something of an enigma. The son of a Thai diplomat, Tiravanija was born in Buenos Aires in 1961 and studied in Toronto and Chicago before landing at the Whitney Independent Study Program in the mid-'80s. He gained a loyal audience with his gallery-transforming free meals and laid the groundwork for further social interactions with his 1997 MoMA project, which offered a diminutive model of Philip Johnson's Glass House as a space for children's art workshops. Two years later, Tiravanija sealed his place in the contemporary-art pantheon with a fully functional plywood replica of his New York apartment, open to the public 24 hours a day at Gavin Brown's enterprise. This comprehensive monograph documents these and many more projects by the artist. Highlights include Tiravanija's Hugo Boss Prize exhibition at New York's Guggenheim Museum in 2005, for which he constructed a low-power television station to challenge government control of the airwaves, and the 2005 traveling survey show A Retrospective (tomorrow is another fine day), from which this colorful volume get its title.  - Paul Laster

Rirkrit Tiravanija's work is currently on view in numerous group exhibitions in the US and Europe; a solo show opens at Artspace in Auckland, New Zealand in August.

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Cover Art
Guillaume Bijl
The Concise History of Prehistoric Man, 1996
Installation view at Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent
Dimensions variable
Photo: Dirk Pauwels
Courtesy S.M.A.K., Ghent
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster

Deputy Editor
Joel Withrow

News Editor
Greg Zinman

Reviews Editor
H.G. Masters

Contributing Editors
Adda Birnir
Jennifer Y. Chen
Erin Cowgill
Shana Nys Dambrot
Sarah Kessler
Doug Levy
Andrew Maerkle
Mark Mangan
Bryony Roberts
Marlyne Sahakian
Peter Stepek
Sarah Stephenson

Lucy Davies
Laura Richard Janku
Pontus Kyander
Cynthia Lugo
Lauren McKee
Sara Raza
Elna Svenle

Mailer Design
Jessica Bauer-Greene
Mark Barry

Anna Altman
Morgan Croney
Andrew Steinmetz
Daphne Yang

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