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Rosemary Laing, Weather #12 (detail), 2006

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New Art from Australia
July 23 - Aug 5, 2008

In this issue of Artkrush, we survey the contemporary art scene of an entire continent with guidance from the 2008 Biennale of Sydney, a multi-venue event that balances 20th-century masters with present-day Australian practitioners. From the wide range of talent found Down Under, we spotlight Claire Healy & Sean Cordeiro, whose collaborative installations bind together and disassemble all manner of objects, from books to mobile homes, and Artkrush editor Paul Laster talks with Tracey Moffatt, one of Australia's most acclaimed contemporary artists, about her artistic motives. For our media pick, we tip our hat to innovative design with Australian Architecture: Living the Modern. Turning our attention to the gallery world, we review Cary Kwok's titillating, colored-pencil drawings at Miami's Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin and TARANTULA, a rotating public screening of films and videos by 15 artists in Milan's Piazza del Duomo.

Beijing Unveils New Architecture
(New York Times, July 13)
Whether the subject is art, architecture, or Olympic controversy, China is fast becoming the center of the world's attention. The New York Times surveyed the state of the country's new buildings, from Norman Foster's air terminal and Herzog & de Meuron's "bird's nest" stadium to Paul Andreu's National Theater, PTW's National Aquatics Center, and Rem Koolhaas' CCTV headquarters. Meanwhile, in related stories, the Museum of Modern Art in New York has purchased 23 photographs by eight contemporary Chinese artists, NPR covered the burgeoning Chinese art market, and a London paper excoriated the "parade of uglies" comprising the host nation's Olympic buildings.

Banksy's Identity Revealed
(Daily Mail, July 12)
Graf prankster Banksy has recently been outed as "former public schoolboy" Robin Gunningham. The identity of the 34-year-old incognito artist was uncovered by the UK's Mail on Sunday, which spoke with Banksy/Gunningham's old classmates. While some believe the artist's middle-class origins will grate on fans who adore his anti-establishment stance, others have asked, "Who cares?" — while still others have chosen to make light of the whole semi-scandal.

Lautner's Buildings Celebrated in LA
(Los Angeles Times, July 14)
The Hammer Museum is renovating the reputation of an underappreciated architect with a new show dedicated to the work of John Lautner. The exhibition demonstrates how Lautner, known as a Frank Lloyd Wright protégé and a designer of houses that resembled flying saucers, made use of new building technologies. Each of Lautner's homes is private yet extraordinary, like a "cave with a view," representing a productive tension between futurism and the flight from urban spaces. The show also showcases short films on Lautner by Murray Grigor, whose feature-length film about the architect comes out this fall.

Kapoor Nabs Major Public Project
(Independent, July 11)
Sculptor Anish Kapoor has teamed up with structural designer Cecil Balmond to create five colossal works that will stand as the largest public-art project in the world. The £15 million Giants will reside in England's Tees Valley, and the Turner Prize-winning artist expects to complete the first massive piece — measuring 164 feet high and 360 feet long — by next summer. The work will weigh 66 tons and will be built with steel and cable, reflecting the industrial history of its Middlesbrough home. Not everyone was happy with the heady news, however; one critic wrote that the project represented "idiotic vanity" on the part of the planners. In related news, architects Herzog & de Meuron have enlisted Kapoor to create a monumental public sculpture for a new building in New York.

Praise for Frank Gehry's Serpentine Pavilion more »

Damien Hirst reinvents the rules for selling art more »

Australia still struggling with censorship, weeks after the Bill Henson affair more »

Italian leader emasculates Daniel Libeskind's Milan tower more »

Tracey Emin achieves success, but still wants a family more »

Like the pyramids, Berlin's Weimar-era buildings are now UN Heritage sites more »

Painter Elizabeth Peyton shows off her shutterbug side more »

Architect Kengo Kuma cites sushi's architectural principles more »

New documentary follows chemical highs and professional lows of painter Chuck Connelly more »

How much is an inflatable lobster worth? more »

Martin Creed off to the races at Tate Britain more »

Renzo Piano approves changes to New York Times building façade to deter future climbers more »

Russian supersocialite Dasha Zhukova making her art-world mark more »

Family calls on renowned Dutch architect Winy Maas to solve space problems more »

Chuck Close on his life in art more »

MoMA sets up prefab suburb in NYC parking lot more »

Steven Kurtz showcases personal details of his bioterror art case more »

Woodstock museum packs a psychedelic punch more »

Is London suffering from contemporary-art fatigue? more »

...Or is there a new renaissance for the British art scene? 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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[ Revolutions — Forms That Turn ]


Vernon Ah Kee / Richard Bell / Stuart Ringholt

With the increasing commercialization of biennials and art fairs, can revolutionary ideas retain their relevancy in the art world? The 2008 Biennale of Sydney explores the progressive, the subversive, and the transgressive in a variety of media. More than 180 artists from 42 countries take up the exhibition theme of Revolutions — Forms That Turn, a pun that artistic director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev deepens as "the impulse to revolt. Revolving, rotating, mirroring, repeating, reversing, turning upside down or inside out, changing perspectives." She adds, "I think it is important to shift biennales away from content-based shows, to remind people of the politics of language itself. Revolutions focuses instead on 'the formal gestures embedded in the etymology of the word.'"

In addition to exhibiting newer works, Christov-Bakargiev sourced institutional loans, retrieving past treasures from Australian and international collections in a gesture of historical reappraisal. With limited Asian and regional participation, her Eurocentric view at the Art Gallery of South Wales and the Museum of Contemporary Art steers towards iconic 20th-century works by Aleksandr Rodchenko, Alexander Calder, and Hans Bellmer. Movement abounds with Marcel Duchamp's famous Bicycle Wheel on a stool, Francis Alÿs' nine video perspectives of a stumbling man, and Shaun Gladwell's installation of mountain bikes-turned-sound instruments accompanying a video of stunt-riders. One of the most raucous works is Christoph Büchel's group of octogenarians singing the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen," while Tony Schwensen takes the prize for most humorous with Fundrazor, a barbecue staged outside the MCA to raise funds for 2010 Biennale projects.

Taking a ferry to the new venue Cockatoo Island is certainly one of the Biennale's highlights. With past incarnations as a prison, a shipyard, and a reformatory for wayward girls, Cockatoo's dilapidated spaces are filled with single-channel videos and large-scale installations. Richard Bell poses in a video as a black Sigmund Freud, psychoanalyzing well-known Australians, while Mike Parr's sequence of violent and visceral performances becomes especially confrontational amid the grime, chicken feathers, and stench of urine in the former sailors' quarters. Based on Nikolai Gogol's The Nose, William Kentridge's newly narrated commission lures viewers in droves with its multichannel, animated projection of Russian characters and symbols. Elsewhere, the voluminous Turbine Hall contains Jannis Kounellis' forest of boat sails and Vernon Ah Kee's haunting pastel-and-charcoal portraits of Aboriginal families.

Sound works are plentiful, including projects by TV Moore and Susan Phillipsz on Cockatoo Island and Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's The Murder of Crows at Pier 2/3. Christov-Bakargiev may have been tempted to fill the cavernous pier warehouse with an architectural intervention, but she instead deployed sound to draw on the poetry of the empty site: inspired by Goya's The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, Cardiff and Miller's 100 single-channel recordings — all on individual speakers — morph into dreamlike incantations in a marching requiem.

Artspace, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and the Sydney Opera House — where Pierre Huyghe created a 24-hour spectacle, with an installation of live trees and mist replacing the stage and seats — also host projects, while revolutionsonline, a web-only venue, presents a variety of digital work in an ever-changing space.  - Natalie King

The 2008 Biennale of Sydney continues through September 7.

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  Cary Kwok

Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin
Now through July 26

Hong Kong-born Cary Kwok's drawings rival the scene at Miami's South Beach for perfect pecs and abs of steel. The fashion-school grad's first exhibition at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin presents a titillating take on the human form comprised of nine individual drawings, plus eight others in a series titled Rapture. Confronting the viewer with uncomfortably intimate imagery, Rapture depicts an exquisitely rendered penis in various states of flaccidity, erection, and orgasm. Drawn with a simple ballpoint pen and color pencils and reminiscent of Tom of Finland, Kwok's subjects are highly stylized, right down to the artist's signature unfurled on an old-fashioned heart tattooed on the chest of a blindfolded, shackled, and erect muscleman in Blind Date Buffet — a balance of humor, retro-camp, and deft drawing.  - Daria Brit Shapiro

  Mat Collishaw
New York

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
Now through July 31

Susan Sontag observed in On Photography, "One's first encounter with the photographic inventory of ultimate horror is a kind of revelation... a negative epiphany." Mat Collishaw's Deliverance explores this shock effect of disturbing photography on the psyche. In the main room, staged disaster shots — indigent children fleeing an unknown threat, a mother clutching her distressed infant — are projected in rapid succession onto gallery walls slicked with phosphorescent paint. Displayed concurrently with a flashing strobe, the photographs' afterimages linger before fading, producing a phantasmagoric effect. Two daguerreotypes outside the main installation lend these same images a miniature, spectral quality that's just as arresting. Collishaw's latest work elaborates simultaneously on the omnipresence of crisis imagery in the media and the fleeting nature of the photographic medium.  - Cynthia Lugo

Mat Collishaw's work is also on view at Haunch of Venison in London, through August 31.

  Jules de Balincourt: Malpais

Galerie Thaddeaus Ropac
Now through July 26

A Pixies song is perhaps the best analogy for a Jules de Balincourt show: the 18 oil- and acrylic-on-panel paintings in Malpais are arranged loud, quiet, loud, varying from book-size to gallery-wall expansive. And like indie pop, de Balincourt's mannered aesthetic is catchy and ironic, amateurish but smart, and often as blunt as it is frustratingly coy. The young Paris-born painter's adroit abstractions, notably Where Is Your Flag Now, an array of candy-stick diagonals and colorful blocks, are even akin to an album cover; each has a memorable textual refrain, often the title, printed across the bottom or side. The show's eye-catcher, Getting to No France, features a map of France with place names left blank, another in a series of bungled geographies for which de Balincourt is known.  - Brian Skar


Fondazione Nicola Trussardi
Now through July 27

This July, a 500-square-meter screen covers the scaffolding of Palazzo dell'Arengario in the famous Piazza del Duomo in Milan. But rather than advertising or sporting events, the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi is showing TARANTULA, an anthology of 15 artists' films and videos. Viewers can stop in front of a massive projection and immerse themselves in the work of a different artist each evening. In Dancing in Peckham, Gilliam Wearing frenetically dances in a shopping mall surrounded by indifferent people, while Vito Acconci's provocative experiments from the '70s verify the limits of the body, perception, and space. Other works include the mad universe of John Bock's new Messi Mecker, and Pipilotti Rist's Open My Glade, in which the artist appears with her face crushed against a glass pane.  - Chiara Agnello

  Elke Krystufek: Bedeutungszuwachs Meaning Increasement / A FILM CALLED WOOD

Galerie Barbara Thumm
Now through July 26

In an exhibition spanning Galerie Barbara Thumm's two Berlin spaces, Austrian artist Elke Krystufek furthers her personal, feminist examination of the absurdity of social conventions. The exhibition's centerpiece is Krystufek's 45-minute A FILM CALLED WOOD, which defies filmic conventions by leaping from one obscure monologue to the next, evading narrative coherency. Among Krystufek's seven aggressively expressionist portraits, WOOD's protagonists reappear, as in Virginia, surrounded by jarring quotations from the script, while elsewhere, the artist portrays herself as the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. Krystufek's two curiously domestic sculptures — variations on a table and a pair of nightstands — also directly reference her unruly film. With affinities to the Viennese Actionists, Krystufek plays with different artistic genres to shift the meanings of contemporary iconography.  - Sarah Stephenson

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[ Claire Healy & Sean Cordeiro ]


Claire Healy & Sean Cordeiro

Though Sydney-based collaborators Claire Healy & Sean Cordeiro work with a variety of media, the main focus of their practice is sculptural. Their work explores questions of modern living and related sociopolitical issues, such as globalism, media culture, and consumerism, with a dark and often cynical wit.

Early projects developed Healy and Cordeiro's relationship with found objects, interventions, and sculptural forms, and assemblages have become a central theme in their work. 2004's Deceased Estate collects all of the detritus in an artist's studio into a ball, bound with string, while a 2006 series of sculptural pieces, Word Lack, Pulp Lack, and World Lack, engages books not as vehicles of content, but rather as sheer mass, hewn to perfectly fit into Ikea bookshelves. Later works further refined the duo's artistic concerns; in the 2006 installation Self Storage, a glass-walled shed stored Healy and Cordeiro's personal possessions — now no longer objects of domestic utility, but Tetris-like building blocks in a consolidated sculpture. The impulse here is to collect, condense, and complicate the everyday into the ontological.

2007's Past Times pursues an antithetical strategy — here, Healy and Cordeiro disassemble a vintage caravan and leave the parts arranged on the gallery floor in a sculptural collage, in which the object is re-imagined as two-dimensional. Paper Trail, from the same year, pursues the artists' fascination with globalism; the installation is built around a Mongolian ger, and palettes of industrial paper draw parallels between contemporary mercantile culture and Mongolian imperialism.

In 2008, the pair is reviving an interest in surrealism. Hot Potato, Please Hold, and Once a Jolly Swagman (desert spice) all marry the mundane with the inexplicable in sculptural forms redolent with an implicit critique of consumerism. Other recent works, such as Kitchen Karma, Salute to the Sun, and White Elephant Stall, return to puns on and references to art criticism, or relate abstract exercises in form and volume.  - Ian Shadwell

Claire Healy & Sean Cordeiro will represent Australia in the 2009 Venice Biennale.

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[ Tracey Moffatt ]  

Tracey Moffatt
View more images »
Australian artist Tracey Moffatt creates visually arresting serial photography and video works exploring narrative modes, social conventions, and identity. Recipient of the International Center for Photography's 2007 Infinity Award for Art, Moffatt has exhibited her work in museums, galleries, biennials, and art fairs worldwide. Artkush editor Paul Laster recently caught up with the peripatetic Moffatt, who maintains studios in Brisbane, Sydney, and New York, to discuss her recent work and her collaborative contribution to the 2008 Biennale of Sydney.
AK: Who or what inspired you to become an artist?

TM: I cringe at the title of "artist," yet I guess I must be one, as I sleep in until 9:30am, I make images and films, I have exhibitions, and people write about my "work." I have a lot to say — most artists have a lot to say — and because we are not especially verbal and consider ourselves terribly inarticulate, we make things and exhibit them.

No one person ever inspired me to make art, but art itself has; I've been inspired by an extraordinary film or a novel that stayed with me for days, or weeks, or years, or my whole life — like the other day, when I needed to watch David Lean's 1946 Great Expectations again. I've always seriously studied the history of photography and film, or just generally picture books, encyclopedias, etc., even before I started to exhibit my own photography and short films in Sydney in the mid '80s.

AK: It took me several viewings to get into your 2001 photographic series Fourth, but once I did, I became fascinated with your subjects — the Sydney 2000 Olympics' fourth-place athletes, who had come so close to winning medals, yet lost. What were you looking for in highlighting those moments of defeat?

keep reading the interview »

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  Australian Architecture: Living the Modern
Edited by Claudia Perren and Kristien Ring
Hatje Cantz

Modern architecture in Australia is a relatively new development. Most of the country's 20 million inhabitants live in coastal regions and climates that invite a modernist style receptive to light, air, and space. This well-designed catalogue, published in conjunction with a 2007 exhibition at Berlin's Deutsches Architektur Zentrum, highlights the residential work of 25 architects from the past 15 years. The book is divided into six chapters, which are sandwiched between essays on local modernist pioneers, including Harry Seidler and 2002 Pritzker Prize-winner Glenn Murcutt, and opinions about the future of Australian modernism. The "Minimal" chapter features Ian Moore's Price O'Reilly House, a chic two-story townhouse that opens onto a pristine courtyard, and Collins and Turner's Bombala Farmhouse, a prefab hillside retreat. The "Sculptural" section includes McBride Charles Ryan's surreal Dome House, a copper-clad sphere that erupts from underground, while "Frame" offers Jackson Clements Burrows' Kew House, a three-part structure fanning out over a former tennis court. Chapters on "Interaction," "Landscape," and "East/West" — residences that marry Aussie modernism with international style — round out this comprehensive handbook.  - Paul Laster

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Cover Art
Rosemary Laing
Weather #12, 2006
31 1/2 x 47 1/4 in./ 80 x 120 cm
Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York; Galerie Conrads, Düsseldorf; and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster

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