Around the World | Portugal Arte 10

Marco Brambilla, Civilization (Megaplex), 2008Six hours by plane from a currently vacant New York City is Lisbon, a cultural megaplex, historical treasure, and now proud host of Portugal Arte, a grand-scale exhibition that utilizes not only the urban landscape of the city but also its surrounding regions to engender public discourse and community engagement. The ambitious project is spearheaded by Stefan Simchowitz and Miguel Carvalho, who have employed a diverse committee of curators, artists, designers, and architects to achieve the intended biennial’s monumental scope. The resultant series of eight individually curated group exhibitions melds with the public sites and spectacular scenery to give this already mind-blowing country a new source of artistic beauty.

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Around the World | London Contemporary Auctions


London’s June Contemporary sales signify the beginning of the auction season’s, and much of the art world’s, summer hiatus. Many pecuniary enthusiasts have therefore scrambled to classify this week’s variegated sales records as a predictor of either rising or falling prices and an indicator of the depth or financial prowess of the market. In truth, the results are a direct function of the quality and diversity of property being offered; the largely unadventurous and second-tier lots were shunned by bidders, while pieces that were unique and fresh to the market were greeted as such.

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Around the World | Art Basel


A flood of new buyers fused with the usual suspects at Tuesday’s Preview of Art 41 Basel, leading many dealers to report sales in the seven-figure range just hours after they opened.  The grande-dame of contemporary fairs spreads out on its home turf, with five subdivisions in addition to the approximately 300 gallery booths.   The monumental Art Unlimited sector, featuring large-scale installations by Dan Flavin (David Zwirner), Ugo Rondinone (Barbara Gladstone), Zhang Huan (Pace), Michelangelo Pistoletto (Galleria Continua) and 52 others, is rivaled in ingenuity this year by  Art Parcours, a three-night series of site-specific artworks and performances in the historic center of Basel.

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Around Town | Re:Group, Key to the City, Jorge Pardo

Photograph of site-specific installation Steve Lambert and Packard Jennings, Wish You Were Here! Postcards from our awesome future, 2007 Image courtesy Eyebeam

Re:Group: Beyond Models of Consensus

Eyebeam Gallery’s latest group show addresses the recent explosion of participatory mechanisms across technology and media in an attempt to expose these models’ inner conflicts and increase their transparency.   The thirteen large-scale works on display offer a welcome complexity that draws even the most indolent gallery-goer into an active spectatorship.  This seemingly ironic call for audience participation establishes a firm distinction between collaboration and consensus, which Re:Group aims to extend into the current social, economic, and political archetypes around the world.

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Around Town | Kiki Smith, Julie Mehretu, Bushwick Open Studios


1. Kiki Smith, Lodestar

Kiki Smith’s first major New York gallery show in eight years is comprised of nearly 30 hand-painted stained glass panels that collectively make up the installation “Pilgrim.” The work’s title alludes to Smith’s contemporary allegoric depiction of secular life infused with imagery sometimes drawn from sacred traditions. The work was initially inspired by the 18th-century needlepoint The First, Second, and Last Scene of Mortality, themes of which are evident throughout the delicate portraits of women in various stages of life and human experience.

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Around Town | Ghada Amer, Christian Boltanski, Meredith James


3.  Meredith James, Espalier

Now in its penultimate weekend, Yale MFA graduate Meredith James’ first solo show depicts a diverse oeuvre of sculpture, video, and installation.  The artist’s spatial innovations are prevalent across all media, incorporating unconventional viewing apparatuses and vantage points into the experience of her films—both during production and in the gallery.  James’ work is both understandable and enjoyable due to the fluid manner in which she lays bare her process, and the dialogue which she invites.

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Around Town | Big Bambu, Barbara Kruger, Brucennial

Big Bambu

1. Doug and Mike Starn, Big Bambú: You Can’t, You Don’t, and You Won’t Stop

Appropriate to its subtitle, the latest collaboration between identical twins Doug and Mike Starn is a soaring, undulating, interlocking, and, most importantly, ever-evolving, network of 5,000 bamboo poles and 50 miles of nylon rope.  The New Jersey-born duo have erected the structure, which reached a height of 30 feet for its opening on Tuesday, atop the roof of the Met in cooperation with a team of rock climbers.  The work’s dynamic nature will be realized in its continued construction for the duration of the exhibit, which will be filmed and documented, espousing the Starns’ transcendence of traditionally separate disciplines by integrating performance, architecture, sculpture, photography, and film.

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Around Town | Quarantine, Kentridge, McNamara

Katie Holten, Image from trip to abandoned Quarantine Station on North Brother Island, NYC, November 2009.  Image via dpr-barcelona.

1.  Landscapes of Quarantine

The Storefront for Art and Architecture’s multi-disciplinary group show explores contemporary notions of spatial separation and confinement that range from literal to whimsical interpretations of its title.  Landscapes of Quarantine originated as an eight-week independent design studio directed by the exhibit’s curators, Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley of Future Plural, whose participants discussed the theoretical implications of their subject matter before formulating  a creative response.  This Saturday at 3 pm the curators, artists, and designers will be on hand to answer questions and give visitors a final walkthrough of their collaboration.

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Marina Abramović, The Artist is Present

Marina Abramovic, Rhythm 0

Right now Yugoslavian-born artist Marina Abramović is seated, silent and motionless, at a wooden table in the Museum of Modern Art’s second-floor atrium.   She will remain in this position until May 31s for a total duration of 700 hours, marking her most ambitious endurance test to date.  Unlike 2002’s The House with the Ocean View, which required Abramović to live in Sean Kelly Gallery for 12 days without eating, drinking or sleeping, The Artist is Present allows her to leave every evening upon the museum’s closing.  But this trial of resolve is no less physically demanding than the Kelly performance, especially considering the artist’s current age of 63.  It is no less daring than Rhythm 0 (1974), when the artist invited her audience to use an assortment of 72 objects on her as she remained silent and passive for six hours, which resulted in her being stripped naked,  cut with razor blades, and threatened with a loaded gun held to her head.

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Around Town | Armory Week


The heavyweight of New York fairs started on a high note this year as dealers reported strong sales during Wednesday’s Preview and a note of optimism rippled through the art world press.   Eye-catching installations include James Nares at Paul Kasmin (927), Pilar Alborrasiti at Galeria Filomena Soares (1043), Josephine Meckseper at Elizabeth Dee (910), Adam McEwen at Nicole Kragsbrun (1027), and Grayson Perry at Victoria Miro (1700). A group of noteworthy newcomers to the fair this year is comprised of LES galleries Eleven Rivington (936), Rental (741), and Lisa Cooley (706), each meeting with encouraging success in their respective Armory debuts.

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