In this issue:
As of 2017, narcissism is the go-to term to convey myriad issues: from simple self-involvement to psychopathic abuse. Narcissism is used with the same ease to refer to the poses of teenage girls on Instagram and the delusions of Donald Trump. Kathy Noble focuses on the manifestations of narcissism in recent art that consider the construction and performance of identity in American culture.
Just as every book creates its ideal reader, every institution creates an ideal visitor and dangles before us the possibility that we might become that person. Can an institution—especially a state-funded one—be avant-garde? Nick Currie is not sure, but he knows that he feels a little better about himself after a visit to HKW. His idealized self-image—his superego’s self-projection—became rather advanced and avant-garde.
“Do you dream of information technology?” Erkki Kurenniemi was once asked. “I dream of different components,” he replied, “various small boxes containing screws, resistors, and capacitors. I get to fiddle with them and collect them. Often there are so many free components, and I get frustrated not being able to collect them all in my pockets.” Robert Barry on the pioneering Finnish composer and filmmaker.
To feel alive is a very difficult state to define. This is far from the role of art, so unwilling to dispense energy in rapture, and yet it seems that art is crucial in the experience of feeling alive. But experience is a complex notion that poses so many questions to the wealthy and to the poor, to those who cannot have enough of it and those who would replace it with a waterfall of critical thoughts. By Chus Martínez.
Hans Ulrich Obrist in an in-depth conversation with the Los Angeles-based artist John Knight, who since the 1960s has been a fixture of American conceptual art and institutional critique. Here—in occasion of his participation to Skulptur Projekte 2017—he articulates his passion for architecture and the ideas of “in situ” and “residual objects” that have informed his practice.
Yann Chateigné Tytelman often thinks of a conversation he had in Geneva with the artist Simon Haenni on a cold and rainy day in fall 2014. They briefly talked about a work presented in the group show, Socles, curated by Nicolas Trembley. Taking the form of a transparent face with a flat mouth, the piece looked at us like a skeptical persona, one that made me want to investigate distance and inactivity. This text acts as a possible introduction to something like a theory of anesthesia.
On the occasion of Seth Price‘s survey exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, this exchange between the New York–based artist and the director of the ICA London, Stefan Kalmár, touches on some of the themes and ideas that have animated Price’s almost 20-year-long career—the infrastructure of so-called social media, fragments and debris, and more.
When Orit Gat left Cuba, she thought she knew all there was to know about El Paquete Semanal, a collection of one terabyte of information—files of movies, TV shows, mp3s, and music videos, magazines, sports events, games, and other media—distributed weekly door-to-door. Artists Julia Weist and Nestor Siré proved her wrong: their long-term interest in the subject will bear fruit in an exhibition opening at the Queens Museum on September 17.
If language speaks us, how do we speak another? How to construct a collective without enforcing consensus? For the artist Johannes Paul Raether—here in conversation with Ana Teixeira Pinto—a novel vocabulary is needed in order to undo the chauvinist episteme that try to speak us. In his distributed social interventions, the artist activates alter identities, not unitary agents but aggregates of affects and intensities.
Yan Xing is sitting in the garden of a restaurant in Basel, Switzerland. It’s starting to get dark, even a little cold. He’s wearing a t-shirt and smoking a cigarette. He’s under a lot of pressure. He’s installing a show called Dangerous Afternoon, opening at the Kunsthalle Basel. It will present traces of evidence for a fictional event—a narrative featuring a perverted curator, a manipulative lover, and an unpredictable artist. By Adam Jasper.
In their subversive and ironic work, the architects Trix and Robert Haussmann—here in conversation with Fredi Fischli and Niels Olsen—revolutionized Swiss modernism. In recent years, the Haussmanns’ dialogue with contemporary artists led to works by artists like Liam Gillick and Karl Holmqvist, as tributes to the Haussmanns’ design concepts. In 2018, an extensive monographic exhibition will take place at KW Berlin.
Kevin Jerome Everson‘s film practice brings together archival, documentary, scripted footage and “choreographed” depictions of reality—often focusing on labor-work or the ordinary activities of everyday life—and in the process challenges geographic, class, and racial stereotypes. He talks about his work, methodology, and point of views with Jarrett Gregory.
People say that utopia doesn’t exist. Leilah Weinraub‘s documentary, SHAKEDOWN, suggests otherwise. Weinraub’s impressionistic documentation of the underground black lesbian stripping scene in Los Angeles posits that utopia might be found behind closed doors, in small clubs where strobe lights dance on brown skin, and the air is thick with sweat and desire. An interview by Aria Dean.
Rahel Aima first met artist Lantian Xie through THE STATE. Like the city’s long term residents-but-not-citizens—like the both of them—it is a publishing practice intimately informed by what it means to be from Dubai. They speak about the artist’s interest in astrophysics, romance novels and fast food, the suite of performances that comprise his participation in the UAE pavilion at the Venice Biennale, and waiting for a downbeat that never arrives.
Who can bear to look at the news any longer? An endless stream of unfathomable events, outlandish “alternative facts,” worldwide traumas, dimwitted and dangerous responses, veritable nuclear threats, and when the mundane makes an inevitable appearance, it is difficult not to be offended by the seeming crassness of its innocence and banality. Andréa Picard and Basma Alsharif in conversation.
Jens Hoffmann gives an overview of artists who have worked and are working within their particular aesthetic realms to confront political problems with rigor and potency. Echoing Beuys’s query—”WHAT CAN WE DO?”— he invites us to match our ideals with our actions in order to be sure that “what we actually do in practice in our economic, political and cultural dealings” aligns with our shared political beliefs.
Political expression isn’t always so obvious, argues Andrew Berardini in this essay: “Through overflowing emotions and hallucinatory visions, ecstatic sexuality and sensual fantasy, we find ways of coping with political trauma—a catharsis and community as valid as any political party. Our fantasies are not distractions, but that loose place where difficult dreams take shape and become possible.”
Curator Kitty Scott talks with Duane Linklater: The artist—whose work, in part, concerns the exploration of the museum in relation to the current and historical conditions of indigenous people—is deep in a questioning mode that complicates all the work he makes. His responses take diverse material forms and refuse easy resolutions. Schools, museums, and gallery walls, as well as hunting and fishing, have all figured in his practice.
Robertas Narkus‘ latest solo show at Vilnius’ Contemporary Art Center, Träger, is populated by characters invisible to the naked eye. They can only be seen with the help of a smartphone or tablet that augments reality, revealing scanned figures performing various activities around the room. Here in conversation with Elvia Wilk.
Conquistador III, a poster by Wolfgang Tillmans. The third in a series of posters created by artists, commissioned for Mousse by Stefan Kalmár.