By The Art Book Review

Reviews of art books.

HOLY HUNGER: You Who Read Me With Passion Now Must Forever Be My Friends

  Reviewed by Meg Whiteford   Dear A,   Last night I hallucinated a man sitting in a Quaker chair. He was staring at me. I remember him wearing orange. I wasn’t afraid, just confused.   Still constantly imagining bodies floating upward and everyone on the ground pulling them back down again by the legs. Like a floating transcending air ballet.   I want to explore androgyny with you. Shave our heads at the napes and gather the rest in small buns at the crowns. Later we can try on suits and use each other as mirrors.   You are…

Such Mean Estate

  Reviewed by Rachel Lyon   In our world, entertainment about apocalypse has taken the place of religious prophesy. We watch films about the end of the world and, even as we know that ocean levels are rising, species dying, populations booming, and resources dwindling, we enjoy the show.   Ryan Spencer is the street photographer of apocalypse films. He watches on his laptop with a Polaroid camera in hand. Sound off, sometimes he listens simultaneously to a soundtrack of his own design, an unrelated album evocative of a feeling similar to what he wants to tease out. There are…

The day my mother touched Robert Ryman

Reviewed by Weronika Trojanska   I am trying to remind myself if I have ever seen any of Robert Ryman’s famous white paintings “live”. Some of them are apparently in the collection of Museum of Modern Art in New York. I remember perfectly that I was there, but I am not able now to call up his paintings. I don’t remember whether I saw them or not. Maybe because their surface is white and it just simply merged with the wall, becoming invisible. While on the same trip to United States, I missed visiting the Dia Art Foundation in Beacon…

Charles Atlas

Reviewed by Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal   “It was never intended to be documentation. They were collaborations,” Charles Atlas tells Stuart Comer in an interview for this full-color monographic, 13”x 10” book representing fifty years of the artist’s work in 300+ pages. Atlas is speaking about his films and videos produced in conjunction with choreographers. As he reminds us, these works do not “document” dance. They are not “about” dance. Atlas’s best works are better described as dances themselves, managing to subject a stationary audience to movement’s swells and sways.   How to document these non-documents? Of course, Charles Atlas deserves…

Fuck Seth Price

Reviewed by Benjamin Lord   The Careerist without Qualities   Seth Price’s new book, Fuck Seth Price is a searingly pungent, often comic rumination on art world economies, myths, and power structures, presented in the form of an early 20th century novel of ideas. The artist-protagonist, an unnamed third person “he,” drifts through a mid-career haze in which every ladder has been successfully climbed, and all moral and aesthetic compass has been lost. Deep in an interiorized world of cultural-theory speculation, his will and his actions become dissociated. Decision-making becomes impossible, and there’s nothing left to do but disappear.  …

Notes Reach Towards: A Review of Show Bible

Reviewed by Allison Noelle Conner For the past month I have been puzzling joyously over Martine Syms’ Show Bible. Throughout my reading experience I kept stopping to ask myself: what is this? How to describe its slippery forms? Is it a notebook? Sketches for a film piece? Production collage? Stills from an experimental video? A documentary? Research for a pilot? *** How to convey to you the shock of the fuchsia text? The unexpectedness? The color immediately defamiliarizes your positioning as a reader, stranding you in a late night TV scramble rather than the pages of a book. It seems…

Marcel Broodthaers Works and Collected Writings

Reviewed by Zac Dempster     RONALD REAGAN: Marcel nothing is free you know. MARCEL BROODTHAERS: I am always in support of the act of writing. No matter how banal.   We’re accustomed to dining on egg shells, thigh bones and casseroles of shellacked mussels—signs of poverty and irony idealizing the Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers’s daily bread. His was a two-sided discovery: in a world where writer and audience were finding themselves increasingly out of sync, no one writes to be read, but on the contrary, ersatz imitations sell. His scruples dashed, Broodthaers made sculptures late in life that could…

Sphinx

Reviewed by Leah Dieterich     The first thing you do when you read Sphinx is drop it face down in a puddle.   The puddle is poolside at a faux-Moroccan villa in the desert and is probably runoff from someone’s bathing suit crotch. Luckily, you grab it quickly enough that nothing is ruined. It is nearly 110 degrees Fahrenheit and anything wet, dries.   You and your lover retreat to your room, deciding it is too hot for reading. The air conditioning is already running and you pull down the shades and lay on your stomach on the rug,…

Kodachrome

Reviewed by Erica Vincenzi     In 1978, Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri published the book Kodachrome, featuring a series of his photographs taken with the title’s namesake, the now-discontinued Kodachrome film. The second edition was recently printed in 2013 by MACK. According to the publisher, all aspects of the new edition – design, size, sequence of photographs, etc. – remain true to the 1978 version, except the prints themselves. MACK used current technology to reproduce the prints directly from Ghirri’s negatives, allowing for a rendering of the artist’s images that is more true to the soft, yet striking, colors characteristic…

Michael Dean

Reviewed by Tiziana La Melia     Flooring the floor. Dooring the door. Walling the wall.   — To / the look of touch.   In the video of bpNichol, Echoes Without Saying (1983), the Canadian poet says: “One of the things that you have when you have a book, anybody’s book, from an accounting textbook on, is you do have a hunk of sculpture . . . You have a little piece of sculpture that you can do things with.” bp is known for making books that tried to get out of books. Michael Dean makes books that are…

Kitsch Encyclopedia

Reviewed by Alison Cooley     Encyclopedia might be the wrong word for Sara Cwynar’s Kitsch Encyclopedia: A Survey of Universal Knowledge. The text is not a categorical rundown of all the kitsch on earth, but rather a kind of dialogue between New York–based Cwynar’s own magpie-like photographic practice, and three texts: Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Jean Baudrillard’s Simulations and Roland Barthes’s Mythologies.   Following Kundera’s formulation of kitsch (that kitsch is a pleasantly simplified, aestheticized version of life that allows its recipients to ignore life’s disagreeable or difficult aspects), Cwynar traces its analogues in Baudrillard and…

Outland

Reviewed by Ananda Pellerin   “Sexy boys, fancy boys / Playboys, bad boys / I fink u freeky and I like you a lot” —Die Antwoord   Long curling toenails and rats in dirty beds: Roger Ballen’s world can be an ugly place. In fact it’s unrelentingly ugly in this new anthology  by the New York-born, Johannesburg-based photographer. Cross-eyed and one-eyed men and children with misshapen heads; animals that are better groomed than their destitute owners—they are unsettling but certainly transfixing, these domestic mise-en-scènes set in small South African towns. Originally published in 2001, this recently expanded edition of post-Apartheid…

Picturing Beirut

Reviewed by Iris Yirei Hu     All the Clocks Have Stopped at Different Times   I am traveling back home—a distant land, one that I never inhabited for more than a summer. I am returning to the same flat that my grandmother adopted in Taipei after World War II and the Chinese Civil War. The one in which my mother and five of her older siblings were born. It is the vessel that houses my history, though I am only familiar with it from a distance.   It is with this lens that I am writing about artist Gilda…

New York School Painters & Poets – Neon in Daylight

Reviewed by Lorraine Lupo     In a way it should never have been called the New York School – maybe New York Hangout/Party/Get-Together? Which isn’t to say they weren’t serious. Which isn’t to say that fun wasn’t crucial.   New York School Painters & Poets – Neon in Daylight (deftly assembled by editors Jenni Quilter, Bill Berkson and Larry Fagin, and with excellent essays by Quilter) tells the history of the brushing up against, and full collaboration between, visual artists and poets of what we call, for better or worse, the first and second generations of the New York…

Girl in a Band

Reviewed by Lia Trinka-Browner   #Who’sKimGordon?   The 1970s was the first era that learned how to exploit youth culture, and it was the birthplace of corporate rock. It didn’t last long. By 1977 the Clash had written a song with the lyric “No Elvis, Beatles, or the Rolling Stones” and Iggy Pop and the Stooges had burst forward as the first punk rockers. But Iggy had been there all along, rumbling under the beatific skies of the 1960’s—a disruption into what was supposed to be entertainment and positive vibes. Iggy walked out into the audience, broke glass, smeared himself…