Monday, December 03, 2007

Alan Saret: Gang Drawings in Time Out NY

Alan Saret, “Gang Drawings”

In 10th-century Japan, a new phonetic shorthand, kana, evolved as an alternative to Chinese script. Unsuitable for business transactions because of its informal nature, but singular for its ability to convey great emotion, kana became the lexical choice of poets; it is the language in which The Tale of Genji, the oldest recorded romance, is written. To walk into the Alan Saret exhibition, “Gang Drawings,” comprising works on paper and wire sculptures spanning the ’60s to the present, is to experience a similar divergence of his work from the language of Minimalism and witness the creation of a new set of morphemes that form the basis of his unique and exceedingly expressive visual vocabulary.

All of the drawings in the show were made by pulling, pushing, dragging or shimmying fistfuls of colored pencils across the page. The resulting groupings of lines connote landscapes, hair clots, scattered grasses; all are clearly part of an experimentation with the drawn mark as base unit of visual language, an effort mirrored in titles that often consist of made-up words. Saret’s contribution to Postminimalism is the simple marriage of process to the infinitely variable hand gesture, and is elegantly epitomized in one of the earliest dated drawings in the show.

Called Half Circles and Sweep Circuit (1967), the work may be a nod to Saret’s interest in architecture and engineering. The ingress and egress of marks to and from a sort of racetrack form is balanced sublimely by the sensitivity of stroke, and the ever-so-slight violence of surrounding staccato traces. This willingness to probe the roots of a way of communicating still registers with freshness and force today.—Tova Carlin

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Alan Saret: Gang Drawings in The New Yorker

The mechanics of Saret’s “Gang Drawings” are deceptively simple: a fistful (a “gang”) of colored pencils produce clusters of synchronized, multihued marks. The images, which evoke swarming paramecia or swirling cosmic dust, project a joyous, concentrated energy—Saret’s habit of using the word “ensoulment” in his titles feels earned. (Two sculptures of tangled wire, the artist’s signature medium, recapitulate the gang forms in three dimensions.) Dating from 1967 to the present, the drawings are a testament to Saret’s stature as a pioneering post-minimalist and to his history as an art-world maverick. Through Feb. 7. (Drawing Center, 35 Wooster St. 212-219-2166.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Alan Saret: Gang Drawings in the New York Times

Alan Saret: Gang Drawings is reviewed in the NYT Times today.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Alan Saret and Kirstine Roepstorff at The Drawing Center

Alan Saret: Gang Drawings

Curated by João Ribas

Alan Saret, Three Circles Rules & Free Sweep, 1967. Colored pencil on paper. Photo by Cathy Carver.

Alan Saret, Three Circles Rules & Free Sweep, 1967. Colored pencil on paper. Photo by Cathy Carver.

Please join us for the opening reception on Thursday, November 8, 6-8 pm.

From November 9, 2007 to February 7, 2008, The Drawing Center will present Alan Saret: Gang Drawings, the first major museum exhibition of the pioneering artist’s work in nearly two decades. Saret is an important figure in the history of Post-Minimal art and was a vital part of the SoHo alternative art scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The exhibition will trace the evolution of Saret's process-based experimentation with drawing, including approximately thirty “Gang Drawings,” made with fistfuls (“gangs”) of colored pencils swept across the page, spanning from the late 1960s to the present. Organized in close collaboration with the artist, Alan Saret: Gang Drawings aims to reveal Saret's influence on a generation of postwar American artists and his contributions to the alternative arts movement, and will feature never-before-seen work from Saret's personal archive.

The exhibition will be accompanied by Drawing Papers 73, a 16-page edition of The Drawing Center's publication series featuring essays by Klaus Kertess , Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit , and Johanna Burton, critic and art historian, as well as color images of works in the exhibition.

There will be a free Gallery Talk on Saturday, December 1 at 4:00 pm with curator João Ribas.

Kirstine Roepstorff: It's Not the Eye of the Needle that Changed—The Time
Curated by João Ribas

Kirstine Roepstorff, One Dictator, 2007. Mixed-media collage-fabric, paper, and foil mounted on cardboard, 67 x 43 inches. © Kirstine Roepstorff, courtesy Peres Projects, Los Angeles Berlin. Photograph by Hans-Georg Gaul.

Kirstine Roepstorff, One Dictator, 2007. Mixed-media collage–fabric, paper, and foil mounted on cardboard, 67 x 43 inches. © Kirstine Roepstorff, courtesy Peres Projects, Los Angeles Berlin . Photograph by Hans-Georg Gaul.

Please join us for the opening reception on Thursday, November 8, 6-8 pm.

From November 9, 2007 through February 7, 2008, the Drawing Room will present an exhibition of new work by Berlin-based artist, Kirstine Roepstorff. Featuring the artist’s signature use of the medium of collage to confront the tension between political identity and individual desire, the exhibition will consist of twelve works ranging in size from 8 x 10 inches to a labor-intensive 12-foot installation mounted directly on the gallery wall. It's Not the Eye of the Needle that Changed--The Time will be the artist's first solo museum exhibition in North America .

Through a working method that Roepstorff calls “approprio-arranging,” the artist sews, glues, pins, and weaves together photocopies, fabrics, glitter, paper, and images appropriated from magazines and newspapers to construct a poetic, post-feminist narrative. Roepstorff's work addresses issues such as the failure of collective social projects, consumerism, and contemporary gender politics.

The exhibition will be accompanied by Drawing Papers 74 featuring an essay by art critic Daniel Kunitz and images of the new series of works.

On Saturday, November 10 at 4:00 pm, there will be a gallery talk with the artist in the Drawing Room. Admission is free.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Jon Kessler: Works on Paper in the NY Times

Jon Kessler: Works on Paper is reviewed in the NY Times today.
For reviews in The New York Sun and The New Yorker, click here and here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

William Anastasi: Raw in Artforum

William Anastasi: Raw is reviewed in the current issue of Artforum.

William Anastasi
40 Wooster Street
April 21–July 21

Issue (detail), 1966/2007, plaster, 156 x 4 1/2 x 1/4".

Located at the intersection of Minimalism, instructional art, and process-oriented practices, William Anastasi’s works find endless formal possibilities in the most prosaic materials. This exhibition explores the expanded notion of drawing through re-creations of seminal pieces from the 1960s that transform the room’s physical characteristics either gently or dramatically. Issue, 1966/2007, consists of a four-and-a-half-inch-wide vertical strip that cuts a gallery wall from floor to ceiling. By chipping away the superficial layers of paint and plaster with chisel and hammer, the work strips the wall bare and turns it into a kind of archaeological site, revealing the gallery's countless lives. The debris is neatly organized on the floor, arranged to resemble a loose continuation of the line cut from the wall. Untitled, 1966/2007, is the result of simple instructions: “With a small cup soberly pour one gallon of paint against a wall as near the ceiling as possible.” A thick, slimy line of black enamel cleaves the wall in two. A delicate balance between material and shape is achieved also in whowasit youwasit propped II, 1965, in which one aluminum beam perches precariously atop another in an unstable ballet that resembles Richard Serra’s syntax but is deprived of that artist’s aggressiveness. Anastasi injects levity into these everyday raw materials, creating a vibrant symphony in which lines, surfaces, and matter resonate in unison.
—Cecilia Alemani

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Jon Kessler: Works on Paper in The New York Sun

Jon Kessler: Works on Paper at The Drawing Center is reviewed today in The New York Sun.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Expanded Cinema in Art Review

Monday, September 03, 2007

"At the moment politics are more dangerous to young writers than journalism.....because writers now feel that politics are necessary to them, without having learnt yet how best to be political....writers function in a state of political flux, on the eve of the crisis, rather than in the crisis itself; it is before a war or a revolution that they are listened to and come into their own and it was because they are disillusioned at their impotence during the war that so many became indifferent to political issues after the peace" Cyril Connolly in 1938.

On the Iron Law of Oligarchy, From Political Parties; A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy written by Robert Michels in 1911:

"Organization implies the tendency to oligarchy. In every organization, whether it be a political party, a professional union, or any other association of the kind, the aristocratic tendency manifests itself very clearly. The mechanism of the organization, while conferring a solidity of structure, induces serious changes in the organized mass, completely inverting the respective positions of the leader and the led. As a result of organization, every party or professional union becomes divided into a minority of directors and a majority of directed."

Read the book here.

"Over the last twenty years there has been a systematic campaign to eliminate any figure of the worker from political space. "Immigrant" is a word that came to be used at a certain moment in this campaign. For example, one of the first Mitterand governments, the Mauroy government, during the major workers' strikes at Flins, at Citroen, at Talbot, said that these workers were in fact immigrants who were not really integrated into French social reality. The category "immigrant" has been systematically substituted for the category 'worker', only to be supplanted in its turn by the category of the 'clandestine' or illegal alien. First workers, then immigrants, then illegal aliens. If we insist that we are actually talking about workers--and whether they have worked, are working, or no longer work, doesn't represent a subjective difference----it is to struggle against this unceasing effort to erase any political reference to the figure of the worker."
Alain Badiou in a 1998 interview.
Alexander Cockburn on "Whatever Happened to the Anti-War Movement?":

"America right now is ‘anti-war’, in the sense that about two thirds of the people think the occupation of Iraq is a bad business and the troops should come home. Anti-war sentiment was a major factor in the success of the Democrats in last November’s elections, when they recaptured Congress. The irony is that this sharp disillusion of the voters owes almost nothing to any anti-war movement. To say the anti-war movement is dead would be an overstatement, but not by a large margin. Compared to kindred movements in the 1960s and early 1970s, or to the struggles against Reagan’s wars in Central America in the late 1980s, it is certainly inert."
This film portrait of Stravinsky en route to Berlin brought me back to a passage from Memories and Commentaries, by Stravinsky and Robert Craft:

"World War II had broken out in Europe when Stravinsky next entered New York harbour in September 1939 on a ship overcrowded with refugees. The steamer, the SS Manhattan, sailing from Bordeaux, was so thronged that he was obliged to share a cabin with six others, even though all seven had paid for private accommodation. Toscanini was on board, too, but they did not meet. The fiery Italian has refused to enter his cabin, since it also bunked six other passengers. Apparently he slept in the lounge. (More than thirty years later, one of Stravinsky's cabin mates, from Cleveland, returned a shirt that the composer had loaned him during the voyage.)
Unaware that Stravinsky was not seeking asylum in the country---he had a return ticket in his valise---the Immigration official who interviewed him asked the most startling question of his life: ' Do you want to change your name?' When Stravinsky laughed, the official said, "Well, most of them do.' Stravinsky himself, of course, had not remotely supposed that his intended stay for a few months would last until 1951. "
Expanded Cinema is finally back with a post on Alexandr Hackenschmied [of a rare film of his to have survived World War II]. Recent posts include Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, and Joris Ivens.

Monday, July 23, 2007

New Economy Reviewed in Time Out New York

[Click to read]

Sunday, July 15, 2007

New Economy Reviewed on

[Click over image]

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

In Defense of Ardor in Time Out, New Yorker

[Click over image to read]

In Defense of Ardor in The New York Times

Special Film Screenings in conjunction with New Economy

Anthology Film Archives, Tuesday, June 19 and Thursday, July 5, 7:30 pm

Chantal Akerman's From The Other Side is being screened at Anthology Film Archives on Tuesday, June 19 and Thursday, July 5 in conjunction with the New Economy exhibition I've curated at Artists Space, on view from June 15 to July 28.

Chantal Akerman FROM THE OTHER SIDE / DE L'AUTRE CÔTÉ 2002, 99 minutes. In English and Spanish with English subtitles.
The story is old as the hills, yet every day it continues to unfold, every day more terribly. Sometimes poor people, in an attempt to survive, risk their lives and leave everything behind to live elsewhere. But they're not wanted elsewhere. And if they are wanted it's for their labor, to do jobs that no one wants to do. In FROM THE OTHER SIDE, elsewhere is the United States and the poor are mostly Mexicans. Renowned filmmaker Chantal Akerman shifts her focus between the border towns of Agua Prieta, Sonora, where people from all over Mexico wait in limbo before crossing over, and neighboring Douglas, Arizona, a town ringed by mountains and desert plains.

Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Avenue (at Second Street)
Telephone: (212) 505-5181

Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Economy
June 15 – July 28, 2007
Curated by João Ribas

Chantal Akerman
Kader Attia
Ursula Biemann
Mike Bouchet
Heath Bunting
Los Carpinteros
Carolina Caycedo
Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel
Harun Farocki
Eva and Franco Mattes a.k.a. 0100101110101101.ORG
Cildo Meireles
Henrik Plenge Jakobsen
Oliver Ressler
Joe Scanlan
Santiago Sierra
Rirkrit Tiravanija
Milica Tomic
Donelle Woolford

New Economy looks at the nature of artistic practice in today’s global information economy, defined by an emphasis on immaterial and knowledge-based production. In addressing notions of artistic labor in the postindustrial economic order, the exhibition also focuses on artists dealing with the social conditions and redefinitions of work implicit in a post-Fordist economy.

The term “New Economy” entered into circulation in the 1990s to define a knowledge-based form of late capitalism, heralding the productive power of information and communication technology as the engine of global markets. The 'informatisation' of production served as a catalyst for a flexible economic model favoring ideas, services, and sociability over inert commodities and industrial labor. As capital seemingly dematerialized—with knowledge workers, information, and communication at its center—industrial economies looked to downsizing, outsourcing, and structural underemployment, resulting in a correlative ‘remapping’ of labor.

Yet if the information-based model of postindustrial society values communication, creativity, and social relationships, what is the role of artistic practice in this political economy? Do artists function as migrant laborers, moving from biennial to biennial producing a form of ‘artisanalized’ information? Is studio practice a localized form of resistance to immaterial production? Is there any political agency in artists being positioned directly in contrast to the marginal elements of the body politic, afforded rights, such as that of circulation, denied to other political subjects?

New Economy takes these concerns as reflected in the artistic practice of the last decade. Whether in reassessing the value of industrial production, disrupting established economic patterns and proposing alternatives, emphasizing both the pre-industrial and informational quality of artistic labor, embracing mobility as socially progressive through the transnational character of post-studio work, revealing the disparities of our supposed ‘frictionless’ economy, or highlighting the commodification of social relationships over democratic processes, the artists in New Economy reflect the complex character of post-Fordist society.

Image: Henrik Plenge Jakobsen, The Wealth of Nations and Das Kapital, 2004, dimensions variable, courtesy the artist

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I will be in conversation with artist William Anastasi at The Drawing Center, this Thursday, May 31, at 6:30 PM, as part of the exhibition William Anastasi: Raw.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

In Defense of Ardor

In Defense of Ardor
Curated by João Ribas and Becky Smith
May 24th to June 30th, 2007
Opening reception Thursday May 24th, 6-8 pm

Julieta Aranda
Johanna Billing
Colby Bird
Nathalie Djurberg
Dana Frankfort
Jutta Koether
Jonathan Meese
Otto Muehl
Michael Queenland
Jacob Robichaux
Jessica Stockholder
Kirsten Stoltmann

What is the point of art that does nothing but “dramatize how dark and stupid everything is” [David Foster Wallace]? In Defense of Ardor proposes a contrast to insipid notions of irony, unremitting cynicism, and pessimistic detachment.

Irony has been narrowly defined—and partly misappropriated—as a kind of ideological malaise, a willful displacing of affect in return for absolute neutrality and arrogant negativity. The result is a “hatred that winks and nudges you and pretends it's just kidding.” Yet lost in this torpor of ironic detachment are engaged forms of productive irony and ardor, in sharp contrast to the ineffectual character of the corrosive cynicism now taken as normative. What of the irony of Kierkegaard, Schlegel or Thomas Mann, directed at barbarism seeking to destroy liberal values? Or as Adam Zagajewski suggests after Wallace, the tragic, poetic, and parodic resistance of ardor, or the progressive function of engaged artistic practice defined by failure, ideological fervor, or exhortation? Can sincere commitment, feverish engagement, or poetic intensity be productive in the era of the mass democracy of taste, where irony is no longer the language of power inverted, but rather, the vulgate of complacency and consensus?

Whether by reassessing the legacies of radical avant-gardes and a willful lapse into puritanical ethics (Michael Queenland); the collective stasis of democratic politics in an administered society (Julieta Aranda, Johanna Billing); the need for self-actualization and the irony of authenticity (Colby Bird); the progressive function of play (Jacob Robichaux); the poetic intensity of form and material (Jutta Koether, Jessica Stockholder); the aesthetics of earnestness and sincerity (Dana Frankfort, Kirsten Stoltmann); or the transgressive states of Dionysian or “Id-ridden” intensity (Nathalie Djurberg, Jonathan Meese, Otto Muehl), the artists in the exhibition set out a variety of means to contrast the corrosive, enervating effect of cynical reason.

In Defense of Ardor is the final installment of a three part series of exhibitions at Bellwether titled The Mallarmé Propositions. The other exhibitions in the series were Dice Thrown (Will Never Annul Chance) (October-November 2006) and Aspects, Forms, & Figures (February-March 2007). Click here for more information.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Please join us for the opening of "$960,000+" the SVA MFA Thesis Show on Tuesday, March 27th.

Curated by João Ribas
Visual Arts Gallery at 601 West 26th Street
March 23 - April 7
Reception: Tuesday, March 27, 6 - 8pm

March 23 - April 7, 2007
Reception: Tuesday, March 27, 6 - 8pm

The School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents “$960,000+,” the second of two thesis exhibitions featuring drawing, painting, video, animation and site-specific installations by graduating MFA Fine Arts Department students. “$960,000+” is curated by New York-based curator and critic João Ribas and includes work by brianelectro, Eun Woo Cho, Michael Egan, Nikolas Gambaroff, Miryana Gligoric, Hadassa Goldvicht, Yu-Sheng Ho, Sung Hee Jang, Crisman Liverman, Jason Losh, Lara Star Martini, Ann Oren, Lai-Chung Poon, Ryan Sullivan, Kristen Wykret and Yejin Yoo.

The exhibition’s title refers to the combined living and educational expenses of the participating artists, estimated at $60,000 per person. Intended to call attention to the economics of making and distributing art and the current climate for emerging artists, the title grew out of discussion among the artists and curator in preparation for the exhibition. Their discussion continues in a blog of the same name,

João Ribas is curator of contemporary exhibitions at The Drawing Center. He has curated several group exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad including: Aspects, Forms and Figures, Bellwether, 2007 (with Becky Smith); Dice Thrown (Will Never Annul Chance), Bellwether, 2006; and Means Without End, Guild and Greyshkul, 2005. He has been a visiting critic and lecturer at SVA, New Art Dealers Alliance, the International Art Critics Association, the National Academy Museum and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Ribas has written on art, film and literature for The New York Sun, Art Review, Time Out New York, Flash Art, PAPER, Tema Celeste, Art + Auction,, ARTnews and other publications.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Friday, February 09, 2007 has published an interview with me by painter Ana Cardoso, [for a translated version click here].

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Aspects, Forms, and Figures

Curated by João Ribas & Becky Smith
134 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY 10011
February 8th-March 10th, 2007

Opening reception February 8, 6-8 pm

Carol Bove
Aaron Curry
Christopher Deeton
Jack Goldstein
Jonah Groeneboer
Alice Könitz
Adelina Lopes
Anthony Pearson
Nathan Mabry
John McCracken
Stephen G. Rhodes
Emily Sundblad
Gordon Terry

‘Aspects, Forms, and Figures’ looks to the archaic, noumenal, and totemic character of form. Rather than literal or phenomenological readings, it proposes aspects of form beyond phenomena yet present only in form itself.

Can form be a figure of the numinous, where objects of human labor are filled with a sense of immanence, of being wholly ‘other’? As Karl Marx writes in Capital:

The form of wood is altered if a table is made out of it. Nevertheless the table continues to be wood, an ordinary, sensuous thing, But as soon as it emerges as a commodity, it changes into a thing which transcends sensuousness. It not only stands with its feet on the ground, but, in relation to all other commodities, it stands on its head, and evolves out of its wooden brain grotesque ideas, far more wonderful than if it were to begin dancing of its own free will.

The roots of the “numinous” do not relate directly to magic, but to a realm of knowledge beyond the empirical: ineffable knowledge only partly manifested in visible or quantifiable phenomena. This aspect emerges through form, and only through form can it be apprehended or intoned, even if this “thing-in-itself” remains radically unknowable. It takes many guises, from atavistic and archaic forms (Christopher Deeton, John McCracken, Nathan Mabry), to the Kantian noumenon and the immanence to objects and places (Adelina Lopes, Anthony Pearson, Emily Sundblad), the 'dark matter' of the universe (Jonah Groeneboer, Jack Goldstein), ontology and metaphysics (Gordon Terry, Aaron Curry), commodity-form and reification (Carol Bove, Alice Könitz), dialectical materialism (Stephen G. Rhodes), and the philosophical concern with aesthetics.

Beyond a means to resist literal or phenomenological readings of form, what is revealed in this noumenal aspect is that meaning is a glimpse of ‘other’ knowledge, making the art object a sensuous thing both supra-sensible and social—even if anachronistic in a society that renders such metaphysics meaningless, not to mention useless.

Expanded Cinema

Expanded Cinema has new posts with work by Abbas Kiarostami, Mara Mattuschka, and an early abstract short by Walter Ruttmann.

Here are the filmmakers and artists included so far:

Walerian Borowczyk
Toshio Matsumoto
Martin Arnold
Raul Ruiz
Harun Farocki
Marie Menken
Groupe Medvedkine
Norman McLaren
Peter Kubelka
Georges Schwizgebel
Charles and Ray Eames
Viking Eggeling
Ed Emshwiller
Joseph Beuys
Hollis Frampton
Paul and Marlene Kos
Abigail Child
Lutz Mommartz
Owen Land (ne George Landow)
Len Lye
Popol Vuh
Wojciech Bruszewski
René Viénet
Maya Deren
Wolf Vostell
René Laloux
Sergei Eisenstein
Peter Tscherkassky
Germaine Dulac
Peter Greenaway
Abbas Kiarostami
Mara Mattuschka
Walter Ruttmann

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I have a review of Giulio Paolini's four-part exhibition--held in the four separate locations of Marian Goodman and Yvon Lambert in Paris and New York--in today's New York Sun.

Here's my picture of 7 Rue Des Grands Augustins, the house where the Balzac story takes place, and later Picasso's studio, as I mention in the piece.

Also, my review of Robert Morris' last show at Castelli is in this month's ARTnews.
Expanded Cinema has recent posts with work by Peter Tscherkassky, Sergei Eisenstein (his first film, from 1923), René Laloux, Wolf Vostell, Maya Deren, and René Viénet.