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International Museum Exhibitions

The following guide to museum shows currently on view is compiled from Artforum’s three-times-yearly exhibition preview. Subscribe now to begin a year of Artforum—the world’s leading magazine of contemporary art. You’ll get all three big preview issues, featuring Artforum’s comprehensive advance roundups of the shows to see each season around the globe.

Sammy Baloji, Deputy Assistant to the Director General’s Office, Batiment Cielux OCPT—The Congolese Office of Post and Telecommunications, Masina Sans Fil, Kinshasa, 2013, ink-jet print, 31 1/2 × 47 1/4".

“Sammy Baloji and Filip De Boeck—Urban Now: City Life in Congo”

May 8 - August 14
Curated by Devrim Bayar

Urbanity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is marked by a precarious entanglement of colonial past and globalized present, of decrepit infrastructure and formidable social resilience. This spring at Wiels, Congolese artist Sammy Baloji and Belgian anthropologist Filip De Boeck will team up to tackle these incongruities. Investigating what sociologist AbdouMaliq Simone has called “people as infrastructure,” fifty of Baloji’s photographs will illustrate the ways city dwellers organize in and around the seemingly dysfunctional environments of Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, and Fungurume. These photos will be supplemented by two videos by Baloji and De Boeck, profiling an unfinished high-rise in Limete and copper mines in Katanga Province, respectively. A promotional video for La Cité du Fleuve, a development project outside Kinshasa, will serve as a backdrop—revealing machinations for the DRC’s dubiously shiny future. Travels to Galeria Avenida da Índia, Lisbon, Feb. 2017; the Power Plant, Toronto, Sept. 23–Dec. 31, 2017.

Tom Holert

Ragnar Kjartansson, Song, 2011, video, color, sound, 360 minutes.

“Ragnar Kjartansson: Architecture and Morality”

May 26 - July 30
Curated by Chen Tamir

For this solo exhibition, Ragnar Kjartansson will take up plein air painting, producing one work each day as he did at the 2009 Venice Biennale. Depicting Israeli homes in the West Bank, Kjartansson inserts a methodology inscribed with nineteenth-century European male privilege into the context of the contemporary Middle East. His intervention raises the question of whether a historic practice that entangles landscape and subjectivity might help clarify a political situation in which the pictured territory is the contested site of national identification for both Israelis and Palestinians. Two accompanying videos, A Lot of Sorrow, 2013, and Song, 2011, each offering a six-hour-long musical performance, suggest that the force of repetition may evoke collective emotion, but how Kjartansson’s daily output of paintings will confront the ethical conundrum of his own position as a commissioned voyeur remains unclear.

Nuit Banai

Mónica Mayer, Primero de diciembre de 1977 (December First, 1977), gelatin silver prints and acrylic on canvas, 25 5/8 × 31 1/2".

“When In Doubt . . . Ask: A Retrocollective Exhibit of Mónica Mayer”

Through July 31
Curated by Karen Cordero Reiman

As the retrocollective of the title suggests, the first retrospective of Mónica Mayer’s work will emphasize the collaborative nature of the Mexican artist, critic, and activist’s forty-year feminist art practice. Highlighting her engagements with such coconspirators as Victor Lerma and Maris Bustamante, the show will also underscore the importance of Mayer’s dialogue with north-of-the-border associates Suzanne Lacy and the members of Los Angeles’s Feminist Studio Workshop and Woman’s Building. Mayer made a habit of preserving so-called ephemeraas a political act, a refusal to let minor histories be erased or forgotten, and archival documents will here be exhibited alongside sixty-seven works in a range of media. Ambitiously, the interactive installations El tendedero (The Clothesline), 1978/2016, and Justicia y democracia, 1995/2016, will be reactivated. A catalogue with contributions by Griselda Pollock and Amelia Jones, among others, promises to shed light on the space Mayer carved out for feminism and art in Mexico.

Gabriela Jauregui

“Anish Kapoor: Archaeology, Biology”

May 28 - November 27
Curated by Catherine Lampert and Cecilia Delgado

Rebounding from the vandalism of his giant yoni Dirty Corner, 2015, at Versailles last September, Anish Kapoor will present twenty-three major pieces at Mexico City’s MUAC, which opened in 2008 at the country’s most prestigious university. The exhibition includes works made between 1980 and 2015, organized into four sections: “Auto-Generated Forms,” which includes the early pigment piles and the artist’s signature optical devices; “Many Kinds of Beauty,” in which soulful pristine geometries (including When I Am Pregnant, 1992) will appear with more grotesque and scatological forms; “Time,” which features the pulchritudinous red dome At the Edge of the World, 1998; and “Unpredictable Forces,” which returns to themes of self-generation and fantasies of the “autonomous expression of matter,” as demonstrated by the mechanical arm of My Red Homeland, 2003, grinding ceaselessly through mountains of oily, pigmented wax.

Caroline A. Jones


Through July 31
Curated by Adriano Pedrosa, Julieta González, and Luiza Proença

By framing contemporary artists’ work in relation to that of Lina Bo Bardi, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo aims to recover the legacies of this Brazilian architect, who designed the museum’s current home and who advocated a social vision of democracy and multiplicity. MASP recently reconstructed Bo Bardi’s iconic glass easel display for its collection, and with the title “Playgrounds,” the curators allude to the institution’s homonymous 1969 exhibition, which—as this show promises to do—took the ludic dimension of Bo Bardi’s thinking as a point of reference. Among the six participating artists and artist collectives are Yto Barrada, Céline Condorelli, and Ernesto Neto. One hopes that the “play” proposed by the artists’ installations, performances, and workshops will revive—especially in the face of Brazil’s current ecological and economic crises—an image of the collective life Bo Bardi imagined.

Kaira M. Cabañas

“Volpi: Small Formats”

June 20 - December 18
Curated by Aracy Amaral

During his lifetime, Italian-born Brazilian painter Alfredo Volpi was often misleadingly portrayed as an artistic bon sauvage, largely due to his lack of formal training in the fine arts and his upbringing in Cambuci, a working-class neighborhood of São Paulo. Over the past couple of decades, however, critics such as Rodrigo Naves have complicated this reductive characterization of Volpi, arguing that his chromatically sophisticated tempera paintings offer a profound meditation on the contradictions of technical development underlying Brazil’s uneven modernization. On loan from the collection of Ladi Biezus, this rare assemblage of more than seventy small-scale paintings and drawings spanning the 1930s through the ’70s promises to further elaborate on the contemporary reception of Volpi’s idiosyncratic practice.

Sérgio B. Martins