U.S. 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.

“Aki Sasamoto: Delicate Cycle”

SCULPTURECENTER
NEW YORK
Through January 2, 2017
Curated by Ruba Katrib

Aki Sasamoto’s performances exist in a realm somewhere between Fluxus events, TED talks, and IKEA hacks. A delight in the physics of cause and effect seemingly propels the artist’s interactions within a landscape of MacGyvered devices. Sasamoto frequently implements repurposed housewares—mops, brooms, impossibly long forks—in her performances, and will continue that trend this fall at SculptureCenter for her first solo show at a US museum. Here, the artist will install washers and dryers as part of a new body of site-specific work centered on notions of cleanliness and filth and the neuroses they engender. It is difficult to predict what all this will add up to: The only certain aspect of Sasamoto’s practice—rife with fanciful monologues, symbol-laden gestures, and visual gags—is the element of surprise.

Dawn Chan

Kai Althoff, Untitled, 2015, oil, pencil, oil pastel, and oil crayon on fabric, 55 7/8 × 52".

“Kai Althoff: And then leave me to the common swifts”

MOMA - THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
NEW YORK
Through January 22, 2017
Curated by Kai Althoff, Laura Hoptman, and Margaret Ewing

Kai Althoff is decadent, in the fin-de-siècle sense of the word. The artist’s Symbolist eye for all things excessive, ardent, and synesthetic was cultivated in 1990s Cologne, yet Althoff enacts the figure of the post-Kippenberger dandy not as slacker but as devotee, all about the details. His kaleidoscopic uses of decor, staging, installation, and performance have long explored the hermetic and private histories of late late capitalism (a project for Artforum in 2011 peeked inside the apartment of a jeweler-collector from Warhol’s circle). But Althoff’s is a Gesamtkunstwerk divided against itself, never cohering into some neat whole. This quixotic show, helmed by the artist, will include some two hundred works in all manner of media, from painting to music to fragrance to sculpture—as well as an artist’s book—creating a world of interiors all its own.

Michelle Kuo

Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Touch Sanitation Performance, 1979–80. Performance view, Queens, NY, May 15, 1980. Mierle Laderman Ukeles and sanitation worker. Photo: Marcia Bricker.

“Mierle Laderman Ukeles: Maintenance Art”

QUEENS MUSEUM
NEW YORK
Through February 19, 2017
Curated by Larissa Harris and Patricia C. Phillips

In 1969, Mierle Laderman Ukeles invented the phrase maintenance art to articulate the undeniable fact that the wealth of nations, the workings of capital, and the privileges of the patriarchy are all predicated on the unpaid and/or undervalued labor of maintenance: the daily acts of cleaning, cooking, and other sundry tasks meant to prepare individuals and institutions for their so-called real work. This means that the efforts of janitors and housewives, conservators and sanitation workers, have served as source material for the artist’s most important interventions and performances. Ukeles, the consummate feminist, insists that art is not a utopian realm in which we can forget the adage that a woman’s work is never done; quite the contrary. Her work elucidates that our attempts to preserve art—to preserve anything, in fact—for a future humanity reside firmly in the sphere of maintenance rather than the realm of master narratives.

Helen Molesworth

“Beverly Buchanan: Ruins and Rituals”

BROOKLYN MUSEUM
NEW YORK
October 21 - March 5, 2017
Curated by Jennifer Burris and Park McArthur

“The house and its yard and the road behind and across”—the poetry of Beverly Buchanan’s description of the inspiration for her best-known sculpture was beautifully borne out in the works themselves, small architectures evoking, rooted in, but sometimes wildly departing from the shacks of her native South. For much of the art audience, Buchanan, who died in 2015, is a discovery of recent years, but her career dates back to the 1970s and includes site-specific earthworks, painting, photography, drawing, and concrete-block post- Minimalist sculpture, a range that this exhibition will provide a rare opportunity to see. The shacks—both intricate and raw, both informed and vernacular—will surely pull you in, but this show of approximately two hundred works promises a broader insight into Buchanan’s thought.

David Frankel

Liz Deschenes

ICA - INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART, BOSTON
BOSTON
Through October 16
Curated by Eva Respini

Writing in 1896 about the relationship between photography and perception, Henri Bergson urged, “Call up the Leibnizian monads: Each is the mirror of the universe.” No artist has taken up this directive like Liz Deschenes. Rejecting the camera as a technology for imagemaking, the artist refuses photography’s traditional vocation as a machine of the visible. And yet the loss of optical reference in her abstract works means anything but a loss of connection to the world. Deschenes’s installations sensitize the spectator to the complex and often elliptical vectors of mediation that exceed the axis of mere representation, establishing monadic resonances between inside and outside that are by turns phenomenological, architectural, sociohistorical, and institutional. In this case, the institution will be the ICA Boston, whose midcareer retrospective for Deschenes includes more than twenty works and covers two decades of her remarkable production.

Devin Fore

Xaviera Simmons, Index Two, Composition Three, 2012, color photograph, 50 × 40". From “The Artist’s Museum.”

“The Artist’s Museum”

ICA - INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART, BOSTON
BOSTON
November 16 - March 26, 2017
Curated by Dan Byers

It’s hardly surprising that the art museum, with its deeply ingrained protocols of accumulation and display, has frequently been the subject of artistic (and curatorial) interrogation. Such institutional ambitions would seem to lie on the side of practices Walter Benjamin famously aligned with the impulses of “the collector”—one who “brings together what belongs together” and who “by keeping in mind their affinities and their succession in time . . . can eventually furnish information” about those things. But artists whose programs are based on strategic accretions of objects of art, science, or natural history more often than not fall under Benjamin’s rubric of “allegorists,” gatherers who dislodge “things from their context” and rely on their own insights to “illuminate their meaning.” “The Artist’s Museum” explores such procedures of artistic illumination via thirty-odd works by figures such as Carol Bove, Rachel Harrison, Goshka Macuga, Christian Marclay, Xaviera Simmons, and Sara VanDerBeek; a substantial catalogue with essays by the curator, Claire Bishop, Lynne Cooke, and Ingrid Schaffner accompanies the exhibition.

Jeffrey Kastner