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.
The time-traveling sleuths behind the artist collective the Propeller Group will stage an exhibition whose inspiration, as chronicled in the accompanying catalogue, is a ceremony for reincarnation. The show will incorporate seven of the Ho Chi Minh City–based collective’s most critical forays into the ritualistic realm of death and birthembracing film, installation, and sculptureshowcasing how these social-media-harnessing artists, obsessed with ersatz historic narratives and political spin, respond to the complex historic and current sociopolitical landscape of Vietnam. The group is fascinated with the contemporary maladies of a nation caught in the prism between communist ideology and neoliberal desire. Following their showcase at the Venice Biennale and solo presentation of The Living Need Light, the Dead Need Music, 2014, at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, both in 2015, this first museum show is a must-see. Travels to the Phoenix Art Museum, Feb. 15–May 14, 2017; Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston, June 3–Oct. 7, 2017.
The third edition of the Hammer’s self-described locals-only biennial (although some participants lived in Los Angeles only briefly) arrives otherwise themeless, save for its cryptically beautiful subtitlea, the, though, onlyprovided by the poet Aram Saroyan.While the show includes radically fewer artists than previous iterations (a mere twenty-six), it nevertheless showcases a broad range of practices, with musical scores by Wadada Leo Smith, choreography by Adam Linder, films by Arthur Jafa and Laida Lertxundi, public-access activism by Labor Link TV, Web-based work by Guthrie Lonergan, fashion design by Eckhaus Latta (who were interestingly also included in last year’s Greater New York at MoMA PS1), and text by Saroyan, who contributed an image and poem for the show’s catalogue, alongside more traditional media from painter Rebecca Morris and sculptor Kelly Akashi. The true flavor of any show can perhaps be savored only upon tasting, so it’s hard to speculate as to whether this one will shed light on what it means to make art in Los Angeles and why that might even be special. Perhaps this lacuna is the very point.
Sometimes the most obvious choice is also the best, right? Los Angeles’s sparkling new museum will launch its special exhibitions program with a career-spanning survey of photographs and a movie, Office Killer (1997) by Cindy Sherman. Sherman! Hollywood! Broad! It feels perfect. If there were an Academy Award for best acting in a photograph, she’d win. The Broads have collected Sherman’s work for three decades, and for the run of this showthe first presentation of the artist’s work in LA in nineteen yearseveryone who lines up to say “cheese” in Yayoi Kusama’s twinkle-lit Infinity Mirrored Room can step inside the adjacent ground-floor galleries for a selfie master class. To experience the enduring power of Sherman’s eccentric, original, and unending exploration of self-identificationas filtered through the American dreams, values, and popular media tropes that this city has both incubated and come to representwell, I’m excited.
Since the early 2000s, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz has made videos that interweave social engagement and speculative fiction. The artist works with nonprofessional actors from diverse backgrounds to collectively investigate economic, ecological, and political challenges within the Caribbean. Projects such as Archivo, 2001, involve the reenactment of personal and political crises, as if history could be altered or ameliorated. Others, such as the Creative Capital–funded Verano de mujeres (Summer of Women), 2015, make imaginative use of documentary footage of marginalized women to tease out possible solutionshowever outlandishto troubling social injustices within Santiago Muñoz’s native Puerto Rico. This survey will feature approximately ten works made between 2010 and 2015, including Marché Salomon, 2015, which presents a conversation between two Haitian meat vendors that drifts between observations of their surroundings and musings about their wares’ potentially divine properties.
Animated film has come a long way since J. Stuart Blackton’s pioneering Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906), with its crude sequences of goofy chalkboard drawings. An evolving palette of digital animation technologiesmotion capture, ever more detailed 3-D visualizationshapes not only mainstream culture but, increasingly, the work of artists (and the oft-unsung technicians to whom they outsource their production). “Suspended Animation” brings together Ed Atkins, Antoine Catala, Ian Cheng, Josh Kline, Helen Marten, and Agnieszka Polska, an international hexad whose practices are differentiated enough to suggest not only computer animation’s pervasiveness but also its flexibilitywitness Atkins’s emotive avatars adrift in an uncanny valley, Cheng’s simulations mutating in real time, Polska’s fluent digital-psychedelic effects, and Marten’s loquacious skeuomorphic crossbreeds. In spite of these individual approaches, expect a shared responsiveness to the digital age’s manifold crises, from the specter of surveillance to the collapse of distinctions between virtual and physical realities.
Mark Flood is a Pop artist with punk-rock roots, gnarly and deliriously twisted, and this show’s misspelling of “Greatest Hits” is obviously intended. To grate: to irritate or annoy, to rub or wear away, to make a harsh rasping sound. That’s what Flood’s been doing all along, wielding a poison pen in his wickedly inspired writing and using an X-Acto knife like a scalpel to dissect modern life. This survey of nearly fifty works made over the past thirty years brings together fractured collages that eviscerate celebrity, and paintings that rattle the basest drives of society by perversely encouraging themwith phrases like ASK YOUR DRUG DEALER IF YOUR HEART IS STRONG ENOUGH FOR SEXUAL ACTIVITY. No wonder the museum will offer “age-restricted tours.” Flood’s popular-with-collectors “lace” paintings will also be on view. As beautiful as they may be, their abraded surfaces conjure not only the friction of his previous work, but a whole history of painting that commands, “Destroy the picture.” In Flood’s universe, to collide the “best of” and the “worst of” is simply to ask: What’s the difference? A catalogue with essays by Arning, Alison Gingeras, Scott Indrisek, Carlo McCormick, and El Topito should have a field day with that one.