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.
For their upcoming exhibition, Slavs and Tatars will cap their yearlong residency at Kunsthalle Zürich by claiming an entire floor of the institution, expanding on their project “Mirrors for Princes.”The theme is borrowed from the eponymous genre of advice literature for rulers, popular in the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Christian and Muslim countries alike, whichmore than providing simple guidelines for holding sovereign powerpresented intricate systems of rhetorical reflection and refraction. Engagement with this subtle and strategically crafted material is loaded with critical potential. Yet if misread with the kind of naive vitalism and ornamental rhetoric that have become so prevalent among Eurasian-focused practices in recent years, the subject matter may serve only to reinforce the crude, outdated dichotomy between rational West and mystical East. In any event, the exhibition should prove an excellent chance to consider whether what we value is a true engagement with the political or only a veiled evasion thereof.
Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, the director of MAK, the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna, has conceived a biennial that will engage art, architecture, and design. Pointing to premodernist Vienna’s experiments in form and reform, Thun-Hohenstein suggests the Austrian capital might be the ideal interface for fostering interdisciplinary approaches to social change in the context of “digital modernity.” Seven exhibitions will be featured in this inaugural iteration, among them a group show foregrounding contemporary practices that reveal a return to the emancipatory ideals of the Enlightenment, a presentation of design scenarios responding to the architectural challenges faced by six global megacities, and ten projects that shed light on sustainable modes of living in the “smart city.”
Translated from German by Gerrit Jackson.
Extending his durational approach to the exhibition of choreographed situations, Tino Sehgal has conceived with the curators a retrospective that will unfold over the course of one calendar year. Twelve of the artist’s pieces that were designed for the museum context, rather than the fair or theater, will be presented in succession; one work will be performed each month in a different gallery. Demanding a substantial commitment from viewers who want to see the entire retrospective, this show nevertheless promises a richer engagement with each work than might a conventional survey. The plan is to begin with Instead of allowing some thing to rise up to your face dancing bruce and dan and other things, 2000, a work from the Stedelijk’s collection, and thence the institution will maintain a discussion with the artist regarding the show’s unfurling shape.
Since the 1970s, Brisbane-based artist Robert MacPherson has produced a diverse set of works that critically engage the materiality of painting, often employing a vernacular of the quotidian: Objects such as road signs, paintbrushes, shoes, and office stationery proliferate throughout his oeuvre. Over the years, critics and curators have cast MacPherson as an exemplar of Minimalism, abstraction, the archival impulse, and Conceptualism, but the meaning of his works has remained elusive. Perhaps answers will be found in “The Painter’s Reach,” MacPherson’s first major museum survey in his hometown, an outing that will consist of more than sixty works, from acrylic paintings on canvas and Masonite to the artist’s trademark assemblages in his “Frog Poem” series, 1982–. The catalogue will feature essays by Angela Goddard, curator Ingrid Periz, and Trevor Smith (who organized MacPherson’s monumental exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth back in 2001).
To escape the cross-border incursions of the Khmer Rouge, Dinh Q. Lê’s family fled Vietnam for the US in 1978, when the artist was a boy. Lê has returned to his native countryhe now lives in Ho Chi Minh Cityand much of his work engages themes of place and memory, cross-cultural experience, history, and conflict. “Memory for Tomorrow,” the first major solo exhibition by a Southeast Asian artist at the Mori, features more than twenty works made since the late ’90s. These include several photo-tapestriesLê’s contemporary spin on traditional Vietnamese grass mat weavingdigital prints; and multimedia installations, including The Farmers and the Helicopters, 2006, a three-channel video accompanied by a helicopter made entirely of scrap metal. The exhibition will also showcase a new video work commissioned by the Moria profile of a nightclub manager in southern Japan who spends his weekends reenacting the Vietnam War.
You can’t overlook a Joan Mitchell painting once in its range. This sprawling survey promises continual reckoning before the artist’s bold abstract canvases, made in New York, Paris, and Vétheuil, France, just a short drive from Monet’s garden. During her lifetime (1925–1992), Mitchell supported a legion of young painters; fittingly, the catalogue includes contributions by such artists as Jutta Koether, Amy Sillman, and Ken Okiishi, as well as new scholarship by Dziewior, Isabelle Graw, and Suzanne Hudson. And in keeping with current interest in the ephemera around artistic practice, miscellany from the Joan Mitchell Foundation archive will be displayed. For a figure with a famously acerbic tongue, who counted Frank O’Hara and Samuel Beckett as dinner dates and pen pals, such material can only enrich the scene. But Mitchell’s paintings will surely provide its view: Their vibrant, thickly daubed surfaces don’t ever seem to settle or set. Travels to the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Nov. 14, 2015–Feb. 22, 2016.