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.
Whether staging satiric beauty pageants to crown a “Miss General Idea,” covering art and punk rock in their great magazine FILE (1972–89), or lambasting the mass media’s stereotypical treatment of artists (most memorably in their 1984 video Shut the Fuck Up), Canadian collective General Idea challenged authority and queered heteronormative identity with a blend of humor, eroticism, and expertly styled artifice. The trioAA Bronson, Felix Partz, and Jorge Zontalwere active from 1969 to 1994, when Partz and Zontal died of AIDS-related illnesses. In the intervening years, their work has lost none of its power to shock and inspire, as the group’s first retrospective in Latin America will show. Featuring approximately one hundred works that track the twenty-five-year arc of General Idea’s practice, the exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue raisonné. Travels to Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, March–June 2017.
How does one embrace uncertainty without succumbing to fear? This installment of the Bienal de São Paulo will offer provisional answers to the question at a time when the globe is increasingly faced with dramatic instability in the political, social, and natural worlds. Rounding up eighty-one participants from thirty-three countries, the exhibition will explore topics ranging from ecology and cosmology to collective knowledge. Following the recent trend of research-based art, many of the show’s works will evolve from local residenciessuch as a garden of edible plants cultivated by Portuguese artist Carla Filipe in collaboration with the Botanical Institute of São Paulo. In Brazil’s current climate of unrest, in which the survival of the country’s cultural institutions is under threatthe Ministry of Culture narrowly evaded dismantlement by the interim government this past Maythe numerous public and private partners supporting the biennial unwittingly mirror its theme, providing one possible model for how to “Live Uncertainty” in the arts.
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.
New Delhi–based trio Raqs Media Collective bring a refreshing geographic perspective to the Shanghai Biennale, assembling an exhibition that takes the underexamined cultural nexus of India and China (and, more broadly, South and East Asia) as its promising point of departure. Yet the show is no mere regional survey. Inspired by both Chinese speculative fiction and Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (Reason, Debate, and a Story), a pioneering 1974 work of Indian New Cinema by director Ritwik Ghatak, “Why Not Ask Again? Maneuvers, Disputations & Stories” will privilege fables and narrative as well as acts of inquiry. The challenge for its participants, which include artists Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, Moinak Biswas, and Robin Meier, will be to articulate hard questions, and to remember that sometimes the most rewarding queries are those for which no answers exist.
Eschewing lofty ruminations or far-future speculation, the tenth edition of the Taipei Biennial keeps things local, focusing on archive construction. Held at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, among the most established institutions for the promotion of contemporary art in the Asia-Pacific region, the show will have a generative home base for reflecting on and critiquing practices of institutional bureaucracy. More than seventy individual artists and groups will present works of visual art, dance, performance, music, and film; these offerings will be coupled with symposia, workshops, and what are described as “editorial platforms,” the last addressing the increasingly urgent need for the writing and discussion of art histories beyond those presently regarded as mainstream. Supplementing the general themes of historicization and the archive will be a satellite retrospective of the history of the biennial from 1996 to 2014.
The practice of everyday life, a life examined, radical subjectivity, the personal made public: Moved by any and all of these, Juliette Blightman photographs, paints, films, writes, and performs the slow drawl of the quotidian with all its dance parties and traipsing children, houseplants and living rooms, naked bodies and jokey games, encountered artworks and occasional orgies. Hardly an autonomous author but a member of a community, Blightman will be exhibiting her own works at Kunsthalle Bern, alongside those of “friends, family, and heroes.” The compulsive self-documentation of Michel Auder comes to mind, as does the exhibitionism courted by Instagram, but such comparisons reduce Blightman’s work to its methods without sussing her peculiar voicea little licentious, sometimes shy, but invariably open.