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.
It is sometimes difficult to recall that in the decade just before artists became fixated on the little screen’s splintering fields of information, what prevailed instead was an obsession with the big screen: immersive art installations offering a kind of high-end notation for phenomenological shifts happening throughout culture as digital technology took hold. Few artists are so crucial to this history as Douglas Gordon, whose landmark works lent pop iconicity to the editing of experience. This slender but astute survey will pair a recent effort with five others from the late 1990s, including Gordon’s signal piece, Pretty much every film and video work from about 1992 until now, 1999–, a transposition of the artist’s own video production from large-scale projection to an array of monitors that could be said to reflect on his past from a vantage yet to come.
“Preface,” Walid Raad’s first major exhibition in a French museum, conjoins the refined research the artist has conducted as the Atlas Group (regarding the real and representational violence of Lebanese civil wars) and Scratching on Things I Could Disavow, his ongoing investigation, begun in 2007, into the suspiciously vigorous appearance of Arab modernism in global art institutions. On display will be new Atlas Group works that give formthat of the assassinated bodyto Raad’s prior preoccupations with the abstractly pictorial regimes evidenced in his photographs of car bombings and bullet-scarred buildings. Such an avowedly embodied focus complements the documentary reach of Scratching on Things I Could Disavow, which marks the artist’s pursuit of what artist Jalal Toufic has characterized as the immaterial effects of disaster on cultural inheritance. Imaginative to the end, the exhibition eschews a catalogue in favor of a quadrilingual artist’s book.
Travels to the Museo MADRE, Naples, Oct. 2014–Jan. 2015.
In 1984, Barbara Kruger wrote “Job Description,” a short piece that begins, “Your work is about,” and then proceeds with a formidable list of such things as “formula and the elegant solution,” “desire and the prolongation of stasis,” and “pleasure and the proper name.” Three decades later, the operations Kruger named in this cheeky CV, a meditation on her work’s engagement with the public sphere, seem no less urgent. The artist’s signature stylewhich mimics the language of advertising to invert the power dynamic that that language imposesno longer produces the uncanny confusion it once did. It now stands as immediately recognizable in its own right, and it is only more powerful for having come out from under cover. This summer, Kruger’s workincluding her predigital “pasteups,” recent videos, and an enveloping site-specific piecewill fill Modern Art Oxford, asking viewers to consider, again, where they stand in relation to the ever-shifting landscape of the culture industry.
Few young artists so instinctively grasp the zeitgeist as does Ed Atkins. In his films, computer-rendered avatars overflow with emotional monologues, and a virtuoso digital aesthetic is undercut by a fixation on fleshdeath and decay are recurrent subjects. Staging near-simultaneous shows in London and Paris, the prolific British artist is set to present new works at the Serpentine alongside Ribbons, which debuted in Zurich this spring. The three-channel installation will also be the main event at the Palais de Tokyo. And yet the work won’t appear the same way twice. Arguably, the piece is Atkins’s best yet, revolving around lost love (and intemperate drinking), with a sound track featuring melancholy songs by Randy Newman and Henry Purcell, voiced by a self-medicating CGI skinhead. If such art aims to restore a sense of jangled presentness to spectators increasingly immersed in dematerialization, the abundant air of panic Atkins offers here hints that we might already be too far gone.
For its tenth edition, the Manifesta Foundation will settle its itinerant biennial at the edge of a former empire, in one of the world’s oldest museums: the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. Once touted as a “window to Europe,” Russia’s second city has recently drawn its shades, as domestic politicsnotably, the criminalization of “homosexual propaganda”have sparked international protests. Mindful of this context,König will address questions of the body, drawing on the museum’s treasured Matisse collection (which includes The Dance, 1909–10) to develop a politically nuanced exhibition of more than fifty artistsfrom Francis Al˙s, Joseph Beuys, Nicole Eisenman, Maria Lassnig, and Pavel Pepperstein to gender-bending pioneers from the perestroika era such as Timur Novikov and Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe. The catalogue will feature essays by Ekaterina Andreeva, Ekaterina Degot, Helmut Draxler, and Silvia Eiblmayr.
Roman Signer is the only artist that I know of who possesses an official license to blow things up. And it isn’t just for show. The Swiss artist, who creates much of his work outside, takes his sweeping native landscape as his studio, often staging destructive processes and massive performances involving fire. Though this exhibition will be installed predominantly indoors, it will nevertheless feature Signer’s signature alchemical transformations of everyday objects (such as chairs, tables, or a model helicopter) into assemblages of newly exploded elements. Viewer wariness is not entirely unjustified: To be sure, there are various levels of pyrotechnic accreditation in Switzerland, and Signer apparently has the authority to detonate any object he likes save for entire buildings. Which is to say: Will there be rockets in this show? Yes. But the kunstmuseum itself is likely to survive.