Apparently, the rise of proto-fascist governments all around the world is triggering artists into slowly considering a society freed from its most abhorrent evil – humankind. Makes sense, since we as a race have invented things as hellish as the atomic bomb, colonialism and TED talks, among others. Here are five shows you should check out in March if you can!
1. Sam Lewitt at Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York
As it is so often the case with Sam Lewitt’s work, visitors who enter Miguel Abreu’s Orchard Street location might initially feel a little underwhelmed. Parts of the space are covered or separated by ephemeral walls; a series of curvaceous lamps are mounted on some of these bare structures – some unfinished and turned off, others shining a bright light into the gallery. They are made out of pure compressed fuel ash and are copies of models found in a now-defunct Venetian power plant; with that sort of information, one gets the irony of the gesture. However, Lewitt doesn’t rest on this punchline; he sprinkles the show with elements of fragility and an almost archeological sense of discovery; with a complex yet austere formal language, the artist stirs his show toward an almost dark reflection on humanity's blind trust in the infinitude of our resources.
Miguel Abreu Gallery, 36 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002
2. Gallery Share at Hannah Hoffman, Los Angeles
Of all the shows taking place in the frame of LA’s gallery sharing initiative, the one at Hannah Hofman might be the most humorous. This is largely due to two works: the first one, a video by Nora Turato, hits the viewer with contradictory and hilarious zingers as if they were self-conscious punching bags. The second one, an installation by D'Ette Nogle, literally displays the absurd shallowness that reigns in the art world by dressing mannequins with some of Hoffman’s own art fair outfits, all of which are chic and certainly art-fair-appropriate. Both works inventively interrogate our idea of convention and appropriateness, while acknowledging that we can’t escape the moral and economical systems they stem from. The show also includes good works by Tom Burr, Luchita Hurtado, Nancy Lupo, Dianna Molzan and Henning Fehr & Philipp Rühr.
Hannah Hoffman, 1010 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038
3. Elin Gonzales at Lucas Hirsch, Düsseldorf
Particularly popular in Europe during the Middle Ages, the motive of the Danse Macabre gets reworked with gusto by Elin Gonzales in her current show at Lucas Hirsch. Quite blatantly titled “Purify / Rot,” its central image is a skeleton, gleefully dancing around or playing music on various supports (canvas, paper, plastic). Medieval memento moris were filled with such creatures; they served as a reminder of our own finitude, but are also an interesting indication of how different people’s attitude toward death was back then. Gonzales takes these symbols out of the group scenes they usually were part of, which makes them strikingly foolish and frightening at the same time. With certain minimalism, “Purify / Rot” recalls the often ridiculous procedures we go through to conserve ours bodily envelopes, the result of which, eventually, is the same for everyone: ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Lucas Hirsch, Birkenstrasse 92, 40233 Düsseldorf
4. Women Look at Women at Richard Saltoun Gallery, London
After its much-lauded Renate Bertlmann presentation at last year’s Frieze London, Richard Saltoun continues to reward audiences (and probably collectors) with wonderful works by some of contemporary art’s most legendary – and sometimes forgotten – feminist practitioners. For “Women Look at Women” the gallery managed to bring together pieces by Eleanor Antin, Renate Bertlmann, Elisabetta Catalano, Helen Chadwick, Rose English, VALIE EXPORT, Rose Finn-Kelcey, Alexis Hunter, Friedl Kubelka, Annegret Soltau, Jo Spence, Francesca Woodman and Marie Yates – yes, that’s quite a list. All of these artists have radically engaged with their own womanhood, what it symbolizes and how the perception of it could be altered and twisted. Brought together, these practices form a tapestry of challenging and courageous stances, in which the artistic and the political merge. This fearlessness often resulted in mockery, disdain, and exclusion; it is heartening to know that most of them persevered nonetheless, and are finally getting the respect and recognition they deserve for their groundbreaking work.
Richard Saltoun Gallery, 41 Dover Street, London W1S 4NS
5. Louisa Gagliardi at Plymouth Rock, Zurich
Swiss artist Louisa Gagliardi has developed a striking talent for capturing the fleeting aspects of both our inner and outer lives. With every new exhibition, she seems to sharpen that specific intuition further. In her current show “On a day like this” at the project space Plymouth Rock, Gagliardi ventures beyond her signature digital paintings and translates her grip on the vapoury into sculptures. Objects of leisure – a bicycle, a picnic basket, cutlery – lie on the ground; they’re made out of tulle, which automatically charges them with a phantom-like aura. A series of enigmatic canvases reinforce the milky atmosphere in which the visitors are plunged; it’s a dewy scene of both abandonment and capriciousness, oscillating between the oracular and the mundane.
Plymouth Rock, Luegislandstrasse 105, 8051 Zurich
– Karim Crippa