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Maija Luutonen. Photograph: Finnish National Gallery / Petri Virtane. …ing, monuments and painting on paper by KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN The Finnish artist Maija Luutonen was born in 1978 and graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2006. She has exhibited in solo and group shows in her home country and in the Baltic and Nordic countries and, in 2012, was awarded the Ducat Prize by the Finnish Art Society.  She is the inaugural recipient of the Kiasma Commission by Kordelin, a partnership between the Alfred Kordelin Foundation and Helsinki’s Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, the aim of which is to promote contemporary work in Finland. The selected artist is supported by a solo exhbition at the Kiasma. I meet Maija Luutonen during a busy week. It is the day before her opening at the Kiasma, Finland’s national gallery for contemporary art, and a horde of Finnish and international press have shown up for the occasion. It is not that Luutonen is uncomfortable, but I get the feeling that she is like a fish out of water – the museum is no…
Claudia Wieser: Chapter. Installation view. Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York and Aspen. © Claudia Wieser. Photograph: Jens Wiehe. …of making work that is too beautiful by KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN “You can step on those,” says Claudia Wieser, referring to a pair of large reflective plates on the floor. “They’re just steel.” Her studio is clearly also a workshop. Her casual way with the ceramic tiles and metals scattered around the room is a sign that, before studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, the Bavarian artist (b1973, Freilassing) trained as a blacksmith.  But with her classically modernist aesthetic – like the interiors of the Bauhaus Meisterhäuser in Dessau, but in a more dusty colour pallet – Wieser’s interest lies not just in materials, but in cultural histories as well. Her meticulous drawings of geometric patterns, often with gold leaf applied, have a ritual quality that is reminiscent of the esoteric pioneer of abstraction Hilma af Klint, and, as such, engage the more spiritual elements of modernism, prevalent especially in the Weimar Republic. However, Wieser’s work …
Pavel Braila. Optima, 2017. Installation, dimensions variable. …is home region has inspired his work by KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN I meet the Moldovan Pavel Brăila (b1971 in Chişinău) for lunch in Timișoara the day after a swanky reception kicked off the Romanian city’s Art Encounters Biennial. Art-world friends are in town from all over, so it was a fun party and Brăila is not the only one at the table who had a late night. After traditional Romanian potato soup, he gets from his rucksack a bottle of Moldovan cognac, which he brought with him from Chişinău the previous day. In Moldova, Brăila tells us, they don’t care that much about trademarks: they have Moldovan champagne and Moldovan cognac. In fact, Moldova has some of the best conditions for agriculture in Europe, but not many people know it. And the cognac is delicious. It is clear from the first instance that Brăila specialises in nurturing relations between people while also probing their differences – and, by extension, the differences between cultures. After a stint at Ber…
Katharina Sieverding. Photograph: Kristian Vistrup Madsen. …talks selfies, fascism and fake news by KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN I am on a rooftop terrace in the middle of Palermo, having dinner with Katharina Sieverding (b1944, Prague, Czechoslovakia) and her partner, the artist Klaus Mettig. Around us, shrieking seagulls compete with football fans gathered for a World Cup match being broadcast in the city’s open squares. I recognise Mettig from earlier series of Sieverding’s, Motorkamera (1973-74), in which portraits of the two merge across countless renditions – Mettig with long hair and in makeup to match Sieverding’s. I first discovered her work a couple of years ago, when I came across the catalogue for her PS1 retrospective in 2004, and was astounded by the boldness of her self-presentation, and the stark acuity of the work, 40 years on. In her images – not exactly photographs – power is materialised in ways that are not purely representational, but have to do with light, layering, time and repetition. [image3] On the rooftop,…
James Bridle. Untitled (Autonomous Trap 001), 2017. Ditone archival pigment print 150 x 200 cm. Edition of 3. …nes, and what we can learn from them by KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN In 2011, British artist and writer James Bridle (b1980) began developing the concept of the “new aesthetic”. It has caused some confusion since it is not about aesthetics in the art historical sense, but literally what things look like; what the aesthetic surfaces of seemingly opaque technologies reveal about the underlying systems that produce them. Working across writing, photography, installation and software development, Bridle produces interactional and interventional situations that explore the employment of technology in exercising and upholding power structures. These efforts often begin with making these power structures visible. From 2012 onwards, he made a series of works that outlined the shapes of drones, satellites and aeroplanes in streets and public spaces, making the ominous presence of flying devices evident on the ground. Then, in 2015, he tackled immigration and detention in the UK in his project…
Marlie Mul: This exhibition is cancelled, gallery view, Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art 2017. Photograph: Max Slaven. …space from May onwards, explains why by KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN In the middle of Glasgow’s historic centre, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) has, since 1996, introduced more than half a million people a year to contemporary artists, free of charge. The impressive neoclassical building was originally built in the 18th century for a wealthy tobacco merchant, but, today, beneath its distinctive clock tower, is a completely open and public space for culture. Inside, the lavish hall is all but cleared: the corinthian columns and the adorned ceiling stand out all the more because of the emptiness of the room. The light coming through the windows has a pinkish hue, reflected by the posters advertising the cancellation of Marlie Mul’s exhibition. Outside, on the facade of the building, is a banner with the same words: Marlie Mul – Cancelled. [image3] GoMA is a largely state-funded gallery, which, as is the case in most places, is always threatened by budget cuts, and otherwise relie…
Jutta Koether. Untitled, 1987. Oil on canvas board, 7 x 9 1/2 in. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York. …t, Munich 18 May – 21 October 2018 by KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN Tour de Madame is truly a painting show. That might seem like an odd decision for anyone familiar with Jutta Koether’s work – she is an artist who has never not had a performative, musical or textual element to her practice. But the first important thing to say about Koether’s paintings is that they are distinctly “after” painting, in a way that is not cynical, tentative, nostalgic, self-effacing or conservative. Rather, I mean “after” in the sense of “more”, and “more” not meaning “better”, but simply “other” - something after, more and other than painting. Jutta Koether: Tour de Madame starts from here and just leaps onwards. [image11] What Museum Brandhorst has mounted is a fairly classic survey; dividing the last thirty-plus years of Koether’s career into reasonable chapters based on colour, style, location and influence. There is not much to mind about this, however, since it in no …
Anthony McCall. Line Describing a Cone, 1973. Courtesy Julia Stoschek Foundation e. V. and Sprüth Magers. Installation view at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, 2017. Photograph: Frank Sperling. …ts and impressions 28-30 April 2017 by KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN Berlin’s Gallery Weekend floods the city like water bursting through a dam: weeks of quiet leading up to it, and then the flow of busses from art associations in Hamburg and Hanover, collectors snatching all the taxis, and the poor but hip lingering in the courtyards along Potsdamer Strasse as galleries run out of IPA, and the more distinguished leave for their dinners in Grunewald. Although the shows will be open for weeks, there is an energy to the circus that encourages an extraordinary art binge, even for those of us who live here. In a move thought by some to anticipate a further clash, this year, Cologne’s major international fair overlapped with the weekend. But word is Berlin was not the one to suffer. At Carlier-Gebauer, sculptures by Thomas Schütte were said to go for half a million pounds, and many had already sold by Friday afternoon. However, otherworldly prices are no guard against real-wo…
Torbjørn Rødland. Wordless No. 03, 2010, Courtesy the artist and Nils Staerk Gallery. …in 9 December 2017 – 11 March 2018 by KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN Torbjørn Rødland’s photographs are all about a secret. Their tantalising raison d’etre is that the secret might be revealed. The exhibition Back in Touch, at C/O Gallery in Berlin, opens with this quote from the artist: “Presenting and combining things I’ve seen to find out how and what they can mean today … This is what I do full time.” Combining incongruent objects and presenting them in a picture is a classically surrealist activity. The idea is that the composition will yield some unexpected effect, awaken from latency some hitherto repressed impulse. In Rødland’s photographs, the recipe pretty quickly becomes apparent: visual resonance (colour / texture / shape) between objects of some psychoanalytical connotation is designed to produce a certain tautness, a prick – what Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida named the “punctum”: that “which rises from the scene, shoots out … and pierces me”. …
Tom Burr. Surplus of Myself, installation view, Westfälischer Kunstverein, 10 June – 1 October 2017. Photograph: Thorsten Arendt. Courtesy the artist; Galerie Neu, Berlin and Bortolami, New York. …ew works by American artist Tom Burr By KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, Germany 10 June – 1 October 2017 The bed is not only a site where we are born, where we die and where we make love, but also a place where the state has a pressing interest – a public interest. So wrote the gay, Cuban-born American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres at the height of the American culture wars in 1993, recalling the 1986 supreme court decision on Bowers v Hardwick, which declared sex between two consenting adults of the same sex illegal. Against this backdrop, secrecy and concealment become strategies not simply for upholding the private sphere, but doing so as an act of resistance against the disciplinary force of hegemonic culture. Judging by its title, Surplus of Myself, you would be forgiven for thinking the current exhibition at Westfälischer Kunstverein, of work by Tom Burr (b1963, New Haven, Connecticut), is about excess rather than secrecy: a confessional brea…
Stanley Whitney: Paintings. Installation view, Galerie Nordenhake, 2018. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Nordenhake Berlin / Stockholm. Photograph: Gerhard Kassner. …rn Berlin, Germany 27-29 April 2018 by KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN “Please don’t tell me about any more young talented painters,” my young talented painter friend told me. “It really stresses me out.” It is true that once you start noticing, they are everywhere. And not just in those dusty blue-chip galleries where, in the seemingly interminable post-medium years, they tackily persisted in spinning cash from canvas. No, we are talking young dealers, chic dealers, project spaces and degree shows: painting is back, and Berlin’s Gallery Weekend proved a great opportunity to survey its return. That is, if it ever truly went away. For while the past decade in contemporary art has been broadly defined by the hybrid forms of artists such as Camille Henrot, Ed Atkins and Hito Steyerl, at Frankfurt’s Städelschule, for instance, professors Michael Krebber and Monika Baer have continued their explorations of the boundaries of painting, and have continued, also, to influence the nex…
Monica Bonvicini. Passing, 2017 (detail). Site specific installation. Courtesy the artist and König Galerie, Berlin; Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zürich; Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Mailand/Milan. © Monica Bonvicini and VG Bild-Kunst. Photograph: Jens Ziehe. … September 2017 – 26 February 2018 by KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN “Before their first meeting, her killer established some rules: a classic BDSM protocol. She was not to ask questions. She was not to cover her legs with stockings or tights in His presence. She would give a truthful account of her response to all His commands after obeying. She’d assented with glee, because how can you play a game without rules?” This is from Chris Kraus’s novel Summer of Hate, and it’s true: for every game, there is a set of rules. Rules mean boundaries – the construction of a distinct space in which a different order applies. In her exhibition 3612,54 M³ VS 0,05 M³ at Berlinische Galerie, the Berlin-based artist Monica Bonvicini (b1967, Venice) plays with exactly this idea. So what are they, these rules, and what game are we playing? The first instructions are dictated by the gallery. I must wear my coat or check it at the cloakroom, the security guard says sternly. The Berlinische Gale…
Hanne Darboven and Charlotte Posenenske, installation view, Konrad Fischer Galerie, Berlin, 2017. …erlin 20 January – 14 May 2017 by KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN Clearly, not all art is conceptual, although, if pressed to designate the limits of conceptual art, the boundaries become blurred. Practically speaking, all art since modernism comes with a story or an explanation, which, depending on how far the work strays into illegibility, could be called a “concept”. The difference is that, where modernism to a certain extent became the reason for criticism, conceptual art, as Joseph Kosuth, once said, “annexes the functions of the critic, and makes a middleman unnecessary”. Conceptual art was born in the 1960s, with artists such as Kosuth at its centre, in a muddle of similar yet contradictory movements. The distinction of conceptual art hinges on its rejection of materials; it is an art of the mind, not the senses. But its demarcations were never quite clear. Yves Klein’s blue canvases, for example, are new realist in the French sense – not dep…
Christopher Williams. Best.Nr.: 68011, Best.Nr.: 28856, Best.Nr.: 28856. Brushed aluminium – dishwasher safe sauce pan and stew pot. Studio Rhein Verlag, Düsseldorf. 26 January 2017. Inkjet print, 73.7 x 92.2 cm paper. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, New York / London / Hong Kong. © the artist. …haft, Hanover 4 May – 29 July 2018 by KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN “Is this the exhibition?” I overhear a visitor to the Kestner Gesellschaft ask, as we walk through the two downstairs galleries. Cutting through the first room is a large, bare movable wall of the type normally used in temporary art displays. Although here, bruised and battered, its corners chipped, and its height inadequate for the room, it functions not as infrastructure but as an obstacle – as a thing itself. In the next room, the vocabulary of the wall is elaborated: four further mobile walls, monumental sculptures in a row, hollow and massive like dinosaur skeletons, are grave and silent remnants of the past. [image6] “It was an exhibition,” is the answer to my fellow exhibition-goer’s question. The walls, we read, are replicas of those used in a show at the Bonner Kunstverein in 2009, curated by Christina Végh, who is now director of the Kestner Gesellschaft. Williams’s Normative Models uses its ow…
Naeem Mohaiemen. United Red Army, 2011, 70 mins. …kholm 1 February – 7 May 2017 by KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN From a parking-facility-cum-arts-centre in the Stockholm suburb of Tensta, Naeem Mohaiemen’s 2011 film, United Red Army, takes us to Bangladesh in 1977 when, as a child, he sat in front of the TV watching news footage of a plane hijacked by the Japanese United Red Army landing in Dhaka. The drama that unfolds is worthy of Hollywood: “We hurt bourgeois people. It’s the duty of revolutionary soldiers,” the hijacker known as Dankesu says, as he announces that they will begin executing the passengers. “This is no solution,” the airforce commander, Mahmood, says pleadingly, before shouting desperate orders at the control room to: “Go and bloody well stop that plane!” The screen is black, all we hear is their mediated tinny voices as the words appear on screen. But the eight-year-old Mohaiemen would not have heard even this. He was just watching the flickering image of the plane,…
Chto Delat. It Hasn't Happened To Us Yet. Safe Haven, 2016. Two-channel HD video installation, 16:9, colour, sound, 49:06 min. Courtesy of Chto Delat and KOW, Berlin. … engagement with political struggles by KRISTIAN MADSEN Chto Delat is a Russian collective of artists, academics and activists working from Moscow, St Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod. The name translates to “What is to be done?” and derives from a 19th-century novel by Nikolai Chernyshevsky as well as from a 1902 publication by Lenin of the same name. The journey of What is to be done? is illustrative of the collective’s practice: a continuous questioning and redevelopment of our sources of history and the knowledge and politics that they produce. Across its respective disciplines, the collective works to challenge a political climate in which, both in Russia and elsewhere, basic freedoms are increasingly under threat. Since 2003, Chto Delat has published newspapers, made films, and given performances and lectures, as well as organised activist spaces for gathering and education in Moscow. In its artistic practice, it has exhibited in many institutions and events in…


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