As the dog days of summer appear to dwindle in number, it is important to make the absolute most of what’s left of the season. Come February, you’ll be craving those warm-weather strolls in and out of galleries, air conditioning blasting cool air on hot skin. At least in New York. As for Miami and Los Angeles, well, it’s just another day in paradise, right? Below, our resident art writer Rob Goyanes has selected some August must-sees in each of our ports, from Iranian abstractions to iPhone prints. Have a look.
MIAMI: ‘E-state Realisms’ at ArtCenter South Florida
What better place to consider how the internet and “real” world converge than Miami, a city built atop porous limestone, based on fantasies of paradise despite the swamp, a place where image and space are impossible to disentangle. A new show at ArtCenter South Florida, located in the very hyperreal zone of Miami Beach, asks questions about how the digital and physical worlds are coming together.
Curated by Emer Grant, E-State Realisms is an exhibition that explores how artworks’ meaning, value, and very being has changed. A physical work of art—painting, sculpture, etc.—not only exists in the real world, but must exist online in order to circulate the globe. The exhibition includes five artists well-versed in teasing out the nuance of digital (non)existence.
In one of the cooler stories of contemporary art, Mel Chin assembled the GALA Committee to insert artworks into the TV show Melrose Place, posing them as props. The exhibition has an advert that was banned by the show. Felice Grodin explores the use of architecture as a means for investment rather than an end, and Nick Lobo casts a bust of a man holding a bust of his own head, analyzing the scar on his skull. If you’re not sure how that last one connects to the digital divide, this show is especially a must. Through September 30, 2018.
MIAMI: Sondra Perry at the ICA
Typhoon coming on is an exhibit at the ICA, Miami that illustrates strange and powerful combines of video, performance, and installation by Sondra Perry. An artist who amply brings together various technologies—from bikes to archival footage to her own body—Perry’s show reflects her meditations on the junction of identity, digital tools, and the means for change in the face of unflinching history.
Hosted first at London’s Serpentine Gallery, the exhibition includes works from the past few years of Perry’s practice. Besides Serpentine, the youngish artist has shown at several lauded institutions, including The Kitchen, MoMA PS1, and Rhizome. Collage, glitchy avatars, and abstract fleshy landscapes are some of the motifs Perry uses in her work. These methods are deployed to probe the nuances of black femininity, her own family, and political movements that seek recognition, rights, and autonomy.
One of the works on view is “Graft and Ash for a Three Monitor Workstation,” which includes a big HD screen playing a video attached to a stationary bicycle. In the video, an abstracted, rendered avatar of Perry speaks to the viewer, her head floating around the space. That the audience has to sit in a “workstation” and perform the labor of consuming art, speaks to the many threads to be pulled from this show. Through November 4, 2018.
NEW YORK CITY: ‘The Changes Wrought’ at American Medium
The humble abode that houses American Medium is, in my humble opinion, the perfect space in which to view art. Brightly lit, white walls except for the refreshing dose of brick, and a wavy ceiling make for an environment that puts focus on the works themselves—but it isn’t a boring modernist white cube, either. More significantly, the expert curating has made this a small gallery to watch.
The current show, titled The Changes Wrought, brings together art duo Loney Abrams and Johnny Stanish, Bea Fremderman, Erika Hickle, Tanya Merrill, Dana Lok, and Sydney Shen. Besides all being younger artists, they share a certain sensibility about sculptural objects (real or represented). One of the gallery’s great strengths is curating shows in which the pieces resonate with each other, and this show is no different.
Abrams and Stanish’s purple resin painting, “Chatelaine,” combines sculptural recreations of chains, ancient pottery, sperms, pacifiers, and flowers. Lok’s shadowy geometric paintings contain a similar purple hue. Fremderman, a master of portmanteau, soldered a variety of tree specimens into a single stick and stuck it in between the ceiling and the floor. This show is as fun as it is smart. Through August 18, 2018.
NEW YORK CITY: ‘Last Days in a Lovely Place’ at Lubov
Though Theodore Darst is well-versed in cutting-edge software to produce his videos, this exhibition at Lubov represents an embrace of technology available to everyone. Bittersweetly titled Last Days in a Lovely Place, Darst employs iPhone software to create videos and prints more reflective of personal experience than the much-touted future of technology.
The prints include geometric grids of undulating lines in pale primary colors. Simple and inexact, they retain the trace of the artist’s hand (or index finger, as it’s applied to phone screen). Grids also appear in some of the framed images on view, moments of quiet reflection that almost seem like the readymade images that come in retail frames—but surreally off.
The video work is more dynamic. Superimposed images, some in greyscale and others in bright neon blue, appear on the screen. Somewhat slapdash, the quality of the video is low compared to CGI, but high compared to a non-video artist using the tools available. It’s difficult to derive meaning from the works, besides the fact that it’s an artist just making things when he finds the time. Which is, as it happens, a nice reprieve. Through August 26, 2018.
LOS ANGELES: ‘In the Fields of Empty Days’ at LACMA
Safavid manuscripts, Warholian collages of Iranian wrestlers, ornately dressed women surrounded by chickens. Though the content of this show is sundry, its subject is focused. In the Fields of Empty Days, now on view at LACMA, explores the very long history or Iranian art, from 16th-century books to contemporary photography, paintings, and animation.
A sprawling show of 125 works by over 50 artists, much of it is tied back to a foundational text of Iranian history. The “Shahnama,” commonly referred to in the West as “the Book of Kings,” is the story—real and fictional—of dynastic change and conquest in Iran across 50 kingdoms. Likewise, the show seeks to cover a lot of ground, and pulls together works from the far past and present to show how the two temporalities are linked.
With video projections by the likes of Shoja Azari, who combines footage of recent world events, and the starkly monochromatic photographs by Shirin Neshat, the exhibition includes contemporary artists aside ancient Iranian objects and artworks. There are no wall texts, however, so it would be best to bone up on your Iranian history before visiting. Through September 9, 2018.
LOS ANGELES: ‘Taurus and the Awakener’ at David Kordansky
Drawing its title from an astrological thing I honestly just don’t understand, this exhibition is a big group show with a variety of artists working in different mediums. The premise has something to do with Uranus entering the Taurus constellation, and the characteristics that are ascribed to that planet (which apparently include flashes of revelation, surprises, and excitement).
In that spirit, the show includes what is essentially a painting made of dyed fabric resting on the floor by Polly Apfelbaum. There are person-creature hybrids by Huma Bhabha, incense holders by Evan Holloway, and natural-seeming objects by Arlene Shechet. The exhibition includes a bevy of concepts and practices, from poetic gesture to formalist assertion, but what they share perhaps is a sense of intuition, and of fate.
No matter your belief in astrology itself, something can be drawn from the idea that there are larger forces at work than what we as individuals can control. And when it comes to creating a work of art, that is often the very line between good and great: some artworks seem propelled by some force, beyond the artist’s intentions, and achieve a cosmic purpose. Through August 25, 2018.