SIXTY’s resident art writer Rob Goyanes is on the search for the best of what’s going in L.A., Miami, and NYC this month. What you’ll find included here is a wide and robust range, offering high-brow takes on everything from post-internet sculpture to augmented reality. Herewith, your guide to the best art exhibitions in March.
NEW YORK CITY: ‘Kiss Off’ at Luxembourg & Dayan
Charged with meaning, circulating popular culture like the intimate confines a lover’s embrace, the kiss is a romantic gesture with a long presence in art. This exhibition at Luxembourg & Dayan presents a group of canonical artists exploring the kiss’s physical and symbolic structure, from Andy Warhol to Vito Acconci to Marina Abramovic.
Organized in collaboration with heavyweight curator Francesco Bonami, Kiss Off borrows its title from Acconci’s 1971 work, in which he kissed his own body with lipsticked lips and then applied the marks to a lithography stone, a gesture evoking solipsism as much as self-love. Sigmar Polke’s ghostly evocation of two kissers, “Liebespaar I” (1965), is on view, as well as Andy Warhol’s black and white film, simply titled Kiss (1963), which depicts various couples making out for three-and-a-half minutes each.
Though these works portray more positive associations with locking lips, other works excavate contrary meanings. A 1977 performance by Ulay and Marina Abramovic involved the two artists breathing into each other’s mouths, with cigarette filters blocking their nasal passages. After 19 minutes, the two of them passed out, suggesting the limits of physical romantic contact. These and other works portray the complex cultural stock of a gesture that only seems natural. Through April 14, 2018.
NEW YORK CITY: Jillian Mayer at Postmasters
The cheekily-titled Post Posture is a show of sculptures by artist and filmmaker Jillian Mayer, now on view at Postmasters. Vibrantly hued, sparkly, and surreally shaped, they’re dubbed “slumpies,” since you climb onto them and assume the (post) posture. Modeled on the bodily positions we take when using our digital devices, these sculptures coax their audience into slumping over, curling around, and propping up—the awkward poses of sliding into the digital abyss.
Mayer’s works seem to have contradictory purposes: encourage and critique these physical and social formations. Though they serve as readymade environments for Instagram photoshoots, the sculptures, made of fiberglass and resin, also highlight the isolating effects of the internet. Most of the sculptures seat one, and those that accommodate more are advocating you be on your phone.
However, they don’t only poo-poo the isolationism of the web, they also celebrate its inherent sociality, the connections made to others and to the wider world. But Mayer isn’t making sleek, ergonomically designed pieces perfectly fitted for the human body. These works only aggravate the pained neck, the cramped shoulder, the benumbed calf. Combining the functions of art and furniture, they require both visual and bodily assessment. Through March 31, 2018.
MIAMI: A.G. at CCE Miami
Artist Alan Gutierrez, who goes by A.G., is interested in theatrical presentations of the self. Not only performances in sanctioned settings, where we know what we’re getting is performance, but also the everyday theater of life. A new exhibition of paintings at Centro Cultural Español de Cooperación Iberoamericana (CCE Miami) reflects this artist’s preoccupations, with a new line of thinking and several special guests.
Playing with ideas of entertainment, and what passes as such, Gutierrez takes on the grand notion of creativity in institutional settings. This may include the art gallery, but, as we ponder, it quickly grows into different venues: the fire-breathing street performer, the opera singer’s arias floating through gilded theaters. For this new suite of paintings, Gutierrez draws from archival negatives of performances he did while a 16-year-old high schooler at the New World School of the Arts.
The “special guests” in the show include painter Math Bass, magician and finance magnate Domingo Castillo, and designer Charles Hollis Jones. In this respect, Gutierrez is also working as curator, but this is perhaps the wrong word for such work. In pursuing clear-headed thinking about entertainment and creativity, the show explores the intimate relationships we have with these concepts, and which artists have with each other. Through April 18, 2018.
MIAMI: Felice Grodin at PAMM
A giant, undulating, jellyfish-looking creature hovers near the hanging gardens on the outside of the Perez Art Museum Miami. Nearly unreal, this work and others were created by Felice Grodin, whose exhibition, Invasive Species, utilizes augmented reality for a series of digital artworks on the outside of the museum and within. Viewed through visitors’ iOS devices, the work warps thresholds aplenty.
Grodin is not only interested in digital objects–those that exist between material and image–but also the critters that end up in Miami that don’t belong there. Such invasive species—nonnative jellyfish, Burmese pythons, Brazilian pepper trees—populate South Florida as a result of climate change, overambitious pet ownership, and transnational trade. The artist, who is also an architect, is shining a light on the unstable nature of Miami’s ecosystem.
Her readings of Deleuze and Guattari, the philosopher and psychoanalyst, informed the creations of these artworks, which shift between the territories of physical and mental space. Much like the species which have arrived here, by choice or by accident, these AR pieces make home in a place where they don’t belong, and they’ll soon move on to inhabit a new site. Through April 21, 2018.
LOS ANGELES: ‘Unspeakable’ at Hammer
Three films are being shown at L.A.’s Hammer Museum that evince a refined critique of society. Unspeakable, an exhibition of iconic American artists Barbara Kruger, Charles Atlas, and Kara Walker, includes various styles and methods of filmmaking, with each piece having been made within the past ten years. Though they employ various means, from text to montage to puppetry, they all address vital concerns.
Kruger, an artist known for her signature text panels of sharp socio-political commentary, intersperses such texts with footage of gatherings by religious fundamentalist groups and performers acting out intimate scenes. Charles Atlas, the renowned filmmaker who worked with Merce Cunningham, will have a film called The Tyranny of Consciousness on display, which consists of 44 sunsets narrated by drag queen Lady Bunny.
The third film installation comes via Kara Walker, probably the most visible artist right now working with histories of race, slavery, and colonialism. Her film addresses a range of issues–from the genocide in Darfur to the American Civil War–with her unmistakable silhouettes acting as flat hand-puppets. All three films on view represent crucial strata of American life, each by three very different but equally potent artistic voices. Through May 13, 2018.
LOS ANGELES: Markus Amm at David Kordansky Gallery
A collection of sumptuous paintings by the German-born, London-residing artist Markus Amm, now on view at David Kordansky Gallery, will draw the eye not for complex content, symbolism, or digital design. These small-scale works on gesso board are simply produced: Amm pours paper-thin layers of paint at infrequent intervals, creating a color effect that changes before the viewer’s eyes.
These works, operating somewhere between the genres of gestural abstraction and process-heavy conceptualism, delight the eyes as they pulse with layers of color. The works are smooth and matte, mostly devoid of representation save for a shape here and there. Yet their magic is parlayed in the sashaying pendulum of freedom and intention—some works took several years, as Amm considered the next move and the layers of paint took on new character.
The process of pouring paint means that gravity’s trace is just present, if not more so, than the artist’s hand. Placid surfaces where the paint has pooled, or areas where it’s flowed as Amm tilted the work, are at times disrupted by discrete swipes of the brush. The results are poetic returns to color field, a modest challenge to the dense networked nature of contemporary art. Plainly put, they’re beautiful paintings. Through March 24, 2018