September, the transition from summer to fall, is also a time when the cultural calendar starts to rev its engines. Though Miami is still a little spare this time of year, there’s a couple things to check out—and they’re not in places you’d expect to find contemporary art. In New York and L.A., ever buzzing, there’s an exhibition about Yugoslavian architecture and some shows by up-and-coming artists that definitely deserve a look. Our resident art critic Rob Goyanes details his picks.
MIAMI: ‘Optical Disparity’ at Windows at Walgreens
What do knitting and neon have in common? While it may not be obvious at first, the work of Alex Trimino braids together technologies that say something about how we live. Optical Disparity, a series of illuminated totem poles, are on display in a venue that gives similar pause for thought: the windows of a Walgreens on North Beach.
This unusual, highly commercial context for an art show is thanks to ArtCenter/South Florida. In a partnership with that Walgreens—which has its own iconic Art Deco architecture—exhibitions are arranged in the windows that face the sidewalk. While they used to contain pool tubes and boogie boards, they’re now used to present artworks, performances, and installations.
For this show, Trimino has employed crochet, found objects, and colorful neons to create works that conjoin disparate ideas. But how far is the gap between a light, signifying nightlife, and a piece of yarn, signifying handicraft at home? About as far as a pharmacy store chain and contemporary art, which, if you meditate on it, are not that different. Through September 23, 2018.
MIAMI: Carsten Höller’s Slide at Aventura Mall
Since we’re on the subject of weird commercial places to find art, we gotta add Carsten Höller’s slide at Aventura Mall. Höller has been making slides-as-art since 1998, when he installed one at the Berlin Biennale, and this Miami iteration is his biggest one to date.
A German artist based in Stockholm, Höller came to prominence in the 1990s for works that challenged the public’s experience of public space (and themselves). A wild mix of environments, artworks, and installations, Höller has integrated castrated deer, pills, and hotel rooms into his practice, in works that have been shown at institutions like the Guggenheim and Hamburger Bahnhof.
The twin slide at Aventura Mall towers above its audience, acting not just as a real slide, but an architectural sculpture in itself. This is very Höllerian. In his thinking about slides, the artist was interested in making people deeply, truly happy through his work, and challenging their expectations for what an aesthetic object can accomplish. So step right up, and ride the art. Ongoing.
NEW YORK CITY: ‘Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia’ at MoMA
The interior of Šerefudin’s White Mosque in Visoko, Bosnia/Herzegovina, is painted pure white, with sculptural effects you’d assume to find in a highly contemporary home. Cupolas, skylights, geometrically perfect floating staircases—the mosque is cherished by the local devout and wanderers alike. An exhibition at MoMA highlights this and other buildings from a place not often associated with architectural wonder.
During the time of socialist Yugoslavia, a group of architects were designing (and, at times, enacting) a utopian vision. Though you might get sci-fi or even maybe some dystopian vibes from looking at these buildings, the intent was to use architecture as a means of urbanization and memorialization. To wit: the Avala TV Tower in Mount Avala, Serbia, designed by Uglješa Bogunović.
Bogunović’s tower looks like it’ll blast off into space at any moment, but the brutalist masterpiece is used for telecommunications—a fairly sci-fi concept in and of itself. Destroyed during NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia, the tower was so inspiring that it was reconstructed in 2006. The exhibition at MoMA explores these two buildings and others in photographs, renderings, and films. Through January 13, 2018.
NEW YORK CITY: ‘Access to Tools’ at Jack Hanley Gallery
The artist Maia Ruth Lee is interested in details that are overlooked and yet ubiquitous. Wrought iron sculptures that adorn the outsides of homes, decorative embellishments used on window bars and fences—these are things that not only add character, but signify a boundary. Lee, in her first exhibition at Jack Hanley, explores the language that these objects speak.
Isolating them for display, Lee also treats each element as a glyph. She’s developed a glossary of meanings for the design motifs, exploring real and imagined lexicons. Other systems of meaning are explored as well, including her Bondage Baggage series. While researching Nepalese migrant workers passing through Kathmandu International Airport, the artist realized there was a technique for bringing goods back home.
Wrapped in colorful tarp and cloth, these disguised items took on an aesthetic significance for Lee, who, born in Busan, South Korea, is interested in the means of moving through space and time. No matter what, a specific vocabulary is developed in the process, and the artist hones in on the sentiment, creating a language of her own. Running September 6 through October 7, 2018.
LOS ANGELES: “lonesome crowded west” at Château Shatto
The poetry found in Aria Dean’s artwork is illuminating, heartbreaking, and just visually incredible. When you look at a piece of hers, it’s like there’s a history of the world contained therein—but can’t put your finger on how, or what. In her first solo exhibition at L.A.’s Château Shatto, Dean will have a series of works that explores three mediums: sculptures made of clay and resin, looped videos, and a “replicative” sculpture.
Exploring her personal history—and the ontological features of blackness—Dean has gathered clay from an area of the Mississippi River, where her paternal grandfather lived. The sculptures embody a physical connection between artist and place, but, perhaps more significantly, a metaphysical question: as narratives get told and retold, how do we distinguish between the story and the self, or the other?
In the video works, Dean compiles crowd scenes from hip-hop videos to probe the genre’s tropes, as well as the separation between individual and collective identity. Like the rest of Dean’s oeuvre, these works will spur complex thoughts, and stun the senses. Running September 8 through October 27, 2018.
LOS ANGELES: ‘Artificial Imtelligence’ at B.P.L.A.
That’s no typo. Artificial Imtelligence at Big Pictures Los Angeles is the brainchild of artist Hugo Montoya. The Miami-bred, Mexico City-dwelling artist pokes fun at those people and artworks who take themselves too seriously, but he does so in a precise, studious way. Montoya’s works are like bad jokes, perfectly composed.
A supreme eye for knick knacks, tchotchkes, and aesthetic arrangement, Montoya has been collecting objects befitting a lovely, whacky grandma for years. Over the years, he’d amassed a collection of wonderfully strange and funny things, before selling everything prior to his move from Miami to Mexico. This exhibition, though, shows Montoya returning to his passion.
The works, which integrate objects such as a foam bust from a bachelorette party, or a WiFi-controlled rainbow-colored light bulb, engage the lighthearted, sensual side of late capitalism. Montoya’s brilliance lies in the way he skirts the line between crude gesture and fine art, and his fluid combination of sensibilities. He is both a gifted photographer and discerning hoarder. Through October 1, 2018.