The Wild Bund


Left: Collector Jane Zhao, artist Guan Xiao, and collector Frank F. Yang. Right: MAXXI artistic director Hou Hanru, artist Ding Yi, China Academy of Art's Gao Shiming, and Minsheng Museum's Lance Liu Jia. (All photos: Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva and Du Keke)

LAST WEEK I SPENT THE SHOCKING, watershed days around the dawn of Trump’s America in Shanghai. While the events resonated here, it was less a shake than a quiver. After all, China and its overheating art world are far from the center of that particular storm—even if “Shyna,” as Trump so dismissively puts it, is in his crosshairs.

It wasn’t that long ago that Beijing, with its massive network of artist studios, underground movements, and exhibition spaces, was the center of the Chinese art establishment. But the past seven days confirmed a shift east toward Shanghai, with the business of exhibiting drawing a swarm of art pundits and enthusiasts for two competing fairs, one biennial, and dozens of galleries and museum shows—many, like Edouard Malingue, ShanghART, Aike Dellarco, BANK/Mabsociety, MadeIn, CC Foundation, and Capsule, in brand new spaces.

Last Monday at the Minsheng Museum, I sat at a post-opening dinner for “Everyday Legend,” a serious exhibition of works by eighteen artists, including Liang Shaoji, Shao Yinong, and Sui Jianguo (and not counting Sun Xun’s video, which was shut down by censors), curated by Jiang Jiehong and Nan Nan. “I am here to criticize,” said the critic Zhang Wei, sitting next to me. On trial were exhibition titles—including Venice’s “Viva Arte, Viva,” considered too juvenile by my Shanghainese neighbor. “They might as well use robots to come up with them,” he quipped, a reference to Liu Xiaodong’s exhibition at the Chronus Art Center in Shanghai’s M50 district, where the artist uses three robotic arms to paint on canvases.

Left: Raqs Media Collective's Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta. Right: Curators Jiang Jiehong and Nan Nan at the Minsheng Museum.

The next day, the VIP preview of the third edition of the West Bund Art & Design fair started strong. With sizeable booths and only thirty-one galleries, there was an almost pleasing flow. Newcomers included blue chips like David Zwirner, Timothy Taylor (also showing Alex Katz’s lucent paintings in a pop-up next door), Gladstone Gallery, and Long March, as well as younger venues like Taipei’s TKG+ and the artist-run Canton Gallery.

I ran into patrons Dominique and Sylvain Levy manning a virtual-reality setup that displays their collection of works from the Chinese avant-garde. “You must try it,” said Dominique. “It’s just like the real thing.” Robot art and VR: Maybe it’s time to let the computers take over. From there we set off for the Chi K11 art space, featuring three exhibitions spanning thirty thousand basement-level square feet: media installations by Guan Xiao, sculptures by Neďl Beloufa, and the touring “Hack Space,” a group show curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Amira Gad that brings together artists such as Cao Fei, Firenze Lai, and Simon Denny. The place was packed. Beloufa pointed out his works to collector Jane Zhao while the Levys greeted artist Liu Wei and K11 founder Adrian Cheng.

Back at the West Bund gala, preprandial mingling included champagne in the Xiŕn Chǎng section, which featured solo presentations by Laurent Grasso, Qiu Anxiong, and Haroon Mirza. “Just like Unlimited,” argued a collector, referring to the Art Basel’s massive display (though to be fair, Xiŕn Chǎng is a bit humbler). I caught up with collector Lihsin Tsai, who was opening a presentation by Martin Creed with Qiao Zhibing in Qiao Space the next day. “Martin seemed so happy!” she said. Art historian Karen Smith, dealer Natalie Sun, and Waling Boers talked between tables while I greeted artist Gregor Hildebrandt, who had made the trip from Berlin with Alicja Kwade to show with his gallery, Galerie Perrotin.

Left: Michelle Tek, dealer David Zwirner, and collector Budi Tek. Right: Chinese Contemporary Art Award director Liu Lili, collector Uli Sigg, UCCA director Philip Tinari, and dealer Tanya Bonakdar.

Slivers of sea cucumber intestines arrived inside ice globes while loud promotional videos were projected on a large screen, “educating” the more than three hundred guests about West Bund and Shanghai. There was a surprising cheer when David Zwirner was asked to come to the stage, followed by a speech by He Juxing, founder of the forthcoming Star Museum, and then a folk song by Ci Kim of Arario Gallery. Dinner concluded with a plate of white chocolate shells flavored with coffee, mushroom, and Sichuan pepper, a confusing mélange—though artist Austin Lee, in town for a solo show at BANK, maintained his nonchalance as he sampled the abalones, Peking duck, and black truffle tofu soup.

Out in the cold, I was relieved when West Bund Art & Design founder Zhou Tiehai fixed me a ride with artist Wang Shang and Magician Space dealer Qu Kejie. We were headed for a party organized—just for the sake of it—by Sishang Museum director Linyao Kiki Liu and MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach at the Shelter, a former bunker-cum-nightclub. Dealers Sadie Coles and Nick Simunovic and Ullens Center director Philip Tinari rubbed shoulders with artists Li Ming, Jin Shan, and Alice Wang. “This place has a déjŕ vu from the ’90s,” said Biesenbach. It certainly had a touch of the sweaty Berlin underground. We partied while not knowing that the next day’s mood would take a drastic turn.

After all, this was before the devastating results of the US elections, in which Hillary Clinton, despite winning the popular vote by some margin, lost the presidency to Donald Trump. “It’s like somebody died,” I was told at the fair. “I’m going home to join the ACLU,” said another. Some American dealers cried in their booths, and even the most cynical merchant couldn’t have helped but notice when Asian and other global markets dipped. (The Dow dropped more than six hundred points, though it and other indexes recovered somewhat by the end of the business day.) The Chinese art world responded with resilience and a poker face. Some mentioned Brexit. Chillingly, a few businessmen cheered. Others turned inward. Most showed support to their American colleagues.

Left: Dealer Leo Xu and artist Nina Canell. Right: Lucie Xu and collectors Sylvain and Dominique Lévy with K11 founder Adrian Cheng.

That afternoon we walked gloomily around the openings in the West Bund, sticking to the ground. ShanghART celebrated its twentieth anniversary with the group exhibition “Holzwege,” while Aike Dellarco launched its new space with shows for Wang Yi and Lee Kit. Art Stage directors Lorenzo and Maria-Elena Rudolf worked the crowds as if they were at home. Collector Daisuke Miyatsu had just flown in from Japan and was headed to Art Taipei next. Before dinner, I swung by Leo Xu’s gallery in the former French Concession neighborhood for Nina Canell’s exhibition, and later that evening, Martin Creed performed at Zhibing’s Shanghai Nights—a karaoke event so bling and over the top that people either indulged their inner vocalist or left at once.

On Thursday, another fair was thrown into the already impossible mix. The fourth edition of Art021 featured eighty-four galleries in the Shanghai Exhibition Center, a city landmark built in 1955 to mark the Sino-Soviet friendship. Walking the aisles were cofounder Kelly Ying, collector Chong Zhou, LACMA’s Matthew Thompson, Art Fair Tokyo’s Naohiko Kishi, artist Wang Fujui, and dealer Peggy Lin. And, in case you missed the Shanghai Center of Photography’s building at the West Bund, you could catch select works by China-based photographers from its permanent collection in the not-for-profit section. Leaving the fair, we decided to check out “You Won’t Be Young Forever,” an exhibition of young artists organized single-handedly by Biljana Ciric in a soon to be demolished three-story building. The highlight was the beautiful facade that featured a commissioned painting by Nathan Zhou.

Left: Artist Lee Mingwei at Power Station. Right: Artists Michael Lin and Charwei Tsai, curator Kit Hammonds, and dealer Niklas Svennung.

But we were still only midway through the week. The next day was the opening of the eleventh Shanghai Biennale, curated by the Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective and titled “Why Not Ask Again: Arguments, Counter-Arguments, and Stories.” By the time we arrived for Friday’s opening at the Power Station, the hall was quickly filling up. Curators Sabih Ahmed and Tess Maunder were about to lead a tour. Artists Michael Lin and Charwei Tsai and curator Kit Hammonds watched a performer slowly sweep the floor as part of Lee Mingwei’s work. “She’s a former real-estate broker who hated her job, so she quit, began learning calligraphy, and applied for my open call,” the artist explained. Her gesture was convincing—she was no a robot! Covering three floors, with many video works and lots of natural media (wood, stone, rice), the first impression was of sepia-colored narratives and dark rooms, a carnival of ideas and personal stories and gestures that render geopolitical issues with sobriety and elegance.

Casual petits fours preceded a seated dinner for five hundred on the Power Station’s seventh floor. It was heavy on speeches and videos accolades for Power Station director Gong Yan, Raqs, other curators, the staff, and the artists. Among the many guests were Chinese Contemporary Art Award’s Uli Sigg and Liu Lili; dealers Mathieu Borysevicz and Ann Marie Peńa; biennial artists Heidi Voet, Ayesha Jatoi, Taus Makhacheva, Agan Harahap, Müge Yilmaz, Bianca Baldi, Anawana Haloba, Salome Asega, Olu Oguibe, and Bo Zheng; Minsheng Museum’s Lance Liu Jia; Rockbund Museum’s Liu Yingjiu; and Asia Art Archives’s Hammad Nasar—though the list goes on and on and on.

“Did you notice that there was so little information released before the biennial?” asked my seatmate, ShanghART’s Lorenz Helbling. “When you go to Venice, you can always read about the works ahead of time. Here they come as a surprise.” With more than ninety artists in this extravagant show, the surprises take time to digest. If only all surprises were so palatable, or soothing.

Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva

Left: Advisor Zain Masud and artist Taus Makhacheva. Right: M+ senior curator Pi Li and artist Liu Wei.

Eastern Block


Dalibor Martinis, The Eternal Flame of Rage. (All photos: Kate Sutton)

IN WHAT NOW SEEMS LIKE AN OMEN, I spent the Thursday before last huddled in a museum parking lot, watching a red sedan go up in flames.

“What about all the toxins?” I asked.

“They’re not blowing toward us,” replied artist Dalibor Martinis, waving his hand at the thick trail of black smoke. True. It was slithering up and away from us—toward observers on the terrace above.

We had gathered at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb to watch Martinis set fire to the car as part of his series of performances The Eternal Flame of Rage.

The sedan had been overturned pre-immolation, its belly exposed like a stinkbug in its final throes. “That’s a Yugo 45,” artist Ivan Dujmusic told me. “Everyone used to drive these.” (“The Worst Car in the World,” a surreptitious Google search confirmed.) “I was lucky to find such a historical model,” Martinis mused as the engine sputtered off a mild explosion.

Left: WHW's Ivet Ćurlin, artist David Maljković and designer Ana Martina Bakić at Galerija SC. Right: Artist Ivan Dujmusic at Dalibor Martinis's Eternal Flame of Rage at MSU Zagreb.

Unsettled legacies were a running motif of the weekend, which centered around the launch of the first episode of My Sweet Little Lamb (Everything We See Could Also Be Otherwise), a seven-month program of events hosted by the curatorial quartet What, How and for Whom (WHW) in collaboration with the Kontakt Collection, a seminal grouping of works from central, eastern, and southeastern Europe assembled by the Erste Foundation.

The six-episode exhibition had been in planning for several years, but the tone of the opening events shifted this July, following the passing of artist Mladen Stilinović. The entire collaboration was subsequently dedicated to Stilinović, its title taken from a 1993 drawing by the artist that inscribes the program’s eponymous phrase under an outline of a pig stamped in red ink. After all: Everything we see could also be something else. (A motto as close to Hope as we may be able to get right now.)

Multiple interpretations thrived at one of the weekend’s highlights, a roundtable discussion led by MoMA curator Ana Janevski and featuring members of Kontakt’s art advisory committee Branka Stipančić, Silvia Eiblmayr, and Georg Schöllhammer. (Adam Szymczyk, a longtime member and Documenta 14 artistic director, was a last-minute no-show, though social media clocked him onstage in Kassel playing keys for a band fronted by artist Hiwa K.)

Left: Artist Josef Dabernig with Kontakt's Kathrin Rhomberg. Right: Artist Sanja Iveković with MoMA curator Ana Janevski at Iveković's Archive.

In a nod to Stilinović’s 1979 lecture “Against English Language,” Stipančić delivered the opening statement in Croatian. After a brief overview of Kontakt’s twelve-year history, she quoted from Igor Zabel’s argument that the Cold War caricaturing of Western Modernism versus Eastern Socialist Realism had resulted in a situation where the West was understood as the natural control group for the development of contemporary art, while the East was seen as the West’s stunted little sister, hopelessly emulating whatever it could but never really fitting into anything. (Schöllhammer illustrated this with an anecdote about Benjamin Buchloh’s quick dismissal of Polish filmmaker Józef Robakowski some years back: “Oh god, not another copy of Bruce Nauman.”) This narrative reduces the art-historical workload, ignoring not only the active exchanges taking place at events like the Paris Biennial but also the preexisting connections, correspondences, and even collapses between the former West and East.

“The division was never as solidified as we’ve narrated it,” Schöllhammer pointed out, adding that Yugoslavia was only “Easternized” in 1990, its affiliations rewritten retroactively. Here Eiblmayr chimed in, confirming that, for Austrians, the so-called Eastern Bloc “was where we vacationed, where our relatives lived. We didn’t have that fear of what you call the threshold, the Iron Curtain.” From there, the conversation touched on various institutions or initiatives that have tried to give voice to artists from the region—from Moderna Galerija’s Arteast2000+ Collection in Ljubljana and the network of Soros Institutes to Tranzit—but, as Janevski astutely noted, each of these still risk homogenizing how we talk about the East.

My Sweet Little Lamb presents an excellent chance to see things “otherwise.” Working together with Kontakt’s Kathrin Rhomberg, WHW curators Ivet Ćurlin, Ana Dević, Nataša Ilić, and Sabina Sabolović placed works from the Kontakt Collection in an illuminating dialogue with artists such as Július Koller, Wu Tsang, Halil Altindere, and KwieKulik, in a two-part exhibition split between WHW’s Galerija Nova and a neighboring apartment. Its opening program was then fleshed out with contributions from artists and institutions that helped shape the region’s scene.

Left: Artists Dalibor Martinis, Vlado Martek, and Zorn Pavelić with WHW's Ana Dević at ZKM. Right: Curator Daniel Grúň at Galerija Nova.

The festivities officially kicked off Friday evening with the public opening of Sanja Iveković’s private archives, in the same Savska Ulica apartment where the artist performed her iconic 1979 work Triangle. Encapsulating a complete cycle of public exhibitionism and censure, the piece saw Iveković greeting General Tito on his visit to Zagreb with a carefully choreographed masturbation session on her balcony, followed by the (planned) arrival of a policeman, who forbids her from continuing. Nearly four decades later, the balcony has been remodeled into an ostensibly harmless reading nook, while the rest of the space has been set up with plain white tables and binders of source materials and sketches splayed for the public’s delectation. Given the typically understated tone of events in Zagreb, even the curators were caught off guard by the crush of the crowd, which included conceptual artist Goran Trbuljak, filmmaker Josef Dabernig, and Bratislava-based curator Daniel Grúň.

A little before 8 PM, the hordes began squeezing out the door of Iveković’s apartment and down Savska Ulica to Galerija SC, one of the key institutions driving Yugoslavia’s New Art Practice movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. As part of My Sweet Little Lamb, the gallery was hosting “One Is Not Enough,” an exhibition of photographs by filmmaker Friedl Kubelka, who had a way of capturing unfiltered intimacy on camera. (Witness two 16-mm films in which she stripteases off-camera, her lens trained on the reaction shots from men she recruited off the street.)

In the accompanying screening and artist’s talk, Kubelka openly bucked art-historical attempts to position her as the sexually empowered feminist, ŕ la Iveković’s and her irreverent Triangle. This resistance made the experience of watching Kubelka pose for self-portraits in the mirrors of Paris sex hotels feel invasive or even exploitative, rather than “empowering.” The Kardashian parallels dropped for me when the artist admitted that she took photos of her rivals to understand what made them attractive to men. Well, that and the similarly brazen acknowledgement that she considered her films on her aging—now deceased—mother to be a kind of revenge. Kubelka added that their relationship had improved markedly since her mother’s passing, prompting knowing laughs.

Left: Irwin's Dušan Mandič and Borut Vogelnik with MSU Zagreb curator Nada Beroš. Right: Collector Marinko Sudac at Galerija Nova.

Death may have been the pretext for Saturday’s main event—“Onward Cakes!,” a public memorial for Stilinović at Zagreb Youth Theatre (ZKM)—but the gathering could not have been more life-affirming. As his many devotees know, the artist had a habit of incorporating custard cakes—kremšnita—into his work, devouring them at the end of lectures, readings, or videos, smearing slices across paintings, or even hawking them on the street as “potatoes.” In keeping with the artist’s sweet tooth, Stipančić (Stilinović’s lifelong love and partner) and WHW structured the memorial as sets of three-minute reminiscences from cultural figures including Documenta 12 curator Ruth Noack; Moderna Galerija’s Zdenka Badinovac; the Tomislav Gotovac Institute’s Darko Šimičić; scholar Antonia Majača; artists Dan Perjovschi, IRWIN, and Ahmet Ögüt; and the artist’s brother and colleague, Sven Stilinović—all interspersed with copious cake breaks. (Artists Markita Franulić and Marko Marković skipped the formal divisions, spending their three minutes eating cake on stage in tribute.)

In one of the more heartrending contributions, Schöllhammer sat across from an empty chair to deliver a rendition of Stilinović’s 1978 artist book I Have No Time. As Schöllhammer repeated the titular mantra, his voice grew plaintive, the words “I’m sorry, Mladen, I had no time” echoing as an infinitely applicable refrain in moments like these, when last interactions get weighed and reweighed in an attempt to squeeze some additional significance, a last little parting gift of the artist’s presence.

Thankfully, we all had time. The memorial ended up stretching over three hours, leaving just enough pause before the evening’s openings, which kicked off at 6 PM at Galerija Miroslav Kraljević, where Nina Gojić was unveiling her new Multilogue for Later. At 8, visitors finally got a gander at the Kontakt Collection with the simultaneous opening of the two exhibitions curated by Rhomberg and WHW. Galerija Nova had gotten a slight sprucing for the occasion, with clean white walls ready to showcase a cluster of Mária Bartuszová’s sculptures (including the sublime Endless Egg, 1985), alongside Geta Brǎtescu’s 1978 Censored Self-Portrait, Tomislav Gotovac’s delightful 1962 work Showing Elle, and a 2005 Vlado Martek text piece lamenting that “by creating beautiful things I am doing the East a disservice.”

Left: Still from “Onward Cakes!” at ZKM. Right: Zora Cazi-Gotovac with Tomislav Gotovac Institute researcher Darko Šimičić.

The Softić Apartment was located just off the city’s main square, though it required ducking into one of the “secret passageways” spun through Zagreb’s major thoroughfares. Inside, the telltale blue scotch-tape line of Edward Krasiński spanned the suite of sixth-floor windows, which provided an excellent view across the square to the building where the curators had hung Koller’s Question Mark Cultural Situation (U.F.O.), a bright red banner emblazoned with a symbol simultaneously suggesting an S, a question mark, and a punctuated infinity sign. In the living room, Dimitrije Bašičević Mangelos’s tempera-on-chipboard Paysage de la Mort, 1971–77, held court above the couch, where visitors could sit and marvel at Dezső Magyar’s mesmerizing 1969 film Agitators, a barely disguised ode to the 1968 uprisings that featured Magyar’s fellow artists and philosophers ventriloquizing the Marxist arguments that fueled the Hungarian revolution of 1919. In the dining room, a constellation of Stilinović drawings benefitted from a sound track of “In My Language,” a text by autism activist Amanda Baggs, read aloud in Wu Tsang’s 2008 video The Shape of a Right Statement.

The curators seemed pleased with the results of the collaborative efforts, while visitors got distracted admiring the midcentury Yugoslav modern interior, with chic touches like the soft-cerulean-colored Olivetti typewriter resting on the desk alongside Roman Ondák’s 2003 Letter to the Slovakian Minister of Culture. “This was the apartment of my friend’s grandparents, and they haven’t done anything with it since,” Sabolović explained. “It’s great to see this work in a domestic setting, but it also makes you feel a little uneasy. It’s like you’re trespassing, but you still want to see it all.”

Kate Sutton

Global Village


Left: Artist Thomas Bayrle. Right: Artissima director Sarah Cosulich. (All photos: Pia Capelli and Perottino-Alfero-Tardito)

AS FAR AS ITALIAN ART FAIRS GO, nothing gets as international as Artissima. With its surreal number of curators (more than fifty) contributing to sections and prizes, its roster of global collectors, its constant new entries among exhibitors (Iran and Dubai are the latest additions), and its parade of collateral fairs and shows, Turin’s contemporary fair is the epicenter of an explosive Art Week.

Committed art travelers spend four or five days immersed in art and design, rushing from a castle to a former royal palace (Turin has been a capital city for most of its existence, and the first of the Regno d’Italia under the Savoia until 1865), and from a digital-art exhibition to an electronic music festival. Bouncing among the mainstream, the punk, the aristocratic, and the underground, almost never sleeping, we manage to leave town having gained some pounds, carrying some limited edition of fondants by maître chocolatier Guido Gobino (this year signed by Thomas Bayrle), and smelling of truffle to the tips of our hair.

And yet, the Turin Art Week is also the epitome of Italianity, as it seems to feed on contradictions and uncertainty. When the doors of the Oval open on a warm Thursday, the cultural elite of the city is supposedly in turmoil, as the first statements of new mayor Chiara Appendino (young, female, and from the antiestablishment M5S party) on the future of art institutions and blockbuster exhibitions have provoked at least one notable resignation (Fondazione Torino Musei’s president Patrizia Asproni). The traditional Turinese book fair has lost some limbs to its rival, Milan, sparking outrage. Artissima director Sarah Cosulich is at her fifth and final year at the helm, though she is hoping to be appointed again—which is unusual, since previous directors have left well before the end of their tenures, to greener pastures: Francesco Manacorda to Tate Liverpool, Andrea Bellini to the CAC in Geneva.

Left: Artist Jan Schabus and dealer Norma Mangione. Right: Dealer Sara Zanin and artist Evgeny Antufiev.

This edition, the twenty-third, is thus sometimes perceived as that of Turin’s “crisis,” but in my years covering Artissima I have never seen such a global attendance and wide range of collateral events. At the main fair, the quality is consistent: New art prizes are born every year, and large committees of curators wander among the 193 booths, trying not to bump into one another—the herd metaphor is definitely fitting. Sales are okay, “but it’s more about new contacts,” says everyone. (Being the last remaining country in Europe with a 22 percent VAT on works of art, it’s a miracle Italy still has an art market at all.)

The first person I meet as I check in at my hotel in Piazza Carlina is Christine Macel, the artistic director of next year’s Venice Biennale who is getting familiar with the impossible logistics of her task and with the Italian art world in general. We are both too impatient to wait for the scheduled shuttle so we call a taxi and get to the Oval before everyone else. I tag along just to see how many of the local dealers recognize the most powerful woman of 2017, and I am not surprised to see that her face and name don’t always strike a chord. (Dealers, do your homework!)

A nice interlude among the booths is “Corpo. Gesto. Postura,” the in-fair exhibition curated by Simone Menegoi that revolves around the theme of the body and gives international visitors a hint of the richness of Piedmontese collections (with works by John Bock, Sarah Lucas, Anna Maria Maiolino, Giuseppe Penone, Francesca Woodman). One of the key elements of the week is the newly built network among Turinese museums, now connected not only by shuttles (definitely an improvement from previous years) but also by an articulated exhibition plan that sees Ed Atkins both at Castello di Rivoli and Fondazione Sandretto, Wael Shawky at Rivoli and at Fondazione Merz, and lures you from one venue to another.

Left: Collectors Tony Podesta and Dalila Barzilai Hollander. Right: Collectors Leif Djurhuus and Ole Faarup.

At 6:30 PM, just as Artissima officially opens to the public, I’m off to the opening of Rosemarie Trockel’s “Reflections” at Pinacoteca Agnelli, in nearby Lingotto—the former FIAT headquarters. After a long drive, Artissima’s minivan deposits a large group of international curators in a dark and deserted parking lot, miles away from the actual entrance (I am beginning to think that uncomfortable minivans with drivers from hell are the price we pay for our privileged art-world existence). We find our way back and climb up to Renzo Piano’s “Scrigno,” where Gianni and Marella Agnelli’s collection is displayed too. Here, the committee of honor (and power) is all female: president Ginevra Elkann, director Marcella Pralormo, Trockel herself, dealer Monika Sprüth (who has produced Trockel’s amazing new body of ceramic mirroring sculptures), and Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. Pralormo, who also runs a yearlong public program of conversations with—and about—collectors, explains that Trockel’s enthusiastic participation was unexpected: “We were lucky to be chosen for this exhibition. She has canceled many before, and doesn’t usually attend openings, being a little agoraphobic.”

At dinnertime an existential choice has to be made: Should we join the young crowds at Arto Lindsay’s concert, part of the Club to Club music festival, this year hotter than ever (45,000 tickets sold)? Or should we dutifully attend Artissima’s party at the place any art pilgrim dreads most: the baggage-claim area of Caselle airport?

It’s midnight when we bravely attend the third opening of the day: the Others, the art fair founded six years ago by Roberto Casiraghi. First housed in Le Nuove, the former prison, it has now repaired to Regina Maria Adelaide, a former hospital and trauma center still complete with fluorescent lights and horrific machinery for the straightening of children’s scoliosis. One gallery takes advantage of the environment and shows images of dental procedures. “Don’t you find this a more relaxing setting?” Casiraghi jovially asks. (I don’t.) He says he is also location-scouting in Milan for the Miart week in April: “If you don’t have a parasite fair, you’re a loser,” he jokes. An unending flow of young visitors proves his point. Yet the Others has lost curator Olga Gambari to NESXT, a new nonprofit project/happening/festival that starts off on the right foot this year at the former industrial space Q35.

Left: Silvia Fanti, Filipa Ramos, Sarah Cosulich, Elisabetta Rolando, dealer Isabella Bortolozzi, Franz Bernardelli, and Frederique Begholtz. Right: Pinacoteca Agnelli director Marcella Pralormo and Alain Elkann.

The following morning, a sleep-deprived VIP tour leaves at 9:15 AM for Galleria d’Arte Moderna (GAM), where an exhibition brings together two hundred works by revolutionary Turinese artist Carol Rama. Director Christov-Bakargiev, who is also in charge of Castello di Rivoli, is there to welcome us: ubiquitous, rumored to be difficult, absorbed in her smartphone, but smiling and always dressed in bright, optimistic orange. We introduce ourselves (again), and I realize how much of the Turin Art Week is in the hands of strong, controversial (but these are synonymous) women. When Artissima went for a new corporate image a few years ago, and chose pink with spiky flowers, it was prophetic.

At GAM, I am lucky enough to be picked up and driven to Reggia di Venaria Reale––the “leisure and hunting” baroque residence built by Duke Carlo Emanuele II of Savoia in the seventeenth century—where logistics are complicated by a national strike that includes part of the museum’s staff. (A national strike. Of museum attendants. During Art Week. How Italian is this?) The video and sound installation by Milanese duo Masbedo—Nicolň Massazza and Iacopo Bedogni—and curated by Paola Nicolin is worth the forty-minute trip. Three huge screens occupy the long nave of Citroniera with the images and repetitive noise of the restoration of delicate masterpieces: a Rosso Fiorentino painting, a medieval crucifix.

Friday night belongs to Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo: The dinner at her house is the event of the week. More than 150 guests have flown in from across the planet to enjoy risotto, agnolotti, and speeches by an international array of museum directors. Among them are Tom Eccles, director of the Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies, and Carlos Basualdo and Timothy Rub from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Both institutions have just held their board meetings at the Re Rebaudengo’s mansion: “I thought it’d just be easier to invite them here,” says our host, whose fondazione hosts a show by Josh Kline and a video installation by Harun Farocki. She has just given a guided tour of the fair (a “walkie-talkie”) and the following day, with her typical uber-human energy, she will take her American guests (Art Basel’s Marc Spiegler included) to her Guarene d’Alba country retreat for a truffle-themed weekend.

Left: La Gaia's curator Eva Brioschi. Right: Artissima's Back to the Future curator Eva Fabbris.

On the slip of paper I have been given at the entrance is the number 1, the lucky number of my table. I will be sitting with Patrizia, Kline, Spiegler, the Zabludowicz clan, and a tall easygoing young woman in a green dress. I give her my best informal Ciao!, before realizing she is Chiara Appendino, the aforementioned mayor. (Oops.) She is immediately summoned by Patrizia, who has taken her under her wing (and will hopefully advise her on the intricate dynamics of the Italian cultural world).

Appendino takes the microphone to declare: “Contemporary art is not just a matter of economics, but it’s about growing together as a community.” But everyone is too busy networking and taking in the latest additions to Re Rebaudengo’s ever-changing display. Two more works by Maurizio Cattelan have made their way to the marble hall of the residence, along with a large Rudolf Stingel by the white sofas. Curious collectors tour the house with a map.

The next evening is the art galleries’ White Night. “It will rain. It always does,” an experienced friend tells me while we head toward Palazzo Madama to pay one euro and see Grazia Toderi’s collaboration with Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, a poetic cabinet titled Words and Stars. Outside, it’s not just raining: It’s pouring. Both Guido Costa and Norma Mangione have planned large performances that take place anyway. At Palazzo Carignano, doors are open to the new magnificent venue of Franco Noero’s gallery, featuring a museum-worthy show of Mapplethorpe portraits.

Left: Getty Institute Pietro Rigolo, producer Nataša Venturi, and performer Michelangelo Miccolis. Right: The Others' Director Roberto Casiraghi (right) and Maddalena Bonicelli.

“You only get it once. Don’t miss it,” is the warning I receive about Sunday’s very exclusive invitation to La Gaia’s collection in Busca, near Cuneo, where Bruna Girodengo and Matteo Viglietta have built a spacious museum for their collection of more than two thousand pieces. It began with nineteenth-century paintings and is now one of the most powerful and graceful collections of contemporary art in Italy. Every year during Artissima they welcome a lucky few, redo the display, and then famously feed their guests at the nearby San Quintino country resort. In the four-story building there are iconic works by Giovanni Anselmo, Aldo Mondino, Bruce Nauman, Anish Kapoor, Carl Andre, Robert Morris, Bill Viola, and Anselm Kiefer. “About fifty works are always out, on loan, but some others are too fragile to be moved—Pino Pascali and Boetti never leave the building,” explains curator Eva Brioschi. The collection is busily networking with Centre Pompidou, the Whitney, the Guggenheim, and the Dia Foundation. The Viglietta are also patrons of Documenta.

They let go of their trademark Piedmontese shyness only over lunch, when a shower of giant white truffles covers fresh pasta and cheese fondue. And it’s then that I recall the words of Carol Rama’s nephew: “She was very connected, and well aware of what was going on in the rest of the art world, but never wanted to leave. She had exactly the life she wanted in Turin.”

Pia Capelli

Prize Possessions

Newcastle, UK

Left: Artes Mundi director Karen MacKinnon. Right: Curator and writer Matthew Hearn and International Print Biennale director Anna Wilkinson. (All photos: Alex Thomas)

AS THE TRAIN TRUNDLED INTO NEWCASTLE, I had a vision: A vast figure rose out of the gray mist. Its wings outstretched, it threatened to engulf me in a steely embrace. I’d encountered The Angel of the North.

The rust-red sculpture might look like the stuff of legend, but it’s rooted in gritty reality. In another age, the northeast was Britain’s industrial powerhouse. Built by Antony Gormley in 1998, The Angel reminds visitors that coal miners once sweat where it stands.

Gormley’s statue warned me, but my guide, Newcastle-based art historian Matthew Hearn, made the message clear: I was entering a Different Britain. I was the guest of the North East Contemporary Visual Arts Network (NECVAN), a conglomerate of sixty-odd organizations, artists, and curators on a mission to give outsiders the inside scoop on the region. My thirty-six-hour immersion in Newcastle and Gateshead included visits to artists’ studios (and taking tea with star-twins Laura and Rachel Lancaster) and artist-run spaces, a flying leap to the International Print Biennale (curated by Anna Wilkinson), and a jaunt to Laing Art Gallery, where Rosie Morris’s architectural installation Circles Are Slices of Spheres encircled me with cerulean-painted squares. A boozy dinner at the BALTIC museum served up (British?) beef with breathtaking views: The lights of Gatehead shimmered, BALTIC’s Julia Bell glittered, and curator Alessandro Vincentelli sparkled. “Isn’t this heaven? I came north years ago and never returned,” curator Michelle Hirschhorn-Smith confided.

Left: Artist Lauren Williams. Right: Artist John Akomfrah.

For others, Paradise is more than one dinner away: The artist-led initiative NewBridge Project hosted “Hidden Civil War,” an exhibition of performances, installations, and slogan-carrying balloons. “It’s about exposing the divided nature of Britain,” director Charlotte Gregory growled. Craig Ames’s video Green and Pleasant Crammed paraded the epithets used for European immigrants during the Brexit debate: “swarm,” “beggars,” “besieged.” Back at the BALTIC, NECVAN unleashed its ten-year strategy for developing the northeast’s visual arts scene. “This is a call to action!” declared BALTIC’s fiery-haired director, Sarah Munro. The mission behind the missive: Look out, London! However, dealer Miles Thurlow argues, “The center is a disappearing concept. It’s a bit like the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz: There is no margin anymore. There’s no place like home.”

Really? Imitating Dorothy, I went home. Back to Cardiff and the National Museum’s celebration of the Artes Mundi 7. The Artes Mundi award is Wales’s answer to England’s Turner Prize. It competitively bestows a heftier sum upon winners—Ł40,000 makes it Britain’s largest monetary art prize—and, in contrast to the Turner (which limits itself to UK-based artists), the Welsh award is international. (Tagline: “Wales and the World.”)

This year’s shortlist includes Welsh Bedwyr Williams, Londoner John Akomfrah, Lebanese Lamia Joreige, French-Algerian Neďl Beloufa, Angolan Nástio Mosquito, and American Amy Franceschini. Phew! Curated by Artes Mundi director Karen MacKinnon, the exhibition of the Chosen Ones begins with a river (Joreige’s drawings of a doomed one in Beirut) and ends with the sea (Akomfrah’s soporific film set in Barbados). At the heart of the display is Williams’s Tyrrau Mawr, a video of an imaginary metropolis built on Cadair Idris. (Wales is as famous for its mountains as for its myths.) “This is most satisfying, my head slowly filling, my eyeballs being massaged by spectacular visions,” sighed critic Ric Bower, cuddling two glasses of red. Williams is the first Welsh-speaker to have made the shortlist. Will he win? “I will leave that to our judges!” said McKinnon, grinning. (The victor is to be revealed in January.)

Left: Artist Nastio Mosquito. Right: Artist Lamia Joreige.

Time enough for cocktails. Mingling in the foyer, the Welsh government’s Ken Skates bestowed hugs, and artist-cum-politician Peter Wong shook hands with educator Stephanie Bolt. David Anderson, director general of National Museum Wales, fraternized with local talent: Lee Williams, Neale Howells, and Richard Bowers.

The party spilled into the morrow, when Cardiff Contemporary, a citywide visual-arts festival, had its opening night. “It is the third time Artes Mundi and Cardiff Contemporary have run in parallel—connections between the local and international are manifest!” declared Ben Borthwick, director of Artes Mundi 6. This year, Cardiff Contemporary conquers unexpected territory. Below the stairs of the Angel Hotel, Megan Broadmeadow shows Let the Stars Be Set Upon the Board. Two video projections face each other. In one, a woman in a purple sparkly outfit walks on a cliff. In the other, the same woman appears in a gold sparkly costume. Water flows between the projections, connecting the doubles and separating them. Is Stars a metaphor for Wales’s status in the UK? Insiders who are also Outsiders? Or does it refer to the Welsh art scene, its love-ins proverbially confusing to guests?

Over at “The Garden of Earthly Delights”—less seedy than it sounds—a sprawling exhibition colonized the old Customs and Immigration Building. Staged by Wales-based artist collective tactileBOSCH, it commemorated Hieronymus Bosch. The private view of this steamy Paradise included a black-clad bouncer at the trellised gates and a Vampire (aka artist Lauren Williams) guarding the threshold. There were dancing clowns, sonic performances, and installations of mirrors. One cubbyhole was smothered in vegetation, nibbled apples perched on the verge of a grassy shelf.

Left: Artist Rachel Helena Walsh. Right: Artist Bedwyr Williams.

Upon entering this green Eden, I caught the echo of distant music. Who needs Heaven when you can have a sip of sin? A man with the head of a goat led the way to the bar. Cocktails included “Neck Pain” and . . . Stop! A lady in a kimono spooned bloodlike liquid into someone’s mouth. “Care for a drink?” she asked. “I have had enough!” shuddered a bystander. Descending into the building’s nether regions, I encountered sad-eyed dolls hanging from the ceiling. In a nearby video installation, a fire raged: Was this Hell or Port Talbot’s infamous steelworks? Post-Brexit, the plants’ continuing existence is the subject of (heated) debate.

References to Wales’s past, Britain’s uncertain future, and their entangled aspirations proliferated in this garden of earthy delights. ARTPLAY’s multimedia offering Bosch. Visions Alive offered animated versions of the master’s masterpieces: Devils cavort with pink fish; bare-breasted damsels mate with man-beasts. A blond beauty clutches a man on a boat; their shadows coalesce as they sail into a shimmering sunset. I thought about angels, demons, and a multicultural Britain. Is heaven in our own backyard? Or, should I exchange my Welsh Real Ale for a cosmopolitan?

Zehra Jumabhoy

The Future Is Female

New York

Left: Artist Ai Weiwei with dealer Mary Boone. Right: Artist Laurie Simmons and actress Molly Ringwald. (All photos: Linda Yablonsky)

PEOPLE IN THE ART WORLD have a way of shielding themselves from reality—mainly by giving themselves to art. Last week in New York, election jitters gave urgency to every event, beginning with the sixth annual Spotlights lunch hosted last Tuesday—one week from Election Day—by the International Center of Photography.

If art sometimes reflects reality, it went further here by giving a clear sign of what’s to come: women running the show.

Are you ready, guys?

Apparently not, judging from the dominant female presence at the lunch. Okay, so the event honors women artists—in this case, Laurie Simmons—but still. “This campaign has been educational for women in society,” Simmons said in her opening remarks. Indeed! Where was the male support?

Left: Artist Carrie Mae Weems. Right: Haus der Kunst director Okwui Enwezor.

It didn’t matter. Having overdosed on the testosterone spread like a disease by Donald Trump, no one seemed to miss it—not with actress Molly Ringwald asking pertinent questions of Simmons during an onstage interview, a glowing Lena Dunham on hand to applaud her mother, and the regal Candice Bergen bolstering her dedication of a Mary Ellen Mark memorial scholarship with a $25,000 check.

After dark, events tipped toward gender parity. Architects Elizabeth Diller, Ric Scofidio, and Charles Renfro stood front and center at the Jewish Museum, where they designed the lovely, virtual-reality-flecked exhibition for midcentury French designer Pierre Chareau opening that evening—a first for Chareau in this country. I feel obligated to note that the museum has a female director, Claudia Gould. And though the lobby shows a “self-portrait” by Alex Israel, the image painted inside the blue skies of his profile was of his mother, where it all began. “Well, this is the Jewish Museum,” he said.

Downtown in Chelsea, the focus of Performa’s annual benefit gala was South Africa, the mother country of the performance biennial’s founder, RoseLee Goldberg (a woman very much in charge). Her evening’s trimmings included a New Orleans–style procession, through a room packed with 350 guests, led by Cape Town–based Athi-Patra Ruga, costumed like his choir and musicians in flowing white garments designed by the fashion collective threeASFOUR.

All benefits come with obligatory speeches. We know and accept this. But at the end of a two-year onslaught of political bloviating, even a lineup of toasters that included the indomitable Carrie Mae Weems, Steve McQueen (on video), and Chika Okeke-Agulu was no match for honoree Okwui Enwezor, who blew down the house.

Left: Architects Elizabeth Diller, Ric Scofidio, and Charles Renfro. Right: Artist Katrín Sigurdardóttir and SculptureCenter director Mary Ceruti.

“I didn’t come to the United States to succeed, or to leap across that invisible wall that Donald Trump wants to make real,” began the Nigerian-born Haus der Kunst director. “I did not come to the United States with a sense of my marginality or with a sense of my lessness,” he continued. “I came because it was simply the thing to do.”

Nevertheless, Enwezor became a star of the international exhibition circuit in 1997 by curating the second Johannesburg Biennial at age twenty-five and going on to direct Documenta 11, the 2008 Gwangju Biennial, and, among other big shows, the 2015 Venice Biennale. And he lived to tell about it here, in ways both self-serving and utterly profound. His speech definitely moved a diverse audience of artists, curators, and patrons, whom he helped feel at home in an increasingly threatening, post-apartheid world by describing what he called the “emotional geography” of a collective journey through the human imagination.

Many departing guests were facing multiple benefits as well as exhibition openings in days to come. Wednesday even threw in an art fair, the International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA) show, which opened at the Park Avenue Armory—possibly for the last time. “Richard Solomon just told us that next year’s fair will be at the Javits Center,” said dealer Lawrence Luhring—forced out by programming, I presume, rather than the usual culprit: a conversion to luxury condos.

Left: Writer-director-actor Lena Dunham with her parents, artists Carroll Dunham and Laurie Simmons. Right: Michelle Harewood and art historian Benjamin Buchloh.

Up on East Eighty-Second Street, as a prelude to SculptureCenter’s benefit to follow in the Rainbow Room, Daniel Buchholz was opening “Portraits” by Iza Genzken, the evening’s honoree. The works on view, sealed behind thick plastic, were actually self-portraits collaged by the artist from pictures made of her by other artists. At dinner, Genzken appeared only in a video greeting sent from Germany, where she was ailing. But there were plenty of other artists seated at every donor table—tacit acknowledgement of the role director Mary Ceruti’s institution plays in launching careers. “We’re early and on point,” Ceruti noted.

Need I say it? Many of those early-bird picks have been women, such as this year’s Turner Prize finalist Anthea Hamilton and this year’s Hugo Boss prizewinner Anicka Yi, as well as artist Aki Sasamoto, currently exhibited in Long Island City. They were all present, with Jessi Reaves, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Hanna Liden, and SculptureCenter artist board members Sanford Biggers and Adam McEwen.

But the best was yet to come, this time in the distinctly male form of art historian Benjamin Buchloh. Charged with summing up Genzken’s accomplishments in under seven minutes, he delivered an astonishing, clear, and concise history of the past fifty years of art––and he did it without once leaving the subject of his fifty-year friendship with Genzken.

I couldn’t help thinking, If only politicians could give speeches like these! I was now looking forward to whatever the next night would bring. And though I was sad to miss the dinner at the Ukrainian National Home for Elizabeth Peyton’s New York debut with Gladstone Gallery, the evening did not disappoint.

Left: Brooklyn Museum curator Catherine Morris with J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons, artists Marilyn Minter and Cindy Sherman, and Brooklyn Museum chief curator Nancy Spector. Right: Artist Carol Bove.

Actually, it wasn’t exactly a speech I heard on Wednesday at the Brooklyn Museum but a kind of interrupted monologue by Iggy Pop. The rock god, who is nearly seventy and still amazing, even sitting still, was onstage with artist Jeremy Deller in a conversation moderated by poet Tom Healy. But Iggy didn’t need much prompting.

The subject was “Life Class,” an exhibition opening that night and accompanied by a must-have publication. The show features fifty-three drawings made last February by students, aged nineteen to eighty, who were selected by Deller to draw a nude Iggy––or, as Deller put it, “the most important body in America.” That body has been through a lot. “I wanted to make a good first impression,” Iggy confided to the audience, which included several of the students, wide-eyed at the larger-than-life projections of their drawings. “It was like a day in the high school I never went to.”

“The biggest surprise of this project,” Deller added, “was that it happened.”

After that dose of male physicality, women stepped up again, in the form of fabulously dressed artists attending the museum’s opening of “Pretty/Dirty,” a luscious Marilyn Minter retrospective that has landed in New York after stops in Houston and Denver, complete with signs warning of sexually explicit content. (Is there a better way to attract an audience?)

Left: Artists Mark di Suvero and Joanna Pousette-Dart. Right: Art historian Bartek Przybyl Olowski with artist Paulina Olowska.

“This is my whole support system!” Minter exclaimed when she spotted Lorna Simpson, Cindy Sherman, Julie Mehretu, Laurie Simmons, Deborah Kass, J.Crew creative director Jenna Lyons, and dealer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn arriving for a post-opening dinner shared with the Deller/Pop crew and an all-female staff from the museum: director Anne Pasternak, chief curator Nancy Spector, and Catherine Morris, curator of the Minter exhibition in Brooklyn. (The show originated with Contemporary Art Museum Houston’s director Bill Arning.) I asked Iggy if he ever felt exploited by Deller’s class. “I had to think a long time about that,” he said. “Until I got to a point where it really didn’t matter anymore what people said.” He looked happy.

More sobering was “Laundromat,” Ai Weiwei’s top-to-bottom installation at Deitch Projects of twenty-four hundred carefully organized and displayed shoes and laundered and pressed clothes abandoned by Syrian refugees in Idomeni, Greece. It’s a powerful encounter with a crisis too removed from here to grasp palpably.

Jennifer Blei Stockman was at the gallery on Friday morning, doing interviews for an HBO documentary on Ai’s extended project, which the Nobel Peace Prize winner says really began when he was in detention in China, connecting to the outside world solely through the internet. Indeed, Instagram plays a large role in “Laundromat,” where Ai’s postings from Greece cover the walls. Three thousand WhatsApp posts from all over the world—he also went to camps in Bangladesh, Turkey, Lebanon, and elsewhere—tile the floors. “I had to do it,” he said. “It’s huge, not just about one place.” Stockman asked him about his hopes for the show. “It will accomplish nothing,” Ai replied. “What can a gallery show do? How many people will see it?”

If Instagram has anything to do with it, more than just a few.

Left: Critic Peter Schjeldahl and artist Ragnar Kjartansson. Right: Jewish Museum director Claudia Gould and artist Alex Israel.

Not in crisis was Paulina Olowska, who had arrived with her husband from Poland for the aptly named “Wisteria, Mysteria, Hysteria,” her first show at Metro Pictures since 2010. And a smashing group of paintings and ceramic sculptures it is, celebrated with candelabras in the gallery and a lively lunch at Hotel Americano, attended by artist friends Sarah Crowner and Charline von Heyl, MoMA curator Laura Hoptman, and Tim Griffin, director of The Kitchen, where Olowska will stage a magical mystery performance in January. “You’re such a good artist,” collector Thea Westreich told Olowska. “Your paintings are always different, but they follow your same trajectory, and these are really strong.” No argument here.

The night belonged to galleries in Chelsea, where mallet-wielding youngsters at Paula Cooper played new Mark di Suvero sculptures like a gong. Terry Winters rolled out a slew of new paintings at Matthew Marks on Twenty-Second Street, and Ragnar Kjartansson surprised people such as critic Peter Schjeldahl, who was expecting long-form immersive videos, by showing shorter ones on monitors along with “adequate” landscape paintings of pleasant suburban homes in Israeli settlements on the West Bank, executed en plein air. “I didn’t want to show the other side,” Kjartansson said. “We know what’s there. This is maybe not what you expect.” Exactly.

Even more unexpected were the small naif drawings in Marks’s Twenty-Fourth Street space by none other than Nan Goldin. “I started drawing when I was ten,” she said. “Then I stopped, until last year. I didn’t realize till just now, when someone pointed it out, that they’re all about violence, sex, and death. I guess that’s my theme!”

Saturday afternoon departed slightly from the week’s usual run with a memorial for Tony Feher, whose friends filled Saint Mark’s Church for a poignant, bracing tribute to the sculptor, who died last June. (This was the only time all week when the presidential campaign did not come up.)

Left: Artists Lorna Simpson, Marina Adams, and Stanley Whitney. Right: Artists Nan Goldin and Billy Sullivan.

Back in Chelsea, the election now just two days away, Carol Bove absolutely commanded two of David Zwirner’s big spaces on Nineteenth Street with a show of large-scale rusted and painted steel sculptures. Think Anthony Caro, John Chamberlain, Richard Serra, but with the humor of a woman who dares to title her show “Polka Dots.” For a few minutes anyway, conversation strayed from politics to art—including the art of the political Ai Weiwei, who continued his four-gallery takeover of Manhattan with cast-iron tree trunks and root sculptures at Lisson Gallery and one giant patched-together actual tree reaching to the rafters at Mary Boone. “Know anyone who wants to take home a dead, twenty-four-foot-tall tree?” she joked. Actually, it’s magnificent.

A casual serve-yourself Mexican dinner at Tacombi followed. Ai said he’s heading next to the Mexican border to continue his documentary on migrants. I told him to be careful. This close to the election, with tensions running high, he could put himself at risk. “Why?” he asked. “Do I look Mexican? I’m not worried. I have a fixer. But on the US side, maybe I’ll wear a T-shirt that says ‘I’m Chinese.’”

The week ended on Sunday, with Dia’s annual Fall Night honoring Robert Morris, whose 1964 Green Gallery show has just entered the collection at Dia:Beacon. “I’m sure nobody here saw the original,” he said during his speech—the first time I’ve ever seen an artist at a gala accompany his speech with a PowerPoint presentation. It went over big––the whole thing––especially with this crowd, which included Wade Guyton (who gave an endearing toast) and Keith Sonnier. Each had Morris for a teacher, decades apart.

“I love the way Dia always includes a lot of artists at their galas,” said Art Institute of Chicago deputy director Ann Goldstein, eyeing a room where Dorothea Rockburne, Glenn Ligon, Fred Wilson, Nate Lowman, Tom Burr, Josh Kline, Josephine Meckseper, and Nick Mauss were in immediate view. So was the pioneering Joan Jonas, the only person there besides Morris who owned up to seeing his Green Gallery show in its original antiform glory.

Morris finished up his speech—another winner—with a list of what distinguishes the “best” art, which he dismissed by concluding with a quote from Ad Reinhardt. “The best art,” he said, “does not exist.”


Linda Yablonsky

Left: Collector Eleanor Cayre and artist Hanna Liden. Right: Isa Genzken in her video greeting for the Sculpture Center gala.

Fall Forward

Hong Kong

Left: Art consultant Thomas Kellein, dealer Johnson Chang, and curator David Elliott. Right: Dealer Katie de Tilly and artist Frog King. (All photos: Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva)

“AREN’T YOU HOT IN THAT?” I asked Frog King, swathed in his usual animistic garb dangling with sculptures and talismans, as he stood in the courtyard at PMQ, the “creative industries” hub in a former government school and quarters for married police officers.

“It’s my summer outfit!” he rejoiced, upbeat as ever, as he strolled onstage to unveil a Le Mans race car that he had covered in graffiti. The ceremony honored the launch of Hong Kong Art Week—autumn edition. The artist had all the officials wear frog glasses as they shook rattles made of plastic bottles and buttons, summoning for someone to bring “the pink!”—which turned out to be a very long pink cloth that Frog King, aka artist Kwok Mang Ho, associates with harmony and happiness. After his blessings, we made the ten-minute hike down Wellington Street toward the Kee Club for more opening celebrations with Art Basel’s Adeline Ooi and Andrew Strachan and Momentum director Rachel Rits-Volloch, unsettling passersby with our rattling racket. “You need to grab people’s attention so that they ask: What’s going on?” said Magnus Renfrew. Our strategy certainly worked. Everyone looked confused.

Left: Dealers Lorraine Malingue and Edouard Malingue. Right: M+ executive director Suhanya Raffel and dealers Yas Mostashari Chang and Claudia Albertini.

The next day we toured the Pedder building, a heavy-duty haven for the bluest chips. Gagosian showed an effective, sexually evocative array of works by Anish Kapoor in marble, aluminum, and stainless steel. Pearl Lam had lovely paintings by Sam Francis. At Hanart—showing large shan shui by Xu Longsen—we ran into founder Johnson Chang, whose cross-cultural exchange program between India and China, “West Heavens,” is supporting several works in the Shanghai Biennale opening next week. Massimo De Carlo featured glittery pandas by Rob Pruitt; Simon Lee brought Angela Bulloch’s totem-like sculptures with trompe l’oeil cubes. More divertissements included David Salle’s Pop collages at Lehmann Maupin; Ryuji Tanaka’s nihonga-style paintings at Axel Vervoordt; and works by Hong Hao, Liu Jianhua, Song Dong, and Zhang Huan at Pace, crystalizing the spiritual into the tangible with spices, incense, and ceramics.

It was an exhausting afternoon of art-spelunking, and afterward we repaired to Duddell’s, where the smart boîte’s art manager Shormi Ahmed confided that some of its patrons had expressed discomfort with George Condo’s nude The Model on the wall. The painting is part of “Geomantic Intervention,” an eclectic selection of works from private collections curated by artist Adrian Wong and Feng Shui master Zoie Yung. “But it’s just George!” lamented a guest affectionately. After, we dropped by the luxury hotel Upper House, where some of the luminaries in town for “Art Is Everywhere,” a two-day symposium hosted by Asia Society, were finishing up the day with wine. Curator David Elliott spoke lightheartedly of art and revolution. “We are too old for revolutions,” joked Chang. The conversation moved to the importance of galleries in expanding art to new audiences, and everyone agreed.

Left: M+ curators Lesley Ma and Pauline J. Yao. Right: Duddell's head of arts Shormi Ahmed.

The ode to dealers was echoed during a conversation with Artforum’s Charles Guarino as part of the symposium’s Saturday morning session. “I once asked a very important collector if he ever purchased art that put him in financial jeopardy,” he told us. “‘Never!’ he said. But art dealers do it all the time. It’s real courage, in the name of art.” Later that day, in my continuing gallery pilgrimage, I dropped by the Wong Chuk Hang district, where Blindspot Gallery had a romantic and fashionable show by Trevor Yeung, filled with aquariums, plants, and pedestals with seashells in vitrines. Rossi & Rossi featured work by Tsherin Sherpa—a comic take on the Tibetan pantheon with paintings and tapestries. (Rugs were also at the heart of Aniwar Mamat’s show of geometric forms on felt in “Sunlight Reflects” at Pékin Fine Arts.)

That night, Katie de Tilly organized a soirée at her art-filled home in Sai Kung to welcome new M+ executive director Suhanya Raffel to town. Curators Alexie Glass-Kantor, Yan Tung, Cosmin Costinas, Inti Guerrero, and Doryun Chong mingled on the large terrace alongside Serpentine Galleries CEO Yana Peel, MMCA Seoul’s Jiyoon Lee, AAA’s Alexandra Seno, and collectors William and Lavina Lim. Artists Rik Wing Kei Yu and Mei Tung Chan couldn’t resist a little improv on the piano. After mouthwatering Sri Lankan paneer and tikka and just prior to a charming guitar set by de Tilly’s son Louis, Raffel worked the crowd up with a poolside speech. “The museum will happen,” she said, staking her claim, “for Asia—and for the world.” Encouraging words, but also reassuring was a conversation I recalled with Singapore-based curator Iola Lenzi: “Only the private sector is agreeable to show artists unfavored by the state and its institutions,” she claimed. “Especially in this part of the world.” The lesson of the week? The art world takes all kinds—and then some.

Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva

Left: Serpentine Galleries CEO Yana Peel, MMCA Seoul Jiyoon Lee, patron Marie-Soazic Geffroy, dealer Adriana Alvarez-Nichol. Right: Simon Lee's Ying Yue Li.

Yet Again


Left: ArtBO director María Paz Gaviria. Right: Instituto de Visión's Maria Wills and Beatriz López with Otto Berchem work at ArtBo. (Except where noted, all photos: Alex Fialho)

UNCERTAINTY IS IN THE AIR IN COLOMBIA. In early October, the Colombian people voted in a nationwide poll against a referendum that would have ended the country’s fifty-two-year civil war. Given this context, two of the leading events in the Colombian cultural calendar, ArtBO in Bogotá and the traveling triennial Salón Nacional de Artistas, this year located in Pereira, could have felt out of touch. What place do art-fair booths and free champagne have at such a crucial crossroads in a nation’s path toward peace? For the most part, ArtBO did feel like business as usual, with standard mantelpiece abstraction taking center stage in many of the booths. Yet amid the collectors and cocktails, moments that addressed Colombia’s ongoing conflict felt particularly responsive and noteworthy.

Wheat-pasted in an allover grid across the front of the Instituto de Visión, one of Bogotá’s leading art spaces, was a pair of striking black-and-white images: one of a young girl peering through a bullet hole in a cracked window, and another of a woman holding a sign reading “ĄNi una bala mas!” (Not one more bullet!). The first was taken in 2002 in a violent neighborhood in Medellín by Colombian photographer Jesús Abad Colorado, and the second just last month, on the evening that the peace plebiscite was overturned. (The majority vote against the agreement struck between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia [FARC] was in large part a reaction to the deal being seen as too lenient on the FARC guerrilla army, which has terrorized the country for more than half a century.)

Left: Artist Adriana Arenas and Museum of Latin American Art's Robert Braun with Jesús Ruis Durand work at the Salón. Right: Collector Joy Simmons with Juan Manuel Echavarría's work.

Instituto de Visión also wheat-pasted the images with the hashtags #acuerdoya (agreement now) and #apuestoporlaesperanza (to bet for peace) throughout areas of Bogotá where many were against the referendum. The project marked the gallery’s commitment to an antiviolent Colombian future and signaled that, for its impressive cofounders María Wills and Beatriz López, art has the potential—the responsibility, even—to influence politics. When asked about the implications of taking a stand at the entrance to the gallery (many of Colombia’s business elite voted against peace, as a way to protect moneyed interests), Wills answered adamantly: “If they go because of this, then we don’t care. We are passionate about peace.”

Colorado’s photography also played a central role in another transformative art context: the Museo de Arte de la Universidad Nacional’s illuminating exhibition “El Origen de la Noche” (The Origin of the Night), which considered the relationship of the sacred and ancestral to territory within indigenous communities in the Amazonian basin. The transdisciplinary exhibition’s fulcrum was a vast, nearly pitch-black hall where moving prayers and myths from indigenous nations (Andoque, Huitoto, Tatuyo, Barasano, Wayuu, Kogui, Y Tubú) filled the solemn space with sound. At one point, the reverent mood of the incantations was cut by a competing shout, when a collector in heels tripped in the candlelit space, letting out a screech as she spilled the free Chivas whiskey and carpaccio langoustine available during the exhibition’s VIP collectors’ tour. Talk about a clash of cultures.

A more seamless mix between audience and artwork came when a class from the university visited the exhibition and discussed the salon-style display of Colorado’s powerful photographs documenting Colombian indigenous communities protesting displacement by FARC guerrilla violence. “No nos metan en la guerra” (Don’t drag us into the war) read one of the signs pictured. The images provide an incisive take on territorial conflict within Colombia; while lecturing within the exhibition, curated by María Belén Sáez de Ibarra, the university professor noted: “A country without indigenous territory is like a country without bread and water.”

Left: Curator Jens Hoffmann with paintings by Beatriz González in ArtBO's Proyectos section. Right: Jesús Abad Colorado with his photographs at Instituto de Visión's ArtBO booth.

Sáez de Ibarra is one of Colombia’s most influential curators, often working closely with artists to realize ambitious commissioned projects; she describes herself as a “commission-er curator.” She supported Bogotá-based artist Doris Salcedo’s immediate response to the overturned referendum, her moving Sumando Ausencias (Counting the Absences). On October 11, just nine days after the peace plebiscite, Salcedo and countless volunteers covered Plaza Bolivar, Bogotá’s central square, with a white cloth on which the names of twenty-two hundred victims from the ongoing conflict were written in ashes. Stitched together on-site, the twenty-three-thousand-square-foot work completely filled the plaza for the day, marking the immense violence on all sides and mourning the missed opportunity for peace. A few weeks later, the large Campamento Por La Paz (Encampment for Peace) still fills Plaza Bolivar, its residents resiliently occupying the city center even during Bogotá’s characteristic torrential downpours. These determined efforts for peace from artists and others were the most inspiring part of the trip.

Back at ArtBO, pride of place was an important through line, as director Maria Paz Gaviria noted that “to be international, you have to first remain local,” highlighting the fair’s commitment to Colombian artists and galleries even as it grows. To this end, ArtBO’s Arte Camera section was particularly successful. As a noncommercial, curated display of works selected from an open call to Colombian artists under forty without gallery representation, Arte Camera reflects an emerging generation of homegrown talent. Artist Fernando Domínguez, whose two-channel video installation Camino Real was particularly promising, said being included was “magical for my career.”

Left: Johannes Vogt Gallery's Adriana Farietta and artist Alejandro Ospina at ArtBo. Right: La Silueta editors Andrés Fresneda and Juan Pablo Fajardo, curators of ArtBO’s Libro de Artista section, with printing press.

Art-world globe-trotter José Roca, former curator of Latin American art at the Tate, described the impetus for founding his exhibition space/artist residency hub Flora, in Bogotá’s San Felipe neighborhood, as wanting “to create a public for artistic display and production in Colombia.” An international group of emerging artists-in-residence, most born in the 1980s, showed works in progress across four bustling floors during Flora’s open studios. “I wouldn’t describe the energy around the Colombian art scene as a ‘boom,’” noted Instituto de Visión’s Beatriz López. “It’s just that people are actually starting to look.”

Case in point came in the form of the Referentes (References) section of ArtBO, curated by Pablo León de La Barra and Ericka Flórez. The historical exhibition was the highlight of the fair, providing a provocative platform for primarily Colombian artists working in the 1960s to 1980s with a strong focus on conceptual practices: Standouts included Miguel Ángel Cárdenas’s tongue-in-cheek sculptural assemblages as sexual innuendo, María Evelia Marmolejo’s environmental interventions, Álvaro Barrios’s mystical take on the readymade, Antonio Caro’s performative painting installation, and Ana Mercedes Hoyos’s sublime abstractions. Referentes, framed as a hypothetical re-creation of a landmark historical exhibition that in fact never took place, has laid essential groundwork for Colombian modern-art historiography; hopefully, this project can take other forms in the future.

Costa Rica–born curator Jens Hoffmann also took a long view on contemporary art in Colombia when curating another engaging section of the fair, Proyectos (Projects). Hoffmann’s fifteen-booth selection featured a wide range of figurative work, with paintings from longtime Colombian stalwarts Débora Arango and Beatriz González as jumping-off points. Morgan Mandalay’s paintings, on display in Mexico City–based Yautepec’s booth, pictured disfigured apes, often caged, floating amid flora and fauna as surreal takes on contemporary incarceration. At the booth of Proyectos Ultravioleta from Guatemala, Akira Ikezoe’s enigmatic paintings were rich with symbolic, quasi-hieroglyphic readings.

Left: Artist Fernando Domínguez with his work in ArtBO's Arte Camera section. Right: Curator Monica Espinel with Álvaro Barrios' work at ArtBO.

A daytrip to nearby Pereira revealed far less commercial work in the thoughtful Salón Nacional de Artistas. Under the guidance of artistic director Rosa Ángel, the sprawling exhibition—the forty-fourth edition of the state-funded program—was located across more than five satellite sites in Pereira, a Colombian city better known for its coffee production than artistic communities. Addressing landscape as a metaphor for territorial conflict in a Colombian context and beyond, the timely exhibition was put together by an all-Colombian curatorial team: “We wanted to get over the cultural insecurity that you need to be validated by an outside perspective to be relevant,” remarked Carolina Ponce de León, councilor of visual arts for the Ministry of Culture.

The nexus of the exhibition took place at Edificio Antiguo Club Rialto, a newly renovated former social club in the heart of Pereira. Hanging across two floors in the center of the space, Paulo Licona’s installation consisted of festive streamers and pińatas with a caustic edge: The disfigured, beheaded pińatas were created in the likeness of notable Colombian figures, including former president Álvaro Uribe and FARC leader Iván Márquez. The charged installation explored the celebratory culture around violence and the cruel cult of savagery at the heart of the longstanding Colombian conflict. Nearby, María Isabel Rueda’s photographic triptych made visible the surveillance and criminalization of drug trafficking in the remote Guajira region of Colombia. Two flanking photographs showed tracks made by private planes involved in the transportation of marijuana, while the central photograph pictured a hole where military planes had bombed the land, thereby halting the drug trade yet bringing ruin to the territory. The Salón’s title “Aún” (Yet/Still) addresses a provisional present, something in development or yet to come. Not unlike the expansive horizons laid bare by violence in Rueda’s photographs, a vision for Colombia’s future remains blurry; yet/still, artistic responses amid this complex landscape of conflict hit home the hardest.

Alex Fialho

Left: Artist Jazmín López with her work during Flora's open studios. Right: Guido Yannitto with his work during Flora's open studios.