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Looking Back, Looking Forward: Part 4

by frieze

Continuing our series looking back at the highlights of 2012 and thinking ahead to some reasons to be cheerful in 2013, as chosen by frieze editors and contributors.

Jason Foumberg is a contributing culture critic at Chicago magazine, art editor and columnist at Newcity, and contributes art criticism to Photograph and Sculpture magazines.

Chicago picks of 2012 and ones to watch in 2013

Alberto Aguilar, Photo Tubes (Rachel Herman), 2012, from the ‘domestic monuments’ series, installation view

Jeroen Nelemans deconstructs light boxes as they’ve been used in the history of photography, at The Mission Projects in January.
Alberto Aguilar decorates an iconic Mies van der Rohe-designed residence with “domestic monuments” as part of Elmhurst Art Museums’s ‘Open House’ series (January 19 – April 20)
Queer Thoughts is a new gallery showcasing emerging artists.
Aspect Ratio is the first gallery in Chicago dedicated solely to video art, showing Chelsea Knight, Guy Ben-Ner, and more.
Edie Fake draws the history of queer culture in Chicago, at Thomas Robertello Gallery.
Kavi Gupta Gallery will expand and open a second location in Chicago, an 8,000 square-foot space.
Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford will open a solo show at the Hyde Park Art Center. There are rumors of naked artists on horseback at the opening.
Jason Lazarus will open his second solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Visitors will be able to carry Occupy Wall Street
protest signs throughout the museum.

Jessica Stockholder, Color Jam, 2012

Artist residencies: This past summer, dozens, if not hundreds, of artists attended residencies in the Midwest, at Oxbow, ACRE, Harold Arts, and the new Summer Forum. They returned to the city refreshed and energized, with new networks formed. The city seems like a friendlier place to live and work after everyone vacationed and collaborated together.
New art fairs: Expo sought to revitalize Chicago’s presence in the global art fair arena, while MDW opened its third artist-run fair, an experimental carnival of emerging-artist projects.
University galleries rise: Solveig Øvstebø will join the Renaissance Society (University of Chicago) as its new director in 2013. Also at the University of Chicago, Monika Szewczyk is the new visual arts program curator at the recently opened Logan Center for the Arts. She joins her husband in Chicago, Dieter Roelstraete, who is senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). Lisa Corrin became the new director of the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University, and will be filling up the galleries with contemporary art.
Jessica Stockholder created the largest-ever public art sculpture/painting, called Color Jam, by wrapping a downtown intersection in colored vinyl.
Industry of the Ordinary opened a retrospective at the Chicago Cultural Center and invited just about every local artist, and all viewers, to participate in their performative artworks.
Jan Tichy took over the entire Museum of Contemporary Photography and re-presented its collections both in the galleries and online.
• Former MCA curator Tricia Van Eck opened 6018North, an historic mansion-turned-art-house for artists to refurbish with site-specific projects.
‘24 Hours/25 Days’ is an exhibit open all day every day (for 25 straight days) to herald the closing of artist-run space New Capital.
Martin Creed has been the first artist-in-residence at the MCA, and issued a new artwork each month.

Heidi Norton at the Museum of Contemporary Art
‘The Great Refusal: Taking on Queer Aesthetics’ at the School of the
Art Institute of Chicago
Ramón Miranda Beltrán, ‘Chicago Is My Kind of Town’, at Julius Cæsar gallery
Dawoud Bey retrospective at the Renaissance Society
Benjamin Bellas at Slow Gallery



Sam Thorne is associate editor of frieze and based in London, UK.

Einstein on the Beach

Hanne Darboven, Requiem (2000), St Thomas the Martyr Church, Newcastle
Alina Szapocznikow, ‘Sculpture Undone, 1955–1972’ – Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
‘The Stuff That Matters. Textiles Collected by Seth Siegelaub for the CSROT – Raven Row, London
• Sprawling shows with sprawling ambitions, such as ‘Spirits of Internationalism’ (at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, and M HKA, Antwerp), ‘Animism’ (which I saw at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin), the Paris Triennale 2012 and, of course, dOCUMENTA (13)
• Phillip Glass and Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach (1976) performed at the Barbican, London
John Akomfrah, The Unfinished Conversation (2012) – Liverpool Biennial
• Solo shows by Ed Atkins and Helen Marten at Chisenhale Gallery, London
• Music-wise, I found myself listening over and over to new releases by Julia Holter, Andy Stott, Shackleton, Lana Del Rey (sorry), Frank Ocean (obviously), as well as Music for Keyboards, d’Eon’s lovely trilogy of free-to-download synth studies

• In 2013, I’m hoping to catch the touring Ken Price retrospective, the Carnegie International (which opens in September), as well as to visit the renovated Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where their Mike Kelley retrospective runs til 1 April.



Katrina Brown is director of the Common Guild, Glasgow.

Bactrian Princess, late 3rd/early 2nd millennium BCE, Central Asia, shown as part of dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel

Highlights of 2012:

dOCUMENTA (13) was a big highlight of the year, even if its scale risked rendering it an impossible, unachievable whole. Within it, the parts were strong and particular works that stood out for me were those by Omer Fast, Tacita Dean, Pierre Huyghe, Gerard Byrne, Francis Alys, and Roman Ondák, as well as Michael Rakowitz’s remarkable installation What Dust Will Rise? and, of course, those unforgettable Bactrian Princesses.

Elsewhere and throughout the year, some of the most memorable works for me have been particularly strong moving image works: Philippe Parreno’s haunting Marilyn in his solo show at the Beyeler in Basel; Luke Fowler’s The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcote, which ingeniously and enticingly fused the writings of E.P. Thompson with the voice of Cerith Wyn Evans, at the Hepworth Wakefield, and was a brilliant example of a commission that responded to its location without being overly tied to or dependent on it; and Helen Marten’s Evian Disease, which I saw at Palais de Tokyo, Paris in October, accompanied by one of the best gallery texts I have ever come across, describing it as ‘a wild chase in search of the place and speed of the contemporary individual’.

Michael Clark has been a big part of my 2012, with three shows in Scotland, all of which I saw. His New Work at Tramway, Glasgow, in October offered both Relaxed Muscle and Scritti Politti (playing live) as accompaniment to some astonishing dancing with fantastic costumes by Stevie Stewart.

I am currently enjoying reading Edward Hollis’s The Secret Lives of Buildings (Portobello Books, 2011), which is a fascinating journey through time and its impact on both the form and function some of the world’s most iconic buildings. In fiction, my highlight was probably Ewan Morrison’s Close Your Eyes (Jonathan Cape, 2012), which has stayed with me.

The near ubiquitous Django Django deserve special mention as their eponymous album was almost entirely responsible for getting me through Glasgow International Festival in April. The recently released and very lovely box set ‘Some Songs Side-by-Side’ (a collaborative project between the Glasgow independent record labels Watts of Goodwill, RE:PEATER Records and Stereo Café Bar) featuring Gummy Stumps, Tut Vu Vu, Muscles of Joy and others, is making me wish I still had a record player!

Reasons to be cheerful for 2013

I am really looking forward to Gerard Byrne’s most substantial UK show to date at the Whitechapel in January, Corin Sworn at Chisenhale in February and, in March, Simon Starling’s take on the collection for the Tate Britain Commission, which is sure to be a treat.

As well as our own exhibition for Scotland + Venice at the Biennale, I’m looking forward to seeing how Jeremy Deller tackles the British Pavilion and what the swapping of France and Germany will produce. And I’m looking forward to seeing Fulya Erdemci’s Istanbul Biennial, given her in-depth knowledge of the city.



Vivian Sky Rehberg is a contributing editor of frieze and course director of the Master of Fine Art at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She lives in Paris, France, and Rotterdam.

William Kentridge, The Refusal of Time, 5-channel projections with megaphones and a breathing machine, 24 min., Commissioned by dOCUMENTA (13). Photograph: Henrik Stromberg

Highlights, lowlights, anticipations, one reason to be cheerful

Hands down, no contest: the most surprising, disorienting and inspiring exhibition I saw in 2012 was Bernd Krauß’s ‘Das ist heute möglich,’ at the Kölnischer Kunstverein. Krauß’s mixed-media works—comprised mainly out of texts, images and objects culled or handcrafted during daily, town and country meanderings—strike the perfect balance between conceptual rigour and material heft, insouciant disorder and methodological precision. They are also, quite frequently, laugh-out-loud hilarious. This delightful exhibition, which should be seen as a pendant to Krauß’s tentacular online presence, exposed his unwavering commitment to cleave art-making to everyday life to the extent that it simply becomes second nature. It put me in just the right—completely receptive—frame of mind for a second trip to dOCUMENTA (13), where I was again captivated by the crowd pleasers. Etel Adnan’s colour-saturated paintings and William Kentridge’s The Refusal of Time jazzed my senses, while Tino Sehgal’s This Variation and Pierre Huyghe’s droning Untilled garden made me leap lightly from the fence I had been sitting on with respect to their work for some time. Speaking of leaps: I left my homebase in Paris for Rotterdam in early 2012, but just managed to catch ‘Le sentiment des choses,’ curated by Elodie Royer and Yoan Gourmel at Le Plateau/Frac Ile-de-France, and inspired by the Italian artist and designer Bruno Munari, who had the good common sense to make foldable sculptures for hotel nightstands. I could have moved in for the duration, slept on Munari’s Robots Abitacolo, a bed/storage/workspace (so what if it’s for kids?), and I would have never been bored, not even for a minute.

Lowlights? There are so many… But closer to home, the biggest downers are the rampant economic precarity that is so harshly affecting what we try to get about doing as artists, writers, curators and advocates of culture at large coupled with the political lack of imagination on the part of those who govern. Of course I feel this particularly strongly in the Netherlands, where I now spend the bulk of my time, but I could also rant about France, if you let me. Unfortunately, as a diehard sceptic, I anticipate things won’t get loads better anytime soon. Still, I am blown away by the ferocious and admirable determination of those struggling to turn the ship around or to invent new, compromise scenarios when faced with the loss of their livelihoods and workspaces. Solidarity: now there’s a reason to be cheerful and a form of good cheer that deserves to be more widespread.



Ronald Jones is professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, Sweden where he leads The Experience Design Group.

The Master, dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, DVD still

Highlights of 2012:

The Master (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson) – This movie is pure American cult-poetry, and the single contemporary masterpiece I encountered over the past year. It is the wound-up story of the irreconcilable relationship between Freddie, a traumatized war veteran, hauntingly played by Joaquin Phoenix, and Lancaster Dodd, the spiritual impresario, incarnated by the entrancing Philip Seymour Hoffman. Freddie, seeking some direction, any direction, in life joins in with Dodd’s “The Cause,” a quasi-religion which exists precisely because wounded creatures like Freddie need for it to exist; the reassurance for the hollowed-out that they have an inner life, in-there-somewhere. It is a directorial triumph for Paul Thomas Anderson who has created a call and response relationship between this film and his other masterpiece Magnolia.

• Arizona State University Center for Science and Imagination – Wondering why so many science fiction writers are addicted to dystopian visions of the future, Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University, did what would seem counterintuitive, a.k.a. what seems to come naturally to him. He inaugurated the Center for Science and Imagination to bring together sci-fi writers of the rank of Neal Stephenson who created cyberpunk, perhaps the darkest science fiction genre, and scientists like Keith Hjelmstad to imagine an array of post-critical, pro-active future scenarios. Most ambitious is the project run by author Cory Doctorow (Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom) and the university’s Director of Earth and Space Exploration, Kip Hodges to design a working 3-D printer that, once delivered to the moon’s surface, would begin manufacturing self-assembling astronaut quarters from moon dust, along with other essentials for lunar living.

• President Obama’s re-election – The first black US President’s re-election is the re-assurance that the sea change four years ago will not be turned back, but significantly his second term marks a tipping point even more expansive than his first. As the President to come of age in the post Viet Nam and Watergate era, his re-election tells us that the generations encumbered by ideological and cultural divisiveness, that aggravated the country’s national and international behavior since the 1960’s, are behind us. The President acknowledged as much in his Inaugural Address saying: “On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics . . .” The consequence of his re-election? Global beneficence.

Reasons to be cheerful in 2013:

Hilma af Klint, No. 2, Group 9, The Dove (From ‘Series UW’), 1915

• Hilma af Klint – Some might say that the Obama re-election was in part a matter of score settling. Well, Hilma’s long-awaited retrospective at the Moderna Museet (opening February 16, 2013) is the ultimate in revenge served cold. Having pioneered what “received knowledge” tells us is automatic drawing decades before the boys on the continent ever considered it, she was then overlooked with startling consistency, excepting her cringe-making reputation for being the “occultist” she was; a dubious consolation prize. Decades ago, having conscientiously introduced Hilma’s insight and achievements to a well-known art historian, he sat silently, snuffed out his cigarette, looked up at me and said: ‘Do you realize how many PhDs would be undone should this ever come to light?’ Gird your loins.



Kirsty Bell is a contributing editor of frieze based in Berlin, Germany. Her book The Artist’s House is forthcoming from Sternberg Press.

James Benning, Nightfall (2011) A single take, 98 minutes long, shows a fixed view of a forest as day turns incrementally, minute by minute, into night. Unexpectedly dramatic, this film is an epic study of attention, expectation and mortality. As if to make this clear, the final credit shows James Benning’s name and not the date of the film (2011) but his date of birth (1942).”

Claes Oldenburg, Study for Announcement for One-Man Show at Dwan Gallery – Mickey Mouse with Red Heart, 1971

Claes Oldenburg, ‘The Sixties’, Mumok, Vienna. This show started with The Street (1959-60), a tawdry tableau constructed from odds and ends of cardboard, and culminating in the exhaustive and thrilling Mouse Museum, with its Ray Gun Wing, which assembled all manner of versions of accidental and purposeful “ray guns”, Oldenburg’s ever-present, totemic symbol of transformation.

Katharina Grosse, Galerie Johann König, Berlin and Emily Wardill, Fulll Firearms, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe Two artists for whom I have experienced that rare excitement of a 180 degree turn around, from hate to love. In Grosse’s hyperbolic spray paint installations and Wardill’s feature films that inhabit the genre of melodrama, repellence and overload are integrated and vital parts of the work. Both, in completely different ways, pose challenging questions about ontological relations between one thing and the next, both intellectually and physically.

Danh Võ, 2 Fevrier, 1861, Phung Võ (Kunsthaus Bregenz). This publication synthesized the ongoing project by Danh Võ in which his father, Phung Võ , copies out in his elegant handwriting the last letter sent by the French missionary and priest Jean-Théophane Vénard to his father in 1861, before being decapitated in Hanoi. An edition of unlimited number that will continue until the death of Võ ’s father (the names of all 210 recipients at the time of the making the book are listed in the back), this deceptively simple work is a summation of the overlapping concerns of Võ ’s multivalent work, among them family relations, mortality, labour, language, immigration, colonialism, collecting and distribution.

Philippe Parreno, Fondation Beyeler, Basel. Parreno’s pair of extraordinary new films, Continuously Habitable Zones (2011), a black crystalline, claustrophobic landscape, with no revelation or clues to its location or reason, and Marilyn (2012) described as ‘the portrait of a ghost’, in which we see from the eyes of the actress, as she/we drift somnolently away from the reality of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel interior she inhabits.

‘Between Walls and Windows: Architecture and Ideology’, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. Valerie Smith’s ultimate exhibition as curator at the HKW was a feat of beaurocratic negotiation that looked as light as air. For a short month, the HKW’s building was stripped of signage and furniture, even the cashier’s desk was removed, to enable it to be “architectural monument, understood as an ideologically determined sculpture.” While ten artists and architects groups were invited to intervene in the newly unencumbered building, it was the building itself, a “gift” from the US to the West Berlin in 1957, that became the clearest evidence of ideology in action.

Karl Holmqvist, reading, Galerie Neu, Berlin. Sitting on rustic milking stools on a patch of lawn behind Galerie Neu, Karl Holmqvist treated his audience to a reading from his new book of poetry ‘’K.’ The repetitive refrains uttered in Karl’s inimitable sweet drone took on a hypnotic quality, like a gentle brain-washing. For weeks afterwards, my kids could be heard sporadically intoning the refrain “WORDS ARE PEOPLE / LANGUAGE IS POWER.”

Laura Owens, Untitled (alphabet), installation view at Sadie Coles HQ, London

Laura Owens, Sadie Coles HQ, London. A cracker of a show, easily the best in Mayfair during London’s Frieze Art Fair week, amongst a host of shows by male painter colleagues who paled in comparison to these two wildly energetic series of painterly invention.

Raoul de Keyser, ‘To Walk’ , Barbara Weiss, Berlin. This exhibition of seventeen incredible little paintings that picture the extraordinary locked into the ordinary was the last show of new work by de Keyser, who died on October 6th.

dOCUMENTA (13). My list of highlights would not be complete without mentioning Carolyn Christov-Barghiev’s Documenta. Its combination of a tightly orchestrated “brain” with a somewhat unruly and inclusive “body” seemed an unusually generous and honest portrayal of how art is made and works these days. Is this empathy as a curatorial strategy?