Rhizome Editor-at-Large Picks Top 10 for 2011

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Looking back at and consolidating the year in exhibitions is one of the more challenging tasks an art writer faces. Tracking trips to shows throughout the year, and more importantly, the evolution of your feelings about them, is a daunting, sometimes insurmountable task. While in Europe this spring and summer, I was lucky enough to view some of the exhibitions I found more momentous and personally resonant. Starting in Italy with the 54th Venice Biennale, I traveled up to Switzerland through Geneva and Basel, heading next to the UK and landing finally in Berlin. The list below reflects both personal favorites and those that I felt to be important in the confluence of art and technology.  

Josephine Pryde, “Embryos and Estate Agents: L’Arte de Vivre” at Chisenhale, London

British artist Josephine Pryde bears the unique ability to successfully navigate both photography and sculpture, two mediums which seem almost diametrically opposed. Up until this year I’d only been familiar with Pryde’s sculptures of half-finished baskets precariously suspended by butcher hooks, shown at Galerie Neu in Berlin last year; as well as her strange, oversized macro photographs of fabric, featured at Reena Spaulings in 2009. For her presentation at Chisenhale, “Embryos and Estate Agents: L’Arte de Vivre,” Pryde presented two sets of photographs. The first takes medical images of fetuses, superimposing them in Photoshop against barren desert landscapes; the second stages stock photography-style portraits of young, alternative-looking women contemplating whether or not they’re pregnant. Beyond Pryde’s fascinating material practice is her confrontation of oft-taboo, extremely personal, female-specific issues generally elided in contemporary art discourse. 

Cory Arcangel at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York  / Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin

Arcangel Fever spread around early spring 2011 as his Whitney retrospective drew near, the artist being asked by a vertiginous number of New York media outlets to grace them with pre-opening press. The show sparked some lukewarm reviews

 

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"Performance Anxiety" at Stadium Gallery

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Steve Bishop, Φ III, 2011.


Stadium is a new event and exhibition space in Chelsea. The inaugural exhibition, "Performance Anxiety," featuring four artists, Steve Bishop, Ben Schumacher, Chris Chiappa, and Timur Si-Qin, opened on November 10 and runs until December 20, 2011.

"Performance Anxiety" was curated by artist Nicolas Djandji, who tragically passed away in a bicycle accident in September. A number of his friends took the research he conducted in the last few weeks of his life and grouped in order to finalize the administrative tasks necessary to complete the show and fabricate new works by artist Steve Bishop, Ben Schumacher, and Timur Si-Qin.

The artists featured in "Performance Anxiety" all deal in their works with the consumer culture of bodily self-improvement. Using quotidian products—deodorant, mouthwash, Vitamin Water—their works show how a trip to the pharmacy can tell us something about the way we live today and our value systems. From the press release:

Here, the notion that the pursuit of athletic, hygienic, and professional perfection should be sought through the constant purchase of new products is cast into doubt. Through a series of works arresting these normally utilitarian, performance-enhancing products in sculpture, Performance Anxiety waxes upon the paradoxical, collectively shared desire of the present-day individual to become superhuman–physically fit, sexually attractive, and immaculately groomed—by way of altering the body’s chemistry and obscuring its most basic functions. Contextualizing these items as aesthetic elements rather than functional goods, each artist carves a meditative space reflecting upon the absurd modus operandi of these products.

A press release so intelligently written—that speaks specifically to the artists' works and practice while tying them in with the exhibition's theme and art historical traditions—is rare. And it seems that as a space Stadium is embarking on an ...

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