Tuesday, January 2, 2024

A Map of South Korean Art Museums, Galleries, Sculpture Parks, Project Spaces, and More

Want to see art in art-rich South Korea? Read on. A brutal reality for the art tourist—for any tourist—is that Google Maps does not work very well here. It offers neither driving nor walking directions, and for public transport, it will present only limited options. What is the non-Korean speaker to do? Kakao Maps and Naver Maps are the local, robust alternatives, but they take a little practice and have some quirks. That is true of Naver, especially, for which some rudimentary knowledge of Hangul, the Korean alphabet, is useful. (Type "leeum" in English into it, and you may get directed to a wedding planner, a textile seller, or another business somewhere in Seoul, rather than the august museum started by the Samsung family in the Hannam neighborhood.)

I recommend Kakao for a first-time visitor, but Google Maps is still helpful for getting one's bearings, and its listings have improved in recent years. Above is a map aimed at helping to smooth the process of locating art venues and perhaps planning itineraries in the country. (Just do not try to use it to get directions.) It is far from complete, especially beyond Seoul, but it aims to be a solid primer to key outfits—big and small, mainstream and off the wall, proudly blue chip and pugnaciously nonprofit. Only places that I have visited are listed, and I strive to keep locations up to date, but please consult officials websites to make certain that you do not show up at an empty storefront. (If that happens, there will invariably be a good restaurant nearby, at least.)

If I can assist with anything, please drop me a line.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Top 10 of 2021 in South Korea

Sangdon Kim's "Monkey Forest," presented at 2021 Gwangju Biennale, on view in a Saga–organized show in December at Log in Seoul, where the coffee is served by a skilled robot.

This is a year-end post about where I spent almost the entire year—South Korea—but I just got back from the United States, and I have to say that there were an astonishing number of great exhibitions on view in every city I visited, from the Joan Mitchell blowout at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to the Barbara Kruger takeover of the Art Institute of Chicago to Wolfgang Tillmans’s characteristically pitch-perfect exhibition at Regan Projects in Los Angeles. New York was looking particularly strong (perhaps the result of artists finally bringing out their big guns now that the pandemic seemed to be subsiding). The highest highs there included Arthur Jafa’s AGHDRA tour de force, Nolan Simon at 47 Canal (he keeps getting better, and weirder), Jennifer Packer at the Whitney Museum, Robert Gober at Matthew Marks, Wade Guyton at Reena Spaulings, and the O'Flaherty’s enterprise.

In Korea, galleries and museums have largely remained open throughout the pandemic—a blessing for gallery goers—and 2021 saw huge developments on the ground, like the donation of much of Samsung chief Lee Kun-Hee’s collection to the nation, the return of the fabled, treasure-filled Leeum museum after being closed during the pandemic, and the christening of the new Herzog & de Meuron–designed SongEun Art Space. Before my top 10 of 2021, a few additional favorites: Junghae Park’s slippery, ultra-alluring paintings at Whistle, Jinu Nam’s squid fantasia at Outsight, Hernan Bas at Space K, Robert Barry at Gallery Shilla’s Seoul branch and KIAF booth (which he closed), Michael Dean at Barakat, Hyungkoo Lee at P21, Minjung Kim at Gallery Hyundai, Lee Keun-bae’s inkstone collection at the Gana Art Center, "Planitia" at L.A.D., Chang Ucchin also at Hyundai, and “Transposition” at Art Sonje Center.

And now, the top 10—and then 2022.
A hanging fabric work by Rondi Park.

10. “Rondi Park: And I Need You More Than I Want You” at White Noise, Seoul
In her thrilling solo effort, Rondi Park managed the rare feat of conjuring a cohesive, satisfying aesthetic world—scrappy, inventive, and joyous—across a wide variety of materials. A fiendish demon-like creature, fashioned from fabric, hung from the ceiling, and tiny constructions, showing people, stars, and a dragonfly, dotted the space. The offhand wit of Ree Morton, and the radiant fabric constructions of Tina Girouard came to mind. The showstopper was a long, energetically colored painting of a fast-galloping horse being guided by a lone rider—Park, perhaps?
Haneyl Choi, The Sculptor, 2021.

9. “The Middle Land: When Time Unfolds into Land” at the ARKO Art Center, Seoul
It can be a pleasure to watch a curator pursue a bizarre curatorial idea—when they execute it well. One example: this unusual smorgasbord of a group show, which its organizer, Zoe Chun, described as a “cross-genre play consisting of five acts,” inspired by, of all things, the work of the legendary fantasy novelist J.R.R. Tolkien. Along narrow corridors, on staircases, and in dimly lit galleries, she positioned irreverent sculptures by Haneyl Choi, a deep-cut Kara Walker film, a transfixing Paul Chan balloon, and more. It was all high drama and mystery—shadowy, in a word—as bewildering as it was satisfying.

Installation view of "Haegue Yang: Mesmerizing Mesh" at Kukje.

8. “Haegue Yang: Mesmerizing Mesh” at Kukje Gallery, Seoul
Following a barnburner of a survey at the nearby Seoul branch of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art that closed in February, Haegue Yang staged this intimate display of new paper works, which are informed by Korean shamanistic rituals incorporating that material. It was billed as something less than a full show—just a presentation in one room for a few weeks—but no matter: these intricate works stun, tenderly. Composed of precisely sliced pieces of paper in a limited number of shades, each seems to present a topsy-turvy world populated by ever-evolving abstracted figures.
Installation view of "MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2021: Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho – News from Nowhere, Freedom Village" at the MMCA, Seoul.
7. “Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho: News From Nowhere, Freedom Village” at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), Seoul
Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho conceived this multifarious project before the pandemic, but it nevertheless feels like a key work for grappling with the present era. A quietly sumptuous two-channel video follows two people living in isolation—one in futuristic, hermetically sealed environs, the other in a remote landscape. (Let's not give too much away.) Joined by doctored photos of the DMZ and an expansive painting of a dense forest, the show (running into February) is a master class in using deep research to tell a captivating story about important, universal things like communication, borders, and survival.

Hyungwoo Lee, Untitled: Borderless, 2021, at UniMARU.

6. DMZ Art & Peace Platform at UniMARU, Paju, and Other Venues
Beyond a military checkpoint near the Demilitarized Zone, the architect Hyunjun Mihn has transformed a disused building into an airy, light-filled exhibition space, UniMARU, which art historian Yeon Shim Chung inaugurated for part of her nuanced group show about propaganda, transit, surveillance, and the DMZ itself. Jae-Eun Choi showed ceramics with the names of endangering plants that grow in the area, and a winsome 2001 Nam June Paik sculpture consisted of an elephant attached to a cart piled with televisions and phonographs, apparently ready to embark on a long journey that fences, guard towers, and weapons forestall, for now.

5. The 13th Gwangju Biennale
It is painful to think about how few people got to see this year’s many-layered Gwangju Biennale, “Minds Rising Spirits Tuning,” which was long-delayed and then opened when South Korea had a 14-day travel quarantine (now 10). Organized by Defne Ayas and Natasha Ginwala, it intertwined alternative histories and modes of political resistance, via remarkable contributions from Cecilia Vicuña, Sylbee Kim, Sangdon Kim, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Vaginal Davis, and more. A big-hearted, ambitious show that was also graceful, it delivered diverse visions of life, death, resurrection, and love. (Here’s the New York Times story I wrote about the show.)
Partial view of Seulgi Lee’s Slow Water, 2021, at Incheon Art Platform.

4. “Seulgi Lee: Slow Water” at Incheon Art Platform
I will admit that I almost never revisit shows, even when I love them (there are places to be), but I road the subway from Seoul to Incheon three times to see Seulgi Lee’s exhibition because the more I read about it and thought about it, the more intriguing it became. Using ultra-minimal means—a huge circle of traditional lattice suspended from the ceiling, textiles printed with grids, a brief song—Lee conjured a time-bending vision of the surrounding city, of its history and its people. It was bewitching. (A review I wrote of it is in the January 2022 issue of Artforum.)

Sung Chankyung, One Lonely Pine Branch, 1980, at the Um Museum.

3. Sung Chankyung at Um Museum, Hwaseong
A renowned poet, Sung Chankyung (1930–2013) also made wry, humble sculptures from castoff, recycled materials, as this concise overview demonstrated. In Sung’s remarkable hands, a nut and bolt could become a tree, part of a sewing machine a bust, and a few pipe pieces an uproarious cartoon head with its tongue blasting out. An exhibition of Sung’s work is on deck at one of the Seoul Museum of Art’s locations in 2022, which will provide another welcome opportunity to delight in his charming work. (Here’s a review I wrote for Artforum about the show.)
Choi Wookkyung, Beginning Is Concluding, 1968, at the MMCA in Gwacheon.

2. “Choi Wookkyung: Alice's Cat” at MMCA, Gwacheon
Once described, quite condescendingly, as “a young lady of small stature who produces the largest paintings in Korea,” Choi Wookkyung (1940–85) made painted blazing abstractions that are variously sharp and geometric, frenetic and expressionistic, and otherworldly and lyrical. (Sometimes she snuck in text, too: “CARELESS BITCH” in one memorable work on paper.) This judiciously curated retrospective was a superb guide to her freewheeling, and too-short, career. A surprise came at the end, with a room of enigmatic, outrageous, and charismatic self-portraits that Choi made but did not intend to exhibit. They depict an artist with boatloads of energy and talent to burn.
Lee Bul, Hydra (Monument), 1996/2021, at the Seoul Museum of Art's main branch.

1. “Lee Bul: Beginning” at the Seoul Museum of Art
In an ideal world, a building would be found to permanently display documentation of Lee Bul’s searing performances from the late 1980s and early ‘90s, where it could serve as a kind of gold standard against which to measure all other live artworks. Lee was utterly fearless in these years, walking city streets in a grotesque costume and suspending herself naked while discussing her abortion, to name just two of her actions. Through huge video projections and a mountain of photographs, this survey of the period managed to transmit the fleeting but vital activities of an unstoppable artist. (Here’s my Artforum review of the show.)

See you next year.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Year in, and Beyond, the Galleries: A 2020 Top 10

The most butter I have ever seen adorning a baked good—at Layered in Seoul.

No writing activity gives me greater pleasure each year than assembling a top-10 list of art shows as the holidays approach. Combing through notes and cell-phone photos, I’m always bowled over by how much astonishing work is being made—and shown—every single day. However, assembling the list for 2020 has elicited more complicated feelings. Seeing art in person carries a special poignancy now, and organizing exhibitions is a precarious task. This has been a year of incredible loss.

Art looks very different in this atmosphere—when we can see it. “Inaccessible, the works conjure in the imagination a significance that we have taken for granted,” critic Peter Schjeldahl wrote in April. On the July day that the last coronavirus patient was discharged from a hospital in Rivoli, Italy, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the director of the Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, tweeted, “After a ferocious time, there was a cool breeze and the artworks hung proudly in the museum.”

On March 12, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced it would close in the face of rising virus cases, I was sitting a coffee shop in Brooklyn and mulled grabbing a car to catch the just-opened Gerhard Richter survey at the Breuer. No point, I figured. It would be back in a couple weeks. I was very wrong. It never returned, and the Met welcomed back visitors only in late August. That was a glorious day.

Despite the long lockdowns, with museums and galleries prudently going dark, there were still enough exhilarating shows to make assembling a top-10 as difficult as ever. My list comes from trips to Los Angeles and Philadelphia before the world changed, gallery strolls in New York when those were possible, and a few trips around South Korea, to which my wife and I moved in October.
The head of a roasted pig at La Kaje in Brooklyn on Leap Day, as part of G. William Webb's "Leaping" event.

I saw no real, in-person exhibitions between March 6 and July 8, but I did make it to the refurbished LaGuardia Airport in Queens to see Laura Owens’s majestic love letter of a mosaic to New York City. Even if you are not flying anywhere anytime soon, walk over and have a look.

Here is a too-brief string of other great shows not on the top-10: Paul McMahon at 321 Gallery, Jana Euler at Artists Space, Ja'Tovia Gary at Paula Cooper, Michael Buthe at Alexander and Bonin, Jasper Marsalis at Kristina Kite Gallery, Thomas Kovachevich at Callicoon, Abigail DeVille in Madison Square Park, Christopher Wilmarth at Craig F. Starr, Parker Ito at Château Shatto, “New Images of Man” (curated by Alison M. Gingeras) at Blum & Poe, Michael Krebber at Gaga & Reena Spaulings, Jacob Fabricius’s Busan Biennial, Sofu Teshigahara at Nonaka-Hill, Kathe Burkhart at Fredericks & Freiser. Before the pandemic set in, on Leap Day, one particularly memorable evening was a bacchanal/one-night art festival at La Kaje in Brooklyn, organized by G. William Webb, with performances by Miles Huston, Guy Henry, and more and more. The centerpiece was a roasted pig. It feels like a very long time ago. 

And now, a list.

Félix Vallotton, Felix Fénéon at La Revue blanche, 1896, at the Museum of Modern Art.

10. “Félix Fénéon: The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde—From Signac to Matisse and Beyond” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York 
There should be more exhibitions about art critics, says I. Of course, Félix Fénéon (1861–1944) was no ordinary art critic. He was a force of nature. His unsigned “Nouvelles en trois lignes” alone secure his place in history. Most are mordant, and some are dad jokes (charming in their own way). As this treasure-filled show by Starr Figura, Isabelle Cahn, and Philippe Peltier made abundantly clear, he also had a gimlet eye for talent, boosting key figures like Seurat and Signac. It had me reading every wall label, to learn the owner of certain works and plot how to see them again. Félix Vallotton’s portrait of a studious Fénéon bent over his desk is, regrettably, in a private collection.

Park Rehyun, Glory, 1966–67, at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul.

9. “Park Rehyun: Triple Interpreter” at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul 
A mind-blowing exhibition. Park began her career making elegant ink-wash paintings of people and street scenes. She ended it making some of the 20th century’s most beguiling abstractions—networks of colors that suggest polychromed spider webs or luminous tapestries. She died in 1976, only 56 years old, of cancer. Curator Park Kim Ye-jin’s show was not only a fireworks-filled retrospective but also a moving portrait of an artist finding her way while being overshadowed by her artist-husband, Kim Kichang. Park’s in the canon now, but her art still needs to reach a far wider audience.

Works by Faith Ringgold in "With Pleasure" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

8. “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Yes! This is what it (art history, curatorial work, the museum) is all about: taking a too-little-seen art moment and diving in deep. Anna Katz marshaled work by Joyce KozloffFaith RinggoldRobert KushnerEmma AmosBilly Al BengstonSylvia Sleigh, and a boatload more, making the case that Pattern & Decoration has been wrongly sidelined in many narratives of the 1970s. This is art born of—and imbued with—cosmopolitanism and feminism and activism. It’s perfect for right now. It’s been perfect for a long time. Some very good news: the show lands at the Hessel Museum of Art in upstate New York next year.

Suzanne Jackson, Light, light into being (2019) at Ortuzar Projects.

7. “Suzanne Jackson: News!” at Ortuzar Projects, New York
Ortuzar has been delivering one revelation after another for a couple years snow, and Suzanne Jackson’s solo outing was my favorite of its 2020 offerings. (Admittedly, it opened in 2019, but please let me count it.) Now in her mid-70s, Jackson showed astonishing wall works made with layered acrylic and harboring nets, seeds, and other disparate materials. They are utterly original paintings and also living things, full of stories, joys, and mysteries. 

Trevor Shimizu, Garden, 2019, at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.

6. “Trevor Shimizu: Performance Artist” at Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia
Even at Trevor Shimizu’s most slapdash moments with his paintbrush, his pictures never feel desolate or unfinished. He aims to please, and he succeeds. ICA Philadelphia’s survey, curated by Alex Klein, was a taut primer for Shimizu’s curveball-filled career, from video to canvas, while his latest outing at 47 Canal suggested an intriguing new chapter as a maker of masterful Impressionist scenes. I would bet good money that they would look pretty fresh next to a Mitchell or a Monet. Here’s hoping.

Donald Judd, Untitled, 1964, at the Museum of Modern Art. (Collection Stephen Flavin.)

5. “Judd” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
I’d happily sign on to view a Donald Judd retrospective that is two or ten times larger, but through ruthless editing that one imagines the artist would have begrudgingly respected, Ann Temkin assembled a razor-sharp portrait of his practice that ranks as one of the great MoMA shows of the past 20 years. In an era when Minimalism goes down smooth, it channels the radical tone of Judd’s art: its expansive range, strange visual pleasure, and perverse meticulousness. The icing on the Judd cake was Gagosian’s staging of an untitled 80-foot-long wonder from 1980.

Installation view of "Souls Grown Diaspora" at Apexart with work by Otis Houston Jr and text by Wesley Willis.

4. “Souls Grown Diaspora” at Apexart, New York
The curator and dealer Sam Gordon assembled this showcase of 10 key contemporary African-American artist who ought to be more widely known: Alvin Baltrop, Raynes Birkbeck, Stephanie Crawford, Curtis Cuffie, Otis Houston Jr., Dapper Bruce Lafitte, Reverend Joyce McDonald, Sara Penn, Frederick Weston (RIP), and Wesley Willis. Each was a kind of rich introductory survey. Now it is time for other institutions to stage complete shows. In the meantime, go see Houston’s inimitable work along Manhattan’s FDR Drive.

Diane Simpson, Constructed Painting #1 (1977) at Wesleyan's Zilkha Gallery.

3. “Diane Simpson: Cardboard-Plus, 1977–1980” at Wesleyan University’s Zilkha Gallery, Middletown, Connecticut
In the 1970s, the magnificent Chicago sculptor Diane Simpson composed abstract sculptures out of slices of cardboard that are held together by wooden dowels and sometimes ornamented with tender dashes of crayon or pencil. They nod to architectural and fashion forms while eluding any straightforward reading, and they looked wonderfully at home inside this jewel of a building by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates, in a show organized by Benjamin Chaffee. The only heartbreaker: it did not travel. It should, minting new fans and teaching artists how humble materials can be wielded with great ingenuity.

Inside Haegue Yang's Silo of Silence – Clicked Core (2017) the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul.

2. “Haegue Yang―O₂ & H₂O” at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul
An absolute barnburner of an exhibition, “O₂ & H₂O” shows Haegue Yang at her most inventive. She has turned Venetian blinds into enchanting installations and adorned abstract sculpture on wheels with bells: portable, sui generis instruments. Yang envisions a modernism gone electric, flying deep into hyperspace and yet still attuned to the rituals and politics of the world. Is it clear I’m at a loss for words? She is firing on all cylinders.

Alex Da Corte's Chicken (2020) at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Gershman Hall, March 5.

1. “Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde” and Alex Da Corte’s Chicken at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia
The last museum show I saw before the shutdown was a great one: “Invisible City,” a multi-venue feast organized by Sid Sachs that dove deep into Philadelphia’s rich postwar art scene. The highlight, in a show full of them: Alex Da Corte’s reimagining, on March 5, of a storied Allan Kaprow performance, Chicken, in the same auditorium that hosted it in 1962. Da Corte presided in Kaprow attire—burly beard, brown vest—as he orchestrated delirious, mischievous mayhem. (Here's a report of the action.) There were no live chickens this time, but the artist's band of gifted collaborators threw eggs, launched confetti, and conjured one incredible sight after another in a dreamy (sometimes slightly frightening) narrative. It was utterly impossible to summarize. It was also utterly unforgettable. A few days later, the country shut down.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Alice Neel's Hot-Fudge Sauce

Alice Neel's hot-fudge sauce ornamenting vanilla ice cream Alice Neel's hot-fudge sauce ornamenting vanilla ice cream.

Get ready for a world of pleasure. Alice Neel’s hot-fudge sauce is rich, boozy, and deeply satisfying. Its secret ingredient: a solid splash of rum, which joins together with chocolate, butter, sugar, and corn syrup. The recipe comes from The Museum of Modern Art Artists' Cookbook, which was published in 1977. (The full directions are in this PDF for a catalogue I made a few years ago for a project at Interstate Projects in Brooklyn.)

While warm, the sauce brings a refreshing zest to vanilla ice cream, but it’s when it’s gotten cold, having sat in the fridge overnight, that it gets really great, taking on a luxurious, almost chewy texture that is reminiscent of soft toffee or thick caramel. I found myself eating spoonfuls of it by itself. Atop ice cream in that form, it’s pure heaven—and it looks beautiful, too, like strange black snow adorning a mountain peak. I regret never taking a photograph of that pairing: it was too delicious to stop and think, apparently.

Butter and chocolate melting in a pan Preparing the hot-fudge sauce.

In the cookbook, Neel says, “I never learned to make cakes and pies because after all I’m an artist and couldn’t concentrate on that,” and she adds, “I have privileges, you see, that only men had in the past." It’s impossible not to admire that sentiment. But thank goodness she was willing to grace us with this confection.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Turn the Page: 'The Unknown Dimension' at/by/of Essex Street

From 'The Unknown Dimension,' left: Julia Phillips, Distancer (#3), 2019, glazed ceramics, metal hardware, metal pedestal, sculpture: 2.75 x 18.5 x 6.75 in., pedestal: 37.25 x 25 x 11 in., listening suggestion: Nina Simone's "The Human Touch," 1969; right: Julia Phillips, Soul (work in progress), 2020, bisque fired ceramics, 5.75 x 16.25 x 5.5 in., listening suggestion: Alice Coltrane's "Turiya & Ramakrishna," 1970.

Whenever I hear the words “online viewing room,” I involuntarily think of David Lynch delivering one of his vintage diatribes: “It’s such a sadness that you think you’ve seen a film on your fucking telephone. Get real!”

Of course, not all of the online exhibitions necessitated by corona lockdowns have been bleak. A lot of video art—typically tricky to access—has been streamed by museums and galleries, as I wrote in T magazine. And some artists have inventively tweaked how their art is presented online, like Elizabeth Peyton, who put together a bewitching slide show. Still, it’s been a relief to see more left-field approaches during this painful period of closed storefronts, like the move by New York outfit Essex Street to instead go analog and put together a lively (and, at times, heartrending) exhibition in the form of a handsome book. Titled “The Unknown Dimension” and published in May, it’s more than 200 pages long and has contributions from over 50 invited artists (many of whom sent along never-before-seen material). “Thinking the next best thing to an object is not an online viewing room but a page,” the gallery’s proprietor, Maxwell Graham, writes in the volume. Hear, hear!

The artists’ offerings run alphabetically by first name, which allows sumptuous, quiet paintings of empty interiors by the late Adrian Morris—whose show at Essex Street was cut short by the pandemic—to kick things off.
Carolyn Lazard, Recto Verso, 2020, 1 of 25 photographs, 11 x 9 in., in 'The Unknown Dimension.'

There are a lot of very excellent artists here. B. Wurtz sends along photographs of the fantastical tree-like sculptures he built from colanders and displayed in City Hall Park (now Abolition Park) in Lower Manhattan two years back (via the Public Art Fund). Senga Nengudi gives us an indelible self-portrait of her posing as if in prayer in her backyard in April, covered by a purple veil. Zak Prekop displays luscious details of his inimitable abstractions.

An index at the end of the book provides the requisite credits for the works along with some illuminating information that invites closer looking and deeper research. It was mind-blowing for me to learn that the reverse side of artworks that were photographed by Carolyn Lazard and that contain adorable photos of children (as pictured above) belong to the Antiguan master Frank Walter, who lived from 1926 to 2009. (They were commissioned by the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, which has a Walter retrospective that runs into November: one hopes we lowly Americans will be able to travel to Europe before then.) Julia Phillips, for her part, includes a link to video documentation for some of her art with listening suggestions paired to individual pieces. (See the captions above.)

Graham has also marshaled wonders by deceased luminaries like Bill Bollinger, Sturtevant, and Yutaka Matsuzawa, whose 1970 text piece My Own Death begins, “When you go calmly across this room, go my own death across your mind in a flash of lightning,———that is my future genuine death…”
The cover of 'The Unknown Dimension.'

Some new pieces refer to the ongoing health and economic crises, whether directly or obliquely. John Knight includes an excerpt of Paul Lafargue’s 1883 treatise “The Right To Be Lazy.” Cameron Rowland reproduces the agreement that must be signed by visitors to Hart Island, New York’s heavily restricted public cemetery, where graves are dug by incarcerated people. Maria Eichhorn prints two maps that document the 30 percent drop in pollution that NASA satellites documented in the extended New York metropolitan area this past March versus the average for that month between 2015 and 2019. On a series of successive pages, Louise Lawler is showing a digital photogram of parts of a vinyl record of an Aretha Franklin classic. Its title reads, at the moment, as mordant and dark and maybe even a tiny bit hopeful: "Runnin’ Out of Fools."

As I write, Essex Street, like many New York galleries, has finally reopened to the public, with a strong Park McArthur show. Life is continuing on. "The Unknown Dimension" has a kind of teaser (a non-site?) for one of the works included in McArthur's bracing exhibition, which exists in the physical gallery and on a dedicated website and "elsewhere," as the gallery's press release counsels. Elsewhere is a place where a lot of us find ourselves these days. It's a space and a condition that may be new, discomfiting, and also—just possibly—unifying. Happily, those looking to navigate the gallery version of the show at a distance can book a tour that will take place through Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime.