"Edward Munch by Himself" (Royal Academy of Arts, London) This show gave me butterflies, screwed me up, and made me cry.
John Baldessari, "A Different Kind of Order" (Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna) I rarely go to exhibitions these days. Perhaps I'm too jaded. But the Baldessari retrospective was something else. Focusing on his production from 1962-84, it was notable for its curatorial indifference to the marketplace--so refreshing!--and for the large number of works never shown before.
Aernout Mik, "Vacuum Room" (carlierlgebauer, Berlin/Centre pour I'Image Contemporaine, Saint-Gervais Geneve) Yet again Mik conjured a visual scenario that felt utterly familiar (a meeting of apparently powerful political types is interrupted by what looks like a throng of young protesters) only to render it utterly ungraspable, thereby suspending us somewhere between what we think we see and what we think we know, without a beginning or an end to make sense of it all.
Military Historical Museum of the Artillery (St. Petersburg, Russia) The special exhibition on Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov, the designer of the AK-47 automatic rifle, was both thorough and enjoyable. It demonstrated how it is possible to appreciate the aesthetics and creativity of any act, regardless of its purpose or consequences.
The Return of UbuWeb: Henry Flynt interviewed by Kenneth Goldsmith on WFMU, February 26, 2004 (www.ubu.com/sound/flynt.html) After moving all its files to a different server over the summer, UbuWeb is back, and better than ever before. I ran into this interview with Flynt while trolling around the Web last August. Flynt speaks for three hours about working with La Monte Young, Pandit Pran Nath, and Tony Conrad interspersed with snippets of music from the Coasters, Bo Diddley, Simon and Garfunkel, Jimmy McGriff, and the Drifters. Sound incohesive? Nope! There's not a boring moment, and it's all glued together by Flynt's own compositions.
"Karen Kilimnik: Paintings and Installations" (Historisches Museum Basel, Haus zum Kirschgarten) The ideal context for Kilimnik's precise and beautiful interventions, which made the museum come to life. A favorite moment: In one room, classical music started to play when you entered, and after a while, just as you began looking at her small painting of swans on a lake at night illuminated by lightning, a photographic flash would go off and undercut the illusion.
CERITH WYN EVANS
Juliette Blightman, "Marcelle, are you feeling bored with life?" (i-cabin, London) Zen, Warhol, and horticultural caprice. Two three-minute-long films exposing the passing of time and the disintegration of material presence. The locked-off image of a plant in its domestic situation allows the thought to form: "What is over-looked?" And, "What is the object?"
Neo Rauch (David Zwirner, New York) I'm impressed with what seems to me to be a new kind of history painting--it doesn't owe much to New York painting. Rauch has mastered scale; his pictures are suave and self-assured. They seem less sullen than before. I can't read the narrative, but it doesn't get in the way of liking the painting.
Tony Conrad (The Kitchen, New York) Part ethereal, part pummeling. Tony Conrad's trio of amplified strings left me in a state of mind-numbing bliss. The minimalist performance was followed by some equally abrasive and endearingly maniacal videos with titles like Grading Tips for Teachers, 2001, and Tony's Oscular Pets, 2003.
"Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle" (Santa Monica Museum of Art) Imagine it's the late '50s and you're hiking in the foothills of the Sierra Madres. You accidentally get lost in a wooded canyon. …