Magazine article Artforum International

Mai Abu EIDahab

Magazine article Artforum International

Mai Abu EIDahab

Article excerpt

Mai Abu EIDahab is the director of Objectif Exhibitions in Antwerpf Belgium, where she recently curated solo shows by Hassan Khan, Michael Portnoy, Norma Jeane in collaboration with Tim Etchells, and Patricia Esquivias. She is currently producing a new exhibition with Dutch artist and filmmaker Barbara Visser, opening at Objectif in January. (See Contributors.)

1 11TH BIENNALE DE LYON (multiple venues; curated by Victoria Noorthoorn) This year's edition of the biennial was a much-needed expression of passion for art. Absent were the generic codes of large-scale contemporary art exhibitions (demonstrative diversity of media, rote "internationalism, " trends ... ). The exceptional visual poetry of Augusto de Campos, emblazoned on the walls throughout the show's main venue, underscored the poetic quality of Noorthoorn's daringly unprogrammatic approach. From Gabriel Sierra's in situ excavation of the Musee d'Art Contemporain's physical layers to perhaps the largest presentation of Stano Filko's color protocols to the idiosyncratic worlds of Robert Filliou and Zbynek Baladran, the biennial unabashedly proposed aesthetics as an unwaveringly powerful tool in its own right.

2 IMAN ISSA, THIRTY-THREESTORIESABOUT REASONABLE CHARACTERS IN FAMIUAR PLACES (SculptureCenter, New York) Part of an ongoing endeavor to reconfigure the cultural connotations of commonplace imagery, Egyptian artist Iman lssa's first attempt at fiction successfully translates her artistic concerns and aesthetic sensibility from video and installation to literary narrative. Reminiscent of Thomas Bernhard's Voice imitator, Issa's short stories (published by SculptureCenter as part of a recent exhibition of her work) may seem prosaic, but their time-and placelessness are precisely where their uncanny character lies.

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3 BLINKY PALERMO (Dia:Beacon, BeaconT NY, and CCS Galleries at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; curated by Lynne Cooke) Replete with cloth paintings, metal paintings. and a host of other works made between 1964 and 1977, Palermo's first North American retrospective was an exhibition for the ages. His work, however cerebral and mischievous it may seem at first, mysteriously abounds with poetry and sentiment that can only leave one in awe--as the show, spread across two venues, amply demonstrated.

Organized by Diet Art Foundation and the Bard Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture.

4 SVEN AUGUSTIJNEN, SPECTRES (Wiels Contemporary Art Center, Brussels) Four years in the making, Augustijnen's film purports to investigate the events surrounding the death of Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the independent Congo. But not long into the feature-length documentary, it becomes evident that the Belgian artist's real subject is Jacques Brassinne de la Buissiere, a Belgian government official at the time of Lumumbars assassination, an imperial apologist, and later an obsessed researcher into the last fifty days of the murdered man's life, The subjective, and often dubious, nature of history is a central concern of the film, but it is Augustijnen's voyeuristic interviewing skills and his subtle yet evocative images that give this film its poignant quality.

5 FRANCE STARK, MY BEST THING Employing free text-to-speech animation software and Playmobil-like avatars, Stark's one-hour-and-forty-minute video visualizes the artist's ongoing anonymous chat-room romances. …

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