Magazine article Artforum International

Lynne Cooke

Magazine article Artforum International

Lynne Cooke

Article excerpt

1 MERCE CUNNINGHAM DANCE COMPANY (PARK AVENUE ARMORY, NEW YORK) It was at once deeply poignant and deeply exhilarating to see Cunningham's dancers return to New York, after a two-year world tour, for a final series of "Events" before the company disbanded forever. Though irreparable, the loss of the troupe is partially offset by the unexpectedly rich and inventive ways in which the legendary choreographer's legacy is being nurtured--not least by the Merce Cunningham Trust, which is supporting the restoration and revival of neglected works in his repertory. A groundbreaking iPad app released this year has also made accessible a wealth of hitherto unavailable archival photographs and videos, rounding out the material in the 2005 book Merce Cunningham: Fifty Years by the company's veteran archivist, David Vaughan.

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2 CHANTAL AKERMAN (MUSEUM VAN HEDENDAAGSE KUNST ANTWERPEN, BELGIUM; CURATED BY DIETER ROELSTRAETE) This stellar year for Akerman saw the international release of her haunting feature film Almayers Folly (2011) and the artist's first European retrospective, comprising some four decades of film, video, and installation work. Exemplifying Akerman's cross-pollination of gallery, museum, and cinema, the show also brought to light the remarkable yet rarely screened Hotel Monterey, 1972, a laconic portrayal of happenstance goings-on in the interstitial spaces of that now defunct Upper West Side holdout.

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3 (FC) TWO CABINS BY JB, EDITED BY JULIE AULT WITH PHOTOGRAPHS BY JAMES BENNING (A.R.T, PRESS) The cabins constructed by Thoreau at Walden Pond and by Ted Kaczyn ski, the Unabomber, in Montana (the latter modeled on Thoreau's original) provide the crux of this book's haunting project. Benning has long been fascinated with the parallels between Thoreau and the Unabomber, two alienated activists who practiced dissent while promoting nonprescriptive ways of living and the politics of solitude. Having built models of both structures in an isolated part of the Sierra Nevada in Northern California, Benning decorated "their" cabins with his copies of works by the art world's echt outsiders: Bill Traylor, Martin Ramirez, Mose Tolliver, and other self-taught mavericks (whose art spurred him to take up painting himself). Pushing various buttons, this remarkable project is richly evoked in the photographs and essays collected here--as well as in the HD video projections on view last winter at Neugerriemschneider in Berlin.

4 JEROME BEL. DISABLED THEATER (DOCU-MENTA 13, KASSEL) Fusing theater and dance in highly charged performances by the mentally challenged players of Zurich's Theater HORA, Bel's extraordinary contribution to a somewhat disjointed Doc-umenta proposed that disability is integral to both the aesthetic and political arenas. With characteristic tact, the gifted choreographer gave the participants the last word: Each actor in turn critiqued the collaboration with Bel before exiting the stage.

5 SHARON HAYES (WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, NEW YORK; CURATED BY CHRISSIE ILES) Evincing her long-standing commitment to collaboration in myriad forms, Hayes worked with the artist Andrea Geyer on the design of this brilliant installation, which transformed the third floor of the Whitney into a resonantly social space. Hayes's inventive use of a wide range of media--including the low-tech, the obsolete, and the handmade in addition to more up-to-date technologies--was strikingly effective as she homed in on a range of political and social issues with characteristic wit and acumen, making this standout show feel not merely timely but urgent.

6 JOSIAH MCELHENY (INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART, BOSTON; CU RATED BY HELEN MOLESWORTH) Playing out of the modernist legacy in design and architecture, fashion and the fine arts, McElheny has proved his compass to be unusually broad. …

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