Magazine article Artforum International

Daniel Baumann

Magazine article Artforum International

Daniel Baumann

Article excerpt

1 TEHRAN'S MUSEUMS People are getting crazy--and scared--about Iran (and maybe rightly so). But there are many Irans, so get on a plane (it's cheap) and go visit a few of the country's revelatory museums. The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened in 1977, holds what is said to be the most valuable collection of Western modernism outside Europe and the United States. For a recent installation of works by Calder, Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Warhol, and others, gentle instrumental music filtered throughout the galleries, creating a strange, out-of-time environment. The Martyrs' Museum memorializes the heroes of the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War, and the Film Museum of Iran, housed in a beautiful park, offers insights into Iran's rich history of cinema, including homages to now-banned directors.

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2 JEROME BEL, DISABLED THEATER (DOCUMENTA 13, KASSEL) This collaboration between Bel and Theater HORA, a Swiss troupe of professional actors with disabilities, was a highlight of Documenta 13. After taking the stage, each of the eleven performers named his or her disability, danced to a song of his or her choosing, and, finally, approached the microphone to reflect on the project. The work was touching, challenging, and hilarious, and pushed us into animated discussions about authenticity, performativity, embarrassment, and the vagaries of reception. Everybody wanted to talk about it.

3 SARAH LUCAS IN LONDON Known to many for her corrosive art, Lucas still gives us a lot to be impressed by: her recent NUDS, 2009-12, which hijack twentieth-century sculpture with their frank gravity and strangely elegant contortions; last year's pajama-clad "Artist in Bed" residency at St. John Hotel during Frieze (this year she installed a work called Bee fcocktitbuster, 2012, in the hotel's bar); her series of "Situation" exhibitions upstairs at Sadie Coles, for which she added and subtracted her own works to create an exhibition that rolled out seemingly endlessly; and her curation of "FREE: Art by Offenders, Secure Patients & Detainees" at Southbank Centre, a survey of work produced by inmates in the British criminal-justice system.

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4 "MUSEUM OF EVERYTHING: EXHIBITION #4," (SELFRIDGES, LONDON) In the past year, the peripatetic Museum of Everything set up shows in Russia and France, but I often think back to its incarnation during Frieze London. Sited at Selfridges, Europe's "premier department store," the MoE surveyed studios for "self-taught" artists, such as workshops at hospitals used by individuals with developmental disabilities. I was grateful for the way in which this ensemble of "other" art academies made extraordinary works of art accessible, and for the way in which the display--if provocatively and somewhat dubiously--threw together art, commerce, and education.

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5 ZANELE MUHOLI (STEVENSON GALLERY, CAPE TOWN) South African activist, artist, and photographer Zanele Muholi documents violence against LGBTI people. A few months before her recent show in Cape Town, most of her material was stolen in an action likely targeting her for her activism. Undeterred, Muholi put up an excellent, open-ended show with what remained, including a stunning series of black-and-white portraits and revolting portrayals of discrimination's effects, bringing art and activism together with rare precision. In South Africa (and in many other places), those identifying as LGBTI live under the constant threat of rape and murder, so simply picturing them, making them visible, is a political--and risky--act. …

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