Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Artnet

Artnet's magazine has ceased publication. Yesterday was its last official day. 
This came as quite a shock to me, but according to other people closer to the operation, it's been struggling financially for quite some time. 
On Twitter, Tyler Green (who noted he had written for Artnet back in the day) compared the magazine to a "clubhouse," which in a journalistic context is perhaps not exactly a compliment, but in the context of the New York art world is not exactly an insult either. 
Indeed, Artnet has been, among the online art publications, the best at reflecting what the New York scene feels like from the inside looking out. Others have perhaps published more articles on a daily basis, but then Artnet never published anything close to as many fashion-, celebrity- or movie-based pieces as many of those other publications seem to, so after you subtract the articles on non-visual-art topics, perhaps Artnet's numbers are just as high (anyone willing to count?).
The people who have been regular contributors to Artnet are indeed quite impressive. Here's but a fairly recent list (there are far more Artnet alumni who have since gone on to other endeavors):

And of course, there is the amazing Walter Robinson. We haven't always been on the same page, Walter and I. Back in the day when blogs were first gaining audience, I objected when he published a few pieces that took swipes at the mostly unedited and far too frequently unseemly free-for-alls we call blogs. I argued back then that blogs were not attempting to replace edited magazines or newspapers, but merely expand the dialog beyond them, giving their readers more opportunity to express their views on the issues than mere letters to the editor. I'm not sure Walter ever agreed with me about that.
But if you've ever had the pleasure of talking with Walter Robinson, or reading his essays (his piece "The Quest for Failure" [kind of hard to find, but start here] remains one of the most insightful and honest explorations about what it means to be an artist in New York that I've ever read) you realize he's not only that rarest of people in the New York art world (a true believer), he's also extremely funny, charming, and (for an editor) humble. In short, you'll look far and wide before you find his kind in this city today. 
It would be remiss of me not also to mention that Murat and my first thought when hearing the news was to wonder where we'll get our daily dose of Charlie Finch now. Few humans you'll ever meet are as improbable as Charlie, as infuriating as he is lovable. When I reflect on why it is Artnet feels more reflective of what the New York scene is like from the inside looking out, it's hard to discount how many hours Mr. Finch spends in the offices and dinners of the art world's elite, gaining that perspective. His is virtually an anthropologist's approach and as many people in the art world as he's pissed off, he has educated (even despite themselves) far more. 
My morning surfing of the arts publications won't be quite the same now. I will sorely miss the smart, approachable, and authentic voice of Artnet's magazine. I am sincerely grateful for the kindness they have shown our gallery over the years and look forward to each member of its family finding new homes soon.

UPDATE: The news about Artnet just gets stranger and stranger.
The changes at the company are part of a larger power struggle between the current management and a group of shareholders that has recently been accumulating stock at a rapid clip. Until the announcement that Mr. Neuendorf would step down, and cede the title of CEO to his eldest son Jacob Pabst, 39, the family faced a proxy battle at its July 11 shareholder meeting, and still may lose the company. The threat to the Neuendorfs (Mr. Pabst takes his mother’s name) comes from a group of investors led by Russian art market analyst and former investment banker Sergey Skaterschikov, founder of the art market analysis firm Skate’s. In the matter of Artnet, Mr. Skaterschikov represents Redline Capital Management, where he sits on the board. Redline is owned by the Russian billionaire Vladimir Evtushenkov and has recently purchased enough stock to own at least eight percent of the company. Its capital already outclasses Mr. Neuendorf, who is 74 and was described in a recent article in Der Spiegel as having to sell some of his art collection to cover his debts. As if that weren’t enough, Redline is joined in its efforts to control the company by Rüdiger Weng, whose company Weng Fine Art takes a commodities approach to artworks, and who owns four percent of Artnet, thanks to purchases made this year.
I'm personally no fan of the compassionless approach to the art world that Skate's Sergey Skaterschikov is known for (see here for example), and to be honest, having worked in another field where business-only types killed what had once been a more gentile and creative culture, I'm not at all interested in seeing the kind of bottomline mindset Skates' represents gain any further hold in the art world. The arts are supposed to reflect our more human side. You accept less money for working in them because it fulfills you in other ways. Once it becomes all business and nothing but business, you may as well make your money in finance or insurance or statistics.

Friday, June 22, 2012

To Show or Not to Show : Open Thread

One of the hardest issues to deal with as a gallerist is telling a represented artist who is expecting an exhibition that you, the dealer, don't think their new work is strong enough and you're not going to exhibit it. This becomes even more difficult when the artist has had a number of solo exhibitions and has come to rely, either financially or reputation-wise or both, on them happening as scheduled.
I'm personally not dealing with this issue (at the moment), but a friend of mine who has a gallery is. Let's call this friend "Xavier." He's had a gallery for well over ten years, and one of his artists (let's call her "Madge") has had exhibitions every two years for the last decade. This upcoming January would be the fifth solo show for Madge at Xavier's gallery, except that Xavier is convinced the new work isn't up to Madge's usual quality. Moreover, Xavier has been working very hard to lift the gallery up a level and benefit all the other artists in the program in the process. 
To Madge's mind, her new work is strong enough, it's her turn, and she's angry that Xavier doesn't want to show it. To Xavier's mind, the mediocre show won't do Madge's career any favors, won't do the other gallery artists any favors, and won't do him any favors either. The notion of Madge demanding "her turn" also chafes Xavier's neck a bit. He views each show as an agreed-on production, not Madge's birthright.
The agreed-on part is a critical component here to my mind. I have been talked into shows where we not only had nothing at all for sale but actually gave away thousands of dollars of treasures for free, where we turned the gallery over to a month of lectures and performances and invited the public to tell us why galleries and the commercial art world suck, and one that I couldn't bring myself to tell my mother about. Mind you, I am very proud of each of those exhibitions and each brought the gallery tons of press, but my point here is that I agreed to each of them as well. Moreover, the artists and I negotiated certain timing issues and production costs for each of them. 
In other words, it was a joint effort, and we respectively compromised on what we could.
There are certainly times when an artist believed in something so much (even though I was skeptical) that I agreed to present it. Sometimes I was pleasantly proved wrong. Other times I was proved correct. But there have been times when I simply said no. I won't present that. Let's figure out some other exhibition. It pained me to have to tell the artist no, but I have never regretted doing so. The reputation of the gallery and the other artists who show in it depend on the dealer's ability to say no when they simply don't believe in the work.
Moreover, dealers consider it their job to not let any of their artists exhibit less than their very best work. The artist may not like to hear that the work's not up to snuff, but the possible consequences of not telling them (horrible reviews, loss of faith among collectors, damage to the artists and/or gallery's reputation) are far worse than their temporary disappointment.
But then this is all from the gallerist's point of view. I present it as such so that artists might better understand that it's both difficult and essential for the dealer to "figure something else out" when they don't believe in a new body of work. I'm quite sure there are considerations from the artists' point of view, or experiences, that it would benefit dealers to learn about as well here though. So consider this an open thread.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What Republicans Think

Last week David Brooks wrote a column titled "What Republicans Think" in which he makes what, on the surface at least, seems a rather convincing case that the Republican party has not gone off the deep end and embraced reckless radicalism. No, argued Brooks, the Republicans are convinced that they're actually the ones seeing things clearly. The world's economic reality is changing, and they're sincerely trying to get the rest of us to wake up and smell the coffee before it's too late:
[M]any Republicans have now come to the conclusion that the welfare-state model is in its death throes. Yuval Levin expressed the sentiment perfectly in a definitive essay for The Weekly Standard called “Our Age of Anxiety”: 
“We have a sense that the economic order we knew in the second half of the 20th century may not be coming back at all — that we have entered a new era for which we have not been well prepared. ... We are, rather, on the cusp of the fiscal and institutional collapse of our welfare state, which threatens not only the future of government finances but also the future of American capitalism.” 
To Republican eyes, the first phase of that collapse is playing out right now in Greece, Spain and Italy — cosseted economies, unmanageable debt, rising unemployment, falling living standards.
To address this scary new scenario, as Brooks sees it, the Republicans, in contrast to Obama's plan to carefully re-balance the economy, feel something more drastic is imperative:
Republicans, meanwhile, envision comprehensive systemic change. The G.O.P. vision is of an entirely different magnitude: replace the tax code, replace the health care system and transform entitlements.
Brooks admits that how the Republicans (meaning via Romney as President) hope to do that remains "extremely vague," but that doesn't mean they're otherwise extreme. No, their goals are the same as Obama's goals, even if their plans are more vague:
The intention is the same, to create a model that will spark an efficiency explosion, laying the groundwork for an economic revival. .
Where they differ significantly, though, is on what they believe will ignite that spark. Obama's plan includes a slight increase in taxes on the wealthiest Americans (following more or less the balanced approach that saw 32 straight quarters of growth at an average of 3.8 percent under Clinton). Romney's plan takes the exact opposite approach. He favors additional tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans (following more or less the unbalanced approach that saw only an average 1.7 percent growth under Bush, as Brooks notes himself.). Romney favors that approach, however,  because he thinks, as Brooks put it:
[T]he current model shifts resources away from the innovative sectors of the economy and into the bloated state-supported ones, like health care and education.
And, remember, also because Romney and the Republicans think "we are...on the cusp of the fiscal and institutional collapse of our welfare state, which threatens not only the future of government finances but also the future of American capitalism."
The original Bush tax cuts were implemented under the belief that ensuring the top 1% became even more wealthy would benefit the entire nation. In other words, money was shifted toward the top percent so that they would invest it, the economy would rebound, and we'd all benefit from the "innovative sector" doing its thing. 
At least that was Bush's second rationale for the tax cuts. He only embraced that rationale as the economic situation on the ground shifted, you may recall:
Changing Rationale, But the Plan Remains the Same
Even as Bush remains firmly committed to the tax cut, his rationale for enacting it has changed. During the campaign, when economic projections were rosier, Bush said a reduction in the basic income tax rates would be a way of giving citizens money that was rightfully theirs.
“The surplus is the people’s money,” Bush said frequently during his stump speeches.

But after Election Day — and even before the outcome of the presidential race was fully resolved — Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney, had begun saying that a tax cut would be necessary to stoke an economy showing signs of cooling, a position they continue to play up.

“I think it’s really important for members of the Congress to understand that the tax relief plan I put forward is an integral part of economic recovery,” Bush said Wednesday.
In other words, the reality was that Bush wanted the tax cuts because he wanted the tax cuts. His rationales were fungible. 
But here's the thing. Bush pushed his tax cuts through, shifting more money up into the top 1%, so that (according to his second rationale) the now-even-more-wealthy would invest in ways that would help all of us by sparking an economic recovery. The deal wasn't that they'd simply keep the money (as they're doing now) when that plan didn't quite work out.  That money was supposed to "trickle" down through a system that the Republicans now--now that a sliver of the top has more of the nation's wealth than ever before--claim is irrevocably broken and they want to scrap. 
On top of that, now the Republicans want even more tax cuts for the wealthy and are offering us as rationale that those currently hording all the cash they amassed via the Bush tax cuts will begin to invest the additional cash they amass via the Romney tax cuts. Clearly, What Republicans Think is that the average American voter can be fooled twice.
Only this time, if Romney gets his way, the system will be different. They'll reform entitlements to ensure government can't help the poor and needy. 
But that's OK, because this time the top 1% won't horde all the additional money via new tax cuts. This time, the money really, really will trickle down through the free market to the poor and needy.
Sure it will.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Art World and the Art Market

Adam Lindemann has penned a post over at Gallerist NY that has upset a few people. I'm not entirely sure why. He's not calling anyone names or mocking their personalities or physical appearances. He's simply disagreeing with them about whether or not there's an art market bubble and if so when it's going to do what all bubbles eventually do: burst. In the post he puts the art market into perspective with a comparison that I think should be mandatory reading for everyone who thinks money is ruining the art world:
Think about the value of Google, which boasts a $189 billion market cap, or Facebook, with a market cap of $58 billion, down from an IPO price of about $100 billion only a few weeks ago. The average trading volume of Google in a single day is $2.4 billion dollars. The approximate total sales in the entire global contemporary art market in a year is around $6 billion, or what would likely be only two or three days’ worth of trading in Google stock. If these companies’ young billionaire founders, Sergey Brin or Mark Zuckerberg, bought up all the contemporary art sold in an entire year, they wouldn’t even feel the pinch.
That kind of money (especially when owned by people young enough to be one's children) may be ruining our collective sense of self-worth, but the $6 billion annual art market is not ruining "the art world." The art world and the art market, as Lindemann points out, are not the same thing. But, and here's where I disagree with him, they are interconnected. Lindemann writes:
Two weeks ago, in an article in The New York Times Magazine that asked if we are in an art bubble, business writer Adam Davidson admitted to understanding nothing about the art market, but still managed to come to a sound conclusion: the art market “is a proxy for the fate of the superrich themselves.” His view is that as long as the rich get richer, art prices will hold steady or increase. My bet is that he’s right. But he ends his article by confusing art and the art market: “It makes me happy to think that this world of art-as-investment is a minuscule fraction of the art world overall.” But one has nothing to do with the other; why should the “art world overall” bear any relation whatsoever to the $120 million paid at Sotheby’s last month for Edvard Munch’s The Scream? [emphasis mine]
Later in his own post, though, Lindemann answers exactly why the art world overall bears a significant relation to the money paid for a work of art when he writes "the definition of what is or is not “historic” is a moving target and subject to constant change and review." 
 Indeed, the art world and the art market have quite a lot to do with each other. There's no verifiable formula (it's not like 1 MoMA retrospective + 2 love letter reviews = 30% increase in prices), but there is clearly a connection between what the taste makers in the art world think of an artist and his/her work and what someone will be willing to pay for it. No one is going to spend $120 million on a Thomas Kinkade any time soon. 
Moreover, the $120 million spent on Munch's "The Scream" caused several contemporary artists I know to pause, if only momentarily, to question their role in the art world. You can say they should just ignore it, but that's unrealistic and raises questions about motive, if you ask me. "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" 
Otherwise, I think the rest of Lindemann's post is worth a read. It's certainly one well-considered opinion.

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Prometheus" and Picking Apart the Providence Argument

The concept of Providence (that God is concerned with and therefore spends time and energy guiding each and every human's destiny) implies that there is a thoughtful (and caring) rationale behind why God bothered to create humans in the first place. The implication of that is that each individual human serves some purpose in God's plan. Of course, most humans accept that we're probably ill-equipped to comprehend God's plan, but our ambiguity about it is something we make peace with because we've convinced ourselves that God's plan is ultimately benevolent toward us.
Most of the reviews I've read about the film Prometheus, the highly anticipated "prequel"* to Ridley Scott's powerful 1979 look at human paranoia about all things slimy and "other" (Alien), have suggested that in addition to gasping at the amazing visual grandiosity, viewers will come away debating the "big, metaphysical questions about the origin and ultimate fate of humanity" hovering over all the scary stuff  (quote from The New York Times' A. O. Scott review). Well, we saw Prometheus over the weekend, and indeed I'm interested in debating one of the big metaphysical questions it raises.
First let me say that we lo-o-o-o-o-o-oved the film. It's far from flawless, but it's amazing to go on that journey (see it on a BIG screen). Second let me say that the following is a smallish spoiler (there are certainly other, larger themes and plot points than this), so if you haven't seen it yet, you may wish to skip this post. 
In the beginning of the film we're given access to a dream of our cryongenicly slumbering heroine (Dr. Elizabeth Shaw) whose mother passed away when she was young. In her dream, Shaw's younger self is again talking with her father about what happens after you die. Her dad says you go to heaven or paradise. When his daughter asks him how he knows this, he offers what is a currently very vogue way of defending one's faith against atheistic inquiry. He says, "Because that's what I choose to believe."
This concept that because we don't really know the truth about the afterlife, what we choose to believe is as valid as what we choose to discount, goes hand in hand, to my mind, with the point I make about the concept of Providence. We choose to believe there's a heaven or paradise, because we have convinced ourselves that God's plan must be benevolent and that we must be important enough a part of it that He cares about and tends to our destiny.
Even as a kid, I always wondered why an omnipotent being would create such obviously inferior toy things. The weaknesses of humans, both physical and moral, could easily be corrected should God wish to do so. And this obvious fact led me to assume our weaknesses were part of the plan. But I could only take that argument as far as it concerned our individual choices in life and the resulting eternal rewards or punishments (you're weak so that your choice to follow God's rules is more meaningful...or something like that). But zooming out, to where you take the species as a whole, this weak-by-design argument begins to fall apart, at least as far as the concept of Providence is concerned.
***Spoiler alert (and all quotes are approximates)***
Later in Prometheus there is a fabulous conversation between a rather arrogant human, Dr. Charlie Holloway, and the wonderfully creepy robot David (played by the endlessly watchable Michael Fassbender). David, who seems to know things about what's really going on that none of the humans around him do, and Hollowway are discussing the point of their mission to find humankind's "engineers" (or creators). Holloway makes an impassioned argument for wanting to know why humans had been created, but he's so self-absorbed and clearly a little robot-phobic, that when David asks why the humans had created android servants like himself, Holloway scoffs (and yet answers quite honestly), "That's easy. Because we could."
"Wouldn't you be disappointed to hear your creators say the same thing about you?" David then asks. 
It was the most powerful of the "big, metaphysical questions" parts of the film for me. Indeed, Holloway's answer to the robot seems the most logical and probable answer to why God created humans. Because God could. That answers all the questions I've ever had; it ticks all the boxes.
But it makes the notion of Providence a fair bit less likely. 
None of the characters in Prometheus cared as much about David as they did each other. When things begin to go terribly wrong, he's the last of their concerns, except where it's obvious he's essential to their survival. He is even forced to make this argument to one character (I'm trying not to spoil too much here)...that she needs him...for that character in turn to agree to help David out of a bad situation he ends up in.
Extrapolated to the wider human experience, the concept of Providence (that God cares and is watching over each of us, guiding us) raises long-wondered questions (such as, Why would a Providential God permit genocide?etc.). Theologians can only answer these questions by falling back on the assertion that we're ill-equipped to understand God's plan. But, they'll assure you, He still cares about you. He's still in control of your destiny. He'll take you up into paradise eventually, just hang tight. And of course, being weak as we are, we're not in much of a position to argue anyway. 
 But if you consider the alternative, that God's interest in creating humans was more callous. That He did so "because He could," and our role in the plan is not much grander than that, then Providence makes less sense and concepts like genocide make more sense (theologically speaking). Like David, we're rather disposable with regard to the goals of the plan.

*It's "prequel-ish" anyway.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Bushwick's Self-Awareness and The Telethon for the 1%

A while back I had been asked to comment on how the Bushwick scene differed from the Williamsburg scene in which our gallery had begun. I was quoted here as saying the Bushwick scene seems more "self-conscious," but since then I've wondered whether I should have said "self-aware."
To be honest, I'm still not sure. 
Holland Cotter pens a thoughtful and thorough response to New York's latest artist-driven scene in today's New York Times. In it he echoes the thoughts I have about why Bushwick feels different from Williamsburg and why it's confusing as to whether the scene feels self-aware or self-conscious:
But what does frontier mean anyway? Does it — should it — mean something about the kind of art being produced? It meant that in SoHo in the 1960s and ’70s, with the emergence of new media (video, installation, sound art), and in the East Village of the 1980s, which could claim an apocalyptically minded post-punk aesthetic, not to mention Neo-Geo.

But since then art has professionalized and industrialized. Schools pump out artists; artists pump out vast amounts of art. The market, as embodied in art fairs, has become a bulk operation, favoring the smooth-selling tried and true — painting, sculpture — over experiment. An ancient avant-garde model of the artist as creature of high ideals, messy habits and no expectations has been revised to accommodate competitiveness, personal polish and an agenda for professional success.

To what degree those elements shape artists’ lives in Bushwick today I can’t say. More than once during a recent gallery and studio walkabout I had the sensation of being in a giant M.F.A. graduate show, with all the cautious, self-conscious formalism and too-tight ideas that implies. At the same time, the general atmosphere was school-like in a good, utopian way: people working side by side, artists enjoying other artists, Manhattan a mere mirage in the wide Bushwick sky.
We'll be looking back at Manhattan from Bushwick this weekend. First, as Mr. Cotter notes in his article, one of our artists, Sarah Peters, is in a group show opening up at the always-smart Regina Rex. The reception is 7-10 PM tomorrow evening.
Also on Saturday, FIPCA (I still have no idea what that stands for) is hosting the first-ever, star-studded (seriously, check out this list) Telethon for the 1%:
On Saturday June 9th, 2012, FIPCA will present the first ever Telethon for the 1%. Help us help America by helping to put America’s top back on top. Proceeds will benefit those who need it most, those whose tireless efforts have made America the shining pile of success that it is today. We believe that the 1% are hurting and if you’ve been reading the news, you know times have been tough for them [...]

FIPCA believes that helping the 1% will keep their golden shower trickling down.  Give us your money to give to them to give to back to you.

Tune in from 10am to 10pm on fipca.net for an unforgettable roster of entertainment live from the stage of Momenta Art in Brooklyn, New York. Luminaries of the art and entertainment world will be waiting by the phones to take your money.
Yours truly will be presenting from 8:15 to 8:30 pm. Tune in...and be prepared to dig deep to support this worthy cause! The yacht you save could be yours (to get a job washing dishes on, perhaps...maybe...no guarantee...there are 300 resumes ahead of yours...so manage your expectations...I mean really...).

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The New "Barnes"

I've read most of the reviews now and am convinced I will most likely thoroughly enjoy visiting the new location of the art collected originally by Dr. Albert Barnes and installed in a very particular way and designed to be experienced via precise instructions at his home outside Philadelphia. What I'm also sure of, though, is that the new museum has no business using the good doctor's name in affiliation with what was clearly against his wishes.

Arguments can and have been made that art is for posterity and that no megalomaniac has the right to dictate to future generations how they have to view work that belongs to all of humankind. And while I'd agree with that, I think a stronger argument can be made that no one has the right to co-opt another person's vision, let alone their name, in the service of something they would have strongly objected to.

Call it the Philadelphia Museum of "whatever will draw the most tourists," but no one has the right to call it "The Barnes" in my opinion. At least respect the man's wishes enough to divorce his name from a venture he was crystal clear he opposed.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Opening Tonight! Ulrich Gebert, "The Negotiated Order," at Winkleman Gallery and Sigrid Viir in the Curatorial Research Lab

Urlich Gebert
The Negotiated Order

June 1 - June 36, 2012
Opening:  Friday, June 1, 6 - 8 PM

Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to present “The Negotiated Order,” our second solo exhibition by German artist Ulrich Gebert. Furthering his series of works dealing with the human urge to dominate nature, and the often-ludicrous extremes we’ll go to in that pursuit, Gebert offers here a striking suite of mixed media works in which found photographs of humans systemically subordinating or controlling animals have been reworked so only the human is still visible. The resulting images make the humans look ridiculous, underscoring how such so-called scientific efforts generally reveal more about human culture than they do nature.

Each of the works in The Negotiated Order series includes a manipulated found image (produced as a silver gelatin print) “framed” within a hand-distressed canvas ground. Formally, the suite of works references both minimalist paintings and vintage photography, lending the series as a whole a calming, seemingly scientific authority. By removing the object of the presumably understandable human activity in each image, though, Gebert introduces a subtle, and at times very humorous, uncertainty about what we’re observing.
Gebert’s work often deals with animals on a superficial level, as a means to focus more on how human beings function. Derived in part from an awareness that nearly every single thing humans do to other human beings was tested on animals first (from cyclone B to traveling into space), the implications of how we behave when attempting to control nature become more ominous. As the artist has written about this series, “the "Negotiated Order" pieces are like an allegory for me, where the reason of interaction - the counterpart - is no longer present and the will to subordinate and control is somewhat overemphasized to a point where it becomes ridiculous. Just a bit off....”

Ulrich Gebert lives and works in Munich, Germany. He received his Masters in Photography at Royal College of Art, London, and studied at the Glasgow School of Art and with Timm Rautert at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig. Recent exhibitions include a solo show at KLEMM’S in Berlin; an exhibition at the DZ Bank Kunstsammlung in Frankfurt and at the Kunsthalle Recklinghausen. His work has been reviewed widely in Europe and the United States including in The Village Voice and ArtNews.


And in the Curatorial Research Lab



I don’t know Sigrid Viir. I have not interviewed her until now, just looked at her work. She neatly overcomes the first problem of a young artist. She grabs our attention, first of all with a sharp, almost vicious sense of colour that insinuates itself straight into the blood stream, but also by posting the photographs as part of a sculpture installation. This is not just about packaging, but is a way of reframing the way we are used to thinking about art works. She is trying to tackle the oldest dilemma of photography: when the shutter closes, it stops time. Today, our concept of a work of art is changing rapidly, against the understanding of art as a single, stilled moment captured by a solitary genius. Sigrid Viir appears to be part of this mutation.

[…] I walked around her installations, which forced you to stand at different angles. Sometimes the structures were very similar to easels. There was a temporary edge to it. They were awkward. How could you live with these? And the world inside the photographs was confused with objects stacked in bizarre ways, filed dysfunctionally, arranged as if the inhabitants of the land within them were very different from us.

[…] There are references to other art. One thinks of Rebecca Horn, or earlier kinetic art. In the colours and her sparing use of shapes, there is more than a whiff of the wunderkind of the moment, Elad Lassry. As I’ve said, I don’t know Sigrid Viir, but while I am look at her work, I am constantly expecting a surprise.
--Excerpted from “I Don’t Know Sigrid Viir,” an interview with the artist by Alistair Hicks, Senior Curator, Deutsche Bank. From the catalog Sigrid Viir: Selected Works, 2012, published by Temnikova and Kasela Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia.
Sigrid Viir was born in 1979 and lives and works in Tallinn, Estonia. In addition to multiple group exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States, Viir is a member of the highly acclaimed three-artist collective Visible Solutions LLC, whose work is included in Manifesta 9, which takes place in Limburg Belgium, June – September 2012. In May 2012, Viir was the recipient of the Pulse Prize, given every year in recognition of an outstanding solo project in the New York art fair. Viir is represented by Temnikova and Kasela Gallery in Tallinn, Estonia.

For more information, please contact Edward Winkleman at 212.643.3152 or info@winkleman.com.