Art Criticism

The Art of Labour: “Field Notes and Extracts” at MoCADA

Field Notes: Extracts, an exhibition that ran from June 18 through September 27, 2015 at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, offered the idea of note-taking as a conceptual frame for the interpretation of artworks from and about the Caribbean. In a roundtable with the artists on June 20, curator Holly Bynoe posed the question: “to what extent can art work as a documentation of a felt experience?” The word ‘work’ here reflects a unifying ethical concern implicit in this widely varied collection of pieces. What the show does is refuse to sever the art object from its labour—of feeling, of absorbing, of interpreting, of crafting—that preceded it, and instead present the process as still happening… Read more at ARC Magazine

bradford young at bethel tabernacle ame church

Bradford Young’s three-channel film Bynum Cutler, installed at the Bethel Tabernacle AME Church in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, was presented as one of four site-specific works making up “Black Radical Brooklyn: Funkgodjazzmedicine,” a group exhibition organized and sponsored by Creative Time and the Weeksville Heritage Center. The projects all took place within walking distance of Weeksville, which encompasses three restored homes originally belonging to an independent black community founded in 1838 by former slave James Weeks….Read more at Art in America

“the shadows took shape” at studio museum in harlem

John Akomfrah’s 1996 documentary The Last Angel of History begins with a man standing in a flooded, sun-filled trailer park narrating the legendary tale of blues musician Robert Johnson’s life. Johnson is said to have traded his soul for the spirit of music at a crossroads in Mississippi; he died in 1938 at age 27. From this myth, the narrator derives an image of Black redemption: “If you can find the crossroads . . . if you can make an archaeological dig into this crossroads, you’ll find fragments, techno-fossils. And if you can put those elements, those fragments, together, you’ll find a code. Crack that code and you’ll have the keys to your future.”…Read more at Art in America

pablo helguera at kent fine art

For the exhibition “Librería Donceles,” Pablo Helguera installed a functioning Spanish-language used-book store in the large front room at Kent Fine Art. Sales were pay-as-you-wish, and proceeds went to Spanish literacy programs. The shop-named for a street in Helguera’s hometown of Mexico City-was furnished with all the accoutrements one might expect in such a venue, if one were to exist in New York City. However, there is not one used-book store serving New York’s Spanish-speaking population of nearly two million, a fact that provided the motivation for this piece…Read more at Art in America

imperfect pitch: in search of sound at moma

As a rule, sound infiltrates space, and the nearby listener can’t help but inhabit what is heard. Sound can grate upon or delight one’s immediate, internal presence in a way that visual information cannot. The implementation of its unique influence for investigatory aesthetic aims has been a concern of the sound art genre since its emergence via Dada and Surrealist movements early in the 20th century. Soundings—MoMA’s first show to present sound art exclusively—clings to the museum’s typical foregrounding of the image, exhibiting work that demands visual appraisal as much as it demands close listening.  This fidelity to visual media impedes the expressive capabilities of the works as sound. In this way, the show fails to make clear the unique influence that sound wields as a reservoir of meaning left largely untapped in our image-laden culture…Read more at Art Critical