Best in Show: 2006-10

The penultimate installment of our five part series: the frieze editors select the most significant shows from the past 25 years


Sculpture Projects Münster, 2007, Kasper König, Brigitte Franzen and Carina Plath (various venues, Münster)

Jan Verwoert: ‘What makes the Sculpture Projects exciting is that it seeks to prove the continued relevance of a genre that, by and large, we have come to associate with awkward art in pointless places commissioned by city council apparatchiks. Moreover, it has been argued that in times when corporate forces have turned inner cities into shopping zones, art in such areas only serves as a surface dressing that covers up the effective disappearance of public space. Call it wishful thinking, but against such wholesale dismissals I would still maintain that well-considered art interventions can, in fact, cut through the blandness of gentrified urban environments and rescue a communal space for reflection and commemoration from the atmosphere of oblivion that dominates such surroundings.’

'85 New Wave: The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art', 2007, curated by Fei Dawei and Colin Chinnery (UCCA, Beijing)

Jennifer Higgie: ‘The inaugural show, ‘’85 New Wave: The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art’, included 30 artists (many of whom are now superstars) and 137 works. The exhibition was the brainchild of Fei, who in 1989 moved to Paris, where he introduced members of the Chinese avant-garde to the exhibition ‘Magiciens de la Terre’, held at the Pompidou Centre in the same year. The 1980s in China was a period without galleries or support – financial or otherwise – for art. Nonetheless, it was a time of fertile artistic discovery, a moment that Fei states ‘represented a kind of explosive answer to the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and ’70s, when China was not only cut off from the rest of the world but was also forced to disown and renounce its own culture’.

'WACK!, Art and the Feminist Revolution', 2007, curated by Connie Butler (LA MoCA)

Amelia Jones: ‘How do the feminist artistic practices of the 1960s and 1970s impact on our supposedly post-feminist present, a period in which women artists are woefully under-represented in gallery and museum exhibitions? This month, LA MOCA’s exhibition ‘WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution’ opens a debate about the complex historical legacy of Feminism.’

8th Gwangju Biennial, 2010, curated by Massimiliano Gioni (various venues, Gwangju)

Christy Lange: ‘We ask a lot of biennials – so much, perhaps, that it seems impossible for any curator to fulfil all the hopes we heap upon them. Having recently visited disappointing biennials in Moscow and Sharjah, I was beginning to think that the current models are just too sprawling and ambitious to ever be successful; writing continuously negative reviews was getting depressing. So it’s no overstatement to say that the 8th Gwangju Biennale, ‘10,000 Lives’, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, restored my faith in what a biennial can be.’

Other significant exhibitions:

The Eighth Square: Gender, Life, and Desire in the visual Arts since 1960’, 2006, curated by Frank Wagner (Museum Ludwig, Cologne); ‘Fischli & Weiss: Flowers & Questions’, 2006-7 (Tate Modern, London); 'Sigmar Polke: Rubenspreis der Stadt Siegen', 2007 (Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen); 'If Everybody had an Ocean: Brian Wilson, An Exhibition', 2007, curated by Alex Farquharson (Tate St. Ives, Cornwall); 'Mixed Use, Manhattan', 2010, curated by Lynne Cooke and Douglas Crimp (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid) 'La Carte d’apres Nature’, 2010, curated by Thomas Demand (Nouveau Musée National de Monaco)

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