Critic’s Guide: Condo New York

Highlights from the first edition of Condo New York, a collaborative exhibition by 36 galleries across 16 city-wide locations


Mary Ann Aitken, Untitled, 1989, oil on masonite, 41 x 61 cm. Courtesy: What Pipeline, Detroit

Mary Ann Aitken, Untitled (pink still life), 1989, oil on masonite, 41 x 61 cm. Courtesy: What Pipeline, Detroit

Andrew Kreps hosting What Pipeline, Detroit

Hard is the heart that doesn’t like the late Mary Ann Aitken’s paintings, which themselves are deeply rigorous about their fun. The 1989 still life Untitled (pink still life) counts Elmer’s glue, Cat Chow, spring onions, and both Diet and regular Coke amongst its table of contents. The foreshortened perspective reels us closer to this pastoral about cleaning out one’s cupboards, and the cakey application of oil on masonite gives it a palpable tenderness. That she forages for her subjects in her cupboards and shelves and shed is one part of her sense of humour; another part stems from a kind of innocence. The painting Untitled (wilted flowers) (c.1985–89) presents just that, though a partially obscured red patch in the centre suggests that the painted flowers themselves were once thriving. And can you beat Untitled (cat on green) (c.1985–89)? This kitty’s stupid smile is as guileless as any of the paintings on view. Detroit’s artist-run space What Pipeline paired them with Alivia and Daniel (both 2017) by Dylan Spaysky. Woven from wicker, they’re life-sized statues of the gallerist couple in the nude.


Back: Max Hooper Scheider, Hybrid Kugelhopf III, 2017; front: Mark Prent, Churn, 2017. Courtesy: High Art, Paris 

Back: Max Hooper Scheider, Hybrid Kugelhopf III, 2017; front: Mark Prent, Churn, 2017. Courtesy: High Art, Paris 

Mitchell Algus hosting High Art, Paris

While making the Condo rounds, I ditched a few colleagues to get a toasted coconut cold brew at Starbucks. The deliciously rich by-product of cultural engineering lent an unapologetic indulgence to High Art and Mitchell Algus’ presentation.

There’s a lot of weird stuff in this gallery. A block of frothy resin entombs a bunch of actual sea creatures in Mark Prent’s Churn (2007). Valerie Keene’s relief sculpture inscribes menace in every razor-sharp detail of its abstract composition. Nancy Arlen’s Martian and Glass Cat (both 1981) appear like hunting trophies: the former resembles a severed rhino tusk, the latter a slithering, decapitated eel. Max Hooper Schneider’s regal Hybrid Kugelhopf III (2017) includes mealworms and a Bundt cake replica in its list of materials. And weirdest of all is Dan Burkhart’s Imperial Monitor (2014) an all-yellow bust of a crowned figure, whose exaggerated features seem refined over centuries of Royal inbreeding.


Jean Baudrillard (Chateau Shatto, Los Angeles). Installation view, Foxy Productions, New York

Jean Baudrillard, installation view, Foxy Production, New York. Courtesy: Chateau Shatto, Los Angeles; photograph: Charles Benton

Foxy Production hosting Chateau Shatto, Los Angeles and Sultana, Paris

Chateau Shatto brings three generations of détournement to Foxy Productions showing artists who make vagrant images and interested in mucking up their immediate surroundings. Three framed photographs by theorist Jean Baudrillard introduce the show. Snapshots of late-20th century ideas on speed, their subjects – an airport runway, a car, a crumpled advertisement – are all mediated by some murky atmosphere or texture. Aria Dean’s Dead Zone (2017) captures a branch from a cotton plant underneath a bell jar. The work’s artisanal pedestal conceals a signal jammer, so that viewers can’t dispossess this image of historical Black trauma right into a meme. It dovetails well with Jacqueline de Jong’s On the Countryside Where Life is Sweet (1972), a studio in a suitcase. Two canvases are joined by some hinges: on the left, several days’ worth of diary entries and on the right vignettes depicting famous athletes, radicals, politicians, cats, and the artist reading and masturbating. De Jong was a member of the Situationist International, though this work applies the same street-level approach to the personal. Sultana shares the other half of the gallery, and especially Walter Pfeiffer’s Untitled (1989/2015), a photograph that imparts a pear with supple vulnerability, is the flipside to Chateua Shatto’s cerebral aesthetic. 


Liu Shiyuan, Untitled, installation view, Metro Pictures, New York. Courtesy: Leo Xu, Shanghai

Liu Shiyuan, Untitled, installation view, Metro Pictures, New York. Courtesy: Leo Xu, Shanghai

Metro Pictures hosting Leo Xu Projects, Shanghai

At Metro Pictures is the two-part group show ‘A New Ballardian Vision’, organized by Leo Xu, whose namesake gallery is based in Shanghai. The first floor galleries are dedicated to Metro Pictures artists, with standouts plucked from their back catalogues. A large Jim Shaw work hangs from the ceiling. The title says it all – Dream Object (Hanging legs made out of fiberglass with toes bitten off to demonstrate effect of animal traps) (2007) – though it’s clearly papier mâché and depending on how it dangles, it’s wondrously cartoonish or grudgingly abject. Upstairs is dedicated to Leo Xu Projects’ roster, which steers the show to an apocalyptic urban fringe. Liu Shiyuan’s Untitled (2014) presents digital collages that combine flowers and fireworks, and which appear to correspond to diary entries that span over 100 years. ‘Yesterday was a thoroughly human day,’ opens an entry dated ‘1989 New York’. Both galleries appear to view present times through a technological Rapture. Emblematic of Condo’s overall collegiality, it might be the only time I’m ever permitted to write this: Dear Metro Pictures (and Leo Xu), I’m a fan.


Etienne Chambaud, SET, 2017, engraved pyrite crystal on marl matrix, 7 x 5.5 x 4.5 cm. Courtesy: Labor, Mexico City

Etienne Chambaud, SET, 2017, engraved pyrite crystal on marl matrix, 7 x 5.5 x 4.5 cm. Courtesy: Labor, Mexico City

Gavin Brown’s enterprise hosting Labor, Mexico City

Mexico City’s Labor offers ‘Las Ruinas Circularas’ a group show loosely based on geologic time. Each piece is a little precious: large-scale drawings of rocks by Gala Porras-Kim are somewhat awkwardly tacked up behind an over-complicated system of stanchions and Plexiglas. Etienne Chambaud retrofitted a rock with some flashy, pyrite-looking crystals also designed to look like dice. There’s a big, ol’ painting covered in the ever-beautiful verdigris of oxidized copper, again by Chambaud. Slowness, check. Entropy, check. Process, check. Nicholas Mangan's video A World Undone provides a stunning and peaceful respite from the midday clamour: a dust cloud whirls into various constellations, pulsing between micro and macro perspectives that enhance the darkened room’s already satisfying quiet.

What redeemed the show for me was an experience I had right before I saw it: a crab waddled in front of me on the sidewalk. Fleeing a neighbouring fish market, the fugitive crustacean almost reached the curb before surrendering to a fishmonger’s tongs. Both crabby and the show presented an opportunity to think about a broader ecology, characterized here by the smell of fish.


Steve Bishop, I can’t get started, 2017. Courtesy: Carlos/Ishikawa, London

Steve Bishop, I can’t get started, 2017. Courtesy: Carlos/Ishikawa, London

Bureau hosting Carlos/Ishikawa, London

Arson, murder, ageing, missing-persons, crime, depression, sadism and decay are just some of the themes that unite Bureau and Carlos/Ishikawa complimentary programmes. They share a similar sensibility –horror? gruesomeness? dark humour? – that will leave one tense in the shoulders. I laughed at Fatebe, artist Ebecho Muslimova’s pliantly corpulent proxy, who performs all manner of silly contortions in a series of drawings. But it didn’t feel like an ordinary laugh. Instead, catharsis comes from facing down more discomforting prospects. Steve Bishop’s I can’t get started (2017) distills the dark hole of melancholy into a moody mise-en-scène comprising a breakfast platter with day-old cereal bowl and radio. Really, what’s the use in cleaning up? In Issy Wood’s still I guess family means different things to different (2017), a rabbit looks ravaged by panic, the result of rabies or perhaps some pharmaceutical tests. It is possible, however, to have more sympathy for the rabbit than the mangled baby that dangles at the centre of Discovery of Honey (2017), Lionel Maunz’s fucked-up sculptural allegory. Art holds the potential to dehumanize, but what’s on exhibit is just how slippery that word is. Human.


Harumi Yamaguchi,  Masquerade, 1981, acrylic on board, 42 × 60 cm. Courtesy: Project Native Informant, London

Harumi Yamaguchi,  Masquerade, 1981, acrylic on board, 42 × 60 cm. Courtesy: Project Native Informant, London

Bridget Donahue hosting Project Native Informant, London

Harumi Yamaguchi came of age during the 1970s, pioneering the use of airbrush in commercial portraiture in Japan for the next several decades. Her major patron was PARCO, a cross between a commercial and cultural centre, and she developed what is most accurately described as their whole vibe. She was also part of the ‘Shibuya Girls’, a Japanese feminist movement defined by professional mobility and a prescient, agile, commercial sensibility. But none of these details adequately explain the experience these works, and their fierce femmes, engender. Recourse to the models’ expressions and actions yields little clarity, too. One woman’s eyes are fastened on us, while she crouches in a prowl. Another woman splashes with a garden hose, and looks astounded. Another appears caught in the awkward pause between poses. They all wear silk. It’s all in Yamaguchi’s expert handling of her pen, which flattens every gesture, and makes it feel like veracity is not a matter of lifelikeness, but how directly the image corresponds to your desire. Oh, and the whole room is painted satin pink.

Condo New York runs 29 June – 28 July, 2017. See their website for more details here.

For more current exhibitions in New York head over to On View.

Main image: Dylan Spaysky, Alivia and Daniel, both 2017, installation view, Andrew Kreps, New York. Courtesy: What Pipeline, Detroit 

Sam Korman is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, New York.

Most Read

Ahead of ARCOMadrid this week, a guide to the best institutional shows in the city
A report commissioned by the museum claims Raicovich ‘misled’ the board; she disputes the investigation’s claims
In further news: Jef Geys (1934–2018); and Hirshhorn postpones Krzysztof Wodiczko projection after Florida shooting
If the city’s pivot to contemporary art was first realized by landmark construction, then what comes after might not...
Ignoring its faux-dissident title, this year's edition at the New Museum displays a repertoire that is folky, angry,...
An insight into royal aesthetics's double nature: Charles I’s tastes and habits emerge as never before at London’s...
In other news: Artforum responds to #NotSurprised call for boycott of the magazine; Maria Balshaw apologizes for...
At transmediale in Berlin, contesting exclusionary language from the alt-right to offshore finance
From Shanghai to Dubai, a new history charts the frontiers where underground scenes battle big business for electronic...
Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Bruton, UK
Zihan Karim, Various Way of Departure, 2017, video still. Courtesy: Samdani Art Foundation
Can an alternative arts network, unmediated by the West's commercial capitals and burgeoning arts economies of China...
‘That moment, that smile’: collaborators of the filmmaker pay tribute to a force in California's film and music scenes...
In further news: We Are Not Surprised collective calls for boycott of Artforum, accuses it of 'empty politics'; Frida...
We Are Not Surprised group calls for the magazine to remove Knight Landesman as co-owner and withdraw move to dismiss...
Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film is both gorgeous and troubling in equal measure
With Zona Maco opening in the city today, a guide to the best exhibitions across the Mexican capital
The question at the heart of Manchester Art Gallery’s artwork removal: what are the risks when cultural programming...
In further news: Sonia Boyce explains removal of Manchester Art Gallery’s nude nymphs; Creative Scotland responds to...
Ahead of the India Art Fair running this weekend in the capital, a guide to the best shows to see around town
The gallery argues that the funding body is no longer supportive of institutions that maintain a principled refusal of...
The Dutch museum’s decision to remove a bust of its namesake is part of a wider reconsideration of colonial histories,...
At New York’s Metrograph, a diverse film programme addresses a ‘central problem’ of feminist filmmaking
Ronald Jones pays tribute to a rare critic, art historian, teacher and friend who coined the term Post-Minimalism
In further news: curators rally behind Laura Raicovich; Glasgow's Transmission Gallery responds to loss of Creative...
Nottingham Contemporary, UK
‘An artist in a proud and profound sense, whether he liked it or not’ – a tribute by Michael Bracewell
Ahead of a show at Amsterdam’s EYE Filmmuseum, how the documentarian’s wandering gaze takes in China’s landscapes of...
In further news: Stedelijk explains why it cancelled Ettore Sottsass retrospective; US National Gallery of Art cancels...
With 11 of her works on show at the Musée d'Orsay, one of the most underrated artists in modern European history is...
Reopening after a two-year hiatus, London’s brutalist landmark is more than a match for the photographer’s blockbuster...
What the Google Arts & Culture app tells us about our selfie obsession
At a time of #metoo fearlessness, a collection of female critics interrogate their own fandom for music’s most...
A rare, in-depth interview with fashion designer Jil Sander

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

October 2017

frieze magazine

November - December 2017

frieze magazine

January - February 2018