frieze asked critics and curators from around the world to choose what they felt to be the most significant shows and artists of 2005
Oakland-based Aurie Ramirez has been making drawings and watercolours for 20 years but has only recently begun to exhibit in the mainstream art world. She has created an ever-expanding fantasy world where fragments of 18th-century dandyism, neo-Victorian decorum, psychedelia, Venetian masquerade, Glam Rock sex and Punk fetishism are repeated and transformed. Looking at her work is like discovering a new drug.
In Zimbabwe artists live in fear of Mugabe’s secret police, so many young or emerging artists cross the border to South Africa, Botswana and Namibia to sell their work in flea markets. Others have moved farther afield: Tapfuma Gutsa to Austria, Berry Bickle to Mozambique, Munya Madzima to England and Stabile Mlothswa to Holland. Many emerging artists still in the country, such as Danisile Ncube, Charles Nkomo and Zondwa Juma, are restricted by censorship. Tsvangirayi Mkwazhi, for example, had his images removed from his exhibition at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe; similarly, an installation by Alan Mpofu of a public toilet with graffiti about the recent election did not go down well with the authorities. The only form of art that the government approves of is Zimbabwean stone sculpture. Chaz Mariyane’s images are about the abuse of power; he has also designed a series of human rights posters.
Seth Price’s installation in ‘Greater New York’ at P.S.1 was full of promise, as were the short video pieces by Jakup Ferri, presented in various sites around Istanbul, in which the artist, with members of his family, comically enacts the relations that structure an artist’s emergence into the Western art world.
Dutch artist Saskia Olde Wolbers’ video, Trailer (2005) at South London Gallery was the best piece yet from an artist who has yet to receive her proper due Stateside. Kalup Linzy, seen at Taxter and Spengemann in New York and at the Studio Museum in Harlem, casts himself in a variety of roles for his soap-operatic videos, which explore a Southern gay black experience in shades of drag and minstrelsy. Allison Smith’s event, the Muster Project, set on New York’s Governor’s Island, played with the spirit of American Civil War re-enactments, suggesting her as a counterpoint to Jeremy Deller; her Notion Nanny, developed with B+B and shown at London’s Studio Voltaire, took a feminist angle on British craft that recalled Deller’s and Alan Kane’s Folk Archive, shown this year at the Barbican Art Gallery, London.
After photographing the tiny isolated Amazonian village of Nazaré do Mocajuba, the residents asked Alexandre Romariz Sequeira to take their picture. The ensuing photographs were printed life-size on the villagers’ old tablecloths (which the artist then replaced), and hung on the bushes by the Mocajuba river for the community to enjoy. Some of them had never seen a photograph before. One old man said ‘had I this stuff before, I could now have the face of my lost child. All I can remember is him moving around, not his face.’ The photographs will never be sold. They will return to the people of Nazaré do Mocajuba.
In an art world crowded with eager graduates, Peter Gallo’s New York début was refreshing. Gallo (born 1959) had two solo exhibitions in New York in 2005. I organized the first one in May at White Columns; the second opened at the new Chelsea gallery Freight + Volume in November. Gallo’s mercurial and deceptively slight art – which juxtaposes a melancholic world-view akin to that of Joy Division with the dysfunctional aesthetics reminiscent of, say, Forrest Bess or Ree Morton – is littered with literary, art-historical, political and musical references. It’s reassuringly hard to pin down.
Ryan Gander’s video study of a car in a field, Is This Guilt in You Too (2005), is lyrical, vivid and theatrical; it also brilliantly questions notions of storytelling, blind description and subjectivity.
Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith
Albanian Adrian Paci, Lithuania’s Deimantas Narkevicius, Mircea Cantor from Romania and the Turk Fikret Atay all seem destined to consolidate the powerful contribution to metropolitan art made in recent years by artists from Europe’s peripheral regions.
The perverse, animations of Nathalie Djurberg; the spaced-out geometrical sculptures of Tommy Stöckel; Ibon Aranberri’s research into the symbolic language of stagnant political identities; Solmaz Shahbazi’s mining of the privatization of public space and the global influence of Western lifestyles; Kristin Lucas’ reading of everyday myths through her videos and performances; the visual grammar of Luca Bambozzi’s films; the collective interventions/interactions of Oda Projesi; Dan Perjovschi’s satirical rants; Ricardo Basbaum’s effort to integrate an understanding of Brazilian art practices; Paulina Olowska’s romancing of the avant-garde; and the hand-drawn, photo-copy murals of Francesco Ruiz.
It’s hard to determine what makes somebody an ‘emerging artist’ but some names seem worthy of mention. Germaine Kruip’s romantic, molecule-thin institutional interventions feel important right now, as do Steven Claydon’s sculptures, paintings, posters and films, which perform dense explorations of cultural counter-factuals and historical might-have-beens. Also, Patrick Hill, Federico Lamas, Makiko Kudo, Deimantas Narkevicius, Olivia Plender and Phoebe Unwin.
The Kingpins are four women who remodel themselves into drag kings – pirates, slime-toothed ladies and athletes; Nick Mangan’s sculptures made from hand-carved 1970s’ teak serving dishes and hair; Rebecca Ann Hobbs’ photographs of couples in odd poses; Stuart Ringholt’s book tracing his road back from insanity; Monika Tichacek’s dark and sexualized videos; and Emily Floyd’s floor-based installations of carved wooden letters and chalk-toothed rabbits.
Swiss artist Luca Frei’s research into the Swiss sociologist Albert Meister’s alternative culture of free structures was the starting-point for a number of recent works, as was his interest in the ideas of Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff, whose motto ‘Only the conversion of knowledge into action can transform life’ could be applied to Frei.
Aida Ruilova’s videos are concise, percussive narratives that give sound visible form. A founding member of the experimental band Alva, Ruilova premises each of her works on a discrete sound, such as the screeching of metal chains being fed through a pulley, the repetitive drone of an incantation or the scratching of a vinyl record. Her imagery is often fraught – people in the throes of hysteria, alone and contorted by the constraints of strange architecture and a skewed camera angle. Her brief videos recall dream-states you experience when you nod off in broad daylight.
I recently saw the video Otolith (2003) by the Otolith Group/Angalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun (here with Richard Couzins) for the first time. Mixing found footage and personal archive with a compelling sense of rhythm and pace it combines autobiography and fiction; feminism, post-colonial discourse and the optimism of the space race with the futility of a political present and a predictive future of ambient fear and zero gravity. It’s really good.
Emerging artists come from emerging art contexts; their work often conveys the attitude of a small art community reinventing an art discourse on its own terms. During a residency in the Armenian capital of Yerevan, invited by Eva Khachatryan, I came across this connection in the work of artists including Arman Grigoryan, David Kareyan, Diana Hakobyan and Vahram Aghasyan.
I recently saw a list of the cars driven by famous artists. A friend of mine was among them, and they got the make wrong. Some say these lists represent the degree zero of criticism; I actually think they represent a more profane and level-headed approach. Julika Rudelius is based in Amsterdam, works with video and drives a 1980 Ford Mustang.
First published in Issue 96