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Date created
Tue, Oct 20, 2015
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Image Chris-Burden-Beam-Drop

Chris Burden (1946-2015); Beam Drop, Inhotim, Brazil

In response to the many signs of appreciation over the first art report, I would like to share with you some of my global art travel notes from the second quarter of this year. April started out in Amsterdam where Tino Sehgal enjoys a yearlong exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, showing nearly all of his performances amongst the museums collection in a program that shifts every month. The Dutch subsidiary of Outset had sponsored the performance Kiss(2007), which we had a chance to see one good evening. April also lured me to Milan for the Salone Mobile, where Rem Koolhaas offered me a pre-opening glimpse of his new Fondazione Prada. It was later in June that I had a chance, again under his guidance (and in the co-incidental company of President Barak Obama’s two daughters), to see the finished version of this breathtaking collage of buildings and courtyards. A Giorgio De Chirico painting comes to life. The surreality in Koolhaas’ extensive use of panels made of stabilised aluminum foam mixed with gold leafed facades, as well as the (now defunct) railroad tracks in the background seem only to reinforce this comparison. Late April I flew to Brazil, where I joined Marina Abramovic for the finale of her 3 month long project Terra Communal at the SESC in Saõ Paulo. A strong and well tweaked new adaptation of her Marina Abramovic Method was complimented by an extensive exhibition on her work, from her days with Ulay to the most recent activities, and a program of long durational performances, some lasting the full 3 months of the project. Specifically Grupo EmpreZa is worth mentioning here. GE is a fairly incidental collective of performance artists, working together in a simulacrum of an official commercial enterprise, suits and ties included. Their ingenuity had no boundaries. Blood and intense corporal endurance were only two of the many challenging ingredients. In Brazil I also had a chance to visit the truly incredible outdoor artspace Inhotim near Bella Horizonte. This park, created by the Brazilian businessman Bernardo Paz, contains numerous installations, some open air, some in their own pavilion or in shared spaces. The grounds surrounding these installations and pavilions have been designed by the Brazilian landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994). Burle Marx was also responsible for the impressive design of the boulevard at Copacabana Beach and as a close collaborator to architect Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012). Another great pavilions in Inhotim is for Brazilian artist Tunga. Tunga’s work I first encountered at Art Basel a few years back when curator Gianni Jetzer included the installation Night-and-Day in the Unlimited show, a beautifully haunting video loop overlaid by Frank Sinatra’s crooning song. At Inhotim there was multitude of these kind of surreal installations. Tunga and I later visited the famous Casa de Canoas (1954), the private home of Oscar Niemeyer. The impressive work Beam Drop by the Los Angeles based artist Chris Burden (1946-2015) was my original reason to go to Inhotim. I had visited Burden in his Topanga Canyon Studio a few years back, and got to appreciate these strong works full of vigor and virility. Sadly Chris passed away at the age 69 while I was in Brazil. It made Beam Drop even more indelible that it already was. Later, in Rio de Janeiro I had a chance to meet with Tunga in person, and visited his lush studio near Largo da Barra. There I also met his partner the performance artist Maya Dikstein. Tunga was extremely hospitable and we talked extensively on his work. This 2nd quarter found its apogee in June with the Art Basel|Basel art fair. A very strong fair this year with top quality established contemporary and modern art. It was a feast to walk around. Sadly this could not be said for the 10th anniversary edition of Liste, the alternative fair. Listless is maybe the correct new name. It seems that the satellite fairs are no more able to add a compelling story, be it complementary or in opposition. Inspiring were both Gauguin & Dumas shows at Beyeler. Leaving Basel early to go visit the 56th Venice Biennial entitled ‘All The World’s Futures’ by Nigerian curator Okwui Enwesor As most know, Enwesor made an implied plea in Venice for the inclusion of collective thinking, collective action, and for a rebirth of the conscientious mind in our disordered, fractured global reality. Whether he has fully succeeded in this was hard to gage, because not many of the individual pavilions had bothered to read his premise. Maybe the U.S. selection committee did when choosing performance artist Joan Jonas. A very promising idea, but sadly Jonas herself did not read Enwesor’s proposition. An other small light was the Dutch pavilion where 80+ yr old Herman de Vries brought us awareness and appreciation of natural phenomenon. But whether Enwesor had that in mind can be questioned. In the Italian pavilion and the Arsenale he himself created a very beautiful compilation of unheard voices mixed with strong confirmations of his familiar stance. For me however visiting the Palazzo Fortuny, where Abramovic named the stars, and Pinault’s Punta della Dogana, where embattled Danish artist Dahn Vo (who also showed at the Danish pavilion) made a beautifully curated show, were once again the highlights of Venice. More at the end of the next quarter …