BURNAWAY’s Best of 2015: Exhibitions

BURNAWAY asked artists, writers, and curators from cities across the Southeast to tell us about some of their favorite shows in 2015. Receiving multiple mentions are exhibitions “Phantom Bodies,” curated by Mark Scala at the Frist Center for Visual Arts, Vadis Turner at David Lusk and Malick Sidibé at Sherrick & Paul in Nashville; and such exhibition venue as the High Museum and MOCA GA in Atlanta. Traveling Southerners also had favorites in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Shanghai, and Vienna.

Let us know what your favorites were in our Comments section!


WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE EXHIBITION WHERE YOU LIVE?


A selection of 40 black and white photographs by Malick Sidibé, which capture the cultural changes in 1960s Mali as the country went from being a French colony to an independent nation, are on view at Sherrick & Paul through January 9th.
A selection of 40 black-and-white photographs by Malick Sidibé are on view at Sherrick & Paul through January 9.

Erica Ciccarone (Nashville)
Writer

Sherrick & Paul is closing out the year with photography by Malick Sidibé. The Malian photographer is famous for documenting youth culture in the ’70s. Sherrick chose a range of photographs, including Sidibé’s portrait photography and small photos encased in handmade and painted frames by the artist.

Jamaal Sheats curated “Topography” at Tinney Contemporary in October and November. The exhibition explored communities across America, nodding at inequalities while acknowledging strength. Not coincidentally, the show exclusively showed black artists. I left feeling moved and humbled and hungry for more work like this.

Vadis Turner‘s “Time of Day” at David Lusk Gallery impressed me with its painterly ways and feminist prodding. Turner’s works are made on canvases woven from discarded fabric; then she weaves, bunches, and tacks on hand dyed ribbon to create wall hangings evocative of iconic women (Eve, Ophelia) while referencing women’s work.

Vadis Turner, Daybreak, 2013.
Vadis Turner, Daybreak, 2013.

The Frist Center for Visual Art’s “Phantom Bodies” exhibition is a monumental last installment in chief curator Mark Scala’s trilogy about the human body. Scala organized the works of 24 artists in four sections, exploring notions of aura and spirit in visual art. As an atheist with zero belief in a soul or afterlife, I expected to be bored, but the exhibition is much more about how we manage our personal and collective grief about the world. It’s at times devastating; Doris Salcedo and Ken Gonzales-Day present work that left me changed. Contemporary art isn’t known for its spirituality, and despite my early misgivings, I loved it.

On Halloween, Seed Space transformed the Track One warehouse into a 19-screen movie theater, projecting films on plastic sheets that hung throughout the expansive space. Called “Deep Play Fun House,” it required viewers to navigate through a labyrinth of videos. Selections were chosen by Brent Stewart and were diverse in theme and style, but all experimental. With a couple of exceptions, they were interesting and fun, and the cavernous warehouse gave the whole event a haunted air.


Fabian Williams's Gossip, 2014, was included in the High Museum of Art exhibit “Sprawl! Drawing Outside the Lines.”
Fabian Williams’s Gossip, 2014, was included in the High Museum of Art exhibition “Sprawl! Drawing Outside the Lines.”

Lisa Tuttle (Atlanta)
Artist, Public Art Administrator at Fulton County Arts & Culture

Sprawl!” at the High Museum of Art, the Hudgens Prize “Finalist’s Exhibition,” everything at MOCA GA, and Jessica Scott Felder at Flux Night.


WERD radio's collection of records at the Madame CJ Walker Museum. (Photo: Brenna Beech, WABE)
WERD radio’s collection of records at the Madame CJ Walker Museum. (Photo: Brenna Beech, WABE)

Daniel Fuller (Atlanta)
Curator at Atlanta Contemporary

Nothing better than the install of the fully functional WERD Radio and Madame CJ Walker Museum tucked in a storefront off of Sweet Auburn.

Rivaling any art experience is Jarrett Stieber, who puts pure fire on the plate at Eat Me Speak Me every weekend.

Jonathan Bouknight’s “Nightingales” at MOCA GA was great.

And, I love how divisive Sol LeWitt’s public sculpture 54 Columns is in the Old Fourth Ward. I can sit on my back porch with a glass of whiskey and watch the sun set on the 54 pillars, which mimic Atlanta’s sprawling skyline.


Vesna Pavlović, Fototeka (Projection Still III), 2015; archival pigment print.
Vesna Pavlović, Fototeka (Projection Still III), 2015; archival pigment print.

Mary Addison Hackett (Atlanta)
Artist

“Phantom Bodies: The Human Aura in Art” at the Frist, curated by Mark Scala. [Spoiler alert: also listed as my favorite exhibition anywhere.]

Gazing Inland” at Coop/Track 13 Gallery was an intimate group exhibit that explored the possibilities of landscape painting and provided an alternative view on a subject that is often dismissed, especially here in the South.

Vesna Pavlović’s “Lost Art” at Zeitgeist Gallery took obsolescent media not known for its inherent sensory aesthetics and turned it into a personal and political commentary that was both sensory and beautiful.


 Michael Velliquette, detail of Their Arising and Passing Away, 2013.
Michael Velliquette, detail of Their Arising and Passing Away, 2013.

Amy Pleasant (Birmingham)
Artist

My favorite was “Michael Velliquette: Desire for Being” at UAB’s AEIVA’s Institute for the Visual Arts. Velliquette’s colorful constructions live somewhere between drawing, painting, and sculpture. This very fresh exhibition at UAB included Michael’s intricate works made from hand-painted paper that play with perception and humor. Also, he gave a great lecture in conjunction with his project at UAB.


"EN MAS'" installation view, (l to r) Lorraine O’Grady’s Looking for a Headdress, 2014, and Nicolás Dumit Estévez’s C Room, 2014.
“EN MAS'” installation view, (l to r) Lorraine O’Grady’s Looking for a Headdress, 2014, and Nicolás Dumit Estévez’s C Room, 2014.

Rebecca Lee Reynolds (New Orleans)
Writer, assistant professor of art history at the University of New Orleans

New Orleans Airlift, Music Box Roving Village: This installation brought together several musical sculptures that the group has been working on with collaborators, set them up in an idyllic and isolated spot in City Park, and hosted special performances. My favorite performance was Arto Lindsay’s closing performance. [Read Rebecca’s review here.]

En Mas’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean,” at the CAC (Contemporary Arts Center): the much-anticipated Carnival-themed exhibition curated by Claire Tancons. Not entirely successful, but worth it for the ambition. [Read Rebecca’s review here.]

Ten Years Gone” at New Orleans Museum of Art and “Reverb: Past, Present, Future” at the CAC: two Katrina-themed anniversary shows, both of which refused to do a straight Katrina show, and spent a lot of time talking about avoiding the expected. [Read Rebecca’s review of “Ten Years Gone” here.]

Norah Lovell, “Reconnaissance: Battle of New Orleans” at Callan Contemporary: A series of 10 vertical gouache paintings that apply a pink and green feminist collage aesthetic to the 200-year anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, a locally infamous episode in the War of 1812 that established Andrew Jackson as our city’s hero (he’s the guy on the horse in front of the cathedral in Jackson Square). Lovell fights back with kittens and alligators and the twin Magafan sisters who painted a WPA mural of the battle.

Peter Hoffman and Ryn Wilson, “Discipline,” at The Front: A show of works on paper by the artist couple. For 22 weeks, the two artists made one drawing a week about an assigned theme. Installed around a mysterious obelisk sculpture, the paired drawings were sometimes goofy or obscure, with sewing and collage and postmodern appropriation. (Full disclosure: Hoffman and Wilson graduated from the program where I teach.)

Honorable Mention: PeralDamour and Shawn Hall, “How to Build a Forest” at the CAC; Jessica Goldfinch, “Miraculous Tales of Nonfiction” at UNO St. Claude Gallery; Katrina Andry, “Initiating Cause and Effect” at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery; Marta Maleck, “9 to 5” at Good Children Gallery; Jane Cassidy, “Frimaire is the Color,” at Luna Fête, Arts Council of New Orleans; and “Tim Youd: 100 Novels” at NOMA.


On view at "Phantom Bodies" at the Frisk is Deborah Luster's LCIW91, 2000, from "One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana."
On view at “Phantom Bodies” at the Frist is Deborah Luster’s LCIW91, 2000, from “One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana.”

Vesna Pavlović (Nashville)
Artist,  assistant professor of art at Vanderbilt University

Virginia Griswold, “Equal Parts,” at the Packing Plant: Delicate ceramic pieces that you want to touch, displayed in the non-formal, industrial setting of the Packing Plant gallery.

“Phantom Bodies: The Human Aura in Art,” at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts: Nashville audiences are able to see some masterful work in this smartly curated exhibition by Mark Scala, such as Ana Mendieta, Janet Cardiff, Shirin Neshat, Teresa Margolles, and local Alicia Henry, among others.

Malick Sidibé at Sherrick & Paul: A selection of vintage and modern photographic prints by West African photographer Malick Sidibé. My favorite is the colorful hand-painted frames of the small vintage black-and-white portraits.

Eric Dickson’s  “War and Rumors of War” at Seed Space: Politically charged sound installation, activated through a set of sensors and speakers resonated in the intimate gallery setting.

Vadis Turner’s “Time of Day” at David Lusk Gallery: Decadent and luscious, these textures and fabrics are at once beautiful and disturbing.


Joe Peragine, Kitten Meadow, 2015; oil on canvas, 11 by 14 inches.
Joe Peragine, Kitten Meadow, 2015; oil on canvas, 11 by 14 inches.

Teresa Bramlette Reeves (Atlanta)
Director of curatorial affairs at the Zuckerman Museum of Art

Iris van Herpen at the High Museum and Joe Peragine at Marcia Wood Gallery.


Greg Pond's Pink Mountain at Seed Space.
Greg Pond’s Pink Mountain at Seed Space.

Joe Nolan (Nashville)
Artist, writer, musician

“Phantom Bodies: The Human Aura in Art” at the Frist Center for Visual Arts; “The Place You Will Wait for the Rest of Your Life” by Greg Pond at Seed Space; “Lumberjack Road” by Tyler Hildebrand at David Lusk: “Semi-Pro No-No” pop-up group show in a garage in the Inglewood neighborhood; and Alex Blau, Richard Feaster and Todd McDaniel at Zeitgeist.


WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE EXHIBITION ANYWHERE?


Stephon Ferguson performed "The Dream Lives," reading excerpts from seven speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo: Terry Kearns)
Stephon Ferguson performed “The Dream Lives,” reading excerpts from seven speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo: Terry Kearns)

Lisa Tuttle (Atlanta)
Artist, Arts Administrator 

Flux Night – I loved the location and amplification of the MLK site. Hope it continues there for a while, and that the MLK Center and the park’s center might open on the same night! Pity it rained, but made for some beautiful, moody photos. Ambitious and worthy effort!


 

Inside the Power Station of Art during the Shanghai Biennale.
Inside the Power Station of Art during the Shanghai Biennale.

Daniel Fuller (Atlanta)
Curator at Atlanta Contemporary

This is a tough one. So much super-cool stuff…

The most incredible place I visited this year was the Johnson Publishing Library (Stony Island Arts Bank, Rebuild Foundation) in Chicago. This stunning space houses a 15,000-book collection, including every issue of JET and Ebony magazine. A must see.

The 2015 Shanghai Biennale was curated by one of my favorite curators that I admire from afar, Berlin’s Anselm Franke, and the show in the absolutely enormous Power Station of Art was everything I dreamt it would be.

Christopher Knowles: In a Word” at the Institute of Contemporary Art, the University of Pennsylvania: Lovely language.

Commercial gallery winner was Wolfgang Tillmans’s “PCR” at David Zwirner in New York City. Huge for a commercial space (100 works). It was poetic, punk, political, romantic. So good.


Kahlil Joseph's m.A.A.d at MOCA, LA.
Kahlil Joseph’s m.A.A.d at L.A. MOCA.

Mary Addison Hackett (Nashville)
Artist

“Phantom Bodies: The Human Aura in Art.” Seeing familiar works presented in the context of Mark’s show was like stepping into an exhibit where time and space were compressed and re-contextualized. Great example of curatorial vision.

Kahlil Joseph: Double Conscience” at MOCA Los Angeles was a favorite solo show. It was a double-screen projection depicting day to day life in predominantly African American neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The lush footage was accompanied by a hip-hop track. Mesmerizing and contemplative.

Roger Brown, Chicago Hit by the Bomb, 1985; oil on canvas, 48 by 72 inches.
Roger Brown, Chicago Hit by the Bomb, 1985;
oil on canvas, 48 by 72 inches.

Amy Pleasant (Birmingham)
Artist

Horace Pippin at the Brandywine Museum in Philadelphia and Roger Brown at DC Moore Gallery and Maccarone Gallery, both in New York City.

The Broad Museum in Los Angeles, designed by Diller Scoficio + Renfro.
The Broad Museum in Los Angeles, designed by Diller Scoficio + Renfro.

Rebecca Lee Reynolds (New Orleans)
Assistant professor of art history at the University of New Orleans

The Broad Museum, Los Angeles: A trip to Los Angeles this fall gave me the opportunity to check out the recently opened museum, housed in a spectacular Diller Scofidio + Renfro building. The show is the inaugural installation of the permanent collection, which reads like a walk-through of post-1945 contemporary art. My favorites were Ellen Gallagher’s DeLuxe project, Robert Longo’s 2014 drawing after a photo of police in Ferguson, my 45 seconds in Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room (the time is strictly policed by staff), and listening to the musicians in Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors, a nine-channel video installation.

Ragnar Kjartansson, The Visitors, 2012; still from video of a 64-minute performance.
Ragnar Kjartansson, The Visitors, 2012; still from video of a 64-minute performance.

This is more of a moment than an exhibition: joy and despair. Struggling to put my feelings about the Emanuel AME massacre into words while gallery-sitting at UNO St. Claude Gallery this summer, I discovered Edra Soto’s audio artwork Excess of Joy, which is simply a record of laughter (for the exhibition that she curated, “SPECTRA”).


Olafur Eliasson's "Baroque, Baroque."
Olafur Eliasson’s “Baroque, Baroque.”

Vesna Pavlović (Nashville)
Artist,  assistant professor of art at Vanderbilt University

Olafur Eliasson’s Baroque, Baroque at the Winter Palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy in Vienna, Austria, was a beautiful, playful, and perception-challenging site-specific light installation in the Baroque setting of the palace.


Walid Raad, Hostage: The Bachar Tapes, 2001; Video.
Walid Raad, Hostage: The Bachar Tapes, 2001; video.

Teresa Reeves (Atlanta)
Director of curatorial affairs at the Zuckerman Museum of Art

Walid Raad at MoMA was engaging on multiple levels.


Be sure to check back this week for more of BURNAWAY’s Best Of 2015, including highlights and significant news stories, top cultural experiences, favorite reads, and looking ahead to what is on the radar in 2016!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Stories:

Tags:

Comment(1)

  • Temme Barkin-Leeds
    December 26, 2015 at

    Larry Anderson at MOCA GA. The exhibition of Rodin’s maquettes at the Rodin museum, Paris.

Leave a comment

1 Comment