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    ‘I Had Never Seen Anything Like It Before’: Steve Martin on the Spark That Led Him to Become One of the Top Collectors of Australian Indigenous Art

    Steve Martin has been back in the headlines of late, thanks to his leading role in the hit Hulu comedy Only Murders in the Building. But he also has a star turn this fall at the National Arts Club in New York, which is presenting a small but striking exhibition of Indigenous Australian art from the actor’s personal collection.
    Titled “Selections from Australia’s Western Desert: From the Collection of Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield,” the show features six works from among the 50 or so contemporary paintings by Indigenous Australian artists that Martin has purchased with his wife since 2015.
    The couple’s passion for this still rather obscure area of contemporary art got its start at Salon 94 on the Upper East Side, which at the time was presenting the first U.S. solo show for Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri. Martin read about the show in the New York Times, and was immediately intrigued. “I got on my bicycle, and I went down, and I bought one,” he told Artnet News.
    Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri, Rockholes and Country Near the Olgas (2008). Collection of Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield.
    Martin, of course, had been collecting for years, starting out with a James Gale Tyler seascape he picked up at an antique store for $500 at age 21 and still owns; today, he estimated, it has dipped in value to $300. (Martin’s next acquisition, a print by Ed Ruscha of the Hollywood sign, has probably fared better over the years.)
    The love affair with Indigenous Australian art, however, was something of a slow burn for Martin and Stringfield.
    “We hung it, we loved it, but we didn’t really think about it for a few years. But there is a whole culture around these paintings, and slowly, through osmosis, I began to learn more and more,” he said. “The history of Indigenous painting only goes back to about 1970—before that it was sand painting, wall painting, carving, and this was the first time these images could be set down in a permanent way.”
    Making lasting, portable works that could be sold was transformative for the Indigenous art community—and brought something brand new to the art world, a movement that became known as Desert Painting.
    “I think it’s such a fascinating story,” Martin said. He also appreciated collecting in an area where there wasn’t a huge amount of established scholarship.
    “It’s fun to have something to study, to try to understand, to apply your critical eye to without any outside pressure,” he added. “There’s not a lot of promotion about [these] artists. You just have to find it out yourself.”
    Slowly but surely, Martin began buying more and more Indigenous art, even traveling with Stringfield to Australia. (Though they didn’t make it to the Outback, they visited a center where working artists create their paintings.)
    Carlene West, Tjitjitji. Collection of Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield.
    They also met Indigenous artist Yukultji Napangati when she visited New York a few years ago and had her over to dinner.
    “She made my daughter a family member, which was quite an honor, and I played the banjo,” Martin said. “Yukultji is quite a historical figure. She was one of the Pintupi Nine, and came in from the Outback when she was 13—had never seen a white man, had never seen a car—and then became a notable painter.”
    As Martin and Stringfield’s holdings in Indigenous art grew, so too did their desire to show them to the world. To start, Martin staged a small show at the Uovo storage facility in Queens for friends and family.
    Word got out. Next came an outing at Gagosian—nothing for sale, of course—that showed in both New York and Los Angeles, and an exhibition at the Australian counsel residence in New York. (That showed paired Martin’s collection with works owned by John Wilkerson, whose collection focuses on smaller, earlier works on board, before Indigenous artists got access to canvases.)
    These days, Martin and Stringfield are winding down their active collecting.
    “Our indigenous art collection is pretty dense—there’s not much left to acquire. Right now, we are just having fun moving works around,” Martin said. “I love to rotate things. Every time you move a picture, it’s like getting a new picture. You see it anew.”
    And of course, he loves seeing his collection on the walls of the National Arts Club, which is currently presenting works by Tjapaltjarri, Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri, Timo Hogan, Carlene West, and Doreen Reid Nakamarra.
    “It’s an unpredictable melange of pictures. There’s some later ones—Timo Hogan is very contemporary,” Martin said, adding that “in the Australian Indigenous art world, a 50 year old is considered a young painter.” Hogan is 49.
    “I’d like people to be able to see the National Arts Club show because it’s very, very unusual,” he added. “And I hope they have the same experience I did—I had never seen anything like it before.”
    “Selections From Australia’s Western Desert From the Collection of Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield” is on view at the National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South, New York, New York, September 12–October 27, 2022. 
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    See the Hypnotic Immersive Experiences Coming to Frameless, the U.K.’s First Permanent Home for Experiential Art

    The first permanent space dedicated to immersive art experiences is opening in London this October, and it is a whopping 30,000 square feet.
    Frameless, located in Marble Arch, invites audiences to experience interactive presentations of some of the public’s best-loved masterpieces by historical artists like Klimt, Cézanne, Monet, van Gogh, Dalí, and Kandinsky.
    These will be housed across four galleries decked out with state-of-the-art technology. On the opening night, one of these spaces will be filled with 360-degree landscapes, cityscapes, and seascapes by an assortment of artists including Cézanne, Canaletto, Turner, and Casper David Friedrich.
    The other three will be used to bring to life Edvard Munch’s Scream, with music to heighten the emotion tension, Monet’s The Waterlily Pond: Green Harmony, and Kandinsky’s jazz-inspired Yellow, Red, Blue.
    Frameless anticipates becoming one of London’s major cultural landmarks, and if it does so this will reflect the craze for immersive experiences in recent years as they reimagine familiar works of art for new audiences. The exhibitions have typically been temporary, but their popularity has seen the sector receive a huge boost in funding from investors meaning that we may yet see more permanent spaces like this one, which was modeled on Paris’s L’Atelier des Lumières.
    Frameless opens to the public on October 7, 2022. See images of the digital immersive art exhibition space below. 
    Gallery Munch at Frameless UK. Photo: Jordan Curtis Hughes.
    Gallery Monet at Frameless UK. Photo: Jordan Curtis Hughes.
    Gallery Monet at Frameless UK. Photo: Tom Dymond.
    Frameless Digital Immersive Art Experience. Photo: Paul Musso.
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    ‘Risks Come With the Concept’: Documenta 15’s Curators Reflect on a Controversial, History-Making Show

    How long is 100 days?
    If you are the organizers, artists, and media representatives involved with Documenta, an exhibition in Kassel, Germany, that is known as the “100-day museum,” it can feel long.
    There are the years of preamble, planning, anticipation, and research; then, there was the pandemic.
    But when the Indonesian collective ruangrupa finally opened their exhibition in June, 100 days suddenly seemed rather short. The show’s organizing principle was the word lumbung, which means a communal rice-barn in Indonesian. In that spirit, the show empowered each participant to recruit their own partners and collaborators—resulting in a staggering 1,500 contributors.
    There were vegetable gardens to plant, pieces of furniture to make, kitchens and schools to operate, and karaoke to sing. A stream of events washed over the city and around the world as the collective exhibition of collectives rippled outward. Documenta was in a hectic, but nevertheless dynamic, state of becoming. A hundred days can be short when the days and nights are long and full, in a show that deconstructed a valiantly German institution unlike any had before it.
    Then there were the scandals. Some of the curators and artists came under suspicion for their views on the pro-Palestinian movement, BDS. A space was vandalized. Conversation seemed impossible on either side. In June, the public noticed antisemitic figures in a work by the Indonesian collective Taring Padi. After closer review, the mural was removed. Journalists and onlookers critiqued the curators and their concept, as they had been for months, for opening the door to harmful imagery and oversights. Ruangrupa and the artists apologized, but the damage was done, and questions around it remained at the forefront of the conversation. An artist and an external adviser withdrew; an official lost their job. There was valid anger incited by missed communication and miscommunication.
    Artnet News spoke with ruangrupa—a collective with a fluctuating cast of around 10 members—about the show that will likely change the course of Documenta. As the hundred days comes to a close on Sunday, September 25, one of the the group’s members reflected on the experience from Kassel. In keeping with ruangrupa’s ethos, they declined to be named and spoke for all of the members collectively.
    German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier stands next to Arif Havas Oegroseno, ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, in front of the Museum Fridericianum at the opening of Documenta 15. (Photo by Swen Pförtner/picture alliance via Getty Images)
    How is the collective feeling as this show comes to a close?
    There is a bit of sadness because the process has ended. Some of us are sad to leave Kassel and move on to other things. We are having farewell drinks and dinners now. A couple of days ago, one of the Lumbung program team members made a poster of the events during the course of the show—there are more than 1,200 lines of events listed. This habit is becoming contagious and so the goal is to keep collaboration going in various forms—we have already been thinking for a while about the next iteration of Lumbung. But we also need rest.
    Understandable—you have been working in this collective way for many years, but Documenta 15 was certainly the most ambitious iteration of it. There must have been a sharp learning curve. Is there something that you wish you had done differently in terms of the show’s structure, looking back from this point in time?
    Scale. We should have known better and we should have listened to ourselves more. Back when we were only the 14 Lumbung members, there was some fear that we would not be able to fill the space with works. We should have been much more steadfast back then. We knew it was going to be enough work, and we knew how this process would end as we kept expanding invitations. What happened was that it became too big for a lot of people, including ourselves: 1,500 names with 32 venues and 1,200 and counting events. It’s not that we want to cover and know everything, but it does seem the intimacy of experience was affected. We didn’t want people to have to run around to catch everything. That habit to just spend time in one or two venues and get to know a few projects, that is not a biennial habit. But we should have listened to ourselves.
    Documenta 15: Wajukuu Art Project, Ngugi Waweru, Kahiu kogi gatemaga mwene, 2022, Installation view, documenta Halle. Photo: Nicolas Wefers
    I really liked that about Documenta 15. There was no possibility to have a complete view—that was an interesting and healthy challenge for art viewers. However, on the other hand, as curators you cannot have a view into everything that is going on.
    We knew that it was going to be like this. We discussed it a lot. We also had an uneasiness with calling ourselves curators and we avoided the term when we could. Of course, 1,500 artists was surprising—1,200 events were surprising. But the [relinquishing] of control was intentional. We were not trying to have singular authorship, and that meant cascades of invitations, it meant openness. It meant spontaneity. It is hard to deal with it in terms of production though, because the people we are inviting expect openness and improvisation from production teams. To translate this way of working into an exhibition-making logic—this is the clash of systems. We learned a lot from this incompatibility.
    Do you have a sense that Documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH, the parent company and organizers of the show, learned from you? Were they able to be flexible enough?
    Everyone learned a lot. The result of these lessons, we cannot predict yet. 
    The supervisory board consists mainly of politicians. They are the executives who have the habit of using external finding committees to find the next directors for Documenta. They selected us, and then we all had to learn how to work together. 
    Our question now is what will happen after this edition: [Documenta’s board and finding committee] could go to both extremes, and either go very traditional in their next selection or surprise everyone, which is what they did after Documenta 14, and push the envelope even further. 
    Documenta 15: Baan Noorg, The Rituals of Things, 2022, Installation view, Fridericianum. Photo: Nicolas Wefers
    Circling back to the issue of scale, I heard there was a lot of pressure on production teams and other workers in the show because of the exhibition’s size. How were you able to mitigate this?
    It is something that we learned by doing. We understand the pressure they were under. And that is why the scale was our biggest point of learning. It became too big. So, we talked to the mediators, the guards. But within the structure, our power and knowledge were limited. Yet these problems are not new and this happens everywhere—that people in the art fields are underpaid, overworked, not being cared for enough, not feeling safe enough. But we were not able to deal with it structurally either. We met the mediators five weeks before the show opened to try to be better at this, but there were several things that could not be solved quickly enough. We should have asked to see the books about what everyone was being paid and demanded more transparency. Now, a group of the mediators are going to be making a publication with  [Documenta 15’s in-house] Lumbung Press that will be a reflection on this.
    I wonder if you think that the scale of the show caused oversights that you may have otherwise been able to avoid—to be more specific, checking artwork for possible problems.
    For us, risks like this come with the concept. We practice trust fully, because we work with those who we trust. The risk comes with the trust—it is two sides of the same coin. The thing that we can do better in the future is to actually push conversations when problems happen, doing it with the politicians, with the management, so that we are a united front. Not being taken by shock, which is what happened to us with Taring Padi’s work People’s Justice.
    Documenta 15: Taring Padi, Sekarang Mereka, Besok Kita (Today they’ve come for them, tomorrow they come for us), 2021, Installation view, Kassel. Photo: Frank Sperling
    Do you regret canceling the “We Need to Talk” series that was planned for April? [After facing accusations of anti-semitism and bias around chosen panelists, Documenta 15 decided to cancel a talk series that sought to address anti-Israel, antisemitic, anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim issues.]
    If it would have happened, it would have been very different. I think there would have been a shift. But now we can only imagine and we cannot turn back time. I do not think we could have done things differently even then though, given the people we had invited to the panel, and the intentions behind the series. But it is regrettable that it didn’t happen.
    I interviewed Taring Padi. They said that they did not appropriately consider progressive Jewish populations’ perspectives as being victims of oppression. I wanted to ask ruangrupa about that. I know that Documenta 15 was in many ways about platforming artists at the margin, about creating productive and safe spaces. Was the perspective of Jewish positions considered, and was the safety of viewers, including Jewish ones, appropriately considered?
    There are a lot of lessons, like the one Taring Padi mentioned, that all of us can and must keep on learning. 
    There are those who are Jewish in various groups of artists at Documenta who did not want to come out because of this [Artnet News asked Documenta to verify this, but did not hear back by publishing time. This story will be updated]. And, of course, Jewish identity is not a monolith in itself. The way we look at things is not first and foremost about biographies, but rather about how certain practices can sustain themselves. In the case of [Documenta 15 participants] Party Office [who pulled out of an event after members were harassed in Kassel], for example, they do talk about identity and their struggles with that as a part of their work. But, for us, we did not seek that out as content—because we did not start with a list of issues to represent.
    For us, it was about the way of working and the way of survival and the lessons we want to learn from [participants]. Whether that strategy was enough, that is something that we are now reflecting on. It is going to have to be different for us going forward. 
    Documenta 15: The Question of Funding hosts Eltiqa, 2022, Installation view, WH22, Kassel. Photo: Nils Klinger
    One thing for sure is that structurally, we have to prepare better for conflicts that might arise. We have nothing against Jewish voices and all the different kinds of struggles. We did not try to suppress or overlook anything. But we do not talk about all the issues in the world. This is not a world exhibition like the Venice Biennale where we try to represent everyone—that is not our logic. We did not touch on Russia and Ukraine directly, for example. The process made it this way. But then again, how to deal with localities and problems that can arise locally, this can be done better.
    If we flipped it, this could happen in Indonesia in different ways, for example in regards to the local issues around communism or LGBTQIA+ issues. These are not issues that our society is comfortable talking about and looking at. We know that we need to treat certain things differently in other countries.
    The illusion of the freedom of art is being brought into question. Let’s call a spade a spade: If it is not fully free, then do not call it free. Do not give that illusion.
    Documenta 15: Hamja Ahsan, documenta Fried Chicken, 2022, Installation view, Fridericianum, Kassel. Photo: Frank Sperling
    One can imagine that when it comes to artistic freedom, things can go too far.
    Conceptually, artistic freedom is great. The limit is rather how you deal with others. If we want to talk about the freedom of art in places where we are coming from in the Lumbung community, we fight for it, but we know it is never going to be there. So for us, it is rather a utopian ideal. If we are going to go for it, we need to think about the structures that can make it happen.
    There are many illusions—the illusions of freedom and the closeness to politicians. These factors canceled each other out. Something like Documenta can be seen as a state project. Had we seen it like this from the get-go, things would be different. That understanding came late for us. We’ve done other biennials where it is very clear that it is a state project, like the Singapore Biennial or the Gwangju Biennale.
    You did not think of Documenta as a state project?
    Not the way it is reproduced in how Documenta communicates itself, how it was framed, and how we understood it. It was as if, for the artistic direction, the sky’s the limit. There is the illusion of the big budget and the team’s freedom within that.
    In the end, because of what has happened, we have to be mindful as well about different political parties we are dealing with that are sitting on Documenta’s advisory board. We didn’t vote for them, we did not grow up in this system. In any case, we still had to go to the Bundestag [Germany’s federal parliament]. This really became something else. If we had come with the awareness that it could have become like that, many things would have been different.
    Ade Darmawan, spokesman for the curatorial collective Ruangrupa, speaks on the topic of “Anti-Semitism in Art” at a panel discussion organized by the Anne Frank Educational Center and the supporting organization documenta gGmbH. Photo by Swen Pförtner/picture alliance via Getty Images.
    Can you speak about the experience of going to the Bundestag?
    The invitation came for only one of us, and Ade Darmawan went as our representative. The invitation came for other members of the board as well.
    Of course, none of us speak German properly, so there is always a translation barrier, [but] we decided to go because we knew it was not polite to say no to an invitation like this. We knew it would be read differently, and we are not hiding. We asked for time to prepare. We asked for translators, so everyone could speak their own language.
    Many of us went with Ade to Berlin for moral support. Luckily, we did that because I wouldn’t be surprised if it had felt to him a bit like being on trial in a foreign country.
    A controversy around another work in the show, Tokyo Reels Film Festival, is playing out as we are speaking. A Documenta panel convened to review the show recommended “immediate action” be taken over the video by the collective Subversive Film, which comprises clips of pro-Palestinian propaganda from the 1960s to 1980s. It was ultimately Taring Padi’s decision to remove their work, but this time, your tone changed—it seemed that you began to feel censored. Is that correct?
    We could call the issue around Taring Padi censorship as well. But through talking to them, as you know from speaking with them, they felt that it was an oversight from their side. None of us played the blame game, and we absorbed the responsibility collectively; it is an oversight from our side as well. With everyone, including management, we discussed what could be done: covering it up first. Then, we heard from the different organizations, the board and the documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH, that there was a request to take it down. Taring Padi complied—they did not want the issue to overshadow [the rest of the exhibition].
    But it has been different after Taring Padi’s case. With Subversive Film, we talked about it as well, and we knew where we stood, and understood the content. Subversive Film has been writing about it, working with other scholars, and lawyers that have checked the work. In the case of Subversive Film, we did not feel that this was a situation of oversight.
    Documenta 15: Fondation Festival sur le Niger, Yaya Coulibaly, The Wall of Puppets, 2022, Installation view, Hübner Areal, Kassel. Photo: Maja Wirkus
    Do you think that there was enough context for that work?
    We felt that the work was not problematic. Contextualization is part of an artwork, and so the artist should give consent to what kind of contextualization is included.
    People may agree and disagree on whether or not that work should be shown, but there is a connection between Subversive Film’s members and the Japanese Red Army. The Japanese Red Army undertook terrorist activities, including a 1972 bombing in Israel.
    It is not part of the work of Tokyo Reels, which is by Masao Adachi, who did not have anything to do with that. The perpetrators of that incident may have met him but they had nothing to do with the choice of the reels that are shown. There is no connection between Tokyo Reels and the Japanese Red Army… Masao is not part of the making of those reels. Subversive Film understands the problems of a terrorist group, and I think they took care of it very carefully.
    A postered version appeared around Kassel of a meme created by Cem A. artist and curatorial assistant for Documenta 15. Courtesy of Cem A. aka @freeze_magazine. Design in collaboration with Malte J. Richter.
    You rejected, unofficially, a Western notion of an art market or so-called art-world star power. Then, funnily enough, one of the art world’s biggest stars, Hito Steyerl, ended up on the artist list. She later withdrew in July, saying she did not think Documenta 15’s organizers could “mediate and translate complexity,” referring to a “repeated refusal to facilitate a sustained and structurally anchored inclusive debate.” What was your reaction to that?
    Hito came through INLAND [a collective selected by ruangrupa]. She decided and communicated directly to documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH about her withdrawal. It was her right to withdraw. For us, that is totally fine, conceptually and ethically. What could be done better is the communication from her to INLAND and from INLAND to us. We found out about it from an article. That was regrettable.
    I was recently in Munich at Lenbachhaus, which presented a show on the history of Documenta through acquisitions they had made. As I was walking through it, I wondered to myself how this Documenta is being acquired into museum collections. Has the museum world shown support, and are they interested? How will this Documenta be remembered in institutions?
    I have heard about this from different sources, including Lumbung Gallery. The conversations have been happening and are exciting, because we can talk about the notion of collecting differently through nontraditional, time-based acquisition processes. Some museums are more warm to different forms of collecting than others—which is natural. My hope is that we manage to do it and show that acquiring artworks can be done differently and with commitments to the futures of different artistic practices.
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    Here Are 5 of the Most Radical Artist Projects Breaking New Ground at the Istanbul Biennial

    The curators of Istanbul Biennial, which opened to the public on Saturday, September 17, have called for a “great dispersal” and “an invisible fermentation” of art. But what does it mean? One answer is sprawling and varied exhibition sites around the Turkish capital., which is hosting the show until the end of November. It also means that at these locations, identities of artists participating in the show are de-centered—here they are only called contributors. What’s more, the majority of those presenting at the 17th edition of the exhibition are working within clusters of trans-disciplinary collectives beyond the confines of the art world.
    Not unlike the major quinquennial Documenta 15 now on view in Kassel, there is less emphasis on standalone artworks and much more focus on process in a dense show brought together by an international trio of curators, Amar Kanwar, Ute Meta Bauer, and David Teh. Point in case: At the preview days last week, the three spoke about their premise within a gathering of journalists and critics, all of whom were surrounded by the sound and installation of a traditional Turkic healing music concert, brought together by Mariah Lookman.
    From a show which includes 50 projects and 500 contributors, Artnet News selected five standout highlights. These challenging projects demonstrate a particularly powerful level of engagement with environmental and societal concerns and local communities, a crucial underpinning of the exhibition.

    Tarek Atoui
    Whispering Playground
    Photo: Sahir Ugur Eren
    During the opening of Istanbul biennial, Paris-based Lebanese composer Tarek Atoui stood under the echoey dome of the Kucuk Mustafa Pasa Hamam, a Turkish bath, and explained how he had rediscovered the importance of sound when he gave workshops at his son’s kindergarten during the pandemic.
    For his sound-based presentation, Atoui was draped in a long wispy nylon cape while he manipulated wires and microphones that snaked around his installation of flat glass bowls and other instruments. When he spoke to the audience, his voice was rendered through the objects which caused a reverberation of acoustics unique to the historic room. Atoui’s sound manipulations mediated on the sonic possibilities of water: a drip of water was transformed into a shuddering boom.
    By increasing consciousness of the acoustics of water, Atoui offers a listener’s guide to urban development. As a touching work that  indirectly recalls the sociopolitical mess brought on by the 2019 harbor explosion in his home city of Beirut, Whispering Playground asks larger questions about the impacts of urbanization of coastal ecologies—a question that should be central to Istanbul, which sits on the Bosphorus Strait.

    Ursula Biemann
    Vocal Cognitive Territory, Devenir Universidad 
    Photo: Sahir Ugur Eren
    Since 2018, the Zurich-based artist Ursula Biemann has communicated the view of the Inga People of Columbia to audiences across the world with her massive audiovisual installations, distilling the role of the artist as a key witness. Her work is a successful example of what is possible when it comes to intercultural dialog; the artist walks a delicate line between her own artistic interests and the interests and autonomy of the collaborators she engages. 
    For Vocal Cognitive Territory, Devenir Universidad, Biemann has taken over a hall at Gazhane Museum into a walk-in cinema with a multi-channel video work foregrounding interviews with Indigenous Inga leaders beside stunning vistas of Colombian jungles. Biemann platformed speakers like Inga leader Hernando Chindoy Chindoy and Flora Marcas of the Inga Education Team in a project that aims to supplant imposed knowledge systems with more inclusive forms of learning. Underscored by an ambient soundtrack produced by Inga locals, Indigenous educators are calling the project an iteration of a “pluriversity,” an expanded concept of the western university.

    Fernando García-Dory (Inland)
    Bogatepe Charter of Futures
    Photo: Sahir Ugur Eren
    The effect of García-Dory’s installation is both immediate and vital, as it partly consists of perishable ingredients derived from a number of material-based workshops made in close collaboration with the far-flung Turkish village of Bogatepe. The installation Bogatepe Charter of Futures consists of video and sculpture on view the Gazhane Museum, and it is a like-minded companion piece to Cooking Sections’s Wallowland, as it looks to Turkey to spotlight alternatives to land management and community development.
    A video of ebullient night ceremonies held by Bogatepe villagers offers a glimpse into the communal living within this remote area. The contrasts between Inland’s materials and the white cube venue. Nearby, papier-mâché sculptures of buffalo heads and a wall of dried herbs with descriptions written in a dialect from the Turkish region of Kars aims to reinvigorate the country’s pastoralist past and present.

    Cooking Sections
    Wallowland
    Cooking Sections. 17th Istanbul Biennial. Photograph: David Levene.
    Along the cafe-lined sidewalks of Bogazkesen Avenue, an exhibition venue called Buyukdere35 buzzes with music from the Thracian region, a geographic area divided between Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey which is also home to displaced Armenians and Kurds.
    To accompany these poignant sounds, London-based duo Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe, also known as Cooking Sections, replaced the interior walls of the venue with mirrors marked with tracings of the Thracian topography for their installation “Wallowland.” Within this inviting space, there is a glass case refrigerating buffalo dairy-based delicacies for public consumption (buffalo herds have migrated across the eastern Balkans into Turkey and back since time immemorial).
    Following the duo’s exhibition at Istanbul’s institution Salt in 2021, this new project continues a collaboration with local ceramicist and archaeologist Basak Gokalsin for their piece The Lasting Pond (2021). Gokalsin’s ceramic pots hold sutlac milk pudding and yoghurt made from the soil of a Buffalo wallow dug, and 1,000 of these vessel grace the venue’s shelves. The presentation is a truly nourishing respite from what is generally a verbose biennial. Its understated servings of clotted cream with honey and rice pudding muhallebi will continue to open a portal of connection between the bustling city and the enduring aspects of the organic environment around it until the end of November.

    Orkan Telhan
    Yenikapı’s Museums
    Photo: Sahir Ugur Eren
    The easternmost reaches of the biennial concludes with a garden-based installation at the Gazhane Museum, in the Asian district of Kadikoy, a series of raised beds, vine trellises, water, and earth containers that exhibit varying flora by interdisciplinary researcher Orkan Telhan.
    Telken’s horticultural installation is accompanied by a book called Museum of Exhalation, which is subtitled “Interviews by non-humans”—it includes a conversation between the legume okra and sociologist Pelin Tan.
    The curators’ initial call for more expansive acts of cultural and ecological dialogue is well-answered by Telhan, whose investigates the very soil of the Yenikapi and Langa regions in the historic peninsula of Istanbul, which feeds back into the works of many other contributors in the show that are working with local flora and fauna. Telhan’s relatively simple construct and writing stimulates viewers to think about the history of Istanbul’s biodiversity, but he also speaks directly to the art world, demanding a revival of museology through the metaphor of the breath. Museums, according to this logic, should inhale decontextualized materialism and exhale collaboration and a communicative presence with all living beings.
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    In Pictures: See How a New Show at LACMA Traces the Evolution of Modern Korean Art

    When we think of Modern art, the innovations of Picasso, Duchamp, Kandinsky, and the Abstract Expressionists are what tend to spring most readily to mind. Now, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is looking to expand our Western-centric horizons with “The Space Between: The Modern in Korean Art,” a first-of-its-kind survey of art production in Korea between 1897 and 1965.
    With over 130 works, the exhibition explores a significant period of upheaval in the country’s history from the Korean Empire (1897-1910), through the Japanese colonial period up to the struggles and aftermath of the Korean War (1950-1953). 
    At this time, the country was newly exposed to foreign cultures and many of the works, which have never before been exhibited outside of Korea, examine how both European and American influences played out there.
    As Seoul plays an increasingly pivotal role in the Asian and international art scenes of today, the show is a chance to see how Korean artists first began breaking with tradition to inform the beginnings of Korean contemporary art.
    “The Space Between” runs until February 19, 2023. See artworks from the exhibition below. 
    Kim Whanki, Jars and Women (1951). Photo: © Whanki Foundation-Whanki Museum.
    Shin Nakkyun, Photograph of Choi Seunghui (1930). Image courtesy of Jipyong Collection, Research Institute for the Visual Language of Korea, Seoul.
    Kim Kwan-ho, Sunset (1916). Photo courtesy of The University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts.
    John Pai, Untitled (1963). Photo courtesy of John Pai.
    Park Seo-bo, Primordials No. 1-62 (1962). Photo courtesy of The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea.
    Han Youngsoo, Near Savoy Hotel, Myeongdong, Seoul (1956). Photo courtesy of LACMA.
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    Here Are 4 Shows Not to Miss During Berlin Art Week

    There is such a wide array of openings, tours, and events packed into the annual Berlin Art Week—which launches today, September 14—that it can feel equally exciting and overwhelming.
    Where should art lovers, collectors, or the curious curator spend their energy? It may be impossible to get to everything on offer in the Germany art capital this week, but as you build up your itinerary, be sure not to skip these exhibitions and events.

    Ian Cheng at LAS
    Ian Cheng, Life After BOB: The Chalice Study (still) (2021), real-time live animation. Commissioned by LAS (Light Art Space), The Shed and Luma Arles. Courtesy of the artist.
    The private institution LAS (Light Art Space) has a reputation for putting on extremely ambitious commissions, and Life After Bob is no exception. American artist Ian Cheng, who is an authoritative artistic voice on digital art, is known for his live simulations that ask profound questions about the relationship between technology and humanity. His newest work is on view at the formidably grand, concrete halls of Halle am Berghain. The project, which has been years in the making, explores artificial intelligence and free will through an interactive, shifting cinematic experience, transformed by an algorithmic feed. The narrative will culminate in the possibility of leaving with your own personalized NFT.

    Simone Forti at Neue Nationalgalerie
    Simone Forti. Huddle (1961), performance at Fondazione ICA Milano. Photo: The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Committee on Media and Performance Art Funds. © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
    On loan from MoMa for a short time only is a course-changing work by Simone Forti. The Neue Nationalgalerie, a Modernist glass jewel box of a museum designed by Mies van der Rohe, is a statement location for this very soft and intimate performance piece that dates back to 1961. Curator Klaus Biesenbach (a MoMA alumnus) described Forti as “one of the most important and influential artists that you might not have heard about in Germany.” This is a terrible truth, given that the 87-year-old Jewish-Italian artist fled her home in Florence as a young girl to escape antisemitic persecution. Forti is credited with initiating minimalism and conceptual art as we know it today, and for fans of contemporary performance work, this is educational and essential viewing. Huddle is a part of her “Dance Constructions” series.
    The 15-minute performance will take place from today through Sunday, September 18, every half an hour in the main gallery of the museum. On Friday evening, September 16, Miles Greenberg, a young performance artist who is rapidly gaining major acclaim in the art world, will offer an homage to Forti’s work. More homages are planned for the coming weeks.

    Marianna Simnett at Société
    Marianna Simnett, OGRESS. Courtesy of the artist and Societe.
    Of all the millennial artists growing in prominence at the moment, it is always exciting to see what U.K. artist Marianna Simnett is going to do next; from chapter to chapter of her career, her work is in an entrancing state of metamorphosis. Simnett’s surreal, unsettling world-building probes strange fundaments of the human psyche in a practice that rangers from film, to photography, sculpture and watercolor—and, if you are lucky, a flute performance.
    On the heels of her conversation-sparking presentation of a three-channel video installation at the Venice Biennale—where viewers lounged on a 75-foot rat tail—Simnett is opening her first solo show at gallery Societe, on Thursday, September 15. “Ogress” will consider the eponymous, shape-shifting character of legend. Simnett will also release 100 NFTs on October 6 that multiply an A.I.-generated Athena, another mythological character that transforms across this show.

    Jon Rafman at Schinkel Pavillon
    Jon Rafman Punctured Sky (2021). Video still. Courtesy of the artist and Spruth Magers.
    As a post-internet pioneer, Rafman’s works have never been an easy viewing experience, especially given the artist’s almost anthropological deep dive into the unsettling underworlds of online subcultures, and his ambitious use of virtual production tools. He is presenting two new works at Schinkel Pavillon: Minor Daemon, Vol. 1 (2021) is a dystopian film looking at the intersecting lives of two male characters; Punctured Sky (2021) meanders into the internet’s past and the dark web as a gamer attempts to find a long-lost computer game. Curated by Nina Pohl, the exhibition at Schinkel is presented alongside a solo show by Anna Uddenberg; both shows mark the 15th anniversary of the Berlin institution. Rafman is also presenting a new solo show at gallery Sprüth Magers, Counterfeit Poast, that delves into machine learning and fragmented individuality.
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    A Floral Georgia O’Keeffe Immersive Experience Is Coming to Las Vegas. It Looks… Bad

    The immersive art industrial complex, one of 2022’s defining trends, continues to grow—as does the list of artists whose work has been turned into an “experience.”
    The latest to join that list is modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe, who is the subject of a new ticketed event open now in Las Vegas. It looks like a gas. 
    “O’Keeffe: One Hundred Flowers,” as the show is called, invites viewers into a “virtual garden” where the artist’s many floral paintings come to life via vivid, 360-degree wall projections. The name nods to the seminal book of the same title, a coffee table staple since it was published in 1987.
    Tickets cost $30 and come with timed-entry slots granting visitors 35 minutes inside the 7,000-square-foot event. The experience will be soundtracked by a 12-song playlist of all women artists, including Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors, Annie Lennox’s Georgia on My Mind (subtle!), and Sia’s Chandelier—an homage, apparently, to O’Keeffe’s own status as a trailblazing woman artist. (The playlist is also available on Spotify, where it was no doubt conceived.)

    Meanwhile, $19 specialty cocktails inspired by the flora and fauna of the painter’s work will be available to guests not already intoxicated by the projections. 
    Perhaps the show’s parting gift will assuage some of the cocktail-buyer’s remorse: As the visitors leave, they’ll be given a “package of wildflower seeds ideal for planting and celebrating the legacy of O’Keeffe,” according to a press release, 
    “One Hundred Flowers” takes place at Area15, a new immersive art and entertainment complex located off the Las Vegas Strip. It comes on the heels of two similar events—“Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” and “Klimt: The Immersive Experience”—which just concluded their runs at the site last month.
    Area15 is also home to Meow Wolf’s permanent Omega Mart installation and Museum Fiasco, an immersive audiovisual experience that, per its description, “explores relationships between space, time, and perception.”
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    Groundbreaking Video Artist Charles Atlas Invites You to Step Into His Busy Mind With His Latest Large-Scale Work

    The video artist Charles Atlas opens one of his most ambitious and complex commissions this week at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. Projected on both walls of the institution’s 100-foot-long Main Hall, The Mathematics of Consciousness expands on Atlas’s recurring interests in science, consciousness, and the workings of the human mind.
    Images in the video are drawn from his past and present work, including his collaborations with performers like Merce Cunningham and Kembra Pfahler, and TikTok videos showing viral dance trends. They drift across the walls like fleeting memories or thoughts, while patterns of web-like structures link everything together.
    “I subscribe to that idea that an artist just makes work. It’s up to the other people decide what it means,” Atlas told Artnet News over Zoom as he was finishing the project in his studio.
    While he confessed he was not sure what the final project would look like exactly, he did hope that it would pull together different elements of the various subjects he has been interested in over the years.
    “I wonder what people will get out of it,” he said.
    The installation, which features a score by Lazar Bozic and a specially designed stage by Mika Tajima where performances, talks, and other events will be held, opens on Friday, September 9, and run through Sunday, November 20.
    Charles Atlas testing the projections for The Mathematics of Consciousness at Pioneer Works, July 2022. Photo: Walter Wlodarczyk.
    What first sparked your interest in this project? Was it the space, or the chance to dig into some of your earlier work?
    I went to see a show at Pioneer Works—I’d never been there before—and I was very impressed with the whole institution. What really sparked my interest was the fact that they had a science division. So I thought, “Oh, this is perfect, because then I can draw on that.” And it turns out, my scientific knowledge is so rudimentary—but anyway it was well supported there.
    Things like quantum theory and cosmology, I’ve wanted for years to have it somehow be more a part of my work, because it’s something that I think about.
    Then Gabriel Florenz decided to curate a show of mine, but we didn’t really know where it would be held. When we had our first discussions, we came across the idea of projecting on the whole wall [of the Main Hall], because I done a big projection in Chicago at Merchandise Mart.
    That was much bigger, like two and a half acres. It took 32 projectors. We’re doing this one with two projectors. And we’re kind of starting from scratch. I mean, [Pioneer Works] didn’t have a map of the wall. So we had to make it, and that took about six months.
    Then we did a test and we had to alter it live with software, so it would fit the wall. It’s complicated.
    Test projections for The Mathematics of Consciousness at Pioneer Works, July 2022. Photo: Walter Wlodarczyk.
    You’ve talked about how this project is your biggest challenge. Is that because of its complexity?
    Yeah. I mean, I thought it would be somewhat similar to Merchandise Mart. But with that, I had a template and I just had to fill it in. And, in fact, at Merchandise Mart, the windows are like little holes in the image. Here, the windows are so far apart, you can’t really make an image over them, and have them be part of a whole. So I had to think about it in a whole different way.
    It’s like 26 individual windows, each one has a certain horizontal and vertical place. So if I have to make any changes, it takes forever.
    And it’s not just that each window has its own image. There are also images projected against the wall…
    And sometimes the image grows from the window into the wall. And sometimes it’s the same image on the wall on the window; often it’s different images, but the windows complement.
    Test projections for The Mathematics of Consciousness at Pioneer Works, July 2022. Photo: Walter Wlodarczyk.
    How did you select the images? I noticed some of your earlier work in there, like videos with Merce Cunningham.
    There are several different categories of images. The ones that are about memory, that’s from my archive, and that’s where Merce comes in. I identified people that I’ve worked with and think about. The show up for less than a minute each, so it’s really just a thought.
    And you’ve got more recent things like TikTok dance trends, which people have really embraced. I’ve even taken a class where I learned the Lizzo “About Damn Time” choreography.
    It’s a big contrast. It’s the current media landscape of dance and media. I have 45 different people doing [the Lizzo dance]. There are thousands of them [online].
    Test projections for The Mathematics of Consciousness at Pioneer Works, July 2022. Photo: Walter Wlodarczyk.
    The work is meant to recreate the hemispheres of the brain, so there’s a right and left. Have you split the images up so one side of the Main Hall is more rational and the other is more creative? Or is there overlap?
    There are some images that are symmetrical and some overall. And there’s some that are about the brain or about neurons, there’s some that are about math and numbers, fractals and stuff like that. There’s some that are about, I would say, connected structure. But they appear on both walls.
    The thing is, from inside the building, you can’t really take in the whole wall at once. When I’m working on my computer, I can see the whole wall, so that’s how I’m composing it. But I realized no one can see it that way. So it’s hard to judge timing and how long something should stay on so people can see it fully.
    It sounds like visitors will be walking into your brain in a way.
    Well, I hope they think that. I just don’t know what people are gonna get. I’m really curious to see what people will think of it.
    Test projections for The Mathematics of Consciousness at Pioneer Works, July 2022. Photo: Walter Wlodarczyk.
    The space will also have live performances, which is always a big part of your work.
    Yeah. Different performances and science discussions on the stage that was created by Mika Tajima. I’m doing a performance just before the closing with my longtime collaborator, Austrian musician Christian Fennesz. It’s a dual improvisation; I’m working on my laptop, and he’s playing music.
    I haven’t worked with him for 10 years, but I’ve wanted to. It just happened that he was going be in New York the day before my show closed. I’m very excited about it.
    Have you two discussed what kinds of ideas you want to explore?
    We don’t; typically, on the day of a performance, I rehearse all day and he doesn’t at all. So we just find out what each of us are doing at the performance. He’s so great, it always works out.
    Charles Atlas testing the projections for The Mathematics of Consciousness at Pioneer Works, July 2022. Photo: Walter Wlodarczyk.
    What do your final days look like as you near the opening?
    Last night, I was up all night, because I have a test today. And I was saying to my musician friend, “God, I feel young again. I haven’t stayed up this late in years.” It used to be my normal practice of working overnight. And with every test, I make new versions [of the video].
    Are you planning on tweaking the projection during the run of the show? Or once it’s up, is it done?
    You know, normally, I’m terrible. I like to fix things, even after the opening. But if it’s an edition, and someone buys one, then I stop.
    And are there any other big projects on the horizon?
    What’s next is a big vacation. I’ve been working on this nonstop for a year.
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