Johanna Destinyman is a writer, art critic and musician based in New York. She is co-editor of art forum and regularly writes art reviews for the New Yorker and 4 columns. After a seventeen-year hiatus, her band Le Tigre is going on tour in 2023.
Yvonne Rainer, HELLZAPOPPIN’: WHAT ABOUT THE BEES? (NEW YORK LIVE ARTS/PERFORMA, NEW YORK)
Central to this self-injurious exploration of anti-Black racism was the choreographic resolution of a dance performed by Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers in a 1941 film. Rainer announced Hellzapoppin’ as her last work, but the radical anti-virtuoso rejected the fanfare of a grand finale, leaving us instead another searching procedural performance – text, film and movement together – symbolic of the mind-body rigor of her long, grand career.
“JUST ABOVE MIDTOWN: CHANGING SPACES” (MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK; CURED BY THOMAS [T.] JEAN LAX WITH LILIA ROCIO TABOADA IN COLLABORATION WITH LINDA GOODE BRYANT AND MARIELLE INGRAM)
One could say that this extraordinary historical exhibition, a tribute and reactivation of the eponymous New York black art space of the 1970s and 80s, is overdue. But it’s not too late to include accompanying performances by some of the brilliant personalities that have been nurtured by JAM and its founder, Linda Goode Bryant. Can’t wait for Senga Nengudi Fittz and Kaylynn Sullivan’s new play TwoTrees, which is slated for the final weeks of the show.
On view until February 18, 2023.
LORENZA BOTTNER (LESLIE LOHMAN MUSEUM OF ART, NEW YORK; CURED BY PAUL B. PRECIADO)
As a dancer, painter and public performer, the trans-Chilean artist who lost both arms in a childhood accident has placed her joyously embodied self-concept at the center of her amazing work. “Requiem for the Norm,” curated by Paul B. Preciado, showcased the scope of her liberating practice with context and detail. A gift.
VINCENT VAN GOGH AND JUST STOP OIL ACTIVISTS (NATIONAL GALLERY, LONDON)
I don’t like museum food as a trend – high risk, diminishing returns – but the fiery haze of tomato soup on the glass of the modern master’s vision in margarine and chartreuse has captured my heart. The brave young protesters showed the world what is valued and protected by those in power and what, of course, is not. The photo-friendly diversion was always intended to be temporary. The slogan “No Art on a Dead Planet” is a dire warning, not a threat from a vandal.
JASON ALLEN (COLORADO STATE FAIR, PUEBLO)
But maybe machines will continue to make art after we die out. The blue ribbon winning canvas Theater d’Opera Spatialonly later revealed to be AI-generated (on Allen’s advice), seems to depict the kingdom of Westeros mixed with the planet Giedi Prime, I don’t know, Degas/Rembrandt style – an intriguing artifact of the late Anthropocene.
BEN DAVIS, ART IN POST CULTURE: CAPITALISTIC CRISIS & CULTURAL STRATEGY (HAYMARKET BOOKS)
But seriously, Davis’ collection of superlucid writings was my go-to place in 2022 to reflect on the impact of AI, climate catastrophe, and QAnon, among other things.
CHARLES ATLAS (PIONEER WORKS, BROOKLYN; CURED BY GABRIEL FLORENCE)
In the artist’s expansive multimedia installation The Mathematics of ConsciousnessProjected onto twenty-six blacked-out windows, decades of innovative work in synaptic bursts and theta waves offered a sort of time-lapse overview of an awe-inspiring visual universe that included Atlas’ dance-film collaborations with Merce Cunningham, moody passages of animated abstraction and the performance-for -Camera craze from TikTok.
E. JANE (THE KITCHEN, NEW YORK; CURATED BY LUMI TAN AND SIENNA FEKETE)
For the moving exhibition “Where there’s love overflowing”, visitors downloaded an app that turns smartphones into filters – or portals. Point your device at drawings decorated with song lyrics The Wizard (the 1975 musical written, directed and performed by black creators) triggered an animated layer of butterflies, birds and text; If you staged it further up, you were sent to a Vimeo reel with standout renditions of the show’s ballad “Home,” a dream of belonging.
SIERRA PETTENGILL, Riotville, USA
Arriving in the wake of Nathan Fielder’s tragi-comic hit series The samplePettengill’s stunning documentary, exploring the cultural power and psychological underpinnings of “preparation fantasies,” includes archival footage of fictional neighborhoods built by the US military to be used as sets for counterinsurgency exercises. With narration by Tobi Haslett, the film offers an in-depth perspective on the 1960s riots in Detroit, Newark and Watts and the repressive law-and-order response.
JIMMY WRIGHT (FIERMAN WEST, NEW YORK)
More sunflowers in need. Flowers for Ken, as this exhibition was titled (for the artist’s partner, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1988 and died in 1991), showed us a bloom in progressive decline. This tiny exhibition of large paintings—there were only two, not counting the lush impasto still lifes in the office—was simply stunning, their contrasting scales suggesting a engulfing sorrow.