Aleksandra Mir

Top Ten

Artforum, New York, Summer 2005
By Josephine Meckseper

New York-based artist Josephine Meckseper will be included in the Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art, opening in September. She is currently preparing for solo shows at GAVLAK, West Palm Beach; Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York; and Spain's Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (MUSAC).

1 "THE WORLD IS EVERYTHING THAT IS THE CASE" Viennese quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger recently managed to create and move matter using crystals and light photons, paving the way for what we once mocked as "beaming" on Star Trek . That Zeilinger claims to have found inspiration in the above proposition from Wittgenstein's 1921 Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus reconfirms the continuing relevance of the philosopher's quest to test the limits of existence, thought, and language, which anticipated the idea of multiple universes.

2 EMPTY salons, corridors, salons, doors, doors, salons, empty chairs, deep armchairs, stairs, steps, steps, one after another, glass objects, empty glasses, a dropped glass, a glass partition, letters, a lost letter, keys on rings, numbered door keys, 309, 307, 305, 303, chandeliers, more chandeliers, pearls, mirrors, corridors without a soul in sight in Last Year at Marienbad (1961), Alain Robbe-Grillet's screenplay/ nouveau roman take on Kierkegaard's 1843 existentialist narrative Repetition .

3 LOUISE BOURGEOIS'S AND MARC CAMILLE CHAIMOWICZ'S USE OF MEMORY I'm thinking of Bourgeois's 1993 piece Cell (You Better Grow Up) , which she once described as "a seven-by-seven-by-seven-foot cube, with mirrors reflecting many difficult realities, one worse than the next," and of the walls in her house on Twentieth Street, decorated with faxes and invitation cards dating from at least the '50s--faded but somehow still immediate. Chaimowicz revisits his "things past" brilliantly in Partial Eclipse , 1980-2003, a 180-slide projection about the loss of experience, interiors, bodies, smells, and emotions, and more famously in his scatter installation Celebration? Realife Revisited , 1972/2000. Aside from using recollection and perfume bottles in their work, these two artists have in common family ties to mathematics and the textile industry.

4 ROBERTO OHRT'S PHANTOM AVANTGARDE Considering that Debord left us marveling at enigmatic phrases like "I will never give any explanations. Now you are all alone with our secrets," it only seems fair that this impressive analysis of the Situationist International (to be published in English this fall by Lukas & Sternberg) devotes an entire chapter to the terminology of "situation," which Ohrt--citing Hegel, Adorno, Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Heidegger--locates somewhere between ethics and skepticism. Meanwhile, the Hamburg-based Ohrt pursues his own clandestine operations: He runs the modest artist-book empire Silverbridge (with Paris-based artist Juli Susin), recently launched the magazine Matière Premiere , and is the brains behind the eighty-six-square-foot postcontemporary portable gallery Nomadenoase.

5 ISA GENZKEN'S SLOT MACHINE Casually left on the floor at David Zwirner earlier this year, this readymade, ready-to-use vintage slot machine seemed out of place among the rest of Genzken's work--highly crafted assemblages, low-relief wall pieces, and extraordinary sculptures made from toys and party supplies. The Berlin artist provided no further explanation, but the gallery kept a jar of change at the front desk for would-be gamblers.

6 PROMISE LAND This animated short about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the undisputed favorite among artists in the "nation" exhibit at the Frankfurter Kunstverein in 2003. Complete with an American reporter, three Palestinians (Omar the waiter, Achmed the suicide bomber, Ali the rioter), and three Israelis (Eitan the thug, Aaron the settler, Gaddy the soldier), this traditionally drawn cartoon tops South Park for crass humor. If only it could become a television series, amplifying animation's status as one of the last refuges for political satire in the US. One hopes Promise Land creator Gili Dolev, a thirty-year-old former Israeli Army conscript, already has some offers.

7 YES TO ALL Seen recently in the form of a rainbow-colored neon sign at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in Paris, this seemingly affirmative slogan has become a recurring theme for Sylvie Fleury--a backhanded comment on a consumer culture in which customization has become the only "alternative" to branding and mass production. I find Fleury's ideas more relevant than ever, as we enter the Warhol-predicted era when "all department stores will become museums, and all museums will become department stores." MOMA versus MOA (Minneapolis's Mall of America) comes to mind, yet Fleury has already prescribed a metaphorical solution for our late-capitalist plight, having once staged a shop-window installation entitled Tout doit disparaître (Everything Must Go).

8 INTO THE STREETS True artistic revolution sometimes finds its ideal form not in the place of production, the museum, or the gallery but in the streets. For example: Valie Export's Tap and Touch Cinema , 1968, in which the artist, a box attached to her naked chest, invited pedestrians in several European cities to "visit the cinema"; or when Daniel Buren, for his 1975 piece Seven Ballets in Manhattan , sent people into the street carrying his striped signs, as if to protest an abstract cause. More recently, Aleksandra Mir hid a sound system in a Copenhagen square that played prerecorded male wolf whistles ( Pick Up [Oh Baby!] , 1997).

9 BIDOUN Conceptually indebted to Edward Said's "case against" Orientalism, this new, high-gloss magazine rejects traditional Western misconceptions of the Middle East. Depicting Cairo "war panoramas" and featuring Arab underground chic, Iranian editor Lisa Farjam and her staff succeed in making sheiks look like rock stars, cities like Dubai and Beirut like places to be, and the rest of us like fools, stuck with our clichés.

10 NEW YORK'S BEST PERMANENT EXHIBITION At Laundrobot on East Sixth Street, owner Yuri Blanarovich, in collaboration with Cooper Union student Robin Randisi, displays single socks found in his facility. Framed and hung over the washers and dryers, the display reminds me of the absurdly reductionist explanation of entropy (socks strewn about a room) I was given in high school, which still haunts me from time to time.