Aleksandra Mir

Top Ten

Artforum, New York, Jan 2006
By Paola Pivi

Paola Pivi, who recently moved from London to the Italian Alps, is preparing for solo shows forthcoming at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin's galleries in Miami and Paris, in March and June, respectively.

1 ALEKSANDRA MIR, LIVING AND LOVING NOS. 1,2, AND 3, 2002/2004/2006 Commissioned by Polly Staple, Mir's and Staple's series of illustrated biographies represent the language of art at its best. A tale of an art-school security guard, The Biography of D. C. (No. 1) was followed by The Biography of Zoe Stillpass (No. 2), in which a girl's life is narrated by her parents, the collectors Andy and Karen Stillpass. No. 3, Mir says, tells the life story of a young art student from Tennessee. His move to New York will coincide with the book's launch at White Columns in June. What a way to arrive.

2 JARED DIAMOND, GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL, W.W NORTON COMPANY, 1997 Subtitled (in the British edition) A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years, this book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998; now it should be distributed in primary schools. It explores the question, Why do whites have most of the power? openly, without prejudice, through analysis that remarkably avoids cultural burdens.

3 DIEGO PERRONE, "TOTÒ NUDON E LA FUSIONE DELLA CAMPANA" (TOTÒ NAKED AND THE CASTING OF THE BELL) The works in this show, curated by Francesco Bonami and presented early last year at Turin's Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, were incredibly sad and dramatic, but the quality of the art made the exhibition happy and vital. The main piece was a weird, strangely realistic digital animation representing Totò (the famous Italian comedian of the mid–twentieth century) getting naked in the woods and doing a capriola, or somersault. I adore the combination of art and comedians—they are closer to one another than we think.

4 ELMGREEN & DRAGSET, SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT, 2005 What kind of piece is better to produce after other artists than one about doubling? (Elmgreen & Dragset's homage could be to Maurizio Cattelan's copy of Carsten Höller's show at an adjacent gallery in Paris in 1997, for instance.) At the 2005 Frieze Art Fair the impish duo created a double of their gallery's booth just next door, even commissioning double paintings from Matthew Antezzo. A dead ringer for the gallerist Martin Klosterfelde manned the facsimile space, speaking with a German accent and wearing a wig (which was for sale) made from Martin's real hair. Klosterfelde noted that many people didn't even notice there were two identical booths. One collector purchased a work from the real Martin, then, returning the next day to pay, tried to hand the money to a completely clueless fake Martin.

5 ANDREAS SLOMINSKI, WO SIND DIE SKIER? (WHERE ARE THE SKIS?) Slominski makes many fantastic pieces using skis. In his 2000 solo show at Jablonka Galerie in Cologne he showed two ski pieces, each asking the same basic question. In the first, two tiled roofs support long gutters that descend toward the floor, and must, we assume, hold the skis. The other is made of three large neon letters, f, j, and j, with two skis clearly visible behind the transparent surfaces of the two letter Js. Slominski's jokes are always sly; when they involve skis, they're out-and-out slippery.

6 JAPANTHER, "CLAUDIA'S SYMPTOMS" A standout on the album Dump the Body in Rikki Lake) (Menlo Park Recordings, 2003), this song is my favorite by Japanther, a New York–based band whose music conveys what I would call springing life.

7 MAURIZIO PECORARO An Italian designer who works with materials in a very smiling way, decorating a blouse with gemstones made from chiffon, for instance. In his clothes, the woman is always a playful princess and never a constricted slave, always respected as a thinking human being.

8 AMAL DORAI, "TIME TRAVELER CONVENTION" In a courtyard at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at 10 PM on May 7, 2005, MIT student Amal Dorai held the "first and only Time Traveler Convention at MIT." As he observed on his website (web.mit.edu/adorai/timetraveler/): "Technically, you would only need one time traveler convention. Time travelers from all eras could meet at a specific place at a specific time, and they could make as many repeat visits as they wanted." Amal got his idea from Cat and Girl, a comic strip that noted how sometimes you come across a group of people wearing such bizarre clothes you could be at a time travelers' gathering. While no actual time travelers visited (as far as Amal could tell), it's possible that any who tried couldn't get in—the event drew an overflow crowd of students. I e-mailed with Amal after the fact and was surprised to find him sounding skeptical about time travel. Perhaps a time traveler would only bother to visit a believer.

9 GELITIN, LES INNOCENTS AUX PIEDS SALES (THE INNOCENTS WITH DIRTY FEET) Performance is my favorite form of art because it is both sculptural and alive. This performance, at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin in Paris last February, was also absolutely hilarious. The four-man Austrian collective—wearing their version of French court dresses, wigs, and makeup—turned their upside-down bodies into popping bottles of champagne and their most intimate body parts into lottery-ticket repositories. (The prize for those whose names were drawn was to be guillotined on stage.) A violinist and cellist accompanied from behind the audience, enveloping them in the act and seeming a bit shocked. It was very, very Parisienne.

10 IDITAROD, THE LAST GREAT RACE A sled-dog race held every March in Alaska, Iditarod crosses rural territory and frozen ocean from Anchorage to Nome on a trail more than one thousand miles long. Last year I followed the event and discovered that Iditarod is not a sport; it's a way of life, complete with an elaborate code of ethics. Just one of the race's rules: If a musher comes across an angry moose and needs to kill it (moose can be deadly), he or she must stop racing and gut the animal, while any approaching musher must stop and wait until the gutting is done.