From vaudevillian dick pics to finding god in CERN's particle collider—we found 7 outstanding artworks to check out at Untitled, Miami Beach. Here they are:
The Spirit of Enquiry, 2007
90 x 70 inches
Benrubi Gallery, New York
Edition of 3, £15,000.00 (Mounting and Framing: $5,000)
The art world can be a bit smug when it comes to granting photojournalistic documentarians entry into the “fine art” club. But in the case The Spirit of Enquiry by Simon Norfolk, who has photographed for National Geographic and the New York Times, we’re happy to award the stamp of approval. The almost 8-foot-tall frame holds six different photographs taken inside of CERN's massive particle collider (located in a circular tunnel 27-miles in circumference underground near Geneva, Switzerland); each photo is slightly more zoomed in than the last. If these kaliedescope images look abstract to you, that’s partly the point. Norfolk’s interest in this subject lies is the relationship between scientists and sceintific faith. CERN's researchers are looking for “the god particle,” or as Benrubi’s booth attendent says, “an answer to a question that isn’t even real.” The photographs, shot using an 8 x 10 camera, end up looking like stained glass windows, the kind you might see in a house of worship.
Post-Colonial Booty, 2017
58 × 44 in
A promising up-and-comer, the 27-year-old Clotilde Jiménez explores his own identity in his collaged works, which, for a young, queer, black, hispanic man living in the United States, is a subject that extends far beyond the limits of his own experience. With his self-imposed task of representing nuanced masculinity, the Hawaiian-born artist shows himself here, in Post-Colonial Booty, in front of his mirrored reflection that, with eyes closed, refuses to gaze back (though his double is giving viewers some serious side-eye!) As a 2018 MFA candidate at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, we look forward to seeing what this emerging artist does in the years to come.
Fardaous Funjab: Pocket Funjab, 2015
20 x 25 inches
Edition of 3 + AP
“She basically watched the first season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians and thought, I could do this,” says SIGNAL’s director about Moroccan-born artist Meriem Bennani. Using her actual family members as characters, the artist filmed a fictional reality television show in her home country about a fashion designer (played by her mother) who makes hilariously over-the-top hijabs (or “funjabs,” as the artist calls them) for the modern Muslim woman. (For more on Bennani’s thinking behind this work, check out Artspace’s recent interview with the artist.) Alongside Bennani’s Fardaous Funjab: Pilot (2015-2017) video (which is being sold as an edition of 3 for $6,500), SIGNAL offers four silver halide prints which function as fictitious funjab advertisements. Mixing kitschy advertorial aesthetics, portraiture, and a tongue-and-cheeck jab at commodity fetishism, these digital composites are able to pack a punch hefty enough to stand on their own, with or without the context of Bennati's video work. Bennani is a young artist but she’s undoubtedly on the rise; her recent solo show at The Kitchen received a slew of impressive reviews, and her Public Art Fund project at the Barclay’s Center earlier this year proves her message extends far beyond the white cube.
36 x 30 inches
Richard Heller Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
“He’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet,” says Richard Heller Gallery’s booh attendent of New York-based painter KAJAHL. But that’s just the icing on the cake—KAJAHL’s portraits (or are they imagined still lifes?) are captivating. Sourcing inspiration from a variety of histories (his favorite place to mine is the Black Cultural Archives in London), the artist invents a character, an amalgam of objects and relics from vastly differing historical time periods and cultures. The Black American artist, with one parent from Jamaica and one from the Dominican Republic, has traveled extensively throughout Western Europe, Central America, and parts of Africa, after studying abroad in Italy his final year of undergrad (he got his BFA from San Francisco State University in 2008 and his MFA from Hunter College in 2012)—so it’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that his transcultural paintings may be self-portraits.
N.A.N.O., B.I.O., I.N.F.O., and C.O.G.N.O, 2017
False Flag, Long Island City, New York
As far as artist Sterling Crispin is concerned, the future holds two possible outcomes: either A.I. takes over, or apocalyptic doomsday wipes us out. Either way, his techy (though somewhat anthropomorphic) sculptures have you covered—if you buy them. Each one includes a two-year supply of water filtration for a family of four, along with a certificate redeemable for 100 shares in a company that is expected to become highly profitable if A.I. becomes as ubiquitous as many experts predict it will. (False Flag’s booth attendant tells me that by 2035 we’ll have a thousand-dollar computer with the processing power equivalent to the human brain—and that’s just the beginning.) Each tower is also equipped with a real-time visualization of your stocks, and is flanked with CNC-routed plexi that mimics neural pathways. Honestly, there’s enough content here to write a book about, but we’ll leave you with that. (Sorry if we also left you with some anxiety.)
Sweet Gingham'd Daisy Picker, 2017
22 by 18 inches
Asya Geisberg Gallery, New York, NY
Somehow “off-again, on-again New Yorker” Rebecca Morgan manages to render images that are so full of familiar visual references and pastiche, and at the same time so uncomfortably anomalous—it takes a minute to really figure out how to feel about them. Appropriating (stylistically) from the repulsive cartoons of R. Crumb, as well as the hyper-detailed naturalism of the Dutch painters, Morgan renders caricatures of rural Appalacia (the artist is from a tiny, rural town in central Pennsylvania). Subjects like addiction, poverty, and off-the-grid living are attended to with a sense of humor that sweetly suggests a kind of care, empathy, and defense, while simultaneously checking off all the boxes that scream “objectification.” Though Morgan’s works at first glance may radiate the superficiality of a quick cartoon, they certainly are not, and their nuanced representation of a demographic that’s not so often the subject of contemporary art is worth a deeper look.
RYAN TRAVIS CHRISTIAN
Legal Boner, 2017
7 by 10 inches
Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL
There’s something about those almost century-old black-and-white cartoons that seem so ripe and hip right now—at least aesthetically—and Ryan Travis Christian indulges with his exquistily rendered graphite drawings. Western Exhibitions has quite a few small (7 by 10 inch) drawings on offer at Untitled; here is Legal Boner, which renders animated animals as the “peanut gallery” to a “narcissistic guy who posted his selfie to a tree,” says the gallery’s director. Combine a dick pic with some vaudevillian humor? Why not.