BY frieze in Critic's Guides | 05 JUL 24

What to See Across the Americas This July

From Catalina Schliebener Muñoz’s twisted takes on fairy tales to Will Stovall’s defamiliarized worlds, here’s what to see in North America 

BY frieze in Critic's Guides | 05 JUL 24

Catalina Schliebener Muñoz | Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh | 9 March – 30 March 2025

Catalina Schliebener Muñoz, ‘Deep, Deep Woods’, 2024
Catalina Schliebener Muñoz, ‘Deep, Deep Woods’, 2024, exhibition view. Courtesy: the artist and Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh; photography: Tom Little

Satan is alive and well, incarnate in the Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls of Catalina Schliebener Muñoz. Hail Satan (or, at least, his proxy). Employing a cheerfully maximalist palette not typically associated with representations of demonic pandemonium, Schliebener Muñoz continues their longstanding exploration of our societal anxieties around childhood. At the Mattress Factory, they have constructed an irreverent shrine to childhood inspired by their own upbringing; the American Right’s panic over ‘grooming’ (heir to the 1980s and ’90s Satanic panic, a conspiracy theory about Satanic ritual abuse); and US artist Greer Lankton’s archive, part of which is housed in the museum. Schliebener Muñoz’s titular installation, Deep, Deep Woods (2024), features a miscellany of plastic toys, childhood drawings, Raggedy Andy wall art, paintings with protruding jump ropes and phallic soft sculptures, all in bright pink and red hues. Sculptural elements abound, from lost mittens and plastic flowers to picket fences and miniature hide-aways. Every nook and cranny contains something. – Grace Byron

Kyle Dunn | Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford | 7 June – 1 September 

Kyle Dunn, Studio Still Life, 2024
Kyle Dunn, Studio Still Life, 2024, acrylic on panel. Courtesy: the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT

City, night: a classic boudoir scene, bathed in warm light. A young man, naked and unbothered, lounges on bunched cobalt sheets, a red full moon visible through a sliver of window. Within this private idyll, Kyle Dunn’s Sea Bell (2024), a chilly game of predator and prey unfolds. Framed over the bed is an image of a heron, a fish caught in its beak; above the youth’s chest an inexplicable frog leaps into the air with balletic precision, lunging towards a moth.

Since 1975, the Wadsworth Atheneum’s MATRIX series has invited promising contemporary artists to stage exhibitions in response to the museum’s eclectic collection; the Brooklyn-based painter is the latest to receive the honour. An enthralling selection of eleven domestic scenes and still lifes, rendered in acrylic on panel, announce Dunn’s arrival on the mainstage of queer figurative painting. Christopher Alessandrini

Mike Kelley | The Brant Foundation, New York | 17 May – 29 June 

Mike Kelley, ‘Singles’ Mixer’, 2024
Mike Kelley, ‘Singles’ Mixer’, 2024, exhibition view. © 2024 Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. All Rights Reserved / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Courtesy: The Brant Foundation; photograph: Reem Yassin

Photographs are often tasked with encapsulating an event, reducing it to a freeze-frame moment. For the series ‘Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction (EAPR)’ (2000–11), Mike Kelley worked in reverse, developing fictionalized screenplays from individual images plucked from his stockpile of high school yearbook photos depicting carnivalesque teenage rituals: hazings, dress-up days, pageants. Kelley displayed each video alongside reconfigured props and set elements from its own production. In 2005, he assembled 31 of these ‘stations’ into Day Is Done, a cacophonous, gymnasium-sized installation that invoked the experience of channel surfing. A single component shown on its own – as Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #8 (Singles’ Mixer) (2005–06) is presented at The Brant Foundation – functions very differently, like a delirious fever dream that can’t be switched off. – Chris Murtha

Lan ‘Florence’ Yee | Zalucky Contemporary, Toronto | 13 June – 20 July

Lan ‘Florence’ Yee, ‘Which Came First, the Home or the Stranger?’, 2024
Lan ‘Florence’ Yee, ‘Which Came First, the Home or the Stranger?’, 2024, exhibition view. Courtesy: the artist and Zalucky Contemporary; photography: Em Moor

‘Bloom into the sky I’ll climb up a ladder after you,’ writes Chinese poet Xi Chuan in his emphatic poem ‘Bloom’ (2014). At Zalucky Contemporary in Toronto, Lan ‘Florence’ Yee’s latest solo show, ‘Which Came First, the Home or the Stranger?’, likewise takes another’s path as an invitation to follow. In Orchidelirium (all works 2024), an orange textile orchid, copied from a 13th-century Song Dynasty painting by Ma Lin, rises from a stack of folded sheets of canvas. Yee’s creations are odes to add-ons, replicas, proxies, homonyms and copycats. – Georgia Phillips-Amos

Will Stovall | Ulrik, New York | 18 May – 12 July 

Will Stovall, ‘Kant Crisis’, 2024
Will Stovall, ‘Kant Crisis’, 2024, exhibition view. Courtesy: Ulrik; photograph: Stephen Faught

Walking through Berlin in November 1800, Romantic writer Heinrich von Kleist looked up at an arched gate and marvelled at how the stones floated mid-air. ‘Why, I asked myself, does this arch not collapse, since after all it has no support?’ he inquired in a letter to his artist fiancée Wilhelmine von Zenge. ‘Because all the stones tend to collapse at the same time.’ He let the letter simmer for a month and a half, sending it after adding a small diagram of the topmost bit of a masonry arch.

Archways repeat in several of the paintings by Will Stovall on display in ‘Kant Crisis’ at Ulrik. Kleist’s drawing was a focus of Stovall’s doctoral dissertation in German Literature at Yale University; the show’s title refers to the existential terror Kleist experienced upon reading the works of Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant. Mere months after mailing his doodle, Kleist experienced a kind of collapse: ‘Here on earth we know nothing of the truth, absolutely nothing,’ he lamented in a letter to his sister. – Drew Zeiba

Main image: Kyle Dunn, Coat (detail), 2022, flashe and acrylic on panel. Courtesy: the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford

Contemporary Art and Culture