Shows to See Across the US and Canada Right Now

From a comprehensive survey of Christopher Knowles at the Watermill Center, New York, to Marla Hlady and Christof Migone’s sound installations at Christie Contemporary, Toronto, here are the best shows to see across the US and Canada

BY frieze in Exhibition Reviews , Reviews Across The World , US Reviews | 18 NOV 22

Christopher Knowles / STAND

The Watermill Center, New York

30 July–December

A large room with white walls, black-framed windows, and various colorful art objects including rainbowed large cones set upon the floor
‘Christopher Knowles / STAND’, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and The Watermill Center, New York; photograph: Maria Baranova

‘This is Chris. Is this Chris. Chris this is. This is Chris. Is this Chris his. Chris his is.’ A tape recording of the artist’s speech resounds throughout the space, filling it with language (This Is Chris, early 1970s). This is ‘Christopher Knowles / STAND’, a landmark exhibition curated by Noah Khoshbin at The Watermill Center. Knowles’s largest show to date, it is a comprehensive survey of his prolific, five-decade, multidisciplinary practice, featuring more than 200 drawings, typings, audio recordings, paintings and sculptures, many of which are presented here for the first time. –Rebecca Rose Cuomo

SIREN (some poetics)

Amant, New York

15 September 2022–5 March 2023

A pale sheet of what appears to be paper with the words and letters "silence" and "s" scattered throughout
Rivane Neuenschwander, The Silence of the Sirens, 2013, felt, thread, fusible interfacing, and D-ring metal. Courtesy: the artist and Amant

We are warned against Sirens. ‘If anyone goes near them in ignorance, and listens to their voices, that man will never travel to his home’, Circe cautions Odysseus in Homer’s The Odyssey. The first English-language translation of the epic by a woman (Emily Wilson, 2017), faithful to the earliest written versions of the shape-shifting oral narrative, characterizes the Sirens as mysterious voices of a landscape, rather than the bird-women of classical antiquity. This transformation is unsurprising: in ancient Greece, the unbridled sounds of women were considered dangerous to civic life, even monstrous, an Othering framework that mythology both reflected and reinforced.

‘SIREN (some poetics)’, an intergenerational, international women-led show of 17 artists at Amant, invites gallerygoers to traverse a terrain in which the Siren is fluidly figured, refigured and unfigured. Curated by poet and critic Quinn Latimer, the exhibition assembles media-spanning work from the 1970s to the present to explore poetry in the expanded field, a form of language-making that – like the Sirens’ song – traffics in the unknowable and unutterable. –Cassie Packard

Maxwell Alexandre, ‘Pardo É Papel (The Glorious Victory and New Power)’

The Shed, New York

26 October 2022–8 January 2023

A packed, colorful scene, which includes thirteen figures seated at a table at bottom
Maxwell Alexandre, Não foi pedindo licença que chegamos até aqui (We didn’t get here by apologizing, 2018), latex, grease, henna, bitumen, dye, acrylic, vinyl paint, graphite, ballpoint pen, charcoal, oil stick and chocolate drink package on brown kraft paper. 3.2 × 4.7 m. Courtesy: the artist and MAC Lyon; photograph: Blaise Adilon

Experiencing Maxwell Alexandre’s work involves more than looking at it: we must also move through it. Installed in two parts, ‘Pardo É Papel (The Glorious Victory and New Power)’ at The Shed draws us into a labyrinth comprised of monumental paintings suspended from the ceiling by an apparatus of translucent string and binder clips. A former inline skater, Alexandre embeds the sport’s exacting weave patterns into the gallery space, entangling visual encounter with corporeal movement. He asks us to search for the paintings with our bodies: they reveal themselves slowly, each one layered between and partially or fully obscured by another. –Zoë Hopkins

Marla Hlady + Christof Migone, ‘Swan Song

Christie Contemporary, Toronto

21 October–19 November 

Inside a rusted round brass-appearing container, round metal pieces and wires are affixed, like a stethoscope
Marla Hlady + Christof Migone, Swan Song (detail), 2019, copper swan necks, cardboard whisky sleeves, motors, speakers, recordings, electronics, 161 × 274 × 152 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Christie Contemporary; photograph: Marla Hlady and Christof Migone

There is something uniquely irresistible in the way Marla Hlady and Christof Migone’s exhibition, ‘Swan Song’, mashes the familiar with the strange, causing us to reflect upon our often-imperceptible relations with materiality. After its debut at the Artists at Glenfiddich Space in Dufftown, Scotland, in 2019, followed by an initial Canadian run at Christie Contemporary in March 2020 disrupted by the pandemic, the work has returned to the Toronto-based gallery in a slightly different format to give viewers another opportunity to linger in its sonic interplay.

Made from two ‘swan necks’ – sections of metal piping used in the whisky-distillation process, before being retired after 12 years – the titular kinetic sculpture Swan Song (all works 2019) consists of tubular forms placed on a table, with their open ends facing opposite walls. When viewers walk near the sculpture, sensors trigger a set of electronic motors that cause thin metal rods to swivel on circular axes. The movement is smooth but occasionally suspended when the metal rods quietly meet. The mechanics then become enveloped in a massive wave of sound: the two ends of the tubes act as a pair of giant gramophones, filling the entire gallery with tones loud, ominous and intriguing. –Neil Price

Main image: Maxwell Alexandre, ‘Pardo é Papel: The Glorious Victory and New Power’, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and The Shed. Photograph: Adam Reich

Contemporary Art and Culture