Shows to See in the US this January

From a survey of Deana Lawson to an international exhibition foregrounding US imperialism since 1945, here are the top shows to see across the US

BY frieze in Exhibition Reviews , US Reviews | 13 JAN 23

SIREN (some poetics)’ 

Amant, New York

15 September 2022 – 5 March 2023

Outside, in a Brooklyn courtyard: a half-open yellow umbrella that looks almost like a ghost, a tire attached to a piece of board
‘SIREN (some poetics)’, installation view. Courtesy: Amant; photograph: Adrianna Glaviano

‘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 

‘Is it morning for you yet?: 58th Carnegie International’

Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh

24 September 2022 – 2 April 2023


A large structure made of plywood and earth-dyed tarps
Dala Nasser, Tomb of King Hiram, 2022, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and Carnegie Museum of Art; photograph: Sean Eaton

‘Is it morning for you yet?’, the 58th Carnegie International, borrows its title from the Mayan Kaqchikel expression for ‘good morning’. It also reads as a plea: have we awoken from this nightmare? Foregrounding the impact of US imperialism since 1945, the exhibition reaches into pasts that occupy the present, cracking open perpetrations obscured in collective consciousness or rarely apprehended together. With such an ambitious mandate, the show inevitably has its paradoxes: namely, how to de-centre the US while the country remains the protagonist of its thesis. At the same time, such oppositions – even contradictions – are key to its methodology. It is conceptually and structurally hybrid with works that range between abstraction and figuration, sorrow and hope, the historical and the contemporary. Presented both in the larger exhibition as well as in the micro shows within it, this selection yields an assemblage resisting singular meaning. What could this much mass despair and revolutionary strength look like, except for a magnitude exceeding individual comprehension? — Margaret Kross  

Deana Lawson

High Museum of Art, Atlanta

7 October 2022 – 19 February 2023

A reprinted image of an advertisement: a Black woman with gold jewelry and coral lips
Deana Lawson, Hair Advertisement, 2005, pigment print, 76 × 97 cm. Courtesy: the artist; Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York; and David Kordansky, Los Angeles

Deana Lawson’s retrospective in Atlanta is found down in the bowels of the building. This is the way one often encounters photography at major American museums: reproducible works on paper merit the least desirable real estate. Though the institutional architecture indicates a lingering indifference to art that troubles the relationship between uniqueness and value, Lawson is an omnivorous sampler of photographic genres up and down the complicated hierarchy of critical respectability. — Lauren Deland 

Didier William

MOCA North Miami

November 2, 2022 – April 16, 2023

A loosely figurative painting of three figures, approximating two men and a child, gazing out over a ridge at a sunset, their backs toward us
Didier William, Just Us Three, 2021, acrylic, oil, wood carving on panel, 2.6 × 1.7 m. Courtesy: the artist and MOCA North Miami; photograph: Constance Mensh

Both the title and setting of Didier William's exhibition are aptly retrospective, the former translating to ‘We’ve left that all behind’ in Haitian Creole. The artist himself was raised in North Miami. Curated by Erica Moiah James, the exhibition features new paintings among the more than forty mixed media pieces, some of which refer with great sensitivity to William’s personal experiences in the last few years. William and his husband became parents during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown; in Just Us Three (2021), the figures gaze over a precipice and hold each other, covered in the artist’s signature pattern of eyes, as if they were looking at us, too. MOCA has also partnered with producer and director Marlon Johnson to produce a documentary on William, which is forthcoming. Before leaving MOCA, see Chire Regans a.k.a. VantaBlack’s ‘To What Lengths’, for which the artist has decorated the museum plaza's palm trees with braids, beads and flowers. — Monica Uszerowicz 

Main image: Dia al-Azzawi, Ruins of Two Cities: Mosul and Aleppo, 2020. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Mohannad Khamra

Contemporary Art and Culture