in Critic's Guides | 01 JAN 07
Featured in
Issue 104

Solo Shows

frieze asked the following critics and curators from around the world to choose what, and who, they felt to be the most significant shows and artists of 2006

in Critic's Guides | 01 JAN 07

Sara Arrhenius
On the opening night of Carsten Höller’s Test Site at Tate Modern, I didn’t dare go down the silvery slides running from the top floor into the enormous space of the Turbine Hall. Faced with childhood fantasies of the ultimate playground, I hesitated, using my high heels and cocktail dress as an excuse. But it was possible just to look – the manifold options for thinking about and using Test Site makes it a marvellous piece of art. It is radical sculpture, cognitive experiment, utopian aspiration and just plain fun all in one.

Luca Cerizza
Francis Alÿs, ‘The Sign Painting Project (1993-7): A Revision’, Schaulager, Basel: questioning authorship, between avant-garde and the vernacular. Giuseppe Gabellone, greengrassi, London; Ryan Gander, ‘Is this guilt in you too – (Cinema Verso)’, Whitechapel, London: considers other points of view. Ian Kiaer at Galeria Massimo De Carlo, Milan: Bruno Taut’s architectural vision made sensible and fragile. Guillaume Leblon, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf: a show as a skeleton of a city, elegant and melancholic. Helen Mirra, ‘Cloud, the, 3’, DAAD gallery, Berlin; Tino Sehgal, Kunsthaus Bregenz: can critique be entertaining?

Stuart Comer
I kicked myself for missing Hilary Lloyd’s show at Kunstverein Munich, but luckily made it to Cerith Wyn Evans’ double-barrelled tours de force at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and at the ICA in London. ‘Travel(s) in Utopia, JLG, 1946–2006, In Search of Lost Theorem’, at Centre Pompidou, proved that Jean-Luc Godard is as brilliant an exhibition strategist as he is an archaeologist of the cinema. Wolfgang Tillmans’ new gallery, Between Bridges, is now a mandatory east London fixture and began with modest but mesmerizing shows by David Wojnarowicz and Sister Corita Kent.

Bice Curiger
The Pierre Huyghe show ‘Celebration Park’ at Tate Modern, London must go on the list! The way seemingly empty space can offer incomparable experiences and associative potential was truly remarkable.

Dominic Eichler
With his series of collages of Hadrian, Antinous and others, in his solo exhibition ‘Urbis Paganus – Part I + III’ at Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Richard Hawkins made me conscious of how infrequently we see reproductions of sculptures shown from the back.

Charles Esche
The one solo show in a non-museum space to really stand out for me this year was Sanja Ivekovic at the Kölnischer Kunstverein. Bringing recent work together with projects from the 1970s and early ‘80s underlined both consistency and difference in the artist’s oeuvre, and confirmed the value of examining feminist forms and experiences today.

Alex Farquharson
Neil Cummings and Marysia Lewandowska’s ‘Social Cinema’ was as memorable as it was fugitive. Over three evenings they created outdoor cinemas that made for delicious juxtapositions between London landmarks – Berthold Lubetkin’s Finsbury Health Centre and Norman Foster’s Millennum Bridge – and films related to Modernist thinking on architecture, urbanism and social progress in postwar Britain. While on the subject of untraditional formats, Anna Colin’s 12-part Radio Gallery on Resonance FM – each programme curated by different artists and curators – was an ambitious exploration of the immaterial characteristics of the medium. Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno’s Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait took the Cannes Film Festival by storm. The film is that rare thing: a great work of popular art whose avant-gardism is absolutely uncompromised.

Douglas Fogle
It has long been a stereotype of Structuralist filmmaking that it lies somewhere between the realms of boredom and navel-gazing. This unfair characterization was put to rest this year by one of the inheritors of this legacy, Sharon Lockhart, with her moving photography and film project Pine Flat. Leaving Los Angeles for some peace and quiet, the artist ended up four hours away in the small mountain Californian community of Pine Flat. The resulting 12 chapters of her 16 mm film are divided into heart-breakingly beautiful individual and collective portraits of the children of this mountain community, giving Structuralist filmmaking a much-appreciated transfusion of humanity.

Jennifer Higgie
In London, Simon Martin’s film meditation on a Memphis bookshelf, Carlton, at Counter Gallery, celebrated the artist’s curiosity about making art and living with objects. At Modern Art, Collier Schorr’s interest in the impulse of Henry James and others to explore privileged European landscapes through an American lens made for an absorbing journey between text, photography and drawings. Jennifer Bornstein’s etchings of friends and legends at greengrassi were more complicated and compelling than their deceptively simple rendering would initially suggest; and Roger Hiorns at Corvi-Mora – one of the smartest young sculptors around – ­is breathing life into forms I thought had expired long ago.

Raimundas Malasauskas
Loris Gréaud’s Illusion is a Revolutionary Weapon, introduced a variety of modes of ‘nano-art’ activating both sensual and speculative realms while pushing forward the idea of an ‘unknown artist’. I don’t remember the scent of Mars that Gréaud created, but the moon rock exhibited by Bik van der Pol in their show ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam smelled of success, too. I did not know of Suzanne Treister either, until the moment when she went further than the moon in her fantasy time-travelling project Hexen 2039.

Helen Molesworth
Amy Sillman’s solo show in New York at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. moved beyond the neurotic lines of her earlier cartoony paintings into big planes of emotional colour heaped up on an underlying narrative matrix. Sillman showed us that feminist painting and the influence of Willem de Kooning have yet to be put to bed. In London, the Turner Prize is hardly a solo show, but Phil Collins took it as seriously as one when he bravely established an office in the galleries. By homesteading at the Tate he cleverly started making his next project with the museum’s resources and by exposing himself to such public scrutiny he bravely revealing the craven spectre of the artist as spectacle.

Simon Njami
Zineb Sedira has always been preoccupied with memory and identity – not in the narrow sense it is often taken to mean in relation to the works of non-European artists. Originally from Algeria, Sedira has French citizenship but lives and works in London. Her constant displacement has forced her to reconsider the shape of preconceived ideas and notions of representation. In her latest show at The Photographers’ Gallery in London, she focused on Algiers. Her photographs try to recapture the poetry of things long gone, and confront the history and the present-day of a place that plays a mythical role in the artist’s memory. The video Saphir (2006), from which the title of the show was taken, relates the aspirations and contradictions of an unsatisfied youth, disenchanted with daily life. This conflict between the past and the present is a perfectly captured metaphor for our times.

Olu Oguibe
One of the few solo shows I found interesting was the Guggenheim New York’s exhibition of Lucio Fontana’s paintings and sculptures inspired by New York and Venice. Produced in the early 1960s, the works were inspired by the two great ports of the old and new worlds. To evoke the sensuous, decadent wealth and ambience of Venice, Fontana worked his paint with a thick impasto, and punctuated his canvas with his signature slash. For New York, however, Fontana chose metal sheets evoking the hard-edge response of an earlier traveller to the city, the poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Another show that impressed was the sculptor El Anatsui’s second solo exhibition in New York at David Krut Projects. The artist employs expansive hanging sculptures pieced together from liquor bottle caps. Finally, Jesper Just’s show at the Hirshhorn, ‘Black Box’, included the enigmatic video No Man Is An Island (2002) in which a disparate group of seemingly lonely men in a bar are prompted into a heart-rending a cappella rendition of Roy Orbison’s song ‘Crying Over You’ by an irreverent, heart-broken lad. The video’s brilliant combination of ambiguity, melodrama and exquisite cinematography clearly justify the artist’s growing reputation as one of the most significant artists around.

Daniel Palmer
In Melbourne, Daniel von Sturmer’s ‘Field Equation’, at ACCA (a walk-through
environment of playful video sculptures); and at Gertrude The King Pins’ ‘Rhapsody Happens’, (‘a surreal biker odyssey’ installation by the all-girl drag group) and Kate Rohde’s Some Kind of Empire (an opulent museum of plasticine foxes, faux-fur squirrels and polystyrene peacocks). Brook Andrew’s ‘You’ve Always Wanted to be Black’, at the National Gallery of Victoria (inspired by a museum collection of birds from early anthropological expeditions); Simryn Gill’s ‘32 Volumes’, at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Fitzroy (meticulously erased Life World Library photo books); Alexander Knox’s ‘Spazio T’, at Murray White Room (extraordinary exploded car metal sculpture); Ronnie van Hout’s ‘Sleep Less’, at Darren Knight (a reconstruction of the artist’s childhood bedroom). In Sydney, Paul Knight’s ‘Don’t Be Something Strong’, at the Australian Centre for Photography in Paddington, New South Wales was a show of photographic resonances of spaces and relationships.

Cristina Ricupero
Karen Kilimnik’s recent solo show at ARC-Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris confirmed the artist’s mastery of the mise-en-scène. Four installations punctuated by 50 paintings, the exhibition unfolded as a careful orchestration of unexpected collages mixing academic art and popular culture, the present and the past, the anonymous and the famous. It was a real pleasure to rediscover this complex space as a series of 18th-century folly-style antechambers followed by a Renaissance villa garden with its fountain and ‘grotesques’, and bump into Leonardo DiCaprio as ‘Prince Desire’ along the way.

Ali Subotnick
Seeing so much of Cameron Jamie’s work together at the Walker Art Center – from the Michael Jackson apartment wrestling to suburban backyard wrestling matches, Detroit’s haunted houses to the Austrian tradition of Kranky Klaus – was a tremendous treat. Jamie digs deep into these subcultures and gains rare access to their behaviour and rituals. Through his photos, videos and props he opens a door to bizarre practices and private clubs without putting the subjects on guard, so we see them as though we were flies on the wall. His haunted mountain, entered alone, with only a red lantern to light the journey, which leads to a cave filled with cryptic drawings, and his jaw-dropping video compilation of twisted moments in cable access history left me scarred for life.

Jochen Volz
For Olafur Eliasson’s show ‘Your Waste of Time’ at neugerriemschneider, Berlin, the gallery was cooled down to –6° Celsius and filled with six tons of ice from Vatnajökull, on the south coast of Iceland. These 15,000-year-old blocks of ice gracefully balanced art-historical references, the threat of global warming and the absurdity of dislocation. José Bento’s installation Chão at Galeria Bergamin, São Paulo, was similarly strong, incorporating the exhibition space and the visitors’ senses. The prominent element of the exhibition, which was curated by Ricardo Sardenberg, was an elevated and bouncy wooden floor that extended throughout the lower floor of the famous town house by Vilanova Artigas.