BY frieze in Critic's Guides | 10 NOV 23

Exhibitions to See Across the US This November

From Candice Lin's tales of demonic transformation to Elif Saydam's overlapping of schmaltz and camp

BY frieze in Critic's Guides | 10 NOV 23

Ligia Lewis

Center for Art, Research and Alliances, New York

30 September – 4 February 2024

Ligia Lewis, study now steady, 2023, documentation of performance at CARA, New York. Courtesy: the artist and CARA, New York
Ligia Lewis, study now steady, 2023, documentation of performance at CARA, New York. Courtesy: the artist and CARA, New York

Ligia Lewis, Mame Diarra Speis, Miguel Angel Guzmán and Corey Scott-Gilbert are frozen in angular positions on the ground. As I walk in, they are breaking out of their paralysis in slow, jerky movements that variously evoke shock, exhaustion and resurrection.

study now steady (2023) – the eponymous ‘rehearsal made durational’, as the press release defines it, of Lewis’s exhibition at the Center for Art, Research and Alliances (CARA) – is thick with the pauses, slips and dizzy landings that populate the artist’s earlier performances for stage and camera. There is the leg-slapping, foot-stomping stepping and wobbly piling-together of minor matter (2016) that insists on urgent collectivity. There is the clamour of ‘falling flesh’ – a term Lewis used recently in conversation – of Still Not Still (2021), where bodies come crashing down against one another and onto the floor, losing their fixity, their signification. Guzmán echoes the beginning of Water Will (in Melody) (2018) as he mimes a melodramatic smile flipping into a frown. Lewis’s shifting eyes flicker with conspiracy and then quickly withdraw into a deadpan blankness – a powerful mechanism of withholding in deader than dead (2020), screening in CARA’s first floor gallery. – Mariana Fernández

Candice Lin

Canal Projects, New York

22 September – 16 December

Candice Lin, Lithium Sex Demons in the Factory, 2023
Candice Lin, Lithium Sex Demons in the Factory, 2023, animation still. Courtesy: the artist; François Ghebaly Gallery, New York and Los Angeles; and Canal Projects, New York

The high-ceilinged, light-filled loft space of Canal Projects in Chinatown appears to have been taken over by an external operation. An elevated structure stands in the centre, its lower level curtained off with large drawings. It is surrounded by six large workstations that fuse industrial design with elements from traditional medicine: talismanic ink drawings, tinctures attached to tubing, ceramic computers, a clock, machinery, scattered pens and stray post-it notes. In Candice Lin’s site-specific ‘Lithium Sex Demons in the Factory’, we piece together the story of an unnamed demon, awaking post-transformation, through crisply fluid animations playing on tablets, audio and printed segments pasted behind workstations. – Diana Seo Hyung Lee

Made in L.A. 2023: Acts of Living’ 

Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

1 October – 31 December

Melissa Cody, Dopamine Dream, 2023
Melissa Cody, Dopamine Dream, 2023, jacquard wool tapestry, 1.3 × 1.5 m. Courtesy: the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York

In front of the Hammer Museum’s gift shop, a colourful mound of ceramic hands and accompanying textiles awaits encounter. A sign nearby invites viewers to touch the sculpture, explaining that ‘each hand is made by a person with a history of migration’ and suggesting they should be handled ‘with care’. Shepherded by the collective Art Made Between Opposite Sides, Con nuestras manos construímos deidades / With our Hands We Build Deities (2023) tells the personal narratives of asylum seekers and refugees in Tijuana, San Diego and Los Angeles. Such a sensory and tender interaction is just one of many awaiting visitors to this year’s ‘Made in L.A.’ biennial. – Armando Pulido

Elif Saydam 

Oakville Galleries, Gairloch Gardens

29 September – 6 January 2024


Elif Saydam, ‘Eviction Notice’, 2023
Elif Saydam, ‘Eviction Notice’, 2023, exhibition view. Courtesy: the artist and Oakville Galleries, Gairloch Gardens; photograph: Laura Findlay

Often seen as interlopers to white, middle-class order, immigrant, queer and artist communities commonly overlap in neighbourhoods where rents are affordable. There, negotiated space tends to settle into a precarious but pluralistic visual language: schmaltz meets camp. In ‘Eviction Notice’, their first major exhibition in Canada, Elif Saydam articulates this aesthetic to a tee: a cartoonish vortex of hearts, apples, dollar signs and dark plums swallows the familiar signage of a local late-night shop in Berlin (Losing my License, 2023). Bows and garlands adorn the black and white image of a local convenience store in Oakville, an ‘open’ sign glowing red in its window (Bong’s Variety, Oakville, Canada, 2023). Altogether, these kitschy, overly decorated images gesture towards an excess of labour, time and effort, but also towards affection, authenticity and radical potential. – Xenia Benivolski


Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

18 August – 17 December

Ken Lum, The Curse is Come Upon Me., 2023
Ken Lum, The Curse is Come Upon Me., 2023, mixed media. Courtesy: the artist and Magenta Plains Gallery, New York

Technically, the term ‘moveables’ refers to the belongings you can take with you when you leave a residence – anything, so to speak, that is not nailed down. But what if we envision the body as the edifice? What then becomes adaptable or interchangeable? For ‘Moveables’ at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, co-curators Cole Akers and Alex Klein use the titular term as a metaphorical framework, assembling artworks that reconfigure our engagement with the structures and systems that support and shelter the human body.

The presentation has a vaguely theatrical quality, as if the works on display are a collection of props and sets awaiting performers. Ken Lum’s two-part installation of catalogue-perfect furnishings, The Curse Is Come Upon Me. and The Photographer or The Mirror? (both 2023), face and abut mirrors on either side of a stylishly painted partition. His obdurately symmetrical arrangements of sofas and end-tables transform the idealized interiors of showrooms and family sitcoms into illusions of hermetically sealed enclosures, suggesting that seductive ideas of comfort and aspiration can also entrap. – Chris Murtha

Main image: Candice Lin, Lithium Sex Demons in the Factory, 2023, animation still. Courtesy: the artist; François Ghebaly Gallery, New York and Los Angeles; and Canal Projects, New York

Contemporary Art and Culture