Even Magazine

Issue 1: Summer 2015

Here is a problem — a paradox, even. At the start of this topsy-turvy century galleries are slammed with more visitors than ever. Newly powerful economic actors have redrawn the map of the art world. Digital means of circulation have transformed both the work artists make and the way we experience it. How can we account, then, for the pervasive sense that contemporary art is not moving forward, is spinning its wheels? At a time of unprecedented attention for visual art, not to mention a perpetual market boom, why the endless nostalgia?

In galleries (and social media feeds, increasingly) an idle tastemaking dominates. In journals, though, or on the conference circuit, art discourse takes the form of a pseudopolitics whose assertions verge into the paranormal. Either we ask art to do things it cannot do, making fantastical claims about subverting authority or rewiring society, despite decades of evidence that art has no such power. Or else we fail to notice all the things art actually can do, and reduce it to the selfie backdrop of the day.

Three years ago, in the catalogue of a very good Whitney Biennial, Andrea Fraser wrote that “much of what is written about art now seems to me to be almost delusional in the grandiosity of its claims for social impact and critique.” The goal of Even is to start unwinding those delusions, for it is well past time to start talking and writing about art as it really functions, as it really circulates, as it’s really experienced. That seems the only possible way to understand where we are, or where we’re going, even.

Essays

Portfolio

Two years ago the artist KEMANG WA LEHULERE traveled to the New York grave of Nat Nakasa, a writer banished from apartheid South Africa. The grass Wa Lehulere clipped at the gravesite reemerged in his most recent exhibition in Cape Town, sprouting from open suitcases: unmarked graves for untold exiles, or else graves for past offenses that too few are ready to exhume. Glazed statues of dogs, mass-produced ceramic tchotchkes once common in South African homes, stood serried beside the suitcases, or in upturned crates made from salvaged school desks. What is the past? A minefield, a mountain; a place whose pedagogy takes the form of signs beyond language, and keeps getting erased as you learn.

Reviews

  • I. New York & Berlin
    by Karen Archey

    New York and Berlin have a shared currency: youth. On the city Reena Spaulings successfully infiltrated, and the other where she rents an Airbnb

  • II. Rio & São Paulo
    by Silas Martí

    The Brazilian art world, at last, reckons with the wages of colonialism and discrimination. Looking at the workers of Pernambuco in the lily-white galleries of São Paulo

  • III. New Delhi
    by Jyoti Dhar

    Can an arts institution remain radical for five whole years? A short history of the most derelict house on the best block in New Delhi

  • IV. Los Angeles
    by Travis Diehl

    Los Angeles: location, location, location. On Pierre Huyghe and Renée Green — contemporary acts of defiance against modernist architecture

Interviews