Dystopia now!

‘Alexis Rockman,’ ‘The New Authentics,’ and ‘Paper Trail II’ at the Rose, and Chantal Akerman at MIT
April 22, 2008 5:42:46 PM
Chantal Akerman, Femmes d’Anvers en Novembre (Women of Antwerp in November)

“Alexis Rockman,” “The New Authentics,” and “Paper Trail II” at Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, 415 South St, Waltham | May 8–July 27 | 781.736.3434  | “Chantal Akerman” at MIT List Visual Arts Center | May 2–July 6 | 617.253.4680
Our species seems to have a serious love/hate relationship with nature, as in “can’t live with it, can’t live without it.” In early, unsettling work, Alexis Rockman created 3-D wall dioramas with a natural-history-museum feel, using trompe-l’œil painting, trash, and animal carcasses, among other material, to depict mini-narratives set in locales such as a suburban home or a golf course, with a cast of characters that included rodents and road kill, all fixed beneath several inches of resin. His more recent, fantastical, post-apocalyptic paintings take on genetic engineering and global warming, and over the past two years, he’s been making works on paper, addressing what looks like the rapidly approaching catastrophe of climate change with a mix of awe and horror. “ALEXIS ROCKMAN: THE WEIGHT OF AIR,” opening at Brandeis’s Rose Art Museum May 8, is the first museum show of his latest pieces.

Also opening May 8 at the Rose, work by three artists: Ludwig Schwarz, who last year transformed a New York gallery into some sort of a pizza kitchen, combining spices, paintings, and video; Collier Schorr, best known for portraits of adolescents that gently blast to the puzzling heart of questions of gender, sexuality, and nationality; and David Altmejd, whose installation as Canada’s representative to the Venice Biennale last summer featured birds, squirrels, and half-human, half-bird bodies. So what do these three have in common? They are all Jewish, though their levels of Jewish education and affiliation vary, and they are three of 16 Jewish artists in “THE NEW AUTHENTICS: ARTISTS OF THE POST-JEWISH GENERATION.” Exploring cultural, ethnic, and religious identity in the US today, the exhibit focuses on artists born in the 1960s and 1970s who do not define themselves primarily as Jews but whose work was in some way shaped by their Jewish backgrounds. Meanwhile, in the Rose’s Lee Gallery, “PAPER TRAIL II,” curated by artist Odili Donald Odita, showcases work from the Rose’s permanent collection integrated with Odita’s.

Belgian filmmaker and video artist Chantal Akerman made a stir in 1975 with Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, which depicts three days in the life of a middle-aged widow and mother in a tidy apartment who supports herself and her teenage son by prostitution each afternoon. Its deadpan quality and fastidious attention to mundane detail rocked both the art world and the film world. In her work since 1995, Akerman has joined documentary filmmaking techniques with video installation. Opening at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center on May 2, “CHANTAL AKERMAN: MOVING THROUGH TIME AND SPACE” presents five of her single and multi-channel works from 1995 to 2007. Femmes d’Anvers en Novembre (Women of Antwerp in November) was created especially for the exhibition; it’s a series of short vignettes of women smoking at night.

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  • DON’T LEAVE ME THIS WAY:   Botanical Forms at Harvard’s Museum of Natural History, Carroll Dunham and more at the Addison, and Renzo Piano at the Fogg
  • TIME AFTER TIME:   The DeCordova Annual, New Orleans after Katrina, ‘Superartificial,’ 19th-Century Leisure Travel, and El Chango Verde
  • NICE DAY FOR A WHITE WEDDING:   ‘Wedded Bliss’ at the Peabody Essex, Toys and Games at the Revolving Museum, and Chad Walker at Space 242
  • SOME SPANIARDS IN THE WORKS:   ‘El Greco to Velázquez’ at the MFA, ‘Artadia Boston’ at the Mills Gallery, Harmonious Noise on the Roof at Tufts, and Animal Estates at MIT’s CAVS
  • IN OUR NATURE:   Frank Gohlke at the Addison, ‘Pulp Function’ at the Worcester Center for Crafts, and ‘Expanded Sculpture 2’ at 119 Gallery
  • LINES OF INQUIRY:   ‘On Drawing’ at the New Art Center, Gateway Arts at Simmons, Jeff Koons at Harvard, and Jenny Saville at BU
  • TRYING TO PLACE IT:   “New England Survey” at the PRC, American Mobility at Gasp, 18th-Century Porcelain at the Busch-Reisinger, and Viktor Schreckengost in Attleboro
  • NAUGHTY BY NATURE:   Spring Arts Preview: Landscape, road trips, weddings, and Spain
  • SIZING THINGS UP:   Monumental Prints and Small Ponds at the Davis Museum, ‘Art and Math’ at Axiom, Glass Sea Creatures at Harvard, and New Rationalists at Proof


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