With an exquisite appreciation for the rare and the strange, the beautiful and the broken, artist, writer, and editor Hedi El Kholti summons impossible orgies of art, music, film, and literature with a lucid intelligence and heart-struck tenderness. Through his many projects—including coediting the iconic underground press Semiotext(e), and lately his collages on view at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles—Hedi creates stages, both literally for others as an advocate and publisher, but also more dreamily in layered phantasmic scenes scissored from avant-garde film, hazy porn, and fanzines of subterranean idols and pop stars, collating them together into pictures animated with love, lost and found.
Surprisingly, Tsai’s films aren’t too often considered by critics and scholars in terms of class representation of the precarious and the dispossessed. But I find this idea a structural key to comprehending a congruency of aesthetic, oneiric, and haptic qualities that dominates his expression, in which the unfolding of wageless life through endurance and exhaustion is his main telos.
Hot Pre-Raphaelite waifs in sharp-witted pas de deux sink low into art world tropes and clichés in Stephanie LaCava’s clever new book “The Superrationals” (Semiotext(e), 2020): an enigmatic jeune fille in a motel bathtub flicking her Cosey Fanni Tutti; big-shot collectors from uptown New York or downtown Paris; Dada-inspired mood boards by gallery-girl avatars. Acid-wash bitching and kookaburra laughter plays mise-en-scène to this tequila-swilling, character-driven critique of the multimillion-dollar art world in loop-de-loops of ambition and a slow, masterful cancellation of power.
Craft has historically found itself thrust into heated disputes relating to the materiality of gendered and racialized labor. More recently, it’s found new currency in the art world, which in turn has developed a proclivity for reducing its makers to simple tropes of identity. In his practice, ektor garcia wrestles with these stratified positions of production with a restless poetry that defies fixed meanings, whether formal or subjective.
For sheer sanguineness, attention to detail, and preternatural craft, the sculpture of Los Angeles-based artist Matt Paweski is tough to beat—at once familiar and yet perfectly strange, if not a little uncanny. The familiarity of the work resides largely in its relationship to utilitarian design, either product or urban, and the sense that what he makes has some kind of function, however unfathomable. For upon first glance, Paweski’s sculptures are evocative of everything from a Cuisinart to a high-end espresso machine to a sort of elaborate industrial tool as seen through the perspective of Constructivism and the table-size works of the late Anthony Caro. But the closer you look, the more inscrutable and absorbingly useless they become—à la Marcel Duchamp or Bruno Munari. This specious impression of utility is aided by the product-line precision with which the works are fashioned, and their seemingly domestic scale. They appear machine-made, but they are for the most part painstakingly handcrafted and painted by the artist himself. Thus they are doubly duplicitous in their artful will to mislead us down a rabbit hole of form, function, and detail.