Aria Dean

Abattoir

★★★☆☆

On until 5 May 2024

The ICA’s once inviting gallery space is now a maze and smells of industrial rubber. Inside this pen, Dean’s video follows an animal’s death parade in a disused slaughterhouse. After a moment of exuberant confusion, the image turns into a sinister whirlwind. To the soundtrack of a cheap horror film, the invisible carcass then whimsically journeys over a pool of CGI blood and along a row of butchers’ hooks.

Dean has contributed plenty to art’s politics as a writer and editor. Her thoughts on necropolitics would have thus been of some interest. But this work is as subtle as the “U.S.A.” denominator included in the video’s title. Even at the outset, the project’s chances are scarpered by a knee-jerk association of black American life with systemic and terminal oppression.

Capital is racism, architecture is death. Dean isn’t wrong and all this could have been a decent e-flux essay. But visuals of her own making overpower Dean the artist. There are, for example, no butchers and no cattle in the film’s frame. The question of death-value turns into idle musing, leaving the work of the ‘system’ as opaque as ever.


notes and notices are short and curt exhibition reviews. Read more:

Calla Henkel & Max Pitegoff, I.W. Payne, Downtown at 243 Luz ★★★★☆

Calla Henkel & Max Pitegoff, I.W. Payne

Downtown

★★★★☆

This project has no room for breath and even less for context.

looking to the futurepast, we are treading forward, the Bolivian pavilion in Venice ★☆☆☆☆

looking to the futurepast, we are treading forward

★☆☆☆☆

The contemporary is of no interest to a nation whose future is yet to be dug out from the ground.

Jordan Derrien, Painted on a Wall of the Inn at Marlotte at Des Bains ★★☆☆☆

Jordan Derrien

Painted on a Wall of the Inn at Marlotte

★★☆☆☆

Derrien has his audience discussing the nature of paint drying out loud.

Michaël Borremans, The Monkey at David Zwirner ★★★★★

Michaël Borremans

The Monkey

★★★★★

Borremans toys with his subjects, his audience, and with art history.

Christo, Early Works at Gagosian Open ★★★★☆

Christo

Early Works

★★★★☆

To appreciate Christo’s early works against his wishes, one must forget his later stunts.

Atiéna R Kilfa, Primitive Tales, at Cabinet ★☆☆☆☆

Atiéna R. Kilfa

Primitive Tales

★☆☆☆☆

An uninspired re-staging of the artist’s Camden Arts Centre show.

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