Bhenji Ra
Biraddali Dancing on the Horizon

★☆☆☆☆

On until 17 March 2024

Seeing the proliferation in galleries of long, sparse, indulgent, and hookless video installations that obliquely refer to the ancestral practices of unspecified, distant peoples, one might suspect that this trend in ‘radical’ filmmaking is the work of a conspiracy. Ra’s thirty-minute montage of washed-out wide shots lacks as much in action as it does in structure. Landscapes from a Philippine village wash over the screen and occasionally play host to livestock and human figures performing yogic-like dance movements. A colour-field sequence with designer subtitles relays fragments of a conversation between a grandmother and grandchild, the sense of which is ungraspable in the cut. The sign-reader’s desire is only obliquely rewarded by a prolonged scene, shot through a lens smeared thickly with Vaseline, in which a group of people allegorically adore a trans beauty queen.

Generously, one could compare such work to meditation. It might, at a push, be a piece of instructional diplomacy. But the gallery’s deployment of “a pedagogy of decolonial choreography” and branding the artist’s hometown of Sidney “Gadigal land, Eora Nation” break the spell. Such work was once a mere grift. But when it is this boring and has so deeply captured even the most cynical of art institutions, it is an outright stitch-up.


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

Cui Jie, Thermal Currents at Pilar Corrias ★☆☆☆☆

Cui Jie

Thermal Landscapes

★☆☆☆☆

The exhibition feels like a lecture on climate change sponsored by the designers of The Line, Saudi Arabia’s dystopian plan for a 110-mile linear city in the desert.

Vinca Petersen, Me, Us and Dogs at Edel Assanti ★★★☆☆

Vinca Petersen

Me, Us and Dogs

★★★☆☆

Close up, Petersen’s innocents today conjure ideas of redneck resistance. At scale, of state-marketed utopia. The middle ground is envy.

Alexandre Canonico, Still at Ab Anbar ★★★☆☆

Alexandre Canonico

Still

★★★☆☆

Conanico’s slight structures look like they could take flight at any moment.

Aleksandar Denić, The Serbian pavilion in Venice ★★★☆☆

Aleksandar Denić

Exposition Coloniale

★★★☆☆

Denić took the Biennale’s theme literally, as though he was not in on the art world joke.

Anna Glantz, Lichens at Approach ★★★☆☆

Anna Glantz

Lichens

★★★☆☆

The clues that Glantz leaves on her surfaces are also traps. There are either too many or not quite enough to follow or fall into. 

Florian Meisenberg, What does the smoke know of the fire? at Kate MacGarry, ★★★★☆

Florian Meisenberg

What does the smoke know of the fire?

★★★★☆

Meisenberg’s paintings are either the product of a conspiracy or documents of a conspiracy theory.

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