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Joe Bradley’s mid-career retrospective at the Rose Art Museum, on view through January 28, opens with a wall of drawings that may convince you that the survey stretches back to adolescence. A cartoon dog’s head floats on a largely empty page like an abandoned doodle from a teenager’s notebook. Geometric patterns are colored in on cheap, shriveled graph paper and memo pads. They look like ideas torn out of a sketchbook without any fuss over archival materials or awareness of future value. The drawings are surprisingly recent creations though, and valuable works…

In DisInterRuptions at Rafius Fane Gallery, artist Jeffrey Schiff explores the alchemical possibilities of materials. Schiff structures a series of situations in which contrary things are brought together to generate curious objects straddling sculpture, installation, collage, landscape, and photography. Rather than occupying a state of in-betweenness, the objects assume a stance of normality. Out of seemingly illogical and unnatural combinations appear items that are logical and natural, as if existing a priori of their condition as art. Shown on the floor and positioned in the gallery space as the centerpiece of DisInterRuptions,…

Silent. Silence. Silenced contemplates sound and its absence via the work of Boston-based artists Charlene Liska and Christine Palamidessi, with contributions from the French sound artist Christine Coënon and the mobile artist John Wilkinson. The exhibition’s location, in the Atlantic Works building of East Boston, is a study in the dramatic and rapid gentrification of East Boston. Construction in the lot immediately next to the building reverberates throughout the space, layering onto the exhibition an unintended but captivating site-specific addition. Aspects of the exhibition also felt under construction, although these instances interfered…

“The ‘21st-century naturalist,’” curator Ruth Erickson explains in an introductory text to the exhibition Mark Dion: Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist currently on view at ICA/Boston, “investigates nature as part of culture and society rather than separate from them—exploring how folk tales, hunting stories, movies, biology classes, advertising, and every discipline and industry construct their own versions of nature.” Instead of studying nature, the 21st-century naturalist studies us, scrutinizing the systems we create to understand our place in the world. In his role as a 21st-century naturalist, Mark Dion has amassed a body…

In Matt Keegan’s 45-minute video Generation – the centerpiece of his solo exhibition at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts – he takes a deceptively simple approach to tackle the knotty intersections of family and identity with funny, thought-provoking results. Keegan interviews his mother, father, siblings, nephews, and nieces. He asks each to define common words fraught with emotional, social, and political meaning – like mother, father, feminine, masculine, love, sex, race, and immigrant – as well as more lighthearted terms, such as clouds, ghost, and magic. What unfolds are revealing…

It is now almost ten years after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and sixteen since China joined the World Trade Organization. Three decades have elapsed since the Tiananmen Square protests, and half a century since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. For contemporary Chinese artists, art is a valuable tool for processing both the rapid changes and lingering trauma of the last five decades. This art deserves the attention it is currently receiving from institutions in the United States, despite many works being difficult for Americans to understand, or even accept. The Guggenheim’s…

“A book, or a work of art [culture] cannot by itself change the world, but by asking the questions that matter, it might attempt to be an act of articulation against violence, both the brutal and casual kinds. It might aspire to starting a conversation, through which together we might find common meaning and words that free.” – Jeff Chang For this digital artist residency with Big Red & Shiny I will produce a series of essays that explore different emotions I’ve been processing and trying to articulate visually in America’s Post-Obama…

“May you live in interesting times.” – Chinese curse With the fate of the planet hanging precariously in the balance, there’s at least one thing about which we can all be certain: we are living in interesting times. While it’s not the sort of interesting any of us would have asked for, nevertheless here we are, and every academic discipline, and anyone who does anything in the way of cultural work in any field, is left with a nagging choice. It’s a choice of conscience, really, but also one of meaning. For…

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