Art beef

Carlson/Strom at the DeCordova, Jonathan Torgovnik at Brandeis, Kenji Fujita at Samson Projects
By EVAN J. GARZA  |  February 23, 2009

Ann Carlson and Mary Ellen Strom, Madame 710. Video still courtesy the artists, Judi Rotenberg Gallery, and Alexander Gray Associates, New York

Bostonians are plenty familiar with the collaborative video works of choreographer Ann Carlson and video-installation artist Mary Ellen Strom, but the DeCordova is the site of their first major museum show. On view through May 17, "CARLSON/STROM: NEW PERFORMANCE VIDEO" is a collection of large-scaled, elegantly presented installations at a venue not immediately synonymous with video. Sloss, Kerr, Rosenberg & Moore — in which four men in suits perform, one by one, the same choreographed movements at different intervals in an office lobby — is both absurd and captivating. The movements elicit an immediate emotional response and maybe a giggle; they also offer us an opportunity to examine the rigid nature of the law and those who practice it. Humor and spectacle play a large role in the success of these works. As for the other characteristics that define their process, Carlson and Strom will be on hand next Saturday, February 28, for an artists' talk.

"INTENDED CONSEQUENCES," a dramatic new exhibit by Newsweek photographer Jonathan Torgovnik opening this Monday at Brandeis University's Kniznick Gallery at the Women's Studies Research Center, focuses on rape victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, who are photographed alongside the children born of the violence. The women and children are portrayed with technical grace and exquisite lighting; the result is a set of surprisingly soft, almost painterly photographs. Torgovnik, who subsequently used his work to create Foundation Rwanda (which provides basic needs and helps the victims' children attend school), will be on hand at the opening.

First Friday in the South End earlier this month yielded little to write home about (but plenty to talk about, depending on how you looked at it), but two shows stood out among the pack. One is Julie Miller at Steven Zevitas (see Greg Cook's review); the other is Kenji Fujita's "SYSTEMATIC GAIETY: 2000-2008" at Samson Projects. A survey of work made over the last nine years, this exhibit features "recycled" sculptures (some made of old works that are cut up and fashioned into new pieces) composed of wood, refigured cardboard boxes, plaster cloth, aqua resin, and bright collections of paint and felt scraps. They serve as three-dimensional counterparts to several works on paper that mimic the sculptures in color, form, and material.

"ARTIST TALK: ANNE CARLSON AND MARY ELLEN STROM" at DeCordova Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Rd, Lincoln | February 28 at 3 pm | 781.259.8355 | "CARLSON/STROM: NEW PERFORMANCE VIDEO" at DeCordova Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Rd, Lincoln | Through May 17 | 781.259.8355 | "INTENDED CONSEQUENCES" at Brandeis University's Kniznick Gallery, Women's Studies Research Center, 515 South St, Waltham | February 23–April 9 | 781.736.8100 | "KENJI FUJITA, SYSTEMATIC GAIETY: 2000–2008" at Samson Projects, 450 Harrison Ave, Boston | Through March 21 | 617.257.7717

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