Review: best of 2016
Charlie Levine London, UK
Rosanna van Mierlo Chicago, USA
Ben Street London, UK
Jackie Im & Aaron Harbour San Francisco, UK
Art historians like to package art as a chronologically, geographically ordered procession through time, place and epoch. The reality is much messier. Creativity needs oxygen to breathe, that means community (fellow artists and audience), funds (means of survival) and space (to live, make and exhibit). Subject to the push-and-pull (mostly push) of the neo-libralised environment we're currently dealing with the art-world is decentralised like never before, but also connected in ways previously not possible (digitally). Sluice exists to connect, exemplify and shine a light on the self-initiating, non-profit orientated art-world. The art market exerts a strong pull, but for the artist/curator-run and non-profit sector other factors dominate.
We asked a few of the people we worked with this year for their stand-out shows of 2016.*
*excluding exhibitions that were part of our expo Exchange Rates, which were all obviously the best.
Charlie Levine Sluice__ director / operations
Hilma af Kilnt Serpentine London
Having seen af Klint in 2014 in Berlin I was really excited about it coming to London and more excited to see it interpreted at Serpentine and it didn’t disappoint. A female artist ahead of her time and still relevant, I believe this will be one of those ‘did you see it?’ show in years to come.
Bridget Smith Frith Street Gallery London
I am a huge fan of cyanotypes and the mythology around cinema and theatres and the similarities between both (something developing before your eyes) so this exhibition was perfect for me. All the works were incredible starting points for memories for me and I was so pleased to have seen the works in the flesh.
Betty Woodman ICA London
This was the year of Betty Woodman and this exhibition at ICA was a brilliant showcase of her work. This show bought her forward to the mainstream and for the rest of year she popped up in art fairs and biennales around the globe, this show, however, allowed her to be seen singularly and rightly so as a major female artist.
Nasreen Mohamedi The Met Breuer New York
An unsung Indian female artist got a very overdue solo exhibition and unusually not in her homeland, but in New York City. This exhibition of line, photographs, shade of grey and cut outs was by far a stand out exhibition for me this year. I loved every single piece of work and it resonated with me for the rest of my time in Manhattan and beyond.
Sara Favriau Palais de Tokyo Paris
Sara Favriau, To sum up, repetition does not delight in singular reiteration, Palais de Tokyo, February – May 2016 Mini curated exhibitions in a constructed playground of wooden walk ways and huts, this show by Sara Favriau was fun and unexpected. She was the artist of the year I went back and researched further and am following her career with excitement.
Rosanna van Mierlo Sluice_magazine features editor
Andrew Yang MCA Chicago
Biologist and artist Andrew Yang contemplates corporeality, visual meanings and the Milky Way following Carl Sagan's claim that "The total of stars in the universe is larger than all the grains of sand on all the beaches of planet earth." A beautiful show mixing science and art together in the big, messy bowl of human creation.
Agnes Martin LACMA Los Angeles
Martin's relationship with fragility and rigidity, solace and solitude inspired by the New Mexico landscape, as well as the political and gendered strategies of her work became hauntingly urgent in a country getting ready for the disastrous 2016 presidential elections.
Ragnar Kjartansson Art Institute Chicago Chicago
Exhaustion, anger, beauty, sorrow. Kjartasson re-imagines the pop culture music performance as an ever evolving, ever spiralling experience.
Visionist + Zadie Xa Cafe Oto London
Digital, hyper-evolved Asian pop culture meets primordial tribalism in Xa's performance, as part of PSY's "Hysteria" programme.
Group: There was a whole collection made Smart Museum of Art Chicago
Composed from the private collection of Lester and Betty Guttman, the exhibition showed the archival madness of two collectors who valued not the big names, but rather the queer oddities of photographic history.
Ben Street Sluice__ director / education
Tacita Dean Frith Street Gallery London
This is one film within a show called ‘LA Exuberance’, the rest of which was OK. This film, a meditation on the nature of acting, is the best thing I’ve ever seen by her and has made even her so-so stuff suddenly seem possibly great by association.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres Hauser and Wirth London
Curated by Julie Ault and Roni Horn. Curating as friendship.
Hieronymus Bosch Museo del Prado Madrid
Another argument that old art is more mysterious, complex and generous than we even imagined.
Ugo Rondinone Infinite Mix London
Some of ‘Infinite Mix’ was so good, this especially, but also work by Stan Douglas, Rachel Rose and Elizabeth Price, and some of it really wasn’t (no names). But this monologue written and read by the artist’s lover, John Giorno, stayed in the head for ages afterwards.
Group: Abstract Expressionism Royal Academy London
Jackie Im & Aaron Harbour Et al. gallery
Vittorio Orsenigo odium fati San Francisco
Apartment spaces in the Bay Area: odium fati, vi dancer (closed now but not forgotten), Quality (wish we’d seen more here), [ 2nd floor projects ], 100%... great work and community on an intimate scale that feels ever more important.
Wang Bing The Wattis Institute San Francisco
The shows at the Wattis Institute, especially Wang Bing, Camille Blatrix, and Laura Owens.
Rachel Harrison Greene Naftali New York
Diamond_Stingily Queer Thoughts San Francisco
Group: Everything is Best Interface Oakland
Jessi Reaves Bridget Donahue Gallery New York
we only caught the Jessi Reaves show in spring and Victor Burgin in fall but both of these stand out. One of our favorite spaces.