On the Cover:
Rona Pondick, Magenta Swimming in Yellow, 2015–17. Pigmented resin and acrylic, 14 x 17 x 17 in. Photo: Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London/Paris/Salzburg; Zevitas Marcus, LA; Marc Straus, NY; Sonnabend Gallery, NY; Nunu Fine Art, Taipei, and the artist.
Arguably nothing today defines contemporary art as art more than context. When, for instance, is an Afro-pick more than just a comb? When it is blown up to monumental size and installed outside City Hall in Philadelphia, as Hank Willis Thomas, the subject of an outstanding interview this month, did with his 2017 work All Power to All People. If anything unites the disparate artists featured in this issue, it is their attention to context. As Amanda Dalla Villa Adams puts it in another interview, the multidisciplinary artist Zarouhie Abdalian’s work “often interrogates site-specificity.” Scott Indrisek, in his feature on Genesis Belanger, describes how the artist defamiliarizes the everyday objects she sculpts in clay through bizarre marriages—fingers emerging from a lady’s handbag, a tongue coiled on a tape dispenser—that create surreal effects. The remarkable Austrian artist Renate Bertlmann repurposes sex toys to interrogate gender and eroticism, while Rona Pondick, whose work graces this month’s cover, has in recent years turned to using a cast of her head placed in various material situations. This issue also contains our first look at collecting. Visiting Steve and Nancy Oliver’s sculpture park north of San Francisco, Gabrielle Gopinath learns that the couple commission and exhibit only site-specific pieces. Their vision and generosity of impulse will continue to inspire us in the months to come. —Daniel Kunitz