On the cover:
Elmgreen & Dragset, Capitalism Will Collapse From Within, 2003. Canvas, paint, stainless steel safe door, and combination lock, painting: 120 x 200 cm.; safe: 90 x 90 cm. Photo: Oren Slor, Courtesy the artists.
That the artists showcased in this issue tend to share a skeptical attitude toward capitalism and its products should not raise eyebrows, given how pervasive such themes are in art today. But these individuals also embrace a post-Warholian sense of standing on both sides of the fence. “I’m implicated in everything I’m critiquing,” Ilana Harris-Babou says in an interview this month. “Part of me wants nice furniture like the products I mock in Reparation Hardware (2018). It’s a critique, but it also comes from a place of play and affection.” Those words could apply as well to Elmgreen & Dragset, who also cast a sociopolitical gaze on labor, capitalism, and design, without ever losing sight of their role in these systems. Matthew Angelo Harrison, who, like Harris-Babou, appears in the current Whitney Biennial, was influenced by the automotive industry in making and conceptualizing his sculptures. On the other hand, Michael Rakowitz, who creates papier-mâché versions of lost Iraqi treasures, withdrew from the Biennial over the financial support the museum had received from a company that produces military equipment, specifically tear gas. Opting to handcraft those elements of his sculptures that look like found objects, Leonardo Drew also discusses his process and fascinating journey in these pages, while Coleen Sterritt combines manufactured goods and natural materials into whimsical objects. By making us think again about our relationship to the objects we encounter in the world, all these artists could be said to teach. Sterritt, however, is represented here as the winner of the ISC’s Outstanding Educator Award. To find the next generation of thought-provoking artists, you need look no farther than our feature on the winners of the ISC’s Student Achievement Awards. —Daniel Kunitz