Blog / Bill Thelen: Top 10 for 2012


And now it’s an annual event. Bill Thelen of Lump gallery/projects in Raleigh has once again shared with us his favorite exhibitions, musical performances and other creative endeavors from the past year. His insights and teacherly instincts, wrapped up in an inspiring and clickable list, are exclusive to the Nasher Museum Blog. Read Bill’s Top 10 lists of 2010 and 2011.

1. Christine Hill – Volksboutique/Small Business at P! and Ronald Feldman, New York. Two great shows from Christine Hill in New York this fall. I have always loved her mix of distinct aesthetics, humor and performance. With the economy in the gutter, Hurricane Sandy and unmitigated violence, this glimmer of optimism helped put an end to a gloomy 2012. 2013 is going to be great, I can feel it.

2. No Person May Carry a Fish into a Bar – curated by Julian Hoeber and Alix Lambert at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles. I have been thinking about crime lately, and was pleasantly surprised when I entered this show. From Robert Buck’s the shrine (from e to u) to Dirk Skreber’s Suspicious Package 2 to Kori Newkirk’s Long Division (v. 1) … and that was all before you entered the show! It was heavy without being didactic.

3. Andro Wekua – Dreaming Dreaming at Gladstone Gallery, New York. This show had it all: sculpture, painting, collage and an amazing new film Never Sleep With a Strawberry in Your Mouth 2. I was mesmerized by every single piece as it crossed mediums, time periods and genres. I literally forgot where I was after I left this show.

4. Russian Tsarlag at Meadows of Dan, Carrboro. Probably the best performance art I have seen since the 1980’s. I was so excited to see Russian Tsarlag because I was obsessed with his LP Midnight at Mary’s House. Even though he didn’t play one song from that record, I was enthralled by his performance.

5. Martin Creed – Plays Chicago at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. I was expecting something very different from the overbearing MOTHERS sculpture that sits outside the MCA. Most of the pieces inside the museum were quite the opposite – quiet, obscure and muted.

6. Shana Moulton – Whispering Pines at Hanes Art Center, UNC, Chapel Hill. UNC doesn’t get it right that often, but they sure did when they invited Shana Moulton as a visiting artist and to perform her opera. Like Enlightenment on HBO, she never crosses the line into mockery.

7. Andreas Slominski – Sperm – Metro Pictures, New York. The most f**ked up show I saw all year, and it was in Chelsea of all places! Metro Pictures really let it all hang out with this show.  I can’t explain how perplexed my friends were as I was trying to explain the profound impact of ejaculate on the wall.

8. Artbanka, AMoYA, Prague. Nestled away in an abandoned, Baroque palace, right in the middle of tourist frenzy. Recent MFA grads transformed the space into a show that was bursting with ambition and street smarts. It just goes to show you when you don’t have a gallery to show your work, take matters into your own hands.

9. How to Survive a PlagueLet’s face it, ACT UP is the best example of Social Practice that has ever existed. To this day, I have never witnessed anything as profound and life affirming/changing as this. This is not only an excellent documentary, but a work of art for the history books.

10. Drawing a Blank (On Forgetting, Refusal, Censure and Impotence)curated by Matthew Brannon and Jan Tumlir at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles. Another amazing show curated by artists. An interesting mix of inter-generational artists and work from the perspective of having a creative block in the studio. Sharp and inspiring.


IMAGE (TOP): Dirk Skreber, Suspicious Package 2, 2010. Hand-painted bronze, 5 1/4 x 11 1/2 x 9 inches. Courtesy of Blum & Poe, Los Angeles.

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