Aleksandra Mir

Critics Picks

Artforum, New York, Dec 2003
By Christopher Bollen

Naming Tokyo part II
13 Nov – 20 Dec 2003
Swiss Institute—Contemporary Art, 495 Broadway 3rd floor, New York, NY - USA

From Broodthaers on, visual and linguistic typologies have proved irresistible to Conceptual artists, both as formal models and subjects of critique. Aleksandra Mir and Jonathan Monk, in a joint exhibition at the Swiss Institute, go a bit farther out on this limb than usual, attempting systematic catalogues of time and space itself. Mir resumes an ongoing project kicked off earlier this year at the Palais de Tokyo. She has taken it upon herself to give Western appellations to Tokyo's numerous nameless streets, collecting lists of suggestions from friends and associates. Nicolas Bourriaud, for example, suggests using the names of "imaginary important people," while Annika Ström votes for the titles of love songs. Mir has assigned these random signifiers, according to her own recondite logic, to certain areas of Tokyo in the sincere hope that they will make their way into common use. A stack of maps, bearing the made-up names, sits in the center of the gallery along with model street signs. It's a characteristic Mir provocation, leaving the viewer to find the distinction between cross-cultural outreach and acts of would-be imperialism. Jonathan Monk, meanwhile, offers several of his slide-projector pieces along with a series of wall texts, each indicating a place and a future time (such as "Le 21 juin 2012 à 14 heures au col de la Furka Suisse"). These inscrutable works might be seen as plot points, diagramming and mapping out the featureless expanse of the future.