Shows & Exhibitions

Can Instagram‘s Algorithm Curate an Exhibition Better Than a Human? A London Show Aims to Find Out

What happens when an algorithm curates an exhibition? It’s a question that Laura Herman, a doctoral researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, is unpacking in “The Algorithmic Pedestal,” a show she has spearheaded at J/M Gallery in London. 

She has invited two curators, one human and one machine, to bring together works for display by drawing from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Open Access collection.

The living curator is London-based artist Fabienne Hess, who has picked artworks related to the theme of loss, calling upon such universal human experiences as patience and curiosity. Her array of works are part of “Dataset of Loss,” a collection of images (including some of her own) that she has built over three years to counter algorithm-powered perceptions. 

One of the pieces selected by Fabienne Hess for “The Algorithmic Pedestal.” André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, Louis Revoil (1865–75). Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005.

The exhibition’s other curator is, well, Instagram. Since November 2022, organizers have uploaded images from the Met’s collection of public domain works to the @thealgorithmicpedestal account on Instagram. Whichever posts the platform’s algorithm opted to display in other users’ Home feeds are what made it into the show. 

For Herman, the exhibition, which also serves as her doctoral project, is not the only example of curation exercised by algorithmic calculation. In her view, Instagram’s “‘black box’ algorithm” is already influencing its “users’ experience of visual culture.”

“Many of these algorithmic platforms,” she said, “were not created with the intention of artistic display. They have very different goals: enabling connection between friends, selling ads, gaining attention, serving as a marketplace, and so on. This means that the underlying formulas according to which they operate are not tuned to artistic considerations of aesthetics, beauty, novelty, or even creativity.”

A preview of works picked by Instagram. Photo: @thealgorithmicpedestal on Instagram

In effect, she added, “We are outsourcing decisions about our visual culture to an inanimate machine with very different ways of seeing.”

Such a view into a social media platform’s “perceptual mechanisms” is all the more pressing, in Herman’s view, as A.I. generators, fast gaining in popularity, are bound to generate a bounty of content in need of sorting or curating. Artists, too, might feel compelled to create work preferred by algorithms.

Thus the exhibition’s interactive elements, including QR codes which visitors can scan to receive prompts about the exhibition, and submit their reflections on the differences between Hess’s and Instagram’s curation, and how these different views shape what and how they see. This audience impact will inform Oxford Internet Institute’s ongoing research into the capabilities and biases of recommendation algorithms—an “urgent” issue, added Herman, as visual culture becomes ever-more intertwined with machine intelligence.

“The ever-expanding sea of content will be impossible to traverse without the ability to consume thousands, if not millions, images in a nanosecond,” she said. “Of course, no human has this ability, leading us to become completely reliant on the discernment and decision-making of algorithmic platforms.”

“The Algorithmic Pedestal” is on view at J/M Gallery, 230 Portobello Road, London, January 11–17, 2023. The exhibition is free to attend.


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On Hip Hop‘s 50th Anniversary, Here Are the Essential Museum Shows Celebrating the Movement‘s History and Enduring Legacy

The year 2023 marks half a century since DJ Kool Herc dropped the first breakbeat at a house party in the Bronx, inadvertently birthing the style, movement, and whole culture we now know as hip hop. In the following decades, hip hop has topped charts, shaped fashions, inspired visual arts, and powered social justice causes, all as part of its globe-dominating footprint. “Hip hop,” as Snoop Dogg once put it, “is what makes the world go around.”

This year, celebrations have naturally been lined up to commemorate hip hop’s 50th anniversary. For one, New York City, the genre’s birthplace, will partner with the Universal Hip Hop Museum to stage 50 special events over 50 days. Other museums are not sitting this one out either. Below are a handful of upcoming exhibitions that are opening in time to honor hip hop’s long, rich, and enduring legacy.


Hip-Hop: Conscious, Unconscious
Fotografiska New York
January 26–May 21, 2023

David Corio, De La Soul outside the Apollo Theater, NYC (1993). Photo: Courtesy of Fotografiska New York and copyright of the artist.

To trace hip hop’s trajectory from its origins as a community concern to its emergence as a global juggernaut, Fotografiska, in conjunction with Mass Appeal, will exhibit a trove of images documenting some of the scene’s most notable players and moments. Here, photographs of the history-making likes of Grandmaster Flash, Lil’ Kim, and Beastie Boys will sit across from those of fresh faces including Kendrick Lamar and Megan Thee Stallion—all lensed by legendary photographers from Janette Beckman to Ricky Powell.

Key to the show is its focus on hip hop’s grassroots founding, aided by archival ephemera that will add context to the images on view. “It’s easy to forget that there was a time before hip hop was an industry and before it made money,” said Sacha Jenkins, CCO of Mass Appeal and the show’s co-curator. “The exhibition’s lifeblood is the period before hip hop knew what it was.”


Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: 50 Years of Hip Hop Style
The Museum at FIT
February 8–April 23, 2023

Beau McCall, Black Lives Matter Triple T-shirt, 2021. Photo: © The Museum at FIT.

From Kangol hats and Adidas Superstars to Dapper Dan jackets and Timberland boots—hip hop artists have made significant stylistic choices across generations, and in turn, transformed the fashion landscape. Through an assembly of more than 100 garments and accessories, the Museum at FIT will explore the role of fashion in hip hop. Over the decades, the movement has revolutionized streetwear and athleisure, used apparel to center Black pride and strength, and ultimately, shifted the luxury market. 

Look out for key fashions such as the Karl Kani pieces worn by Tupac Shakur, the Tommy Hilfiger bandeau Aaliyah once donned, tracksuits beloved by Run DMC, among spotlights on labels like FUBU, Rocawear, and Fenty launched by hip hop entrepreneurs themselves.


The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century
Baltimore Museum of Art
April 5–July 16, 2023

Hassan Hajjaj, Cardi B Unity (2017). Photo: Courtesy the artist and Yossi Milo Gallery, New York.

In this collaborative exhibition, the Baltimore Museum of Art and Saint Louis Art Museum will track the wide-ranging impact of hip hop on popular culture since 2000. In particular, the show examines how the movement has challenged dominant cultural narratives and structures, surfacing themes from sexuality to poverty to urbanism, via the urgent and essential works of Black creatives.

Some 70 objects are on view, spanning a variety of mediums and created by artists not limited to Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nina Chanel Abney, Virgil Abloh, Lauren Halsey, and Arthur Jafa. Collectively, they offer “an opportunity to celebrate the richness of creativity and innovation hip hop has catalyzed by exploring it through social, material, and art historical lenses,” per Gamynne Guillotte, the BMA’s Chief Education Officer. 

Following its Baltimore dates, the exhibition will run at the Saint Louis Art Museum from August 25, 2023 through January 1, 2024.

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See Inside the Met Costume Institute’s Ode to American Style, Which Presents U.S. Fashions for Every Mood

Earlier this year, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman, and Naomi Osaka as co-hosts of the Met Gala, it signaled a new phase in American celebrity culture. After all, the actor, singer, poet laureate, and athlete are all under the age of 30—the faces of a generation defined by its activism.

Just days after the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, and on the same day as the House Foreign Relations Committee grilled top brass on the botched Afghanistan withdrawal, the timing of this year’s Costume Institute show was, in a word, fraught. This was proven when a cadre of demonstrators crashed the tony step-and-repeat—not to mention the fact that a slew of the evening’s guests chose to wear non-American designers.

Nonetheless, the much-anticipated return to in-person red-carpet events was a sight to behold, kicking off a two-part exhibition at the Met. It will open to the public later this week, on a staggered timeline: part one, titled “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” runs from September 18, 2021 through September 5, 2022; and part two, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” will run from May 5, 2022 through September 5, 2022.

Back in April, the Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton told Vogue that U.S.-centric exhibitions were a long time coming; the last show to home in on the topic was “American Ingenuity” in 1998, and in the intervening years, the fashion industry—as well as the political, social, and cultural realms—have all undergone a serious recalculation.

“I really do believe that American fashion is undergoing a Renaissance,” Bolton told the magazine. “I think young designers in particular are at the vanguard of discussions about diversity and inclusion, as well as sustainability and transparency, much more so than their European counterparts, maybe with the exception of the English designers.”

André Walker, Coat, Pendleton Woolen Mills; S/S 2018; Courtesy Andre Walker Studio. Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Andre Walker’s Pendleton Woolen Mills coat, Spring/Summer 2018. Courtesy of Andre Walker Studio. Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The exhibition, in the Anna Wintour Costume Center, is based around the framework of a house, with each imagined room representing a feeling that corresponds to the spirit of a particular garment or runway collection.

The porch, Bolton explained, is categorized by warmth and visualized through a blanket-coat that Andre Walker designed with Pendleton Woolen Mills, paying homage to the Oregon-based company that was founded in 1863. And in the garden room, Oscar de la Renta’s floral-festooned dresses—over the years favored by Taylor Swift and Wintour herself—represent joy and rebirth.

Below, see more images from “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.”

Ensemble, Ralph Lauren FW 1982-83. Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Ensemble, Fall/Winter 1982-83 Ralph Lauren. Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Nostalgia (right) and Belonging (left). Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Nostalgia (right) and Belonging (left). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Consciousness. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Consciousness. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sterling Ruby Studio, VEIL FLAG (2020). Courtesy of Sterling Ruby Studio. Photo: Melanie Schiff.

Sterling Ruby Studio, VEIL FLAG (2020). Courtesy of Sterling Ruby Studio. Photo: Melanie Schiff.

Gallery view, Belonging. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Belonging. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Delight. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Delight. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Assurance. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Assurance. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Ensemble, Donna Karan F/W 1985-86. Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Ensemble, Donna Karan Fall/Winter 1985-86. Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Wonder (left) and Warmth (right). Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Wonder (left) and Warmth (right). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Wonder. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Wonder. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Comfort. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Comfort. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Here Are the 14 U.S. Museum Shows That Matter This Fall, From a Survey of 21st-Century Feminisms in Berkeley to a Radical Art Rediscovery in Atlanta

As museums begin to reopen in the United States, we cast an eye over upcoming exhibitions for those that promise the most urgent and notable art of our time. The resulting list contains a diverse roster of 14 shows—by solo practitioners and groups chosen by keen-eyed curators—coming to museums from coast to coast.

Some exhibitions will introduce you to artists you may not know, like Bani Abidi at the MCA Chicago, Michaela Eichwald at the Walker Art Center, and Nellie Mae Rowe at the High Museum. Others will offer new insight into artists or eras of artistic production you thought you knew, from a spotlight on Georgia O’Keeffe’s photography in Houston to a sweeping feminist art survey in Berkeley. 

Regardless of what city you’re in, this fall’s season of museum programming is bound to open both eyes and minds.


New Time: Art and Feminisms in the 21st Century
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)
August 28, 2021–January 30, 2022

Farah Al Qasimi, It’s Not Easy Being Seen 3 (2016). Courtesy the artist; The Third Line, Dubai; and Helena Anrather.

With 140 works by 76 artists and collectives, this exhibition at the U.C. Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is one of the largest to date on contemporary feminist art, and will coincide with a year of public programming focused on feminist theory. Works by the likes of Laura Aguilar, Christina Quarles, Zanele Muholi, Wu Tsang, and Francesca Woodman are included, tackling such topics as the fragmented body, domesticity, female anger, and feminist utopias. 


Raúl de Nieves: The Treasure House of Memory
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
September 1, 2021–July 24, 2022

Raúl de Nieves, The Fable, which is composed of wonders, moves the more (2021). © Raúl de Nieves.

Multidisciplinary artist Raúl de Nieves is adored for his exuberant works that blend queer club culture, religious iconography, and folklore traditions from his native Mexico. Here, the artist continues his ongoing exploration of his culture and its traditions through a new body of work, created especially for the ICA, that looks at memory and personal transformation.

Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe
High Museum of Art, Atlanta
September 3, 2021–January 9, 2022 

Nellie Mae Rowe, This World is Not My Home (1979). Photo courtesy of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

Born in Georgia in 1900, the daughter of a formerly enslaved man, Rowe achieved fame as a self-taught folk artist. The first major exhibition devoted to Rowe in more than 20 years celebrates the late artist’s notable drawing career, which was only fostered later in her life, after the deaths of her husband and employer, in the 1960s. The museum bills the show as the first to position Rowe’s creative pursuit as a “radical act of self-expression and liberation in the post-civil rights-era South.”


Joan Mitchell
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
September 4, 2021–January 17, 2022

Joan Mitchell, Untitled (1992). Courtesy of Cheim & Read, New York.

This highly anticipated retrospective devoted to the queen of gestural abstraction contains over 80 works, encompassing everything from early paintings and drawings, sketchbooks, letters, and photographs to the large, color-drenched, multi-panel works that defined her later output.  


Selena Forever/Siempre Selena
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas
September 4, 2021–January 10, 2022

John Dyer, Selena (1992). Courtesy of the artist.

At the height of the beloved Tejano singer’s fame, it was photographer John Dyer whom she entrusted to produce the images of her that were seared into the American pop-culture consciousness. Over the course of two collaborative photoshoots, in 1992 and ‘94, Dyer captured the legendary Selena Quintanilla-Pérez in her signature gemmed bustier and red lip, pictures that became immortal after her tragic death in 1995.


Bani Abidi: The Man Who Talked Until He Disappeared
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
September 4, 2021–June 5, 2022

Bani Abidi, An Unforeseen Situation 4. Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Bani Abidi’s work infuses deadly serious subjects like militarism, nationalism, and memory with humor, holding up a mirror to power structures. The Pakistani artist, who lives in Karachi and Berlin, gets the survey treatment at the MCA, co-organized with the Sharjah Art Foundation, in a show that looks at over 20 years of her career and features new work alongside existing video, photography, and sound installations. 


Adam Pendleton: Who Is Queen?
Museum of Modern Art, New York
September 18, 2021–January 30, 2022

Adam Pendleton, Untitled (WE ARE NOT) (2021). Image courtesy of the artist.

Pendleton, who has put forth a “Black Dada” framework inspired by Amiri Baraka, ambitiously takes over MoMA’s Marron Atrium with an immersive floor-to-ceiling installation described as a “spatial collage” containing text, image, and sound. All together, the show’s paintings, drawings, textiles, sculptures, and moving images seek to disrupt the 1:1 relationship of words and images, allowing a complex new vision of Blackness to emerge in abstraction.

The Art Institute of Chicago
September 19, 2021–January 24, 2022

Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Your Body is a Battleground) (1989), at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2013. Photo by Susan Broman via Flickr.

The prolific Pictures Generation artist has collaborated with the Art Institute to map out a survey of her entire career that takes up the whole of the museum’s 18,000-square-foot gallery space. It’s all here, and squirm-inducingly relevant: her trademark “pasteups,” works on vinyl, animations, and video installations, plus a new site-specific work in the adjoining atrium. On top of this, Kruger has created work for the city at large, making billboards and designs for the Chicago Transit Authority, among other organizations.


Naudline Pierre: What Could Be Has Not Yet Appeared
Dallas Museum of Art
September 26, 2021–May 15, 2022

Naudline Pierre, Lest You Fall (2019). Courtesy of the Dallas Museum of Art.

Pierre is known for her colorful canvases that depict ethereal beings and explore power struggles in intimate relationships. The Brooklyn-based painter’s first solo museum exhibition will consist of existing works—one of which was recently acquired by the DMA—as well as new creations, with five major paintings making their debut. 


Greater New York
MoMA PS1, New York
October 7, 2021–April 18, 2022

Robin Graubard, selection from “Peripheral Vision” (1979–2021). Image courtesy the artist and Office Baroque, Antwerp.

One of the hottest survey exhibitions of new art from across New York’s five boroughs is back for its fifth iteration. This latest edition, curated by Ruba Katrib with Serubiri Moses, Kate Fowle, and Inés Katzenstein, was delayed by a year due to the pandemic, but still promises to showcase the best of artists and collectives currently working in the Big Apple, including Carolyn Lazard, Alan Michelson, and BlackMass publishing.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Photographer
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
October 17, 2021–January 17, 2022

Georgia O’Keeffe, Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) (1964–68). © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe.

The artist best known for her paintings of flowers and Southwestern landscapes is recast here in the first exhibition to focus entirely on her photography, with nearly 100 prints from a newly examined archive to go on view. Described as a “Modernist approach” to the art form, O’Keeffe’s pictures document family members, fellow artists, and her travels. 


Soft Water Hard Stone
The New Museum, New York
October 28, 2021–January 23, 2022

Amalie Smith, Clay Theory (2019) (still). Courtesy of the artist.

The latest triennial from the downtown institution draws its title from a Brazilian proverb: “Água mole em pedra dura, tanto bate até que fura,” meaning “soft water on hard stone hits until it bores a hole.” Curators Margot Norton and Jamillah James have translated this idea into an exhibition of 41 international artists focused on how systems we once considered infallible have been, in fact, proven fragile by recent global crises. 


My Barbarian
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
October 29, 2021–February 27, 2022

My Barbarian, Broke People’s Baroque Peoples’ Theater, 2011–15. Studio photograph, courtesy of the artists.

For the occasion of the performance trio’s 20th anniversary, the Whitney has commissioned a new filmic piece, Rose Bird, about California’s first female chief Supreme Court justice, to accompany this two-part survey of My Barbarian’s work. A series of live events—including a play, a festival, a cabaret-style concert, and a “rehearsal-as-performance”―will be enacted alongside an exhibition containing footage of previous performances, in addition to sculptures, paintings, drawings, masks, and puppets.

Michaela Eichwald
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
November 14, 2020–May 16, 2021

Michaela Eichwald, Die Unsrigen sind fortgezogen (The Ours Have Moved Away) (2014). Collection Brian Pietsch and Christopher Hermann.

The Berlin-based artist and writer, who is primarily a painter, marks her first solo exhibition in the United States with a presentation looking back at the past ten years of her career. Her palimpsest-like paintings, sculptures, and collages contain surprising materials like candy and chicken bones, and often allude to her interests in philosophy and literature.

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Banksy Gets the ‘Immersive Van Gogh’ Treatment in a Touring Show Hitting New York This Week—and the Artist Does Not Approve

One does not expect the first big New York fall art show one attends to be Banksy, but the Art Gods will have their say. 

Just hours before the remnants of Hurricane Ida steamrolled the New York region, I made my way to an exhibition space on 14th Street, near a Foot Locker and a Pinkberry, for the sprawling show “Banksy: Genius or Vandal?” The traveling exhibition (one of several currently making the rounds) offers a deluge of some 100 prints by the famed street artist, whose guerrilla works—sometimes politically incisive, sometimes absurdly humorous, sometimes just cute—have captivated a mass audience for years. The show contains a VR experience, a video montage of the anonymous artist’s works, and scene-setting flourishes like a mock British phone booth. 

The artist is not amused by these tributes. When the show appeared in Moscow in 2018, his responses, in an Instagram post, included “What’s the opposite of LOL?” He disavowed the show, saying, “I don’t charge people to see my art unless there’s a fairground wheel.” Tickets to the New York presentation cost $29.50, or $19.90 for kids; to date, it has drawn over 3 million visitors in 15 cities…you do the math. (Banksy’s post did, however, acknowledge the irony of criticizing unauthorized presentations of his unauthorized works.)

The show is organized in cooperation with Banksy dealer Andrew Lilley; a great many of the prints are from his holdings. Helpfully, if you’re feeling acquisitive, the wall labels point you to his website. And the spectacle is produced by Exhibition Hub and Fever, which between them offer exhibitions on artists like Claude Monet, Gustav Klimt, and Michael Jackson. Probably Fever’s best known offering would be “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience,” which got them in hot water with New York’s Better Business Bureau when customers confused it with “Immersive Van Gogh,” the Emily in Paris one.

Installation view of the immersive (and unauthorized) Banksy exhibition “Genius or Vandal.” Photo courtesy of Erick Pendzich.

Girding myself for what press reps promised was a “family-friendly storytelling experience,” I headed first to the VR presentation. To a politely funky soundtrack, I floated through grit-dusted alleyways, where animated Banksys pop up on the graffitied walls as if being painted live. The 10-minute voyage packs in the works, and they go by too fast. This sets the tone for an overstocked show that screams “I’m a blockbuster!” 

Some of the displays are clever enough. At the entry, the organizers—admitting that they can’t offer the conventional biography—provide the next best thing: a recreation of the artist’s studio from his hit 2010 mockumentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. But it faces off with the show’s worst sin, a curtained room with a blaring videomontage, complete with grating soundtrack (sirens and police radios, get it?), of numerous works connected by red string in the classic evidence board motif. The sound drowns out thought in the neighboring galleries. 

All the hits are here, represented by the prints the artist makes to complement his wall works in the wild—Girl with a Balloon, Riot Copper, Monkey Parliament, Dismaland, Walled-Off Hotel—and grouped under themes like politics, Brexit, consumption, and protest. Taken together, the breadth of Banksy’s output and the many tough subjects he has tackled, from the surveillance state to the police state to the state of constant war, is impressive. I was heartened to be reminded that he puts his money where his mouth is—raising money to assist women in Greek refugee camps, for example, and converting Dismaland’s building materials into housing for refugees. 

A viewer takes in the Banksy exhibition “Genius or Vandal.” Photo courtesy of Erick Pendzich.

But that made seeing this art in a gigantic, money-minting corporate expo all the more disheartening. Overall, the experience of encountering works that give form to ideas expressed in the street, continents apart, divorced here from their local and temporal context, had the effect of taming them, leaving me feeling as if I were observing one of Banksy’s classic feral rats, bathed, combed, and caged. 

Banksy points out in his book Wall and Piece that rats “exist without permission,” that “if you are dirty, insignificant and unloved, then rats are the ultimate role model.” Fun fact: They can also swim for three days on end. As the skies opened up over New York, sending down a record three inches of rain per hour, I realized that maybe Banksy is right. Maybe we need to learn something from the rats. And that even an unauthorized show about a guerrilla artist has, like these animals, a right to exist.

Banksy: Genius or Vandal” is currently on view at 526 6th Avenue, New York City. 

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