Nene Humphrey (image courtesy of Lesley Heller Workspace)

Opening Wednesday, January 10 at Lesley Heller Workspace, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through February 18.

In the Victorian age, those who lost a loved one would enact an odd and intimate ritual known as mourning braiding. This practice consisted of braiding the actual hair of the deceased into a piece of jewelry. Artist Nene Humphrey is no stranger to incorporating mourning-centric behaviors into her work, and come Wednesday she will open a new exhibition at Lesley Heller Workspace on Orchard Street that combines the brain’s reaction to grief with this old-school hair ritual. The installation and “ritualized site of production” includes braiding stations featuring wire instead of hair and walls covered with weaved strands. Instead of actual people doing the braiding, the stations sit empty and projected videos show the plaits being constructed alongside similar-looking images of the brain.

“Data Log” video installation at The Banff Centre, Canada, 2016, photo courtesy of the artist

Opening Friday, January 12 at Superchief Gallery, 7 pm. On view through February 9.

Some galleries are tiny, but Ridgewood’s Superchief Gallery is a massive 7,000 square feet. Utilizing all this space will be artist Julia Sinelnikova, who deals largely in intricate, hand-cut metallic creation and light sculptures that explore topics from surreal worlds to surveillance. Her latest show Rootkit, named for a software able to clandestinely access unauthorized portions of a computer, is an immersive environment of light, mylar, and media designed to visualize cyberwarfare, censorship, and surveillance in a time where these issues are becoming more and more pressing. The opening reception will feature a scifi-inspired performance by Sinelnikova with JJ Brine, Cornelia Singer, and Montgomery Harris, plus a DJ set by Pictureplane and performance by Cecily Feitel. For the duration of the show, Sinelnikova will also collaborate with the gallery on additional programming.

William King, Gain, 1986, Mylar, steel, 56 x 31 x 40 inches (image courtesy of Derek Eller Gallery)

William King, Annabeth Marks, Annie Pearlman, Rachel E. Williams
Opening Friday, January 12 at Derek Eller Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through February 11.

A press release for this group show states that William King’s friendly, humanlike sculptures are “like someone you met at a party but cannot place.” I don’t know about you, but if a very slender and long-legged man made of foil wearing what appears to be an extra-wide silver blazer was at the same party as me, I would totally remember him. King’s body of work is peppered with these curious, fun figures, most of which are standing tall with their wiry hands on their hips. Born in 1925, King died at age 90 in 2015 after a decades-long artistic career, including a stint as the president of the National Academy of Design. In this group show, King’s works are placed alongside the work of three younger artists who create using similar materials or aesthetics, such as painting on secondhand jackets and sewing together pieces of colorful canvas.

(image via Mountain Gallery / Facebook)

What Burns Never Returns
Opening Saturday, January 13 at Mountain Gallery, 7 pm to 10 pm. On view through February 10.

Typically, when objects are involved in a fire, they don’t have much of a future after that. After changing his name back to its original spelling (it was mistakenly tweaked when his father came to America from Ireland), Artist Vincent Dermody had a headstone engraved with the former spelling, “Darmody,” and its death date of 2000. Then, that headstone became one of the casualties of an arson fire. Though it had exploded, it has found a new way of manifesting in this exhibition. Accompanying the revived headstone is a variety of jugs submerged in grotesque cement drippings coated in neon colors and combined with the odd religious iconography or metal sign reading “beer.” Visually, the assemblages call to mind scenes like the sprawling painted hills of California’s Salvation Mountain, and conceptually, are a reminder of the artist’s past (and current) struggles.