Barton Lidicé Beneš, “Lethal Weapons: Silencer,” 1994. Mixed-media assemblage with artist’s HIV-positive blood, 16 1/8 x 15 1/8 x 3 1/2 in. Collection of Joshua Rechnitz. Courtesy of the estate of Barton Lidicé Beneš and Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York (image via Visual AIDS / Facebook)

Cell Count
Opening Thursday, May 31 at La MaMa Galleria, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through June 16.

Presented by Visual AIDS and curated by Kyle Croft and Asher Mones, this exhibition zeroes in on the insidious intersection of HIV and incarceration, both today and throughout history. Currently, more than half the states in America have laws in effect that criminalizes the act of potentially exposing someone to HIV without first disclosing their status, often regardless of other factors like viral load or actual transmission risk, leading many to deem them dangerous. The 15+ artists of Cell Count use their work to interrogate these laws and how they affect people with HIV, placing them into conversation with a larger history of “medically sanctioned violence and incarceration.”

Nicole Awai, “No Escape (Hatch) 4”, 2017, Detail (image via Lesley Heller Gallery)

Said By Her
Opening Thursday, May 31 at Lesley Heller Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through June 30.

Though there are still plenty of events and discussions about womanhood being helmed by a bunch of men (but hopefully not for much longer), I think we can all agree that a woman’s experience is best summarized in her own words, or in this case, her own art. Exhibition Said By Her invites six women artists to create work surrounding the topic of “female presentation,” however that may manifest to them. The result includes videos and photos of adolescent women reacting to their own bodies, a cellular deconstruction of the female body rendered in paint, abstract sculptures that somehow feel feminine, and more. In addition to Said By Her, the gallery will also be opening an exhibition of sculptural installation and gouache paintings by Donna Dennis that same evening.

(image via MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38‎ / Facebook)

Heat Signature
Opening Thursday, May 31 at Ludlow 38, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through June 24.

We know the Great Seal of the United States to have an eagle on one side and a pyramid on the other. Thomas Jefferson proposed another idea, which did not involve any of the aforementioned iconography but rather the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt on one side and a pair of lithe, 5th century Saxon warriors on the other. This design concept was ultimately rejected, but plays a central role in Tali Keren’s research-based sculptural installation at the MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies at Ludlow 38, commissioned by the playfully-named Agency For Legal Imagination. Keren’s work combines this Biblically-themed rejected seal with a FC-R thermal camera, a type of camera used by firefighters that can sense body heat. In doing so, the artist raises questions about American history and how surveillance can happen in unexpected ways.

(image via Calico Brooklyn / Facebook)

Opening Friday, June 1 at Calico Brooklyn, 7 pm to 10 pm. On view through June 24.

Typically when you go to an art gallery, you’re seeing a finished, polished product. You know it’s gone through drafts and planning, but you just have to imagine what that might look like. This Friday, you can get a little of both when Picnic opens. Based on an online platform of the same name that pairs artist interviews and works-in-progress with finished works, Picnic gives IRL onlookers a chance to get a behind-the-scenes peek at what happens while an artist is creating. The artists featured in the gallery show comprise the entirety of the artists featured on Picnic’s online platform over the past three years. If you can’t make it to this weekend’s Greenpoint Open Studios, this will give you a taste of what goes on behind those mysterious studio doors.