Last time we spoke to JJ Brine, the man behind “the official art gallery of Satan,” he told us that Donald J. Trump was “pure poison.” That was in August, right after the Republican National Convention. JJ, the self-declared “Crown Prince of Hell,” refused to say much more about the GOP candidate, even though Brine had his own political agenda: He had just tabled a plan to bring Vector Gallery to Washington D.C. in order to “‘program” the presidential elections and cause “systemic shifts in the geopolitical configuration of power in the Middle East.”
It’s generally understood that nature, while vast and occasionally intimidating, can be very beautiful. But how much of this has been intentionally placed and crafted? Is a bee’s honeycomb pleasing to the eye by accident or is there something more to it? Tribeca gallery apexart’s latest exhibition Animal Intent, organized and curated by Emily Falvey, puts animals in the spotlight alongside human artists, framing them as “collaborators” who can potentially assist in the purposeful creative act of making art, a practice normally framed as a very “human” endeavor.
On a recent night at The Lodge Gallery, Ayakamay stood inside a spherical sculpture of white drapes, extending a manicured nail, beckoning her audience one by one to join her in the cramped space. Once she lured them in, there was a flash, and a small instant film photo fell to the floor. In one instance, she kneeled in front of a visitor within the enclosure. Sometimes you could see other kinds of flashes in between the drapes— suddenly bare breasts or the pleats of a short schoolgirl skirt. Other than that, you couldn’t see much else. It was up to your imagination. More →
On Wednesday night, two police officers stood outside the Chinatown gallery Sargent’s Daughters. Only, there was no law-breaking or so-called “suspicious activity” to be investigated. Rather, they wanted to know what all the hubbub was about. Particularly, why everyone seemed to be munching cookies from a large, bright orange pair of pants. And no ordinary pair of pants. These were a rendition of the lower half of Hillary Clinton’s pantsuit in motion. More →
By the time I arrived at Knockdown Center on Saturday night for day two of Nasty Women– the four-day, all-women exhibition and giant middle finger directed at Trump–the place had been all but cleaned out. All anyone could talk about was the “epic” turnout for opening night– even the shuttle bus driver sounded beat when he told me how he helped move “thousands” of people back and forth between Knockdown and the Jefferson stop.
A new art show opening this week is just the sort of hopeful omen we need really, really need right now, just one week before this horror show of an election culminates in Donald Trump’s inauguration, when he’ll make history as the Free World’s very first Twitter Troll in Chief. Nasty Women is proof that, even though we can expect many, many more deeply ignorant, casually misogynist remarks (like the one that inspired this show) to drop like so many pigeon poos from the stratospheric heights of Trump Tower, there are an even greater number of people out there who are refusing to let this stuff slide.
The last time I saw a bunch of RAE BK‘s work all in one place was in 2015, just after the street artist and Brooklyn-native had opened his guerrilla-style solo exhibition in Chinatown. But the show wasn’t held at a gallery, instead RAE’s site-specific installation was housed inside a dingy old basement, accessible only by way of an unmarked, totally unassuming rust-red metal door adjacent to a bustling produce market. Even then, I was so jaded that I couldn’t allow myself to believe that this was a real basement with real dirt and dust everywhere. But actually it wasn’t just a fancy pop-up rental space with a stage-grit makeover, nor was it an attempt by some developer to “activate” a particular corner before the building was torn down. As RAE told me, the basement was simply on loan from a recently-retired butcher with whom he had a “tentative relationship,” and the show, called Trunk Work, was one of those rare art happenings that was both real and strange.
On a chilly but pleasant afternoon, a group of people sat at tables in Soho art space Recess, poring over strips of film. One person scratches designs onto a strip, another adds metallic star-shaped stickers. Croatia-born artist Željka Blakšić, who also uses the name Gita Blak, has been conducting what she calls a “direct filmmaking workshop.” In it, 16mm film strips are directly altered through the use of collage, drawing, scratching, and other tactics. Each person’s customized film strip is individual, but soon they will all be assembled into one motley creation, fed into a projector, and screened for all its creators to behold.
Tackling the topic of feminism is a monumental task for any art exhibition, let alone one that fits inside a downtown art space called White Box–which you already know, or maybe just guessed, is not all that enormous. Even if the curator had the MoMA to herself, a show like this would require some epic planning. And from the viewer’s perspective? Yeah right. Seeing everything in one go would be require an Odyssean attention span which, let’s be real, just doesn’t exist anymore.
So when curator Lara Pan was commissioned by the non-profit art space White Box to put together a show “about women,” she and her co-curator Ruben Natal-San Miguel came up with Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (on view through January 21), a 27-piece show that fits neatly within a realm of feminism she knows well. She may have felt compelled to whittle down the larger theme, but she managed to keep the feeling of an epic, history-sweeping, time-spanning, half-the-human-race, cross-culturally inclusive narrative. At the same time, the show defies what we’ve come to expect from women’s art exhibitions: those one-note, temporary deviations from the default (i.e. white men) that are plagued by tokenism, tiptoeing, stale themes, and work that’s about as revolutionary as a closet full of pantsuits.
Queer-themed art shows are having a moment right now, and we can only expect that trend to continue as we enter a time of uncertainty about the future of LGBTQ rights in this country (and those of all marginalized people, really). An ongoing exhibition called Like Smoke (on view through December 4 at the New York Artists Equity Association on the Lower East Side) feels so right-now in that way. The show mines gay history and examines the ways in which oppression, both past and persistent, still creep into the present. Though it examines the queer body, you won’t see any actual bodies on display. Instead there’s a great gaping black hole, phantoms from the past, and a lingering sense of absence.