The Agenda: February 16-22

The Agenda: February 16-22

"The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973-1991" edited by Nancy Princenthal, published by DelMonico Books, Prestel,



This excellent volume charts the contribution of feminism and feminist artists to what it terms the "deconstructive art" of the 70s and 80s, that is, the media-smart, appropriationist vein of work that aimed to take apart and reconfigure mass media imagery. The cast of characters here is in some ways over-familiar — Dara Birnbaum, Jenny Holzer, Louise Lawler, Adrian Piper, Cindy Sherman — but the book is worth its cost for the smart essays that contextualize the work of these canonical figures. In particular, Neuberger Museum of Art curator Helaine Posner's remarks on the hidden role that visual pleasure plays for even the most conceptually austere "deconstructionist" artist (I'm looking at you, Sherrie Levine!) is worth taking note of, since it helps explain the complex and contradictory ways that further generations of artists have taken up this critical legacy.


Federico Massa a.k.a. Cruz "copy that." at graphite, 38 Marcy Avenue, Brooklyn, opening February 19, 6-9 p.m., through March 2,


Brooklyn's graphite gallery presents work by young Italian artist Federico Massa, who also goes by the name Cruz, and is a founder of something called the Bag Art Factory collective in Milan. For his show "copy that.", he's presenting scrappy collage works made by ripping down, and then ripping up, posters used to promote art exhibitions at the Royal Palace of Milan, playfully reworking them to make them his own (you can see his goof on Tamara de Lempicka, here), as well as other works that are homages to New York, his adopted city. Worth checking out.


Laurie Simmons at Salon 94, 243 Bowery, through March 26,

Most of Simmons's previous doll-house images have seemed to me so tied to a specific, historic mood — to the stiff discontent felt by characters in John O'Hara novels, to familial distress in the mid-twentieth century. If the dolls could move, I felt a highball glass's contents would imminently be thrown in some plastic face, smearing the carefully painted-on look of blankness, cascading down to stain some impeccable piece of chicly modern interior design. In the past few years, however, the artist's "Color Pictures" have become destabilized, dislodged from any palpable era, mixing elements culled from vastly different times, which never really cohere into a single scene, but rather became punchlines about how photographic material dates itself. Her new show at Salon 94 is something completely different. And it's spectacular. I love (not in a weird way, stay with me) "The Love Doll," a human-sized latex Japanese sex toy. The sun-dappled images on view evoke not one dated mood or another, but rather call up a flood of contemporary associations — these works manage to engage with and mock the tedious school of art and fashion photographers working today who ceaselessly photograph sad, pretty, white people illuminated by dramatic beams of light, yet the images also bring on a slew of girlhood memories and dark fantasies, and feel like slick advertisements gone suddenly wrong, Photoshopped past the point of "perfection" to a horrifying state of inhumanity. So yeah, I really like this show.

Hahn Bin "Soliloquy" performance for solo violin at MoMA, 11 West 53rd Street, 6th floor, February 16 and 23, March 5, 6, 19, and 20 at 4:30 p.m., March 4 and 18 at 7 p.m.,

Hahn Bin is so cool. The Korean violinist and Itzhak Perlman protégé has a fly hairdo and always looks like he should be strutting along a couture runway, and not onto a stuffy concert hall stage — and he's often to be seen playing hipper-than-thou locales like the Dia gala, the Louis Vuitton flagship store in New York, and, in fact, the runway show of the Spring/Summer 2011 line by designer Elise Overland. Klaus Biesenbach dubbed him the "New Mozart" in V magazine. The musician also pulled a Yo-Yo Ma and left a $500,000 violin in a New York cab, which he got back via GPS. Now he's playing at MoMA, in the midst of the "Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures" exhibition. And you don't have to pay anything beyond the price of admission to hear him. What are you waiting for?


Chuck Webster "My Small Adventures" at ZieherSmith Gallery, 516 West 20th Street, opening February 17, 6-8 p.m., through March 26,

I had the pleasure of seeing some of Chuck Webster's upcoming work for this show at his cozy live/work studio in Bushwick last week, before the final assortment of paintings that would hang at ZieherSmith had been determined. They build on Webster's previous bright, enigmatic abstractions, but they push his style in new directions. Applying oil on wood, and getting gritty with sandpaper to achieve multi-layered surfaces, Webster has made paintings that are alternately epic and minute, playful and brooding. One of them that seemed destined for the final cut, "Red Cavalry," is a gushing outpouring of violent red behind what might be mistaken for rows of jagged teeth and gums. Some of Webster's paintings want to tickle, or titillate; this one wants to wound.


"All That Is Unseen" at Allan Nederpelt, 60 Freeman Street, Brooklyn, opening February 18, 6-8 p.m.,

If you don't already live there, you must trek out to Greenpoint to make sure the title of the show, "All That Is Unseen," does not remain accurate. A group exhibition curated by Meg O'Rourke and Caris Reid, it brings together work that addresses metaphysics. The 17 artists showing range from the very-famous Tony Oursler to the sort-of-famous Matthew Ronay to several soon-to-be-famous folks we won't mention (go and figure it out). Look out for N. Dash's "Gilded Corner," a drawing in silver and graphite applied directly to the wall, as well as Christine Corday's "ÆPI", a plate on the floor that shifts your perception by lifting you 1.5 inches. And at 5 x 10 feet, this version is only a maquette for a much larger piece to be realized sometime in the future as a public artwork.


Patrick Jacobs "Familiar Terrain" at Pierogi Gallery, 177 North 9th Street, Brooklyn, through February 20,

Patrick Jacobs' terrain is actually familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, which gives it its eerie power. Peer into unassuming portholes scattered throughout the gallery to discover his elaborate dioramas of "fairy rings," which, according to old English folklore, are rings of grass or circles of mushrooms that appear after fairy dance-gatherings. The spaces look impossibly deep, with lush grass you can almost feel. Not only are these incredibly artful illusions, they seem to put you in touch with some forgotten childhood connection to nature or perhaps even primal memories of the earth and its magic.


Kahn & Selesnick "Mars Adrift on the Hourglass Sea" at Yancey Richardson Gallery, 535 West 22nd Street, through February 19,

Part "2001: A Space Odyssey," part Tatooine, part Lady Gaga, Kahn & Selesnick's sexy space-desert photographs at Yancey Richardson utilize actual photo-mosaics that NASA rovers took on Mars as a backdrop for their narrative of two female protagonists and a child navigating through the remnants of a forgotten civilization. One doesn't need to get too involved in the story-line to enjoy the photographs, though — the framing alone of the landscapes is stunning.


Angel Otero "Memento" at Lehmann Maupin, 201 Chrystie Street, opening February 17, 6-8 p.m., through April 10,

I am going to go to the debut New York solo show of Puerto Rican-born artist Angel Otero because the things this guy can do with paint are mind-blowing. 


Marcel Dzama "Behind Every Curtain" at David Zwirner, 525 West 19th Street, opening February 17, 6-8 p.m., through March 19,