* Allora & Calzadilla @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). MoMA is on a winning streak of smart exhibitions ("Abstract Expressionist New York" and "On Line", if you've not seen 'em yet, and the forthcoming "Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures"), and the fever continues w/ this ace inclusion to the Marron Atrium. Conceptualist duo Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla revisit their 2009 Gladstone Gallery show, "Stop, Repair, Prepair: Variations on 'Ode to Joy' for a Prepared Piano", which features a pianist standing inside a grand piano, playing Beethoven's famous composition backward whilst wheeling the instrument around the atrium. If that sounds cool, it is a million times cooler in real life.
* "Pitfall" (dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1962) @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). Teshigahara's "Woman in the Dunes" has consistently been my favorite surrealist output by the director, but the gnawing tenseness of earlier film "Pitfall" is AT LEAST a close second. This 1st collaboration w/ composer Toru Takemitsu is epic: our rough-and-tumble protagonist stumbles sleepy-eyed across a rocky landscape, attempting to discern who's real and who isn't, as a white-suited dandy pursues him, to a soundtrack of samisen twangs. Incredible.
* "Pale Flower" (dir. Masahiro Shinoda, 1964) @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). Cool jazz, Toru Takemitsu style, lends the soundscapes to this essential Yakuza flick, perhaps the most "Nouvelle Vague" of the Japanese New Wave.
* G Lucas Crane + MV Carbon + Purple Haze (Marcia Bassett of Double Leopards) @ Silent Barn / 915 Wyckoff Ave, Ridgewood (L to Halsey, M to Myrtle/Wyckoff), 8p. AKA Cool Fest X, a noise maelstrom feat. Nonhorse, Crane's cassette-mauling nom de guerre, returning from a two-month tour of Europe and Japan, plus Metalux's MV Carbon…and honestly, any roster including side projects from the illustrious Double Leopards (here Bassett's Purple Haze guise) = mayjah.
* WIERD presents: Further Reductions @ Home Sweet Home / 131 Chrystie St (F/JMZ to Delancey/Essex), 12a. These weekly-ish WIERD parties are pretty hot stuff, if you're even remotely into the darker, gloomier (yet still dancey) side of '80s music, which is like 75% of it. Live act this week is Captured Tracks duo Further Reductions, returning w/ the sweeter side of synth-focused sounds.
* "The Ricky Powell Art Funk Explosion!", presented by Frank151 @ Sacred Gallery / 424 Broadway (NR/6/JZ to Canal St), 8p-12a, RSVP: email@example.com. Illustrious hip-hop and street photographer Powell, aka the "fourth Beastie Boy" (he's been in the game since '85, so he earned that rep), returns w/ a major new exhibition feat. his collaborations w/ NY graf artists (CHINO BYI, Haculla, Dr. Dax, LOVE ME) plus his own iconic street shots. RSVP above to attend the opening, which includes music by Chances WIth Wolves. Get hot!
* Keith Tyson "52 Variables" @ The Pace Gallery / 510 W 25th St. Tyson takes on chance again, this time in the form of mixed media paintings based on the backs of playing cards, heavily layered w/ historic meaning and all sorts of eye-trickery and double-entendres.
* Nathan Harger @ Hasted Hunt Kraeutler / 537 W 24th St. Power-lines, cranes, crisscrossing bridge-work, even the regularity of buildings: it's all typical NY-centric scenery, but you've probably never seen it this way. Harper's crisp, totally contrasty C-prints will have you slowing down "in real life" to see his subjects.
* "Law of the Jungle", curated by Tiago Carneiro da Cunha @ Lehmann Maupin / 540 W 26th St. Survival is key, personal and collective, when navigating the current art scene. This group show, feat. Ashley Bickerton, Os Gemeos, Shay Kun, Liam Gillick, Adriana Varejao, Erika Verzutti and others mine art history to exert their staying power.
* Michael DeLucia @ Eleven Rivington / 11 Rivington St. The Brooklyn-based artist is a master of transforming mass-produced banality into abstract sculpture. He used to be Jeff Koons' assistant, so there is a certain high-finish and skillful detail to DeLucia's work (and note his draftsman-like work drawings), but his materials are solidly "working-class".
* Al Held "Concrete Abstraction" @ Ameringer McEnery Yohe / 525 W 22nd St. A less widely known series of Held's brushwork ink drawings on canvas from the '60s, revealing his Abstract Expressonist roots and before his explorations into Hardedge-style renderings.
* "re:CONTEXT" curated by Brad Silk @ Number 35 Gallery / 141 Attorney St @ Stanton. The inaugural exhibition at Number 35 Gallery's larger downtown space features Steven Cossman, Joy Drury Cox, Matthew Craven, Wyatt Kahn and Jeremy jacob Schlangen working in repurposing, reconfiguring and re-appropriating methods, executed mainly in assemblage and collage.
* Inferior Amps + Noveller @ Cinders Gallery / 103 Havermeyer St, Williamsburg (L/G to Lorimer), 8p. Caught Maya Hayuk's "Heavy Light" installation at the gallery yet? Come back, or see it for the first time, amped up w/ live music. Incl. guitar drone duo Sarah Lipstate & Shahin Motia (as Noveller & Inferior Amps) + Bunnybrains.
* Djordje Ozbolt @ 303 Gallery / 547 W 21st St. Stoked about this one: Ozbolt's painting style is carries the mannerism of Old Masters, and he tends to draw from historical subject matter, but his execution is so… bonkers, hallucinogenic, wry and witty that he elevates to a class of his own.
* Eleanor Moreton "The Ladies of Shalott" @ Jack Hanley Gallery / 136 Watts St. John William Waterhouse's narrative, reconfigured in a blurred haze of stricken figurative portraiture. Also: this is Moreton's debut stateside solo show (she shows at Ceri Hand Gallery in Liverpool UK).
* Felix Gonzalez-Torres + On Kawara "Amnesia" @ Andrea Rosen Gallery / 525 W 24th St. The gallery has done this before, in one of their sparest (and in my opinion most effective) recent shows, by pairing Gonzalez-Torres w/ Robert Gober's "Prison Window". This time Electronic Arts Intermix's Rebecca Cleman and Josh Kine curate a video program for these two Conceptualists.
+ José Lerma "I am Sorry I am Perry" . The latest solo NY show for the Brooklyn-based artist since his 2006 "The Golden Sea" at the gallery.
* Lawrence Weiner "Gyroscopically Speaking" @ Marian Goodman Gallery / 24 W 57th St. Weiner's unique method of language and representation includes spatial relationships, displayed here as text works on a constructed curvilinear wall, plus related works on paper and animation.
* "The Fort of Death" (dir. Eiichi Kudo, 1969) screening @ Asia Society / 725 Park Ave (6 to 68th St), 6:45p/FREE. The final screening in Asia Society's '60s Japanese Cinema series is major: Kudo-san directed the original "Thirteen Assassins" (Takashi Miike redid it recently and it kicks every other contemporary big battle scene's ass), so you know the action sequences in this showoff b/w bounty hunters and samurai v. a gun-wielding shogunate will be nothing short of epic.
* "Kwaidan" (dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 1964) @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). If you're a fan of J-Horror (particularly the droopy black-haired "yurei" style a la "The Ring") or just love a good spine-tingling fright, you owe it to yourself to see the film whose title translates to GHOST STORY. Kobayashi's classic culls from Lafcadio Hearn's collections of Japanese folk tales, to frightening conclusions. I mean, one of the tales is called "The Black Hair". Don't expect today's gore and cheap shocks: rather, Kobayashi's suite are filled to the brim w/ fleeting beauty and steady, tense crescendoes.
* "Julia's Eyes" (dir. Guillem Morales, 2010) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 9:20p. Spain will remind you that there needn't be gratuitous violence and bloodshed to make a film viscerally scary. This perpetually twilit story, produced by comrade-in-psych-terror Guillermo del Toro, following the titular character's investigation of her sister's apparent suicide, as her own vision fades. A haunting Fantastic Fest alum.
* "Samurai Rebellion" (dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 1967) @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). Q: what happens when you piss off Toshiro Mifune, playing the baddest-ass vassal of the daimyo? A: he kills everybody.
* "After Hours" (dir. Martin Scorsese, 1985) screenings @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). This should be required viewing for all of NY's hipster nightowls. In a nutshell: one utterly bizarre night, Salvatore Dali in '80s Soho, w/ hot artists, vengeful mobs and a creepy Mister Softee truck, the most kick-ass punk club blasting Bad Brains, and Cheech & Chong as burglars. Go back to Scorsese's archive: "Casino" wasn't his only great 'classic' film. ALSO DEC 11
* "Predator" (dir. John McTiernan, 1987) screening @ 92Y Tribeca / 200 Hudson St (1 to Hudson St), 8p/$10. If you are like this author and were too young to see the 'famous' "Predator" during its original screening run, now aren't you in luck? And much as I surprisingly loved Nimrod Antal's 2010 film "Predators", I was never 100% on the lanky, sarcastic Adrian Brody as lead. To many viewers, I think we're used to the humid, vaguely homoerotic "Métal Hurlant" landscape of muscular fighters shouting "Get to the choppah!" whilst tracking and fighting the titular creature. Thus we summon Cali. governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar (and Minnesota former governor, can you believe it?, Jesse "The Body" Ventura) to take care of business. Also: this is part of the 92Y series "Beer Goggles", which seems apt.
* "They Live" (dir. John Carpenter, 1988) screening @ 92Y Tribeca / 200 Hudson St (1 to Hudson St), 10:30p/$10. Extend your hands in praise for the B-movie film gods and take in the 2nd of tonight's "Beer Goggles" series, namely wrester "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, wearing 'special sunglasses' to see the alien overlords of LA's creeping apocalypse. Do 'They' even know who they're tangling with? Sez a gun-toting Piper: "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I'm all out of bubblegum."
* TRASH! w/ Melody Sweets @ Studio at Webster Hall / 125 E 11th St, Basement (NR/L/456 to Union Square), 11p/$10 ($5 w/ flyer from DJJESSNYC.com). Why would I think of sending you to Webster Hall? B/c of the weekly basement TRASH! party, MCed by DJ Jess and and feat. the incomparably fierce Melody Sweets (resident performer at Duane Park's Saturday "Sweets' Shop"), conducting a late-night cabaret w/ Hazel Honeysuckle that will warm you to your core. Use your imagination.
* Tricky @ Brooklyn Bowl / 61 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 9p/$20. I know, I know, I'm stoked about this one, too. In the recent past, it's been a 'thing' getting Tricky to play in NY, and this is indeed a venue/bowling alley, but when the "Tricky Kid" steps out from that veil of fog, crooning to his unparalleled take on trip-hop ("Maxinquaye" anybody?), all is set well again.
* Sweet Bulbs @ Shea Stadium / 20 Meadow St, Williamsburg (L to Grand St), 8p. Get ready to sweat. Brooklyn's fuzziest noise-pop quartet Sweet Bulbs headline this sonic whirlwind, also feat. sets by Byrds of Paradise, Weed Hounds and Regal Degal.
* Deakin + Prince Rama @ New Museum / 235 Bowery (F to 2nd Ave), 7p/$15. The really tall guy from Animal Collective, aka Josh Dibb aka Deakin, is a pretty significantly psychedelic solo artist in his own right, of the dub persuasion. Teaming him w/ former tour-partners Prince Rama, they of the Krishna-chant persuasion, just sounds right. The subhead for this show is "Get Weird". Sounds like a guarantee.
* "Chinati: The Vision of Donald Judd" book signing w/ editor Marianne Stockebrand @ David Zwirner / 519 W 19th St, 4-6p, rsvp: firstname.lastname@example.org. Chinati Foundation, way out in the literal middle of nowhere, Texas, epitomizes the phrase "destination art". If you can't make the actual journey, this gorgeous new photo book (w/ Judd essays and other writings) may be the next best thing.
* Shag (Josh Agle) "Ambergris" + Turf One (Jean Labourdette) "The Rising" @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery / 529 W 20th St. SoCal's Shag moves further from his rumpus-room subjects to luxuriously otherworldly landscapes, though replete w/ familiar mid-century objet. Montreal's Turf One marries a Flemish portraiture style w/ Coney Island sideshow shock.
* Focus Shanghai: Lu Chunsheng and Birdhead @ Thomas Erben Gallery / 526 W 26th St 4th Fl, curator's talk, 3p. Michelle Loh & Katy Martin discuss this intriguing contemporary Chinese show at the gallery. Martin's forays in Chinese video art and the Shanghai scene, plus Loh's background in co-founding the Asian Contemporary Art Fair, NY and dealing in the Asian art markets should lend an intriguing conversation.
* "BIG GROUP/small works" @ In Rivers / 165 Greenpoint Ave (G to Greenpoint), 7-10p. The inaugural show at this new Greenpoint space, curated by Lau Gallico and feat. loads of local artists, incl. Lemia Bodden (photography), OH10 Mike (live sketching at the opening), plus Mayuko Fujino, Jeremiah Jones, Jessica Angel and many more. Curated by Lau Gallico & Giancarlo Romero.
* "Harakiri" (dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 1962) @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). Notorious for some of the most challenging self-death scenes in film history — seppuku is no laughing matter — with charismatic Tatsuya Nakadai as one of a few honorable characters against the emerging feudal system.
* "Caterpillar" (dir. Koji Wakamatsu, 2010) screening @ Japan Society / 333 W 47th St (E/M to 53rd/Lexington, 6 to 51st St), 7p. After Hisayasu Sato's devastating visceral short "Imomushi" for the Edogawa Rampo collection "Rampo Noir", I wondered how this tale by Japan's Edgar Alan Poe could be rethought by a different director. With legend Wakamatsu-san at the helm, this should be a good one: a heavy post-WWII tale of a wounded, limbless soldier and his doting, deviant wife.
* Light Asylum + Violens @ Santos Party House / 96 Lafayette St (NR/6/JMZ to Canal St), 8p/$10. I never thought I'd be a fan of Light Asylum's post-punk, bass-heavy disco-house, but when Shannon Funchess commands the mic, and her deep, Grace Jones-like voice carries over the pounding rhythms and electronics, I had an epiphany. I guess it's like charismatic Christians, only w/ house music. She'll make a believer out of you.
* NYC Punk & Underground Record Fair @ Southpaw / 125 5th Ave, Park Slope (234 to Bergen St, D/NR to Union St), 10a-4:30p/$5. Dig punk, metal, new wave, esoteric underground stuff? Dig it even more when it's on vinyl? Brother, are YOU ever in luck.
* "The Talent Show" @ MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E/M to 23rd St/Ely Ave, 7 to 45th Rd/Courthouse Sq). PS1 surveys the relationship b/w artists and their audiences, from '60s performance art, happenings and Conceptualism to contemporary social media. The roster spans exhibitionism to sociopolitical relevancy, and is dope enough that I'll name 'em all: Stanley Brouwn (getting lots of play of late despite his unarchivable nature), Chris Burden, Sophie Calle, Peter campus, Graciela Carnevale, Phil Collins ("that" Phil Collins), Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Tehching Hsieh, David Lamelas, Piero Manzoni (wise inclusion), Adrian Piper (another wise inclusion), Amie Siegel, Josh Smith (ditto), Andy Warhol, Gillian Wearing, Hannah Wilke, Shizuka Yokomizo and Carey Young.
+ Feng Mengbo "Long March (Restart)". An interactive video-game installation combining Super Mario Bros w/ Mao-era propaganda? Yes!
* "Kidnapped" (dir. Miguel Angel Vivas, 2010) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 9:15p. This Fantastic Fest/Sitges alum is a grueling, realtime home break-in story, w/ a minimum of cuts and a maximum of restless energy to promote audience discomfit.
* "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" (dir. Nagisa Oshima, 1983) screening @ Japan Society / 333 W 47th St (E/M to 53rd/Lexington, 6 to 51st St), 7p. For simplicity's sake: starring David Bowie and Takeshi Kitano, in the same film.
* Cristina Black @ Union Hall / 702 Union St, Park Slope (R to Union/Q/23/45 to Atlantic Ave), 9p/$7. I'm always up for something new and not necessarily punk, and the smoky-voiced chanteuse Black and her stellar storytelling is just that.
* Elliott Puckette @ Paul Kasmin Gallery / 293 10th Ave. New mixed media paintings by Puckette, lyrical swipes and scratchings against monochromatic backdrops.
* Santi Moix "May the Earth Rest Lightly On You" @ Paul Kasmin Gallery / 511 W 27th St. A watercolor diary of Moix's travels through Barcelona, Morocco, New York and the Ivory Coast.
* "Black Swan" (dir. Darren Aronofksy, 2010) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 7p. On the one hand, I can hardly fathom seeing this bracing film at MoMA (the unsuspecting elder viewers freaking out during the epilepsy-inducing club scene, the ensuing Natalie Portman/Mila Kunis sleepover), but on the other, its shell of tortured beauty is shattered upon exiting a multiplex. Either way, you will feel each tense nerve in Portman's balletic back, in her ruined feet and bleeding nails as she drifts further and further into the blurry realm between the real stage and this dark fantasy world of sinister fluttering wings.
* "The Social Network" (dir. David Fincher, 2010) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 8:30p. It's that Facebook film, which I haven't seen yet.
* Adrian Piper "Past Time: Selected Works 1973-1995" @ Elizabeth Dee / 548 W 22nd St. Some of Piper's most political, combustive works, and this is coming from a brilliant artist astute at 'getting to' the viewer, latching onto our thoughts, preempting them, and leaving us w/ a LOT to mull over. "It's Just Art" (1980) will do it: a news broadcast interlaid w/ Piper, in sunglasses and looking fierce, mouthing wordlessly, plus newsprints feat. her thought-bubbles in related dialogue/response. "Ashes to Ashes" (1995) is an intensely personal one, family photos and text reflecting her parents' death, though I liked the balance here w/ "I Am Somebody. The Body of My Friends" (1992-5), 18 photographs of Piper w/ said friends. And a treat here, and (at least on surface-level) lighter in subject matter, is "The Big Four-Oh" (1988), a rare installation work from Piper, involving a deconstructed suit of armor, 40 hardballs, and her diary, plus a looping video of the artist dancing (back to the camera) effortlessly to '80s music. Don't miss it.
* Damien Hirst "Medicine Cabinets" @ L&M Arts / 45 E 78th St. Its like the YBA stars aligned for this seminal trove of archival works from Hirst. Let me try to explain: the ground-floor gallery (of this charming multistory town home, bien sur) contains Hirst's "Sex Pistols" medicine cabinets from '89, each bearing a track title from "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistol", while the upper floor features a slew of Sex Pistols ephemera (framed LPs, torn T-shirts w/ paint, assumedly Hirst's, spattering the fabric) AND a four-part cabinet entitled "The Sex Pistols", but that one is from '96 and unrelated to the downstairs cabinets except in 1) name and 2) drugs. Are you following me?? I barely followed that myself.
* Anthony Caro "Upright Sculptures" @ Mitchell-Innes & Nash / 534 W 26th St. Caro just may be the leading force in divergent sculptural alchemy today, blending weathered, rusted steel and wood (here luxuriously chunky railroad ties) like they were always meant for one another, star-crossed. These tall forms were assembled from various found materials w/ extra emphasis on texture, the woodgrain gorgeous and pronounced, the patina REALLY patina'ed. Each embody a powerful nostalgia, again like these forms were meant to pair up, like they were once some operating steampunk creation, transfixed for eternity now in these metaphysical poses. And speaking of textures, the disarming "Up Landscape", while entirely painted steel, looks curiously soft — my first thought was Urs Fischer's painted aluminum "drooping sculptures", but Caro's is more abstract and physical.
* William N. Copley "X-Rated" @ Paul Kasmin Gallery / 293 10th Ave. The gallery recreates Copley's infamous '74 installation at former Huntington Hartford Museum on Columbus Circle (can you believe it??) in a riot of libidinous physicality in large acrylics on linen. The overt 'pretty' stuff is few and far between, though that's obvious if you're attending a vintage Copley show, but they're overall accessible, and I found some quick favorites. Number one would be "The Happy Hooker" — of all titles, I swear — a gorgeous woman in half-undress, seemingly out of E.L. Kirschner's time (trust me on this). Also: "Maltese Falcon", for its framing. And note Copley's amusing signature placement, on thighs, ass, even a tube of lubricant ("Last Tango in Paris", obvs).
* Roxy Paine "Distillation" @ James Cohan Gallery / 533 W 26th St. The titular installation in this show is perhaps Paine's closest blurring of his machinelike earlier works w/ his stainless steel "coated" trees, at least in my experience. The humongous "Maelstrom" tumbleweed on the Met rooftop last year was a joy but still in fell in the context of Paine's Dendroid series. This new one is more like a sleeping industrial giant, snaking its way through the gallery w/ lug-nuts, boilers, hazard-red highlights, spigots and even a human-sized furnace attached to it. I almost expected it to rattle wheezily to life, spewing smoke and motor oil. The tree elements (and some mega mushrooms) are there too, but they blend seamlessly w/ the mechanical elements. He follows this up w/ work drawings and a small-scale reproduction of "Distillation" (neat to see, easier to do a once-over then navigate the full-sized beast), plus a visually arresting relief of hyperrealistic 'shrooms in the side gallery, entitled "Oscillation".
* Matt Connors "You Don't Know" @ Canada / 55 Chrystie St. Connors magnifies idle scribblings into a sort of dynamic lexicon, obliterates color w/ semitranslucent white paint and/or soaks the paint into raw canvas like Kool-Aid stains, in this pretty dope solo show. His experimentation rewards us w/ a unique style of abstraction in an ever-morphing field of abstract artists, a series never as obviously massive as the Abstract Expressionists but not so precisely tiny as his contemporaries Tomma Abts or JJ Peet. The roughly equal assortment of scribbles, erasings and infused-color works are offset by several digital C-prints, two of which sit unadorned, rolled up and precarious on the gallery's uneven floors, in two seemingly solid, vegetal colors.