Wednesday, June 29, 2011

fee's LIST (through 7/5)

Welcome to fee's LIST v2 beta!

This is my first attempt at fusing New York - Austin - Tokyo listings, plus there are many more new readers now that I've expanded my coverage, so:

my LIST goes out (ideally) every Wednesday. It covers stuff happening that day through the following Tuesday, plus there is a section CURRENT SHOWS (galleries/art museums — mind you, not everything out there that I've seen, more like a choice sampling, which varies week-to-week) and another CLOSING SOON (again, for galleries/art museums).
my LIST runs in this order: art stuff, film stuff, music stuff. Occasionally there is another element (burlesque, theatre, pole-dancing etc). This extra element follows music. Also: if I denote a film screening as "in wide release" (as in, I don't specify a theatre), then assume (unless otherwise noted!) that it is screening in NYC AND Austin.
As I am covering three cities simultaneously, I am trying this stylizing technique of bolding Austin entries and italicizing Tokyo entries. This may totally not work if you view emails in plaintext. I have ordered them NY/Austin/Tokyo under each subcategory art/film/music — no intention to make three separate LISTs (dedicated NY-only, Austin-only, Tokyo-only), so the integration is intentional.
I will update my blog with this LIST, only it will incorporate user-friendly links and junk that like, too. (visit often).

As this is in beta stages, I'd love to hear your thoughts. What you think of my LIST's readability. What did I miss? What other awesome things are happening in NYC/Austin/Tokyo? Drop me a line. And read on:

* David Zink Yi "Pneuma" @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. An incredible and appropriately dubbed 'magical' exhibition by the Berlin-based artist, his debut solo show in NYC. The cross-media grouping includes the massive sculptural "Untitled (Architeuthis)", a giant squid from folklore, the recreated 2004 two-channel video installation "Alrededor del dosel (Around the Canopy)" and the titular 16mm film work, feat. Cuban trumpeter Yuliesky Gonzalez Guerra in a single take.

* "One, Another" @ The FLAG Art Foundation / 545 W 25th St, 9th Fl. Stephanie Roach curated this mixed disciplines show that delves into narcissism, sexuality and identity, feat. Diana Al-Hadid, Robert Gober, Swoon, Louise Bourgeois and more.
+ Roni Horn "Double Mobius", 10th Fl. A selection from Horn's sculpture (a relative rarity, especially in the gold medium), photography and works on paper, complementing the downstairs group exhibition.

* "Future Present: Five Artists, Five Weeks" feat. John Kilduff, Jennifer Sullivan, Brian Bress, Frankie Martin, Shana Moulton @ Arthouse / 700 Congress, Austin. As the title suggests, each artist gets one week to display their video work in the 2F space. Kilduff begins w/ his weekdays Internet TV series "Let's Paint TV".

* Kohei Yoshiyuki "The Park" @ BLD Gallery / 2-4-9 Ginza, Chuo-ku. (JR Yurakucho Station, Marunouchi Line to Ginza Station). I was pleased to catch the iconic photographer's 1970s series at Yossi Milo Gallery in NYC back in 2007. This is double voyeurism: Yoshiyuki capturing spectators watching clandestine trysts in Tokyo parks — triple if you count yourself the viewer.

* "Post-3.11 Design For Japan" Symposium @ Tokyo Midtown Design Hub / Fifth Floor, 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato Ward Tokyo (Toei Oedo/Hibiya Lines to Roppongi Station), 4-7:30p, 2000 yen. The symposium discusses design and disaster planning research after the devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Guests include Hideki Ishida (Tohoku University Graduate School of Engineering), Haruo Hayashi (Research Center for Disaster Reduction Systems, Kyoto University), Eiko Yokoyama (CEO of Sharp Document 21 Design Firm) and Kazuo Tanaka (ICSID board).

* "Aurora" (dir. Cristi Puiu, 2010) @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). The famed director of "The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu" (which won everything from 2005 Cannes' Un Certain Regard to Best Foreign Film in 2006's Independent Spirit Awards) returns w/ "Aurora", where he plays the lead in an excruciatingly intense crime story. This is the second of Puiu's planned "Six Stories from the Outskirts of Bucharest" suite.

* "Transformers: Dark of the Moon", in 3D (dir. Michael Bay, 2011) in wide release. Q: does it matter that the last "Transformers" film I saw was Nelson Shin's 1986 animated feature "The Transformers: The Movie", w/ its razor-edited anime stylings and heavy-metal soundtrack? Note: I saw this in theaters, as a child, and it gave me nightmares. A: no. I forewent notions of procuring a very rockin' bag of psylocibin and checked out this pixel-shattering, nearly $200 million duel to the metallic death — mainly on the merits of hottie Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (HELLO…in 3D!) — and I quite unabashedly dug it.

* "Girls at the Gynecologist" (dir. Ernst Hofbauer, 1971) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E 6th St, Austin, 12:15a. Thus marks the first of my detailing the Ritz's "Weird Wednesday" series, curated by Lars Nilsen, and we're exposing a German "sex report" film, stirrups and all.

* "The Cutting Edge" (dir. Paul Michael Glaser, 1992) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Village / 2700 W Anderson Lane, Austin, 7p. I'm not surprised I've never heard of this Olympic ice-skating rom-com, "the ultimate love/skate relationship" as the tagline goes.

* Dan Witz "Mosh Pits, Human and Otherwise" + Brett Amory "Dark Light" @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery / 529 W 20th St, 9th Fl. A double-header of toughness, drawing from Brooklyn-based Witz's 10-year hyperrealistic series on mosh pits and Cali artist Amory's discomfiting paintings of lone commuters against urban cityscapes.

* "The Women in Our Life" @ Cheim & Read / 547 W 25th St. The gallery celebrates its 15th anniversary with a group exhibition of its represented women artists, a truly all-star cast of Abstract Expressionists and postwar painters (Joan Mitchell, Louise Fishman, Pat Steir, Alice Neel) bracing contemporary creatives (Ghada Amer, Jenny Holzer, Chantal Joffe) and the ineffable Louise Bourgeois.

* Eva Struble "Landsmen" @ Lombard-Freid Projects / 518 W 19th St. Struble focuses on the Brooklyn Navy Yard and its status of picturesque ruin and pre-transformation in a series of new brilliantly colored paintings.

* Phoebe Washburn "Temperatures in a Lab of Superior Specialness" @ Mary Boone Gallery / 745 5th Ave. The gallery collaborated with Zach Feuer in mounting this exhibition of Washburn's new sculptures, repurposed from wood, golf balls, painted stones and furniture.

* Craig Taylor @ Sue Scott Gallery / 1 Rivington St. New paintings and drawings in equally lurid and enchanting color and composition, revealing his inspirations from Carroll Dunham to Henri Matisse.

* "Painting Expanded" @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21st St. Four curators for this massive group exhibition of material-based, process-driven abstract artists. Now, considering Alison Gingeras' full-to-the-gills curation of "Unpainted Paintings" up at Luxembourg & Dayan, and the four curators here, color me cautiously intrigued. The talent here, incl Ian Kiaer, Anna Betbeze, Amanda Ross-Ho and Dirk Stewen (gallery artists and others) should make for a very radical grouping and just might work.

* "Affinities", curated by Kate McNamara @ D'Amelio Terras / 525 W 22nd St. McNamara, the director and chief curator of the Boston University Art Gallery (and co-founder of Brooklyn's Cleopatra's), culled this eight-artist show revolving around painting and abstraction, feat. Polly Apfelbaum, Laurel Sparks and Dona Nelson.

* John Bock "Im Schatten der Made" @ Anton Kern Gallery / 532 W 20th St. Bock styles his new film after 20s German Expressionist classics, specifically in the vein of "Der Golem".

* Yuriko Yamayoshi, Takuji Kikuchi, Satomi Hirota "Fantasies and Dolls" @ Span Art Gallery / 2-2-18 1F Ginza, Chuo-ku. (Yurakucho Line to Ginza-Itchome Station). My first brush w/ Yamayoshi's creepy doll sculpture was a dual show at Shibuya's Bunkamura Gallery last year alongside Trevor Brown's vivid "Alice"-themed paintings. Hirota complements Yamayoshi's style with her jointed figures in diorama-like settings, while Kikuchi prepares ornate and weathered relief sculpture with forlorn human elements.

* Elaine Greer w/ The Sour Notes @ Spider House Ballroom / 2906 Fruth, Austin, 8p/$3. Third coast represent! Indie singer-songwriter-guitarist Greer's a Houston native and kicks off her Midwest/East Coast tour w/ local bandmates the Sour Notes. Plus, this soiree celebrates Greer's debut album "Annotations".

* Tokyo Dolores presents TOGOTHICS @ Warehouse 702 / B1F 1-4-5 Azabu Juban, Minato-ku. (Oedo Line to Azabu Juban Station, Hibiya/Oedo Line to Roppongi Station), 10p/3500 yen. Cay Izumi and crew deliver a definitely not-rated pole show, complementing Yuka & Qrea of performance/electro-rap duo Trippple Nippples and TOGOTHICS usual DJ contingent (Arata, Torture Garden's Rinko etc). My heart can't beat any faster.

* Luisa Lambri "Certain Variables" @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. Lambri has continually focused her lens on modernist residential buildings, but she abstracts them to the finest of details, ever mindful of light, space and shadow. Her latest exhibition documents cyclical changes in unique locations, revealing how the spaces transform for every viewer.

* Ron English "Popaganda in Japan" @ Public Image 3D / 1F 2-32-2 Ikejiri, Setagaya-ku (Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line to Ikejiri-Ohashi Station). Welcome to English's world, Tokyo. This is the subversive American artist's culture-jamming debut in Japan, filling the gallery w/ designer characters and collaborative works w/ Jason Freeny, Kim Songhe and Touma.

* Shougo Kishino "Handmade Graphic" @ Btf / 3F 2-8-19 Kachidoki, Chuo-ku (Oedo Line to Kachidoki Station). As the title goes, this 2010 ADC Award recipient reconstructs everyday objects in unique, graphic sewn works, resulting in geometric sharpness that belies their handmade quality.

The 10th anniversary New York Asian Film Festival, aka NYAFF 2011, spans today through July 14. This is the first NYAFF I'll miss since I began attending back in 2006, but I will do my best to clue to you into what's dope. B/c there's a LOT of dope films (some I've previewed) and premieres at this bad-boy. Tribeca it most certainly AIN'T. Check the entire schedule here and read on for my daily picks:

* NYAFF: * "Milocrorze: A Love Story" (dir. Yoshimasa Ishibashi, 2010) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 9p. I've heard this described as Matthew Barney, only Japanese and incredibly more artistic and designer-drug psychedelic. I mean, this multidimensional romp isn't even a Japanese word! It kicks off the festival (only fitting, putting an unclassifiable freakout first), plus director Yoshimasa Ishibashi and lead Takayuki Yamada attend the screening.

* NYAFF: "Horny House of Horror" (dir. Jun Tsugita, 2010) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), midnight. You…kinda should know what you're getting yourself into, attending a film titled "Horny House of Horror". You want sexy? We got Saori Hara (hello!) and crew leading a murderous massage parlor. You want gore? It's a murderous massage parlor! Penises cut in twain are just the beginning! Splatter king Yoshihiro Nishimura will see to that. You want hilarity? Asami's Viking-esque charges and the wiggling ass-wall must be seen to be believed. Can't you tell I love this film?

* "Seven Samurai" (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1954) @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). You cannot top Kurosawa-san in epic fight-scenes. Hence astute leader Takashi Shimura and his odd band of rebels, incl. the always-lovable Toshiro Mifune, who can do no wrong w/ a nodachi. Super film buffs, see this Saturday morning and follow w/ Takashi Miike's "13 Assassins" (screening at NYAFF) for like a full day of jidaigeki awesomeness. ALSO SAT-MON

* "13 Assassins" (dir. Takashi Miike, 2010) @ Cinema Village / 22 E 12th St (NR/L/456 to Union Square). YES! This classic jidaigeki done Miike style is just too badass for words. See the director's cut at NYAFF (read on below) but don't miss its well-deserved proper screening run at this theatre.

* "Fargo" (dirs. Joel & Ethan Coen, 1996) midnight screening @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). Few directors can spin a coal-black comedy like the Coen brothers. And "Fargo" may be at the top of that list, a live grenade with Frances McDormand's powerful performance as a plainspoken pregnant police chief vs. a menagerie of bumblers and hooligans spitting Minnesota Nice whilst murdering one another. ALSO SAT

* Lower Dens + Dirty Beaches @ South Street Seaport, Pier 17 (23/34/JMZ to Fulton St), 7p/FREE. Like a breath of fresh, cooling air, the ultra distortion of guitar mangler Alex Zhang Hungtai, aka Vancouver's Dirty Beaches, one part Elvis and one part "Fallen Angels"-era Wong Kar-Wai. Baltimore's Lower Dens turn the blistering shoegaze even further, with Jana Hunter's soothing alto producing peace about the noisy squalls.

* Jennifer Walshe & Nick Hallett @ ISSUE Project Room / 232 3rd St, Gowanus (D/NR to Union St), 8p/$10. Hallett, the tony tenor and co-curator of Darmstadt Institute 2011, closes out their monthlong June festival w/ Walshe, a spirited Irish composer and vocalist attuned to extended techniques.

* Merzbow + Eiko Ishibashi @ WWW / Basement 13-17 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku (Yamanote Line etc to Shibuya Station), 7:30p/3800 yen. Like "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World", this hardcore improv showcase b/w drummers and pianos is an epic of epic epicness. Feat. the mighty noise god Masami Akita (aka Merzbow), Muneomi Senjuu of BOREDOMS and more ear-splitting, eye-watering, pants-exploding aural awesomeness.

* "L'Homme qui Plantait des Arbres" @ Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo / 4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku (Hanzomon/Oedo Lines to Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station). AKA "The Man Who Planted Trees", the 1987 short animated film by Canadian artist Fréderic Back that won an Academy Award. This exhibition contains that animation plus a survey of Back's environmentally conscious drawings from his early years in France.

* "Feel the Rhythm, Color Me Bright, Everyday is a Carnival" @ Yuka Contemporary / 1-30-9 Sekiguchi, Bunkyoku (Toden-Arakawa/Tozai Lines to Waseda Station, Yurakucho Line to Edogawabashi Station). For lovers of colors, a bonkers collection of ocular excitement, courtesy Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Maiko Kasai, Nobuyuki Okano, Takafumi Yagi and Yu Yasuda. Most convey the kaleidoscope via paint, but Yagi's shaved colored pencil sculptures and AVAF's brilliant installation add further depth.

* Yukari Matsushima "Casting a spell that becomes a lie once spoken" @ Kodama Gallery Tokyo / 1F 3-1-15 Shirokane, Minato-ku (Namboku/Mita Lines to Shirokane-Takanawa Station). The latest exhibition from the young Tokyo-based painter delves deep into her world of lushly organic imagery.

* Sayako Ichikawa + Kumiko Negami @ Unseal Contemporary / 1-3-18 Nihombashi-horidomecho, Chuo-ku (Ginza/Hanzoemon Lines to Mitsukoshimae Station, Hibiya Line to Kodenmacho Station). Ichikawa works in patchwork embroidery, tying in roughly figurative elements, while Negami creates a sculptural menagerie straight out of Guillermo del Toro's world.

* NYAFF: "13 Assassins: Director's Cut" (dir. Takashi Miike, 2010) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 4:30p. Miike's samurai epic as it should be seen, uncut and vengeful, with nearly an hour-long slab of badassness that constitutes the final fight-scene b/w our heroic 13 (led by Koji Yakusho) vs. a wicked primadonna lord and his army. Hell. Yes.

* NYAFF: "Machete Maidens Unleashed" (dir. Mark Hartley, 2010) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St). Who knew Filipino exploitation cinema existed? I didn't! Thank goodness I caught this mile-long coked-up documentary at last year's Fantastic Fest, brimming w/ women-only prisons, bat-men, and grindhouse action schlock from the "Wild East". One big tease and tome of terrifying tragedies and titillating trysts, of gory ghoulish gangsters and gorgeous girls.

* Dream Diary @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p. Dream Diary are among NYC's finest cardigan-clad indie rockers, elevating above the fray like their mates The Pains of Being Pure at Heart due to their innate likability and deft hooks.

* Parts and Labor @ O-Nest / 6F 2-3 Maruyama-cho, Shibuya-ku (Yamanote Line etc to Shibuya Station), 5p/2500 yen. Brooklyn's mightiest math rockers Parts and Labor lay the asymmetric smackdown on Tokyo! w/ Wrench, Vovivav

* NYAFF: "Karate-Robo Zaborgar" (dir. Noboru Iguchi, 2010) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 4:45p. I hesitate to term Iguchi-san's adaptation of the '70s tokusatsu TV series "accessible" or "family-friendly", since it's still Iguchi-san at the helm, meaning asses, busty girls and inappropriateness everywhere. But that said, an aging cop and his smooth-moves sidekick robot (that morphs into a motorcycle) vs. a mad scientist is perhaps his best yet. (ALSO TUES, 8:45p)

* NYAFF: "Ninja Kids!!!" (dir. Takashi Miike, 2011) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 7p. If you thought Miike's "Yatterman" was surreal, just wait when a school of ninja children fill the screen, hurling shuriken and fighting gangster hairdressers. See why those three exclamation marks are necessary?

* The Suzan @ Bruar Falls / 245 Grand St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p. The lovely ladies of The Suzan should make Brooklyn their second home outside Japan — their blend of innately catchy tropical pop keeps them stateside w/ a full roster of shows. w/ Bad Indians and Haunted Leather

* Panda Bear + Ducktails @ Music Hall of Williamsburg / 66 N 6th St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), SOLD OUT! Are you surprised? Those of you who caught Noah Lennox's transcendent set on Governor's Island last year know Panda Bear brings only the dreamiest of live shows. You can count on him. Matt Mondanile's Ducktails outfit proceeds easy-like w/ his honeyed guitar lines and synthscapes. Lucky you.

* Murphy's Law @ Club Asia / 1-8 Maruyama-cho, Shibuya-ku (Yamanote Line etc to Shibuya Station), 3:30/4000 yen. A NY-style hardcore punk party w/ Big Apple legends Murphy's Law leading the fray. Incredible. w/ Aggressive Dogs, Dropcaps

* "Blank City" (dir. Céline Danhier, 2010) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E 6th St, Austin. THE documentary on No Wave cinema, that wickedly iconoclastic movement in downtown NYC during the late '70s and early '80s, an absolute Who's Who of game-changers and transgressors like Jim Jarmusch and John Waters — plus the film is fittingly imbued w/ music and art of the time, incl. Debbie Harry, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lydia Lunch and Fab 5 Freddy. Makes me nostalgic for the Big Apple all over again.

* Mizuki Kin "Ether" @ Guardian Garden / Recruit GINZA 7, B1F 7-3-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku (Tokyo Metro to Ginza Station). Kin follows her 2010 Grand Prix-winning "Lights" series with "Ether", focusing on natural illumination in tighter, more dramatic compositions.

* "It's Alive" (dir. Larry Cohen, 1974) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E 6th St, Austin, 10p. An infant mutant monster that kills when frightened. Think how easy it is to spook a baby. Now swap "baby" for "infant mutant monster". True, this was remade in 2008 in, cough, Bulgaria, w/ Bijou Phillips as the beast's mom — but pretend you didn't read that and see the gloriously disgusting original.

* Picasso and Marie-Thérese "L'amour fou" @ Gagosian / 522 W 21st St. The 3rd chapter (2nd, stateside) of Gagosian's wonderful exploration into Pablo Picasso is terribly romantic. It falls well after Valentines Day but coincides with springtime in NYC, which is pretty romantic if you ask me. The exhibition itself is exemplary, furthering the gallery's tradition over the past several years of pushing the envelope on what constitutes a "gallery show". Soft lighting, painted temporary walls everywhere, even Met-esque murals and source material set the mood. The works themselves — dozens of paintings, plus a handful of bronzes and works on paper — are stunning, many from private collections (meaning this writer and probably YOU have never seen 'em before) but also some high-profile loans (like straight off the Met's Picasso exhibition), and encompass 13 years of the artist's life with his blond darling. Necessarily a must-see exhibition that's been drawing throngs of art-lovers and tourists, so I say get in there and enjoy it.

* Willem de Kooning "The Figure: Movement and Gesture" @ The Pace Gallery / 32 E 57th St. A wonderful satiation before the Abstract Expressonist's overdue retrospective at the MoMA (coming Sept 18) — or a big teaser, if you're that hungry for him. The Pace does a museum-worthy mini survey of their own, focusing on de Kooning's knack for combining figure and landscape in flowing, sinewy strokes. This is especially evident in his multiple "Montauk" paintings from the '70s, though his woman in graphite and paint is omnipresent.

* Francis Alÿs "A Story of Deception" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 53rd/5th Ave, 6 to 51st St) + MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E/M to 23rd St/Court, 7 to Courthouse Sq). The Belgian-born Conceptualist, who's been based in Mexico City for decades now, is currently enjoying a two-armed mid-career retrospective at both museums across the Queensboro Bridge. In my memory this hasn't happened since Olafur Eliasson, and while I loved Eliasson's dual-borough exhibition I believe it works even better with Alÿs. Or at least Alÿs' "Modern Procession" (2002), a Public Art Fund-sponsored production that documents MoMA's temporary relocation to the Long Island City former schoolhouse during its 2002-4 expansion, is the centerpiece of PS1's excerpt, so there's something relevant and self-referencing in that. I encourage you to do sorta like that parade and take the E from the MoMA to PS1, catching both shows in an afternoon.
MoMA's portion is a big time-waster, at least on a first visit, because Alÿs' style is time-based videos (both in their respective durations and how long it took for him to complete them, usually a span of two years or more), which distract you to the point of transfixing, and scattered ephemera tangentially related to said videos and always riddled with text and explanations. You may well find yourself reading these, dwelling on them — you may well tire quickly and speed through later examples. Sound is an issue here, bleeding through the space from one video installation to another, and I doubt this is purposeful, though it lends a slight disorientation to the exhibition. His big video "When Faith Moves Mountains (Cuando la fe mauve montages)" (2002) contains two projections of that, plus a third video including interviews with some of the 500 volunteers (one pricelessly opines "I don't believe in art just for the sake of art"), the young people marching up a Lima, Peru dune in formation, shoveling away to move the mountain 10 cm. Thus goes Alÿs' saying "Máximo esfuerzo Minimo resultado", or "maximum effort, minimum results" — and don't take it from me, that emblem recurs in this narrow corridor lined with work-tables, transparencies (person walking with buildings strapped to their shoulders), paintings (a car fire), prints, newspaper articles (a lynching in Guatemala), and lots of text. All the while, tolling bells from a video in the opening of the exhibition permeate through, adding an unsettling immediacy to the people shoveling away. Alÿs' little paintings remind me more of another Belgian Surrealist, Rene Magritte, and we get a whole room of 'em in "Le Temps du sommeil" (an ongoing series since 1996), some 111 tile-sized paintings on wood, each a precious moment of weirdness, like windows into some foresty dreamscape. But since the audio element from the opening gallery doesn't carry all the way back here, MoMA installed "Song for Lupita (Mañana)" (1998), a looping filmstrip animation of a woman pouring water from one glass to another, an accompanying turntable's soundtrack melodiously humming "mañana, mañana" — doing without doing, as Alÿs might put it. This odd little piece sums up my Alÿs experience: his aversion to completing stuff, his penchant for drawing things out for years, revising and reconsidering in ever-mutating layers of change. Might as well check out "Tornado" (2000-10) and watch the artist fling himself into a tornado — it's very, VERY loud, and quite frightening, as the dirt around him almost liquifies, whirling around the terrific winds. It's good for a few minutes' viewing. The adjacent video "Politics of Rehearsal" (2005-7) comes with headphones, and it's up to you if you're like me and blow 30 minutes on this grand tease of a striptease. Alÿs filmed it in the LES's Slipper Room, following the perpetual restarts between a pianist (Alexander Rovag), a soprano (Viktoria Kurbatskaya) and a young stripper (Bella Yao) for the night's performance. A voiceover compares the stripper's slo-mo disrobing as a metaphor for Latin America and modernity, always approaching that goal but never quite there. She removes her underwear at least twice. "Rehearsal I" (1999-2001) is funnier and quicker, using the recording of a brass band's practice session to dictate the movements of a car up a sandy hill on the US/Mexico border (they play, the car starts; they screw up, the car stops; they start chattering, the car goes in reverse), plus loads more of requisite transparencies and little paintings.
I found that PS1's open-ended layout, with "The Modern Procession" unofficial centerpiece, worked far better in my Alÿs-going experience. That two-channel video itself, at just 12 minutes long, is a quickie in Alÿs terms, plus its clear start and conclusion and overall narrative — the parade carrying MoMA collection replicas (Picassos "Demoiselles D'Avignon, Giacometti's "Standing Woman", Duchamp's "Readymade") and the real Kiki Smith from 53rd St to Long Island City — make it far more accessible than Alÿs' broader oeuvre. Let the Peruvian fanfare guide you to it — it's one place where I particularly liked the sound carry-over. No videos here rival "The Modern Procession", though "Guards" (2004-5) provides a few unnerving minutes, if you're keen on that. Royal guards clomp about deserted London streets, like straight out of "28 Weeks Later" but much cleaner, their clipped movements linking in succession as they meet their peers. More paintings scattered about, like "Le juice errant" (2011), a fully-conceived version of the character bowing to the weight of buildings strapped to their back (seen in drawings at MoMA) and "Untitled (from Deja Vu)" 2011, a "diptych" on separate walls, a woman carrying a scythe vs a man carrying a hammer. The former appeared on the NYTimes Weekend Arts section, blown up to larger-than-lifesize scale (Alÿs' paintings, this one included, are all like 8x10" or smaller). One brilliantly confusing duplication too, of "Untitled (La Malinche)" (2010), two carved wood figures breaking out of a plastic bag. This work appears twice in the show, in opposite galleries, and its twin is a cheekily disorienting sendoff to the Conceptualist's retrospective.

* Jack Strange "Within Seconds" @ Arthouse / 700 Congress, Austin. A bonkers multimedia exhibition worthy of the British artist's quirky family name. Though there's no "Hulk" leaping eternally in the desert (a la Strange's show at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in NYC), we've got "Tom" (2007) a single-channel loop of Mr. Cruise endlessly running through a marathon of film clips that'll leave sweat on your brow and frankly is worth the price of admission alone, if Arthouse charged admission. He takes on a laptop in this exhibition, too, in "Lecture of Life Inside a Human Cell", w/ a clay ball audience atop the keyboard, watching a loop on cellular reproduction.

* Susan Collis "So It Goes" @ Lora Reynolds Gallery / 360 Nueces St, Austin. The beyond discreet workings of this British artist (the 2010 Armory Show representative) include more of what I expect from her laborious, subtle oeuvre: screws embedded w/ precious gems, mother of pearl paint splatters — plus some seductive surprises. She fills a picture frame with thousands of 0.9 mm pencil leads for "Anything really", a crosshatched forest of dark gray, and she covers lovingly crumpled paper wads in "On second thoughts" w/ an impossible pattern of hand-drawn linework. Pencil leads recur in "I miss you" and "I missed you", painstakingly arranged squares on thick reams of paper.
+ Tom Molloy "Woman". The Irish artist works in graphite drawings that neatly complement Collis' show in the main room. What he's done is take Johannes Vermeer paintings as reference ("Young Woman with a Jug", "The Milkmaid" etc), recreated them in deft pencil compositions…only w/ the women removed from the frame. Did she leave after 'Vermeer' completed the work, has she not arrived yet? In a sense, we see these spaces as the Dutch painter saw them.

* "French Window" @ Mori Art Museum / Roppongi Hills Mori Tower (53F), 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku (Hibiya/Oedo Lines to Roppongi Station). The museum's big spring-summer group show follows the ADIAF's (Association for the International Diffusion of French Art) prestigious art award, the Marcel Duchamp Prize, with a decade's worth of winners, finalists and the great Dadaist. Use this as a primer to the cream of the contemporary French scene. The title stems from Duchamp's "Fresh Widow" (1920/1964), a purposeful near-rhyme double entendre, repeated by Mathieu Mercier's 2007 "Untitled", a transparent copy of Duchamp's window, facing out onto Roppongi Hill's moneyed expanses. Nicolas Moulin's "Novomond" C-prints and "Askiatower" are sparse, otherworldly landscapes, brutally urban in their absence of wildlife. Saadane Afif's "The Skull" installation mirrors the viewer back at themselves, infinite times, via a great floor-spill of polished stainless steel balls and lights. I particularly loved Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster's transportive film installation "Exotourisme", a fragmented sci-fi film and Joshua Light-style acid trip rolled into one, w/ an Eno-esque soundtrack. A number of works were not displayed due to the devastating March 11 earthquake in northern Japan, but swapping out some of Céleste Boursier-Mougenot's works for her looping "virus" projection and her video documentation of "from here to ear" instilled some wonderful dynamics. The inclusion of Valérie Belin's uncanny "Modeles" aluminum-mounted prints shifts the gaze back at us via her subjects' unwavering intensities.
+ Yukihiro Taguchi. The young Berlin-based artist's "performative installations" series — MAM Project 014 — is beyond dope. In short, he stop-animates a whole bunch of 2x4's (in "Moment", shot all over Berlin) or an entire room (de)-installation, like "Performative Hills", a slow-crawling plank wave throughout Roppongi Hills and into the museum itself. Seeing these videos and their makings-of w/in Taguchi's own crowded and evidently "in-progress" gallery truly animates his fluctuating performances against the static museum environment.

* Osamu Sato "The Mountain People" @ Zen Foto Gallery / Piramide Bldg 2F, 6-6-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku. (Hibiya/Oedo Lines to Roppongi Station). Back in the '70s, Sato traveled to Gumna Prefecture's mountains in his downtime every week, documenting the residents with loving detail. A monograph follows the exhibition.

* Tadashi Osaka @ Canon Gallery Ginza / 3-9-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku (Asakusa/Hibiya Lines to Higashi-ginza Station, Ginza Line to Ginza Station). An after-hours cram school in Sapporo never looked so seductive, so compelling, as in Osaka's b&w prints. (ENDS WED)

* Jasper Johns "New Sculpture and Works on Paper" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 522 W 22nd St. The tireless Jasper Johns unfurls like 20+ years of future experimental opportunities in basically five years of fertile work. His waxy gridded numbers set the standard, and though they're riffs on classics he's been doing for decades, these new reliefs remain endlessly complex. Like he'll add some well-placed thumbprints to one, keys to another, and newsprint all around to form densely intriguing results. One bronzed relief is covered in imprinted pages from a book, while a silvery one is furiously bright. But to really "take it there", Johns made a slew of prints based on experimentation with Shrinky Dinks. Think about that for a minute, he takes that circa early '80s child's toy and, like that unseen oven magic, creates intaglios and ink prints bearing what looks like Picasso's "Guernica" in the spin cycle, silly-faced fish, Greek vases and loads else to Johns' recurring vocabulary of sign language terminology, chevrons and silhouetted figures.

* Keith Haring @ Gladstone Gallery / 530 W 21st St. The gallery explores Haring's early drawings, culled from sketchbooks around his enrollment in SVA in '78, from impulsive penis drawings (preempting "Superbad") to mesmerizing inked geometric abstracts. Page after page of what would become Haring's fluidic vocabulary, graphic and graffiti-like but uniquely his. Plus three mural-sized works on paper from '82, created in conjunction with Bill T. Jones performances at The Kitchen.

* John Chamberlain @ The Pace Gallery / 545 W 22nd St. Maybe you heard the news: Larry Gagosian now reps the seminal heavy-auto artist and launched an ultra-modernist show of his own. BUT FIRST: the Pace Gallery, which has repped Chamberlain since '87 (and shown solo there since '63) mounts a sublime retrospective of sorts, interspersed w/ wall-texts excerpted from critical essays and interviews. The sculpture here is exactingly dope: no huge underwater frondlike screens like up at DIA:Beacon, but the monolithic "Isadorables" (1990), signifying Chamberlain's panache for utilizing every color in the visible spectrum, and the recent-ish psycho-tumbleweed "Smndtyrqurd" (2008), totally make up for that. Plus he titled an '85 crush "Gangster of Love" (the overall violet vibe suits it well), which is just essential.

* Arshile Gorky "1947" @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. I am fairly certain this extremely late-works survey on the "master of the gesture", paintings and works on paper completed shortly before he took his own life, will NOT receive the hubbub like Picasso's dazzling and romantic exhibition downtown. And that's a shame, I'm telling you now: go see this show. Gorky's late works are brilliant but come from a very different, darker place than Picasso's rosy dozen years with Marie-Therese. You've got to spend time unraveling these, that even the sunny canvases "Pastoral" (1947) and "The Betrothal I" (1947) embody his troubled soul. Compare w/ the graphite and pastel study for "Pastoral", which swaps the yellows and bare canvas for a consuming layer of brown, or the works related to "Agony" — what began as plein air botanicals were abraded and sanded into awesome, even sinister, experimentation.

* Jamie Panzer "You see…Thing is…" closing reception @ Big Medium / 5305 Bolm Rd #12, Austin, 8-11p. Fluidic and fantastical photocollage and medium-blurring synthesis from the in-resident Panzer. (ENDS FRI)

* Jo Ann Santangelo "Walking the Block: Christopher Street NYC" @ B. Hollyman Gallery / 1202-A W Sixth St, Austin. The NYC-via-Austin photographer explores the Big Apple's ever iconic West Village neighborhood after-hours and documentarian-style in a series of luxurious archival pigment prints. Now if you've never seen it for yourself, this gritty array of dolled-up, gender-ambiguous crowds might seem an otherworldly realm, by Santangelo translates that crackling energy well. (ENDS SAT)

* Susumu Kinoshita + Kyotaro Hakamata "Utsushimi" @ MA2 Gallery / 3-3-8 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku (Yamanote Line to Ebisu Station). Tricky to translate, but think "temporal things" or "a cast-off cicada shell", in this duet b/w Kinoshita's delicately gradated b&w drawings of bodily close-ups and Hakamata's stacked, humanoid-like acrylic plates. Which is "realer", as it were? (ENDS SUN)

* "Rooms with a View" @ Metropolitan Museum of Art / 1000 Fifth Ave (456 to 86th St). It's a wonder what a little wall-paint can do for an exhibition. The Met eschews its usual denser hues (which contribute a shadowed reverence to its spotlit, cerebral special exhibitions, naturally a given for this museum) for a sun-streaked pale gray, the color of bedsheets caught in morning rays. It's totally appropriate, as this exhibition of European paintings and drawings all feature some sort of illumination, in their embodied rooms and open windows. Another point I loved about this exhibition beyond the construction is the scale of the works: little is large-scale here. The installation comes off sparse and regal in that respect, w/ modest-sized renderings adding an airiness to the already light-suffused atmospherics. Georg Friedrich Kersting featured his wife in his single-person compositions, plaiting her hair in "In Front of the Mirror" (1827) and sewing something against a drawn screen in "Young Woman Sewing by Lamplight" (1823). I'm not sure how many compositions young Louise-Adéone Drolling executed — she's daughter of portraitist Martin Drolling — but her "Interior With Young Woman Tracing a Flower" (1820-22) is an achievement in mise-en-scene, from the tulips in the foreground to the urban Parisian backdrop and church out the window. Johann Erdmann Hummel's pen & ink drawings with washes elucidate his deftness in perspectives, like "Sitting Room" (1820) and its various mirrors and reflections. For empty rooms, I quite liked Johann Gottfried Jentzsch's "The Artist's Studio in Dresden" (1820), a watercolor, with a tiny Argand lamp throwing vivid, butterfly-like shadows on the wall and floor. Carl Ludwig Kaaz's "View from Grassi's Villa toward the Plauensche Grund near Dresden" (1807) is probably the largest work here, its central picture window soaring out into the horizon with arches and trees, foregrounded with an open book on the ledge. And to dispel any impressions that the exhibition is too sweet, there's Adolph Menzen's spooky "Staircase by Night" (1848, one of the later works) near the conclusion. (ENDS MON)