* "On Shuffle" @ Lehmann Maupin / 540 W 26th St. Cult/underground artists who incorporate and reference music in their multidisciplinary works. Feat. Billy Childish, Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth!), Kalup Linzy, Ryan McNamara, Tony Oursler, Dave Muller, Dario Robleto and Stephen Vitiello.
* NYAFF: "Bedevilled" (dir. Jang Cheol-Su, 2010) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 8:45p. The big audience winner at last year's Fantastic Fest (plus multiple awards everywhere for its star Seo Young-Hee) is like a Korean "Deliverance", a backwaters island of misogyny and scythe-wielding revenge. It'll leave you exhausted. ALSO SUN, 7p
* The Sour Notes (Austin) + Telenovelas @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow (F/JMZ to Essex/Delancey), 8p/$8. Lovely! Austin five-piece The Sour Notes are mini-touring for their upbeat LP "Last Looks" and NYC, you'd do well to catch 'em. Plus, Telenovelas play some of the best contemporary shoegaze I've heard.
* SBTRKT @ Glasslands / 290 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$10. This mysterious masked UK producer is a trip: his spare, retro-tech album is a series of ass-shaking bangers, w/ intriguing female vocals (and a Drake track!) throughout. You're not afraid to shake that thang, are you?
* "Future Present: Five Artists, Five Weeks" feat. Jennifer Sullivan @ Arthouse / 700 Congress. As the title suggests, each artist gets one week to display their video work in the 2F space. In this segment, Sullivan screens her 2006 video "One-Week Walden", where she spent a week in a pop-up camper parked in her father's backyard. The 10-minute result is pretty engrossing (Youtube).
* "Blank City" (dir. Celine Danhier, 2010) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E 6th St, 7p. 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. ALSO SUN, 10:30p
* Tacobonds + Mass of the Fermenting Dregs @ 20000Volt / 1-7 Koenji Minami, Suginami-ku (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line to Higashi-koenji Station), 6p/2500 yen. This could become my new favorite indie venue in Tokyo. Tonight: math-rocker-ish Tacobonds and the awesomely named bass/vo & drum post-rock duo Mass of the Fermenting Dregs!!! w/ Outatbero
* Akron/Family @ WWW / Basement 13-17 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku (Yamanote Line etc to Shibuya Station), 6p/5300 yen. End of days freak-folk, like a love-in b/w the Dead and Funkadelic…can Tokyo handle this??
* "The House Without the Door" @ David Zwirner Gallery / 519-533 W 19th St. An exceedingly intriguing summer group show inspired by Emily Dickinson's poem "Doom is the House without the Door", focused on domesticity and interiority and their themes in art. Feat. stirring works by Mona Hatoum, Robert Gober, Louise Bourgeois, Rachel Whiteread, Isa Genzken, Francis Alÿs and more — plus it's my pick for NY's must-see summer show.
* Christopher Wilmarth @ Betty Cuningham Gallery / 541 W 25th St. A startling array of the late genius' etched glass and steel moquettes and drawings. Despite his brief career, few artists conjure such emotional resonance in cold materials and minimalism as Wilmarth (think Eva Hesse, but more contemporary).
* Judith Schaechter + Bernardi Roig "The Devil Can Cite Scripture" @ Claire Oliver / 513 W 26th St. This duo mounted "Glasstress" at this year's Venice Biennale (plus Roig's own "TRA - Edge of Becoming"). Roig's installations remind me a bit of contemporary George Segal, ash-colored men hoisting fluorescent lights. Schaechter's nonpareil stained-glass works deliver a degree of grandeur and drama to Roig's monochrome.
* NYAFF: "The Man From Nowhere" (dir. Lee Jeong-Beom, 2010) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 6:15p. Exhaustively violent, crime-riddled revenge thriller, in the bruised knuckles universe that produced Park Chan-wook's "Oldboy" (rather than Ryu Seung-won's hyper-agile taekwondo realm), Man From Nowhere works so well and grips you amid the grueling, rampant fight sequences w/ its pulsing emotional heart. Plus the organ-trafficking thread'll leave you gripping the edge of your seat 'til the harrowing conclusion.
Japan Cuts 2011 begins today, running through JUL 22 and boasting nearly three dozen films and premieres in its fifth consecutive year. Just like w/ NYAFF (running through JUL 14), I'll pick my favorites listed below, tagging them with a "Japan Cuts" slug. Check the site for full schedule and ticket info:
* "The Children" (dir. Max Kalmanowicz, 1980) + "Don't Go to Sleep" (dir. Richard Lang, 1982) double feature @ 92Y Tribeca / 200 Hudson St (12/ACE to Canal St), 8p/$10. Let's say you need a break from NYAFF/Japan Cuts for whatever silly reason. This double-header of murderous children, guest curated by Kevin Maher, is the only excuse I can think of as justification! The former is like "Return of the Living Dead" only with nuclear powers and preteens, while the latter feat. an acrobatic pizza-cutter sequence that'll scare you away from full pies for a good long while.
* Noveller + Love Like Deloreans @ Coco 66 / 66 Greenpoint Ave, Greenpoint (G to Greenpoint), 8p. Brooklyn's axe-slayer Sarah Lipstate crafts sublime soundscapes as Noveller, a nice balance w/ the synthy light-show sonics of Love Like Deloreans.
* The Glitch Mob @ La Zona Rosa / 612 W 4th St, 8p/$20. LA synthpop trio The Glitch Mob deliver beat-driven, sweat-inducing bangers, tempered with just enough cinematic drama to keep you on your toes. w/ Com Truise (NJ, enjoying his debut LP "Galactic Melt")
* I.S.O. @ Asahi Art Square / Super Dry Hall, 4F 1-23-1 Azumabashi, Sumida-ku (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line/Toei Subway to Asakusa Station), 7p/FREE. This fiercest free-improv trio is also known as Otomo Yoshihide (about the loudest free-jazz MFer ever), Sachiko M (used to play with Merzbow!) and Yoshimitsu Ichiraku (the accomplish drummer and electronic beatmaker). Beyond the live show, Otomo-san and Junichi Konuma, poet, translator music culture critic at Waseda University.
* Japan Cuts: "Battle Royale" (dir. Kinji Fukasaku, 2000) screening @ Japan Society / 333 E 47th St (E/M to 53rd/Lexington, 6 to 51st St), 9:15p. So maybe you've seen Fukasaku-san's controversial manga-adaptation that never received stateside distribution (despite the fact it was never officially banned in the U.S.), but I highly doubt you've seen it on the big screen. Here in full, blood-soaked glory, a bunch of future Japanese heartthrobs and starlets (Tatsuya Fujiwara of "Death Note" series, Chiaki Kuriyama of "Kill Bill", Aki Maeda of "Linda Linda Linda", Masanobu Ando of "Sukiyaki Western Django") kill one another in creative ways on a deserted island, while original badass Takeshi Kitano watches and eats cookies. They don't make 'em like this anymore!
* "The Sleeping Beauty" (dir. Catherine Breillat, 2011) @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). Breillat blended "Bluebeard"'s mythology with today, amping up the sexuality and fear for fullest impact. Expect more of that, Grimm-style, in "The Sleeping Beauty", w/o the Disney happy ending.
* "What?" (dir. Roman Polanski, 1972) + "The Stunt Man" (dir. Richard Rush, 1980) double-feature @ reRun Theatre / 147 Front St, DUMBO (F to York, AC to High St), 7p. Yikes, particularly on the rare Polanski film, his "ribald adventures of an innocent girl" (i.e. "an amoral, depraved disaster", say critics!), which kicks off the theatre's "Cheerfully Perverse: Five Years of Severin Films", the LA-based company responsible for re-releasing an eclectic trove of violent/perverse near-classics! "What?" is paired w/ the cult action/comedy/drama "The Stunt Man", w/ Peter O'Toole playing the ridiculously excessive director.
* The Wake + Weekend @ South Street Seaport, Pier 17 (23/34/JMZ to Fulton St), 7p/FREE. WOW. Glasgow's pivotal post-punks The Wake playing a free summer show… with Cali's gauzy and extra-noisy shoegazers Weekend.
* Pure X (Austin) + Run DMT @ 285 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p. The hottest DIY venue in Brooklyn (like: literally, still no AC?) teams Austin's scorching Pure X (debut LP "Pleasure" out now!) w/ local hallucinatory collective Run DMT. All the better to alter your mind.
* Fungi Girls (TX) w/ The Beets @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$7. Teaming Texas trio Fungi Girls (in the midst of their huge "Some Easy Magic" summer tour) w/ some of indie NY's best makes for a golden night. Think Jackson Heights' premiere garage-rock band The Beets and the extra-psychedelic X-Ray Eyeballs.
* "The Ward" (dir. John Carpenter, 2011) @ Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar / 1120 S Lamar Blvd. You bet I still believe in the grandmaster of horror, who returns to the director's chair w/ a classic nail-biter: a vengeful ghost and a mazelike mental institution!
* Koji Onaka "Tokyo Candy Box" @ Emon Photo Gallery / B1 5-11-12 Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku (Hibiya Line to Hiroo Station). Onaka's photography documents Tokyo's incredible urban upheaval, where buildings sprang up practically overnight — hence the cheeky exhibition title.
* "Power to Japan" charity festival @ Shinjuku Loft / B2 1-12-9 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku (JR Lines etc to Shinjuku Station), 6p/3000 yen. A massive fundraiser for the reconstruction of Japan's Tohoku region after March 11's devastating earthquake and tsunami, with like 18 awesome bands! Incl. Here, MUNIMUNI, Sachiko Sakaeda (of Lines), Fruits Explosion and many others.
* Merpeoples + Lines @ Red Shoes / B1 6-7-14 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku (Tokyo Metro Hibiya/Toei Oedo Lines to Roppongi Station), 8p/1000 yen. Album release party for all-girl garage-rock quartet Merpeoples, with added sunniness from Sachiko Sakaeda and her band Lines (who also participate in "Power to Japan" at Shinjuku Loft).
* Kal Spelletich "Where's My Jetpack" @ Jack Hanley Gallery / 136 Watts St. The San Fran-based artist received his MFA from UT Austin and went on to found SEEMEN, a collective of "extreme machines and robotics" builders. Which totally figures into his steampunk-ish motorized jetpacks and related source ephemera in this exhibition.
* Japan Cuts: "Gantz" + "Gantz: Perfect Answer" (dir. Shinsuke Sato, 2010-11) screening @ Japan Society / 333 E 47th St (E/M to 53rd/Lexington, 6 to 51st St), 12:30p. Seems there's a back-to-back blockbuster at practically EVERY Japan Cuts: "20th Century Boys" I & II in 2009, "Death Note" I & II before that. Last year showcased a bunch of '90s films, so this year we get to overload on visual cocaine, aka the sci-fi manga-adapted "Gantz", feat. more bloodshed and leather-garbed PYTs than one can possibly handle.
* Japan Cuts: Ninja Kids!!!" (dir. Takashi Miike, 2011) screening @ Japan Society / 333 E 47th St (E/M to 53rd/Lexington, 6 to 51st St), 6p. 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?
* Japan Cuts: "Yakuza Weapon" (dir. Tak Sakaguchi & Yudai Yamaguchi, 2010) screening @ Japan Society / 333 E 47th St (E/M to 53rd/Lexington, 6 to 51st St), 8:15p. This loose sequel to 2000's surprisingly dope "Versus" eschews creative dialogue for epically awesome action sequences, choreographed by co-director/lead actor Sakaguchi, incl. a like 10-minute tracking shot of our hero killing rooms and rooms of dangerous baddies with his M61 Vulcan cannon-arm. Plus, Cay Izumi stars as a (cough) naked human weapon. + Q&A w/ Sakaguchi & Yamaguchi!
* Warm Up: Four Tet + SBTRKT @ MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E/M to 23rd St/Court, 7 to Courthouse Sq), 2p/FREE. Sound collagist and beat-miner Kieran Hebden (aka the tirelessly innovative Four Tet) headlines a sweet summer showcase, which also feat. fellow Brit SBTRKT (if you missed him WED) and local Falty DL (off Planet Mu).
* Grooms (album release party) w/ Pterodactyl @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$7. Local sludge-scuzzers Grooms celebrate their "Prom" release w/ frenetic post-punk yowlers Pterodactyl. Like you're not sweating enough as it is.
* Diamondsnake + The Suzan @ The Rock Shop / 249 Fourth Ave, Park Slope (D/NR to Union St), 8p/$10. This pretty dope patio-outfitted, two-level venue celebrates its first anniversary w/ a rather awesome pairing. I speak of hard-rocking supergroup Diamondsnake (yes, that's Moby on the axe and Tomato on the kit) and Japan's nigh-ubiquitous tropic-pop quartet The Suzan.
* Joshua Saunders "Objectification" @ Big Medium / 5305 Bolm Rd #12. It sounds deceptively simple: this Austin artist utilizes a high-contrast scanner to extract everyday objects (rolls of colored string, a ripped $20 bill, a packet of Adderall) — yet the resulting effects, said images and others trapped against solid black backdrops, are disarmingly abstract, despite their familiarity.
* The Blow (NYC) w/ Love Inks @ Emo’s / 603 Red River St, 9p/$14. The superlative Brooklyn anti-pop performance artist Mikhaela Yvonne Maricich (aka The Blow) brings her karaoke-style show to Austin. My love for quartet Love Inks (their debut ESP epitomizes no-frills awesomeness) should be known by now, and I'm stoked to see 'em locally.
* White Denim @ Antones / 213 W 5th St, 9p/$12. A quick primer of why Austin rocks, via 101X's "Homegrown Live" indie showcase. The critically acclaimed prog-minded White Denim just dropped a smashing new LP "D" and they headline the show, which also feat. TV Torso, Watch Out For Rockets, and Not in the Face.
* Puro Instinct (Cali) + John Maus (UK) @ Mohawk / 912 Red River St, 9p/$10. It's like reliving the '80s! Check neo-New Wave vs. neo-New Romanticism, Cali youngsters Puro Instinct and one-man show John Maus. Think of it as "Regression" night at Elysium, only a day early.
* Japan Shoegazer Festival 2011 @ High / 4-30-1 Koenji-Minami, Suginami-ku (JR Chuo Line to Koenji Station), noon/2500 yen. Lovers of mile-long guitars and crooned vox under walls of feedback, you are SO in luck. Like a dozen Japanese shoegaze bands, incl. Sugardrop, Lemon's Chair (Osaka), Aureole, Shouju Skip and Speaker Gain Teardrop (Hiroshima) play this all-day fest. I'm mad jealous!
* Aloe + Shinjuku Underground Fetish Show @ Bar9259 / 1-1-2 Okubo, Shinjuku-ku (JR Lines to Shinjuku Station, Oedo Line to Higashi-shinjuku Station), 11p/15000 yen (women free). This very serious fetish club hosts a weekly Thursday fetish show, but Saturday's blowout is even more massive. Tokyo Dolores' Aloe is one of the guest pole dancers in a night of hardcore techno (DJs Hajime Kinoko and Alex Einz) and cyber debauchery.
* Japan Cuts: "Heaven's Story" (dir. Takahisa Zeze, 2010) screening @ Japan Society / 333 E 47th St (E/M to 53rd/Lexington, 6 to 51st St), 2:45p. OK, think of Luc Besson's "Léon", only w/ the young girl, maturing quickly after her entire family is killed by a psychopath, has to take on the bad guys herself b/c the older guy swearing vengeance never gets around to it. Stretch that out to nearly five hours.
* Japan Cuts: "Milocrorze: A Love Story" (dir. Yoshimasa Ishibashi, 2010) screening @ Japan Society / 333 E 47th St (E/M to 53rd/Lexington, 6 to 51st St), 8p. This lovelorn psychedelic sensory overload opened NYAFF. It returns to Japan Cuts to sizzle your minds out your skull, and if the "Matrix"-style fight scenes don't make you blink, the dance numbers most definitely will. Like an entire genre film festival in 90 minutes. + Q&A w/ Ishibashi!
* "13 Assassins (dir. Takashi Miike, 2010) screening @ Museum of the Moving Image / 36-01 35th Ave, Astoria (E/M/R to Steinway St), 3p. You give a jidaigeki to Miike-san, he's gonna make magic. Hence this ragtag band of samurai (led by Koji Yakusho!) turning an abandoned village into one elaborate pre-Edo "Saw" deathtrap for a vicious young lord and his hundreds of soldiers. The final, nearly hour-long fight scene is too badass for words.
* Nightmare & the Cat @ Glasslands / 290 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 7:30p/$10. When you come from an '80s synth-rock pedigree as sons of Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) and Siobhan Fahey (Bananarama), you just might be musically inclined. Which, if you're brothers Django and Samuel (plus multi-instrumentalist Claire Acey), you TOTALLY ARE.
* Teruko Nimura "Spaces Between" @ testsite / 502 W 33rd St. This mixed-media artist, who splits her time as arts education administrator at Austin's Dougherty Arts Center, fills the gallery w/ symbols of collective memory, i.e. painstakingly handcrafted paper cranes and other objects.
* Ryan Gander "'Meaning…Surrounds Me Now" @ 1223 Gendaikaiga / B1 5-19-4 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku (Hibiya Line to Hiroo Station). The London-based Conceptualist takes on Color-Field painting, in a series drawing from Gander's inclusion in this year's Venice Biennale, plus a new work commenting on the packaging of paintings in Japanese culture.
* "Charity Comedy Pole Dance Night" @ Club Axxcis / 2-24-3 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku (JR Lines to Shinjuku Station), 5p/3000 yen. Yukari Makino, the incumbent Miss Pole Dance Japan champion (from this past March) leads a pole-dance face-off, feat. Aloe (Tokyo Dolores), Ukichi (Love Poison), Ayumi (Virgin Pink), Kaori and Satsuki (of APD) — in all, five hours of pole-dancing, w/ proceeds go towards aiding Northern Japan's Tohoku region, which is totally awesome.
* NYAFF: "The Blade" (dir. Tsui Hark, 1995) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 6p. Quite possibly THE pivotal '90s martial arts classic, heavy on bone-crushing action sequences & plenty o' killin' and light on lovey-dovey nonsense! w/ the legendary director in attendance!
* NYAFF: "Detective Dee: The Mystery of the Phantom Flame" (dir. Tsui Hark, 2010) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 9p. The legendary director's return to form. Think "Sherlock Holmes" with Hong Kong-style action, feat. Andy Lau in the titular role. w/ Hark in attendance!
* "Alien" (dir. Ridley Scott, 1979) screenings @ BAM / 30 Lafayette St, Ft Greene (23/45 to Nevins St, AC to Lafayette), 6:50/9:30p. No other extraterrestrial antagonist film holds a candle to "Alien", series-defining original, wonderfully imagined from H.R. Giger's biomechanics artwork and starring Sigourney Weaver fighting the baddie on a claustrophobic spaceship. Choose your iconic scene: the chestburster during dinner, the "Space Jockey" on a crashed craft, Ripley vs. Xenomorph at the airlock…
* NYAFF: "Versus" (dir. Ryuhei Kitamura, 2000) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 5p. Where it all began, so to speak, for action star/choreographer Tak Sakaguchi, as the ultimate ass-kicker in an endless forest vs. bands of zombies and Yakuza thugs! w/ Sakaguchi & writer Yudai Yamaguchi in attendance!
* NYAFF: "Yakuza Weapon" (dir. Tak Sakaguchi & Yudai Yamaguchi, 2010) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 7:45p. In case you missed this Sushi Typhoon newbie at Japan Cuts: this loose sequel to 2000's surprisingly dope "Versus" eschews creative dialogue for epically awesome action sequences, choreographed by co-director/lead actor Sakaguchi, incl. a like 10-minute tracking shot of our hero killing rooms and rooms of dangerous baddies with his M61 Vulcan cannon-arm. Plus, Cay Izumi stars as a (cough) naked human weapon. + Q&A w/ Sakaguchi, Yamaguchi, and Sushi Typhoon producer Yoshinori Chiba!
* NYAFF: "Horny House of Horror" (dir. Jun Tsugita, 2010) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 10:15p. 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?
* "The Baby" (dir. Ted Post, 1973) + "The Sinful Dwarf" (dir. Vidal Raski, 1974) double-feature @ reRun Theatre / 147 Front St, DUMBO (F to York, AC to High St), 7p. I can't believe Raski's icky Euro-cult film "The Sinful Dwarf" (now fully restored in its 35mm glory!) is coming to the big screen. That it plays against one of the sickest Hollywood films ever just makes this essential viewing...but only if you've OD'ed on NYAFF, that is.
* Cold Cave @ Knitting Factory / 361 Metropolitan Ave (L to Bedford, G to Lorimer), 8p/$15. Those tough-ass, Goth-drenched synth-pop boys just got a lot darker, thanks to a snarling newish LP. Cult of Youth complement their set w/ the heaviest, vertiginous indie folk you've ever heard. w/ Zambri
* "Prison" (dir. Renny Harlin, 1988) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E 6th St, 9:50p. I had in mind Oliver Hirschbiegel's "Das Experiment" going into this film, but "Prison" is way grittier, way VHS-ier…plus the unleasher of unmitigated violence is an electrically-charged spectre, one of TWO roles played by a very young Viggo Mortensen. That sentence alone is capable of conjuring cerebral whiplash, so just think what an entire film of stuff like that can do.
* John Chamberlain "New Sculpture" @ Gagosian / 555 W 24th St. Casual art-goers may well be totally thrown off by the dual — duel? — Chamberlain exhibits in W. Chelsea, the sort of career retrospective swan song at Pace and this one, proclaiming "new sculpture" (crushed auto works from 2009 through seemingly weeks before the show opened). That's a lot of Chamberlain! And not counting Gagosian's Britannia space, hosting the second wing of Chamberlain's new works, after the blue-chip gallery added him to their roster of luminary postwar and contemporary big-names. Here's an easy way to tell a new Chamberlain from an old one: the name. Mind you, he's incredibly adept at naming his sculpture, but "Gangster of Love" and "Infected Eucharist" are oldies, like from the '80s oldies. "TASTYLINGUS" and "TAMBOURINEFRAPPE" — those are new! The all-caps and shoved together words are a clue. That's if you're not even looking at the works, which do signal a rift b/w the older Chamberlains and the brand-new monumental sculptures. His array at Gagosian bears an overall aggressive vibe, crushed and contused muscle cars twisted into even meaner shapes. Some are exceedingly shiny too, one consisting totally of chromed bumpers like the ribs of some Decepticon, but there's a good bit of rough-and-tumble, rusted and used steel still figuring into Chamberlain's modus. The ultimate for me goes back to the polished, a brand-new "Cloverfield"-sized monolith called "C'ESTZESTY" that's less like the other Chamberlains in the room, yet still retains the artist's irreverent sense of humor. (ENDS FRI)
* Satoru Aoyama "Artists Must Earnestly Make Six Roses in Their Lives" @ Mizuma Art Gallery / 2F 3-13 Ichigayatamachi, Shinjuku-ku (Yurakucho/Nanboku Lines to Ichigaya Station). Aoyama's always been concerned with wonderfully hand-crafted stuff, but he eschews spectacle (i.e. his "Glitter" series) for symbolism in six embroidered roses — like Gary Hume with a sewing kit.
* Yujiro Miyazaki "Blue, Green, and Mt. Fuji" @ Mizuma Action / 2F 1-3-9 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku (Tokyu Toyoko Line to Nakameguro Station). Fantastical wall paintings of lush worlds and cyclical life, referencing traditional Japanese imagery, Eden and contemporary society.
* 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.
* Ayumu Taniguchi @ Galerie Tokyo Humanité / B1F 2-8-18 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku (Ginza Line to Kyobashi Station). This young graduate from Tama Art University's braided wire sculpture reminds me a bit of León Ferrari, though Taniguchi's come off even more organic. (ENDS SAT)
* 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.
* Chihiro Kabata "Closed with Eyes Open" @ Art Front Gallery / 29-18 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku (Tokyu Toyoko Line to Daikanyama Station). Kabata-san wowed me beyond all means at this year's MOT Annual at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, w/ her huge-ass ballpoint pen "renderings" on inkjet paper — basically she saturated the paper's surface w/ ink to create these shiny, undulating blue-black voids. Very intense, but it's all done by her hand, not brushing out the ink or whatnot. This exhibition contains both her large-scale work, multi-panel installations, and smaller drawings — which due to their ink treatments do not lose their concentrated energy.
* Howard W "Facing Shibuya" @ Place M / 3F 1-2-11 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku (JR Lines etc to Shinjuku Station). If you've ever tackled "The Scramble", that panoply of crosswalks outside Shibuya Station and the massive Starbucks, you've experienced the epicenter of Tokyo's youth culture…along w/ like thousands of other pedestrians. The American-born, Tokyo-based photographer turns his lens on the crowds, drawing out unique faces w/ their own intriguing backstories. (ENDS SUN)
* "German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). I'd meant to attend this epic survey of German printmaking, a joyous and quickly brutal journey through WWI and its grim aftermath, on the first day of members' previews, i.e. before the NYTimes' Roberta Smith's column. I'd missed that chance, read her article, and knew going in that the grueling juggernaut also known as Otto Dix's "The War" (1924), some 50 desiccated etchings, aquatints and drypoints rivaling current-day torture porn in their shocking (yet all too real) imagery, was awaiting me against a blood-red wall like midway into the show. Now don't YOU worry that I just revealed the big plot-twist, as it's not like that at all. Enjoy the lyrical buildup and we'll get through the rocky stages together. The exhibition begins with a two-pronged flourish, devoting two galleries to Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter. To one-up the experience, the museum's included E.L. Kirchner's woodcut manifesto from Die Brücke (1906), which 'til now I'd only seen in catalogue images. Kirchner's woodcut "Dancer with Raised Skirt" (1909) and Brücke member Erich Heckel's "Girl with a Doll" (1910), actually Fränzi, a recurring figure in their renderings, exude a bliss that gets caught in your throat. If only they could have seen the war that would come crashing down several years later. Amid Franz Marc's vividly colored woodcuts of horses and other fauna is his co-illustrated "Der Blaue Reiter" book (1912-14) w/ Vasily Kandinsky. Another 'whoa' moment for me. Plus Kandinsky's outstanding "Klänge" (1913) a 'musical album' of some 56 woodcuts — the exhibition contains loads of these type of series, it's fantastic. Let's keep it moving! In the Austrian portion of the show comes some more sexiness, courtesy Egon Schiele (a selection from his 1914-18 portfolio, including some of the last works of his brief lifetime, like the 1918 lithograph "Girl") and Oskar Kokoschka, whose "Die Träumenden Knaben" (1908) illustrated book and haunting poster for "Murderer Hope of Women" (1909), apparently the 1st Expressionist play, tussle for emotive responses. Printmaking is in full swing by this point, evinced by copies of Der Strurm (Kirchner, Marc, Kokoschka) and Die Aktion (Conrad Felixmüller and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff), plus Emil Nolde's prolific, varying mediums (lithographs here, woodcut there, intaglio elsewhere), like his energetic "Dancer" (1913 lithograph). It and Kirchner's sumptuous "Street, Berlin" (1913, a rare painting in the lot, from Kirchner's own exhibition here back in autumn 2008) do nothing to prepare us for what follows, i.e the war and Dix's "War". I'd caught "War" in the Neue Galerie's survey on Dix, but its darkened lair kept many of Dix's first-hand atrocities obscured. Not at MoMA! In this well-lit room nothing goes hidden, the skulls crawling with vermin, the shattered bodies in ditches, the dead horses, the strife and peril everywhere. The postwar period doesn't ease tension, either, considering Heinz Fuchs' agitprop graphic design posters, like "Workers. Famine. Death is Approaching. Strike Destroys. Work Nourishes. Do your Duty. Work." (1919), a Tyrannosaur-sized Death glowering over a street in disarray, the words burnt into the sky. Nor with Max Beckmann's "Hell" (1919) eleven transfer lithographs detailing social disintegration and violence in postwar Berlin. His later series "Trip to Berlin" (1922) and Dix's "Nine Nightlife Woodcuts" (1922-4) reveal the changed landscape, populated with boozers, the sex-seeking and -addled, and alley cats. (ENDS MON)