Wednesday, August 24, 2011

fee's LIST (through 8/30)

* Carlito Carvalhosa "Sum of Days" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 53rd/5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). What is it with Brazilian artists and sumptuous, transporting installations? Both Ernesto Neto and Rivane Neuenschwander come to mind — and look, I'm not cocky enough to think it's "only" Brazilians who do this — and now Carlito Carvalhosa. In his debut U.S. exhibition, he coats the Marron Atrium in a floor-to-ceiling labyrinth of diaphanous material and whispered sounds, audio recordings from the previous day's ambient noise.

* David Yow "GLASS GAS MASK" @ Fuse Gallery / 93 2nd Ave. Indeed this is The Jesus Lizard maniac frontman's debut solo gallery exhibition in our fair city. The art itself — digital and hand-drawn renderings with collage elements — is typically Lynch-ian dark and intriguingly figurative. Hell, I suggest you attend the opening (starts at 7p) just to see Yow stage-dive into the crowd. Please I hope he does this.

* Peelander-Z presents "P-pop Party" @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$7. They may not have an "official" set tonight, but Japanese art-punks Peelander-Z have curated a helluva party. Feat. "sister" group PeeWonder-Z, Luke and the Cocktails (Luke from Anamanaguchi w/ Peelander-Red & Green) and gypsy cabaret performer Goto Izumi. Plus Peter (Anamanaguchi's frontman) is DJing. I spy a collaboration?

* Summer Show 2011 @ Lora Reynolds Gallery / 360 Neches #50. This deceptively simply titled group show belies the explosive creativity contained w/in. In fact, Reynolds' array of talent — Cordy Ryman's brutally physical relief works; Noriko Ambe's meticulous cut-paper; Tony Feher's delightfully subversive (and glittery!) assemblage; Ewan Gibbs bracing pencil renderings (Armory Show 2009 artist) — reminds me of my favorite "outside-the-white-box" Chelsea galleries. Don't miss this one.

* Petit Blackcherry @ Module / B2 34-6 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku (JR Lines etc to Shibuya Station), 7p/1500 yen. I'm big into (watching) pole-dancing. Anyone who knows me personally knows this. In an effort to expand beyond the awesomeness that is burlesque/pole-dancing troupe Tokyo Dolores, I've discovered Roppongi-mawari regular Ruka, leading two performances at this tech-house night, along w/ girls Ukichi, Rainy, Mippo (Miss Poledance Japan 2011 finalist!) and more.

* Oberhofer + EXITMUSIC @ Mercury Lounge / 217 E Houston St (F to 2nd Ave), 10p/FREE. Queue up early for this "late" yet "totally free" Spotify show. Nigh-ubiquitous Japanese riot-grrrl darlings The Suzan open, followed by Manchester-channeling charmers EXITMUSIC (check Aleksa Palladino's vox throughout "The Sea") — and Brooklyn's charismatic youngsters Oberhofer will rock your Purcells off.

* Alex Bleeker and the Freaks @ Cake Shop, 152 Ludlow St (F/JMZ to Essex/Delancey), 8p/$8. Summer ain't over but the month's nearly done, so let Bleeker and his mates regale you in their folksy backyard barbecue-style jams. w/ Woodsman

* The Beets @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$7. By this point, The Beets — Jackson Heights' finest garage-rock band — are more local indie's rule than exception. w/ Crinkles

* "Starship Troopers" (dir. Paul Verhoeven, 1997) ACTION PACK Edition @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E 6th St, 7p. I totally mean to make one of these "Action Pack" showcases, which augment bonkers '80s and '90s action films w/ live pyrotechnics and audience cap guns. And honestly, I always dug "Starship Troopers" for its blatant boneheadedness, its farcical take on hoo-rah vs. "bugs", plus the unironic coed infantry.

* Heavy Cream (TN) @ Mohawk / 912 Red River St, 9p/$7. Though my favorite mostly-girl Nashville punks Heavy Cream have transitioned through some lineup changes (specifically dropping cutie drummer Melissa), but these girls and dude still rock a party right. They support local rockers The Hi-Tones. w/ The Ugly Beats

* "Collections" @ Span Art Gallery / 2-2-18 1F Ginza, Chuo-ku. (Yurakucho Line to Ginza-Itchome Station). A selection of the gallery's roster and trends to come in the next season of exhibitions. Feat. Eikoh Hosoe, Suehiro Maruo, Hiroshi Nakamura, Toshio Saeki and more.

* Tomomi Kazumoto + Nekonoko "Nekomo!" @ Niji Gallery / 2-2-10 Kichijoji-honcho, Musashino-shi (JR Line to Kichijoji Station). A collaborative exhibition b/w Kazumoto and the artist nicknamed "Kitten", featuring cute but slightly twisted drawings and characters.

* "モールス"/"Let Me In" (dir. Matt Reeves, 2010) @ TOHO Cinemas Roppongi / Roppongi Hills Complex 6-10-2 Roppongi, MInato-ku (Toei Oedo/Hibiya Lines to Roppongi Station). I honestly prefer the English language take on John Ajvide Lindqvist's vampire-child novel over Tomas Alfredson's 2008 Swedish film — I love them both (see my take on "Let the Right One In" under SAT/NYC) but the chemistry b/w Kodi Smit-McPhee and the lovely Chloë Moretz here, coupled w/ the overall dread, just works for me. (N.B. interesting Japanese rethinking of the title, means "Morse") ALSO FRI

* FOUR GET ME A NOTS @ Shimokitazawa Shelter / B1F 2-6-10 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku (Keio Inokashira Line to Shimo-kitazawa Station), 7p/2800 yen. If only most indie bands had as much intensity in their entire bodies as Chiba trio FOUR GET ME A NOTS have in the cutie guitarist/co-vocalist Chie's pinkie finger. She and the boys play punchy hook-driven punk interspersed w/ clear English lyrics. This is "Heroine" EP release party, so rock on!

* "Sideways" (dir. Alexander Payne, 2004) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 53rd/5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 4p. Despite my ambivalence toward wine (oh I'll drink it, but it's rarely my first choice), I'd kind of like to go along w/ mopey Miles (Paul Giamatti, in perhaps his most memorable role) and lecherous Jack (Thomas Haden Church, let me forever dispel Flint "Sandman" Marko from my memory) on their Santa Ynez Valley wine tour.

* Amen Dunes (LP release party) @ Saint Vitus / 1120 Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint (G to Greenpoint, 7 to Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave), 8p/$8. So what that Damon "Amen Dunes" McMahon's sophomore LP "Through Donkey Jaw" drops near the tail-end of summer? Despite its slow metamorphosis, the end result is a wintery, nocturnal affair, with tracks like "Lower Mind" and "Good Bad Dreams" hanging in the misty air like ice crystals. Luckily, Saint Vitus' dark denizens provides excellent accompaniment to Amen Dunes' intimate affair.

* "Candy Cornbread" @ Grayduck Gallery / 608 W Monroe Dr. Six Austin artists take on pop, lowbrow and assemblage, plus Red Bluff Studios collaborated in a series of handmade prints related to the participating artists. Feat. Jason Archer, Jaime Cervantes, Satch Grimley, Mike Parsons, Matthew Rodriguez and Jeffrey Swanson.

* "The Austin Series: Part Three" @ Gallery Black Lagoon / 4301A Guadalupe St. This is just what I need for full immersion in the local art scene: a group show of over a dozen multidisciplinary artists. Feat. manipulated photography by Suzanne Koett (her "Sabbat" series), paintings by Debbie Carroll and Valérie M. Horne, mixed media works by Akaimi Davis Green and Danny Phillips, and a helluva lot more.

* Handsome Furs @ Mohawk / 912 Red River St, 8p/$13. "Sound Kapital", the new LP from this messily energetic husband-wife electro-punk duo (he, Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade, shreds whilst she, Alexei Perry, sings and triggers keyboard squelches), hits straight for the jugular. It's rougher, noisier, funkier than anything in their past catalogue of jittery pop frenzies, alive w/ '80s charisma w/o getting all nostalgic. Prepare to sweat. w/ Lean Hounds

* YellowFever (tour kickoff) @ Beerland / 711 Red River, 9p. Austin's stripped-down indie dynamos YellowFever bring the heat once again before hitting the trail. w/ Boyfriend

* Rayon Beach @ Scoot Inn / 1308 E 4th St, 9p/$5. There's a lot of wacked-out psychedelia coming from the Hill Country (see: Butthole Surfers), and Rayon Beach make good w/ blistering punk exotica and tongue-in-cheek humor. w/ Followed by Static

* Miki Kubota "人の山" @ hpgrp Tokyo / B1F 5-1-15 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku (Chiyoda/Hanzomon/Ginza Lines to Omotesando Station). My translation: "Mountain People": Kubota creates wildly interesting sculpture using furniture as her base, sanding, polishing and cutting it to mimic greatly magnified dermis or crumpled paper.

* nisennenmondai @ O-Nest / 6F 2-3 Maruyama-cho, Shibuya-ku (Yamanote Line etc to Shibuya Station), 6p/2500 yen. These ultra-fierce prog-rockers' decimation of O-Nest is now captured on album, via their new LP "nisennenmondai LIVE!!!" — relive the krautrock pulse of "fan", the baklava layerings of guitar loops and ride cymbals on "mirrorball", the bass and jazz drum fills of "ikkyokume"…then see 'em again, here. w/ LAGITAGIDA

* tacobonds @ Shinjuku Motion / 5F 2-45-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku (JR etc to Shinjuku Station, East Exit), 6p/2300 yen. Jittery off-kilter Tokyo post-punk trio have kept it real and refreshing since '03 w/ deft tempo changes and coed vocalists. Their new LP "NO FICTION" is pretty dope. w/ Tape-Recorders and Owari-Kara

* "The Host" (dir. Bong Joon-ho 2006) screening @ BAM / 30 Lafayette Ave, Ft Greene (23/45 to Nevins St, AC to Lafayette), 2/7p. Bong's international hit remains, in my opinion, the pinnacle of "smart" monster movies. B/c as scary as the beastie is, it's merely part of Bong's heartfelt family drama.

* "Let the Right One In" (dir. Tomas Alfredson, 2008) screening @ BAM / 30 Lafayette Ave, Ft Greene (23/45 to Nevins St, AC to Lafayette), 4:30/9:30p. Among the best of vampire films, but evermore effective b/c the blood-yearning kid's an ongoing metaphor for preteen growing pains. See this alongside Bong Joon-ho's "The Host" and witness two filmmakers thinking outside genre's formulaic box.

* "Throne of Blood" (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1957) screening @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St), 11a. Kurosawa's reimagining William Shakespeare's regicide classic "Macbeth" in feudal Japan is the rare instance when the English film title is just as wicked as the original Japanese (lit. "Spiderweb Castle"). The big finale, with embattled "king" Washizu (Toshiro Mifune) against a hail of arrows is truly bracing. ALSO SUN

* Warm Up: Tanlines + NguzuNguzu (LA) @ MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E/M to 23rd St/Court, 7 to Courthouse Sq), 2p/FREE. The penultimate Warm Up in a series of awesomeness this season highlights glitchy tropical-house trends. I'm stoked for what Tanlines unveil, but inclusion of LA bass-lovers NguzuNguzu (I mean, have you HEARD their "Moments in Love" mixture?) ups the intensity 1000%. w/ fractured house heroes Teengirl Fantasy + Brooklyn's Physical Therapy

* Love Inks (Austin) @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 9p/$12. LIST devotees recall my love for Austin TX's Love Inks and their debut "ESP". Their hypnotizing pop morsels are particularly suited to cozy Glasslands. w/ Male Bonding

* Ai Shinohara "My Progress" @ Gallery Momo / 2F 6-2-6 Roppongi, Minato-ku (Hibiya/Toei Oedo Lines to Roppongi Station). I love this gallery and I really dig young Kagoshima-born Shinohara. This exhibition feat. about 20 of her early watercolors and ink compositions — think Frank Frazetta filtered through a manga veil — plus some newer works. Recommended!

* "Piranha 3D" (dir. Alexandre Aja, 2010) midnight screening @ TOHO Cinemas Roppongi / Roppongi Hills Complex 6-10-2 Roppongi, MInato-ku (Toei Oedo/Hibiya Lines to Roppongi Station). While I saw this gloriously gory flick in the height of NYC's summer last year, I'd totally see it again on the big screen a full year later in the height of Tokyo's summer! Tokyo, are you ready for Jessica Szohr in 3D??

* Acid Mothers Temple & the Cosmic Inferno @ Goodman / Basement 55 Kanda-Sakumagashi, Chiyoda-ku (JR Lines to Akihabara Station), 6p/3000yen. AMT's heaviest, Deep Purple-swathed iteration unites for drummer/vocalist/goddess Pikachu's farewell performance! Plus frequent collaborator Kasumi Hiraoka regales with pole-dancing, and a special liquidbiupil light show! The best of psychedelic summer.

* "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" (dir. Luis Buñuel, 1971) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 53rd/5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 5p. If I had to pick one film from the Spanish surrealist's oeuvre that perfectly skewers the bourgeois class, it'd have to be '62's "The Exterminating Angel" — I mean, they're "trapped" in a room after a dinner party, for goodness sake! But this one, filmed a decade later, is nearly as good for all its pure illogicalness. Here we have a group of richies attempting to dine together, despite ongoing bizarro interruptions.

* MURAL (Norway/Australia) @ Salvage Vanguard Theater / 2803 Manor Rd, 8p/$8-$15. Church of the Friendly Ghost brings the multinational trio (Norwegians Kim Myhr on guitar and Ingar Zach on percussion, plus Australian Jim Denley on winds) back to the Theater, celebrating "MURAL Live at the Rothko Chapel" — a truly monolithic recording of improvised soundscapes. w/ guest percussionists Chris Cogburn and Nick Hennies and clarinetist Jon Doyle.

* Issei Suda "Zapping" @ Nagune / 1-1 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku (JR etc to Shinjuku Station, East Exit then head for Golden Gai). Two notable things going on here: 1) Suda is an incredible street photographer and academic, who once worked under director Shuji Terayama in the theatrical group Tenjo Sajiki in the '60s. 2) this exhibition of his reconfigured photography is in fact installed in a Golden Gai bar. Think about that.

* "Natsu no Shinjuku" @ Marble / B1F 2-45-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku (JR etc to Shinjuku Station, East Exit), 5:30p/2300 yen. As in "Shinjuku's Summer", and this showcase, presented by Natural Hi-Tech Records, is massive. Check it: Tokyo sextet about tees meld interwoven layers of sonics via their two drummers, two bassists and two guitarists. Plus LIST favorites Metro-Ongen, minimals, Gusha-Ningen (Crazy Humans?) and many more.

* N.E.T. presents "XXX" @ Heaven's Door / B1 1-33-19 Sangenjaya, Setagaya-ku (Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line to Sangenjaya Station), 3p/2500 yen. Insanity!!! Imagine paying the equivalent of $30USD to see a dozen female-fronted (or female-only) grunge, punk and thrash bands for an entire afternoon and night. I'm stoked Osaka hardcore trio Red Bacteria Vacuum are playing, since I've seen 'em in the States before, plus Tokyo punks The Harpys and Sonic Youth-ish trio (if you imagine SY on speed) Oh my God, you've gone — who take it for coolest band name on this week's LIST. w/ N.E.T., Cannibal Rabbit, uh…Zombie Lolita. Heaven, right?

* Love Inks (Austin) @ Mercury Lounge / 217 E Houston (F to 2nd Ave), 9:30p/$10. A second change to catch Austin indie-pop darlings Love Inks, touring w/ Male Bonding, before they're Canana-bound (and then Europe!). See my SAT entry for more Love Inks love.

* Sarah Buckius "trapped inside pixels" @ Arthouse / 700 Congress. In her debut Texas installation, the Ann Arbor-based video/performance artist presents her 2008 looping digital animation "trapped inside pixels", where she executes synchronous maneuvers w/in a field of ice cube-shaped "pixels". Part of the venue's SCREEN Projects series (so you can watch Buckius fluttering about from the street).

* Yokohama Triennial 2011 @ Yokohama Museum of Art / 3-4-1 Minatomirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama-shi (Minatomirai Line to Mimatomrai Station, JR/Tokyu Toyoko or Yokohama Lines to Sakuragicho Station). Peter Coffin "Music for Plants", a music event w/in the artist's work "Untitled (Greenhouse)", which is decked in synths, mixers and amps amid the real foliage, feat. the psych-folk of Tenniscoats! At 5:30p.

* JEWEL BOX vol 2. @ Fever / 1-1-14 Hanegi, Setagaya-ku (Odakyu Inokashira Line to Shindaita or Shimokitazawa Stations), 6:30p/2300 yen. Maybe it's the keyboard accents and Natsuko's jazz-singer vox that make the awesomely named young Shinjuku trio 軍艦オクトパス (Submarine Octopus) stand out from their indie brethren…but whatever it is, it totally works. Tokyo alt-rock quartet Indigo la End inject some REM-style stream-of-consciousness against shimmery riffs and melodic choruses. w/ TRAUMEREI

* Bruce Conner "Falling Leaves: An Anonymous Memorial" @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 521 W 21st St. An exhibition of drawings by the late artist created in response to 9/11, plus his 2006 collage film "His Eye is on the Sparrow".

* Angel Deradoorian @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$10. As creative as weird-pop unit Dirty Projectors are, I've dug multi-instrumentalist Deradoorian's solo stuff way more. Her voice is as uncanny as her soundscapes hazy, think blunted jazz (use track "Weed Jam" for starters). DBA doesn't usually pour on the bliss like this, so take advantage! w/ Advance Base (aka Casiotone for the Painfully Alone)

* "The Exterminator" (dir. James Glickenhaus, 1980) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E 6th St, 10:45p. What's more dangerous than The Terminator? If you guessed Vietnam vet Eastland, aka The Exterminator, you are correct! B/c this is the Big Apple circa 1980, and no mobsters, punks or Ghetto Ghouls are safe from his handmade vigilante justice! It even spawned a sequel (though w/ Mark "Posse" Buntzman in the director's chair).

* Mister Heavenly @ Mohawk / 912 Red River St, 7:30p/$13. Mister Heavenly an indie supergroup comprised of Man Man's exuberant frontman Ryan "Honus Honus" Kattner, Nicholas Thornburn of Islands and Modest Mouse's drummer Joe Plummer. Their modular "doom-wop" has received a bunch of buzz not only b/c these guys are trip together but also b/c Michael Cera toured with 'em last year as bassist. Cannot guarantee "Scott Pilgrim" will join 'em tonight, but their creative interplay promises a bash.

* Salon RubBar @ Module / B1F/B2F 34-6 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku (JR lines etc to Shibuya Station), 6p/1000 yen. Think of a fashion show where all the models are wearing rubber and latex, and you get to touch the outfits. A specific dress-code isn't vital for entrance to this fetish party, but second-skin-wear is totally encouraged.

* "Magic for Beginners" @ PPOW / 535 W 22nd St, 3rd Fl. Jamie Sterns and Joseph Whitt curated this grope show centered around the unstructured side of Modernism, feat. Bas Jan Ader, Olaf Breuning, Jennifer Cohen, Scott Hug, Kevin Lips, Niall McClelland, Jesse McLean, Kristie Muller, Rbt. Sps., and Brent Stewart.

* "Soft Machines" @ The Pace Gallery / 545 W 22nd St. The title makes me think of Claes Oldenberg, he of literal soft-construct sculpture. But this actually alludes to William S. Burroughs' titular 1961 novel, in how control mechanisms (from narcotics to TV to religion) affect our psychological and physical disposition. Heavy stuff for a summer group show!

* "25 Years/25 Artists" @ Julie Saul Gallery / 535 W 22nd St. The gallery celebrates 25 years as a public exhibition space, with as many artists represented, each featured in one year of the show: from Tseng Kwong Chi and Maira Kalman to Julie Evans and Rineke Dijkstra.

* 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. (ENDS FRI)

* "New Artists" @ Galerie Sho Contemporary / B1F 3-2-9 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku (Ginza/Tozai Lines to Nihonbashi Station). Four emerging artists from Japan and abroad, feat. Naondo Masuda (who showed at 2009 101Tokyo Contemporary Art Fair), Saeko Shimojo (recipient of the 2011 Marunouchi "Art Award Tokyo"), Arisa Ota and Lee Dongi.

* Susan Philipsz "Did I Dream You Dreamed About Me" @ Mizuma Action / 2F 1-3-9 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku (Tokyu Toyoko Line to Nakameguro Station). An enchanting little show in summer's twilight. Mizuma restates sonic pioneer Philipsz's two-speaker installation (which they unveiled at the main Ichigaya-tamachi space in 2007) for juuuust a quickie. Don't miss it. (ENDS SAT)

* Richard Serra "Drawing" @ Metropolitan Museum of Art / 1000 Fifth Ave (456 to 86th St). Bravo to the Met for letting Serra do his thing and mount a truly memorable survey show. Despite the obvious lack of his telltale monolithic sculpture, a trek through this labyrinthine series of rooms permeating with the smell of paintstick and artificially foreshortened by the blackened works' respective scales actually FEELS like walking into and out of a Serra torqued ellipse. That the show begins with a bang, like you're shoved from the back into one of his impenetrable, textured drawings (nearly everything beyond the start is paintstick, lots and lots and lots of paintstick, heavily applied to various papers and linens), w/ only a single introductory text as your guide. Order to rooms? Give me a break. You're in Serra's domain. Though if you require a bit of order, then proceed gently to the right and let the conduits of plutonian rectangles speed you along. "Untitled (14-part roller drawing)" (1973) is an odd duck in the first section, 14 inky smudges like police fingerprinting scaled up to poster-size. Just a bit further in begins what I call the 'portals' experience. We're deposited against "Pacific Judson Murphy" (1978), a blackly black wall corner comprised of two sheets of Belgian linen, covered in paintstick. Beyond the powerful quartet "Forged Drawing" (1977/2008), four geometric forged steels (not unlike his Cor-Ten sculpture) lovingly slathered with paintstick on their faces, is Serra's cunningly titled "Institutionalized Abstract Art" (1978/2011), a wormhole-like circle pitched high on the ceiling. It leads into "Blank" (1978), two larger-than-lifesize paintstick on linen squares like doorways on either side of a narrowed room — which brings us to the deafeningly huge "Taraval Beach" (1977/2011), a floor-to-ceiling swath of Belgian linen, absolutely soaked in twilit paintstick. The vertigo this one induces reminded me strongly of Mark Danielewski's "House of Leaves", a novel-w/in-a-novel (w/in-a-novel) about a house that's bigger on the inside than the outside. Serra is really playing w/ scale here, actually and our perceptive sense of it. The old familiar Met feels quite alien. Onward through a room steeped in paintstick odor, w/ diptych works like "The United States Government Destroys Art" (1989), and another heavy room of paintstick on laminated Japanese paper, acting both as Color-Field and Hardedge but endlessly more textural. His paintstick application is almost impasto-like. Another room of vicious circles, haunting meteoric arrays like "out-of-round IX" (1999) and recent paintstick-on-linen works mimicking the weathered sides of his sculpture. The site-specific "Union" (2011) takes "Blank" from way back there and extends it into two massive wall-filling rectangles of streaked, compressed paintstick, almost like soot. The room of films (incl "Hand Catching Lead", 1968, a physical must-see) and Serra's personal sketchbooks — including super-minimalist roughs of architecture and works like the ill-fated "Tilted Arc", produce such an open effect from the previous journey that we might have been deposited down in the Great Hall, not in some smallish, generic gallery space. It's an exhibition that doesn't quite leave you once you reemerge in the 19th-C wings, still feeling the effects of having really experienced Serra.

* "THE END" @ Christopher Henry Gallery / 127 Elizabeth St, 2nd Fl. Jason LeBlond curated the kind of four-artist group show I can get behind. Why? Check Kevin Baker's lush abstracts, accentuated w/ enamel paint and executed over Kentucky-proud oilcloths. Even better: Gabriel J. Shuldiner's corroded "Post-Apocalyptic Black" paintings, each like a custom black hole of nihilism. Plus visceral ephemera from Jordan Eagles (i.e. cows' blood, combined w/ copper and preserved in Plexiglas and resin) and Wonderpuss Octopus' assaultive packaged goods.

* "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.

* Mikiya Takimoto "Land Space" @ MA2 Gallery / 3-3-8 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku (Yamanote Line to Ebisu Station). The exhibition focuses on Takimoto's photographs of space shuttles, begun in 2009 during trips to Florida, which also incorporate detail shots of jet engines and natural rock formations that resemble one another.

* Kohei Nawa "Synthesis" @ Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo / 4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku (Hanzomon/Oedo Lines to Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station). Nawa creates very pretty sculptures with shiny, translucent materials like massive plastic beads, prisms and silicone oil — and no matter the deep meanings behind it, that he's investigating the concept of the "Cell" as a metaphor for thoughts/senses in an info-laden society, his works tend to be very beautiful and very easy to like. Unless your concept of beautiful art is total minimalism and abstraction, you'll probably like Nawa's style, even if you don't fully go in w/ the intentions behind them. The sculptures are arranged sparingly, allowing their bubble-covered dermis (like "PixCell-Elk#2, shown at Japan Society's "Bye Bye Kitty!!!" exhibition) or frozen-liquid sheen (his glue-based series, like the fascinating "Air Cell-A_36mmp") to magnify and bound off the galleries' lighting and external space. (ENDS SUN)