* AMOA/Arthouse Talks @ Arthouse / 700 Congress Ave, 6p. Erin Gentry, Manager of Education Programs, leads a discussion on Arthouse's pretty awesome "The Anxiety of Photography" grip exhibition, which ends later this month.
* "Emanuelle In Prison" (dir. Bruno Mattei, 1983) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 10:30p. AKA "Violence in a Women's Prison", AKA "Caged Women" — and indeed member of the ostentatious subset 'women-in-prison films' — this French-Italian episode from the "Black Emanuelle" series stars Laura Gemser, ever the enterprising, globe-trotting, hedonistic investigative journalist, exposing corruption w/in a women's prison.
* "Extraterrestrial" (dir. Nacho Vigalondo, 2011) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), 9p. An enchanting and super-quirky romantic comedy, set within what could be an alien invasion. A fan favorite at this year's Fantastic Fest film festival, Vigalondo's latest also spearheads "Spanish Cinema Now" at the Lincoln Center.
* Ducktails + Big Troubles @ 285 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$10. 285 Kent's holiday party, but really anytime Matt Mondanile's guitar-loopy outfit Ducktail (plus fuzzed-out Slumberland alums Big Troubles) are on the roster, you know it's gonna be a good time. w/ Amen Dunes and Hard Bop
* "Out of Nowhere" @ Julie Saul Gallery / 535 W 22nd St. Back at this indie coffeeshop during uni, one of the baristas always had The Weakerthans on repeat, meaning that slightly goofy track "I Hate Winnipeg". Not to be outdone, Winnipeg-born breakcore maestro Venetian Snares released an album entitled "Winnipeg Is a Frozen Shithole", containing tracks like "Winnipeg Is a Boiling Pot of Cranberries" and the title track. Who knows? I've never had the pleasure of visiting. This group show of Winnipeg artists, curated by Sarah Anne Johnson and Meeka Walsh, may well shed some celestial light to the far northern city.
* "Carnage" (dir. Roman Polanski, 2011) @ Angelika NY / 18 W Houston St (BDFM to Broadway/Lafayette). This taut dramedy, adapted from Yasmina Reza's acclaimed play "God of Carnage", boasts a killer cast as warring couples: Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly in one corner, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz in the other. You think their kids have issues: just wait 'til the adults are locked in a Brooklyn apartment together to "sort things out".
* Parts & Labor @ Knitting Factory / 361 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, G to Lorimer), 7p/$10. Brooklyn math-punk kings perform their 2006 classic "Stay Afraid", strewn with noisy thrashers like "A Great Divide" and "New Buildings", ahead of their early 2012 retirement. w/ kindred speed-rock kings Pterodactyl
* Quiet Hooves + Bubbly Mommy Gun (ATL) @ Shea Stadium / 20 Meadow St, E. Williamsburg (L to Grand), 8p. This is WEIRD Atlanta, care of Party Party Partners and amorphous psych-rock ensemble Quiet Hooves, which shares some members w/ equally psych-rock group Bubbly Mommy Gun. The experience of seeing these dudes and girls live is (to my estimation) akin to attending a charismatic Christian service, but w/o the religious intonations. Love in for all!
* "Shame" (dir. Steve McQueen, 2011) @ Violet Crown Cinema / 434 W 2nd St. Props for Violet Crown for featuring this notorious anti-rom-com, unflinchingly focused on one man's (McQueen regular Michael Fassbinder) dirty sexual proclivities.
* Man or Astroman? @ Emo's / 603 Red River, 9p/$20. Surf-rock pioneers from deep space (really: Auburn, AL but who's counting?) beam down to Emo's to rock us hard w/ sci-fi samples and new wave crunch. w/ Fuckemos
* Nisennenmondai @ Shibuya O-West / 2-3 Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit), 6p/$4000. Japan's finest math-rock women electrify synapses with their pulsing kraut-rock groove and relentless, thrash rhythms. w/ Sick Team
* Twin Sister + Widowspeak @ Bowery Ballroom / 6 Delancey St (F/JMZ to Essex/Delancey), 8p/$8. Brooklyn's darkly opulent disco-rock lovelies Twin Sister, augmented by Captured Tracks' mesmeric signees Widowspeak (check this summer's jam "Nightcrawlers") convert the Ballroom into a twilit dance party. w/ Ava Luna, who get the groove on early
* Masumi Sakamoto "Good-bye Idols" @ Gallery MOMO Ryogoku / 1F 1-7-15 Kamezawa, Sumida-ku (Toei Oedo/JR Sobu Line to Ryogoku Station). The Osaka-born artist fuses an Impressionistic style and landscape with entirely nude youths.
* Ei Arakawa + Sergei Tcherepnin @ Taka Ishii Gallery / 5F 1-3-2 Kiyosumi, Koto-ku (Hanzomon/Oedo Lines to Kiyosumi-shirakawa Station). An A/V performance installation by NY-based collaborative spirit Arakawa (he's slaying at the Tate Modern in 2012 as well) and Brooklyn-based Tcherepnin, who you might've seen at Performa11 at the New Museum this year. w/ special duo performances on DEC 24 + JAN 14 (check here for updates).
* DODDODO @ Sound Studio DOM / 3F 4-25-7 Koenji-Minami, Suginami-ku (Marunouchi Line to Higashi-Koenji Station), 1p/1000 yen. The "Communications in Hell" showcase, a full afternoon and night of experimental music for like $12 USD! Kansai cutie DODDODO headlines the lot, perched over her samplers, snarling off-kilter raps whilst cueing howling Aphex Twin-esque drum loops. Plus JAH EXCRETION, FACIALMESS, ACIDWHITEHOUSE Drastik Adhesive Force, and a bunch other really ill-sounding artists.
* Sanja Iveković "Sweet Violence" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). YES. The first stateside museum exhibition of the pivotal Croatian feminist and video pioneer, plus she's a member of the Nova Umjetnička Praksa (New Art Practice). Iveković's exhibition includes media installation and single-channel videos from throughout her career, including the titular work and "Personal Cuts", plus photomontages from her series "Double Life" and much more. She's also participating in VOLTA 2012, which is doubly awesome.
* "Enter the Void" (dir. Gaspar Noe, 2009) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 3. Ever wondered what a DMT trip would feel like? Watch this 2.5 mind-melter and you'll have a pretty good idea! Or at least the epic title sequence and Nathaniel Brown's float over a flickering, neon-lit Tokyo nightscape. That and Paz de la Huerta's go-go dancing in a throbbing underground club elevates the other rather normal plot sequences, in Noe's psychedelic melodrama. Also MON, 9:15p
* "Drunken Tai Chi" (dir. Yuen Woo-ping, 1984) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 10p. Donnie Yen's ass-kicking debut, where he learns the finer martial arts under the influence of alcohol.
* Digable Planets @ Brooklyn Bowl / 61 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$10. You can't mess w/ Ladybug Mecca, man (or Butterfly and Doodlebug for that matter). Look: $10 is on the cheap for this talented, original Brooklyn-based jazz-rap trio. Can't nothing touch their '94 elevator "Blowout Comb". Despite breakups in the late '90s, they're totally back again, in an unmissable set for heads and newbies alike. w/ F. Stokes
* "Love Actually" (dir. Richard Curtis, 2003) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 7p. Normally you can't get me near these wretched holiday ensemble films. See: Garry Marshall's heinous "Valentine's Day" and disgusting upcoming followup "New Year's Eve". No doubt the Brits do it better, but honestly I dig most everything about "Love Actually". I mean, we have über-hotties Keira Knightley (and, if you like, her onscreen beau Chiwetel Ejiofor), Heike Makatsch and Martine McCutcheon. We have Hugh Grant pretending to be the new Prime Minister whilst BILLY BOB THORNTON plays the U.S. President, Martin Freeman is a body double for sex scenes… and Bill Nighy an aging rock 'n roll legend! Sign me up to see this again, seriously.
* Uta Barth + Jack Strange @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21st St. This is the most painterly Barth show I've seen yet. She consistently pushes the envelope on lighting and perception in photography, but by focusing on sunlight and shadow piercing through linen-y curtains, she effectively creates a canvaslike texture to her polyptych works. Upstairs, that trickster Strange immerses a neon FENNEL sign in dirt and iPod Touches feat. animated, talking sea creatures in water-filled baggies, plus acrylic soda-straw rods on flatscreen monitors and cut veggies with headphones.
* Bianca Beck "Body" @ Rachel Uffner Gallery / 47 Orchard St. I've encountered this young NY-based artist's intriguing, very physical oeuvre (gestural, abraded abstract mixed-media paintings, small painted-wood sculpture) in group shows only, so I'm totally psyched to see a larger showing of it. In her solo debut here, she includes ripped canvases in "body colors" (makes me think of Ana Mendieta), small-scale sculpture and works that incorporate sculptural and 2D elements. The figurative elements imbued in these, whether a rough-hewn wood block like a feminine torso, or a burned oil on panel.
* Nan Goldin "Scopophila" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 522 W 22nd St. This is Goldin's first solo exhibition in NYC since 2007 (not counting, obvs, her dreamy/sinister contributions to "New Works" at this gallery last year), and it's a biggie. She unveils the titular slide installation — stay with me here! it's doper than it sounds! —, commissioned by the Louvre Museum last year, nearly a half-hour of over 400 photographs from Goldin's life intermingled w/ classic Louvre paintings and sculpture. Beyond that, she includes a bunch of image pairings, reclining "Odalisque" versus her own nudes, "Veiled" figures decadent and dreamy, for an entirely intoxicating encounter.
* Tommy Hartung "Anna" @ On Stellar Rays / 133 Orchard St. Bit of nostalgia here: my 1st (belated) gallery-viewing at On Stellar Rays (now one of my favorite LES spots) was Hartung's debut solo exhibition, the sublime and utterly beguiling "The Ascent of Man" video/installation, which recurred at MoMA PS1's "Greater NY". I've high expectations for Hartung, in this new stop-motion and historical verity video "Anna" (recalling Anna Karenina, naturally), with related and expanded sculptural and installation materials.
* Mads Lynnerup "Help is on the way" @ Lora Reynolds Gallery / 360 Nueces. This is one of those rare occasions when I visit a multidisciplinary artist's show and am most immediately drawn to the videos. These things take time, and doubly so when paired w/ Lynnerup's candy-colored "Exercise Your Artist" collages and neon cut-paper "Astrobright" arrangements, like infinitely adaptable (and flashier) Ellsworth Kelly's. But its beyond these and the Franz West-style spraypainted plywood and foam exercise "blocks" that the videos really shine. One, "Demonstration", features Lynnerup's muscly trainer in a studio space working out with the West-ish blocks and angular wall relief "Exercising Grill", pulling a Matthew Barney of exertion and stamina but towards a more relatable, self-improving goal. Or at least when he starts doing headstands, it made ME want to hit the gym. The other far quieter video, "Untitled (Shadow)", follows Lynnerup's hands and paper as he traces out a shadow-y landscape in rays of sunlight, a spontaneous flip-book executed in the simplest, and thus most thrilling, gestures.
* Jonathan Faber "Idle" @ Champion / 800 Brazos St. Memory is a tricky thing, subject to re-tweeks and reinterpretations depending on circumstance, outside encounters, time of day. Faber channels this idea vividly in depicting things very natural, like a landscape or a childhood backyard, painting the bare essentials and piling on tangles of brushwork as in the titular work, creating a curtain of swamp-vines that partially obscure the minimalist, geometric form (a boat?) idling in the background. Or he'll add an almost solid, vertical wipe of paint (like a Barnett Newman "zip"), executing a literal blind-spot in the foresty "Blind Spot". Or a grove of graffiti-like renderings that consume a shed?…or some small-frame building in "Veneer", like living language and memories consuming a forgotten dwelling.
* Aki Eimizu "birth" @ MA2 Gallery / 3-3-8 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku (Yamanote Line to Ebisu Station). I was speechless when previewing Eimizu's second outstanding solo exhibition at the gallery. Or rather, I was talking a lot, to her and to gallerist Matsubara, but all short phrases of giddy bemusement. Eimizu's talent is layering tiny, tiny methodically applied paint-dots to canvas or paper, or covering a panel with so many thinly translucent washes of paint that the end result is preserved in a resin-like history. Or, alternately, becomes three-dimensional, swirling or stretching out depending on your angle to the canvas. Her palette of opal-ish whites and grays extends here with seductive traces of firefly yellow, both cosmic and entirely earthly, like seeing will o' the wisps in the fog.
* Photographer Hal "Flesh Love" @ Gallery Tosei / 5-18-20 Chuo, Nakano-ku (Marunouchi Line to Shin-Nakano Station, Exit 1 or 2). Funny (but true) story: I met Photographer Hal at a Kabukicho basement bar called Bikini Machine this past April. He's a total badass, photographing embracing couples in Love Hotels, area bars within their own bathtubs, all in lurid, gloriously saturated color. His new series skrinkwraps his subjects. Intimacy is a plus.
* Yoshiko Fukushima "spring snow" @ Gallery MOMO Roppongi / 2F 6-2-6 Roppongi, Minato-ku (Hibiya/Toei Oedo Lines to Roppongi Station). A stunning FIFTH solo exhibition for this young Nagano-born painter, equally versed in runny watercolors and opulent, Rembrandt-ish oils. Fukushima has increasingly incorporated sunny colors to her dramatic, burnt palette here, eking out cheery yellows and opalescent pastels within her squadron of (self)-portrait nymphettes.
* Asuka Ito "欲望という名のワタシー/My name is desire" @ Galerie Sho Contemporary / B1F 3-2-9 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku (Ginza/Tozai Lines to Nihonbashi Station). Awesome, awesome, awesome… I spent way too long here but I couldn't help myself. Ito magnifies notes of femininity and sexuality in her works by pairing photorealistic self-portraits (in soft-core poses: licking a sweet, tied up etc) against glittery large-scale blooms. She then covered the whole gallery floor with bright red rose petals, streaked one wall with watered-down acrylic drips and added a red bed and several paintings — like an offering — to the smaller gallery in the back. As intense as it is, Ito reappears in almost every canvas, staring out at us and daring us to return the gaze.
* Junichi Mori "trinitite" @ Mizuma Art Gallery / 2F 3-13 Ichigayatamachi, Shinjuku-ku (Yurakucho/Nanboku Lines to Ichigaya Station). Mori packs a wallop in his debut solo exhibition here, sparsely outfitting the high-ceiling gallery with fantastically, deftly carved wood and ceramic. The centerpiece is the large titular work, his largest to date, practically on its own surmounting a plinth in the main gallery, recalling both the holy trinity and the artificial mineral generated by the Trinity Test during America's nuclear bomb testing in '45. The several "birds" included around it appear more like intricately carved and arranged leaves, or the framework of some vicious beast conjured by the bomb's mighty impact.
* Larry Clark @ Taka Ishii Photography / 2F 6-6-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku (Hibiya/Oedo Lines to Roppongi Station). Ten of the famed lensman's vintage b&w prints from '63, each executed way before "Kids" and his developing forays into teenage lust. But that impassioned indulgence figures into these oddly cropped scenarios, occupied sometimes by one, other times multiple figures, young men and women.
* Andreas Gursky @ Gagosian Gallery / 522 W 21st St. The Düsseldorf-based epic photographer debuts his "Bangkok" series, focusing his abstracting lens on the Chao Phraya, as much a prescient waterway through the city-center as a notorious dumping ground for manmade detritus. Compound that w/ the devastating monsoon floods affecting the Chao Phraya and the Mekong River basins NOW…and it's much more unsettling. Displaying "Bangkok" against his nuanced 2009-10 series "Oceans" only highlights the benevolence and destructive unpredictability of water.
* Jim Isermann @ Mary Boone Gallery / 541 W 24th St. The Palm Springs-based artist goes after the gallery's iconic trussed-roof ceiling and skylight, installing a modular drop-ceiling grid with tilting planes, transforming the entire space into a Op-Minimalist event throughout the day.
* Jacob Hashimoto "The End of Gravity" @ Mary Boone Gallery / 745 Fifth Ave. Hashimoto's previous solo exhibition at Mary Boone (the Chelsea location) was a sublime event, a vivid coupling of ethereal "woven" kite reliefs. He furthers their figurative potential in this new series, moving away from his kaleidoscopic cut-paper collage into mimicking graphic drawings.
* Richard Pousette-Dart "East River Studio" @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. I usually gloss over press releases "to get the vibe", relying more on my instincts and history w/ the mentioned artist. But I'm glad I read this show's, as a crucial detail just blew my mind: Christopher Wool (the mighty, the Xerox-looking abstractor) organized this exhibition alongside Joanna Pousette-Dart. See, Wool studied w/ Richard, the youngest member of the Abstract Expressionists, in college! The body of work on view, pairing Pousette-Dart's paintings and wire sculptures, comes from the late 40s to 1951 and mostly hasn't been exhibited in NY again since its initial show at Betty Parsons Gallery in the '50s.
* "Masked Portrait Part II" @ Marianne Boesky Gallery / 509 W 24th St. Back in early 2008, Midori Nishizawa curated a fantastic grouping of Japanese avant-garde artists, from the Gutai Bijutsu Kyokai (Gutai Art Association) like Atsuko Tanaka and Jiro Yoshihara to realist photographers Daido Moriyama and Eikoh Hosoe and contemporary contributors (from Aya Takano to Yuichi Higashionna) — plus a related Atsuko Tanaka and Akira Kanayama dual exhibit at Paula Cooper Gallery. I REALLY dug the exhibition. Now we have part two.
* George Condo "Drawing Paintings" @ Skarstedt Gallery / 20 E 79th St. Condo furthers his aggressively graffiti-like abstracts from his New Museum survey with even wilder, lyrical renderings, piling up cartoonish heads in rubber-stamp formation (or Andy Warhol misguided silkscreen-style), to where they obliterate one another in intermingling colors.
* Michaël Borremans "The Devil's Dress" @ David Zwirner / 525 W 19th St. "Moody", "creepy", "dramatic" — or better yet, "cinematic" — are apt describers to Borremans' murky, ageless portraits and ambiguously staged scenes. He doesn't make the going any easier for us, in this new series of paintings w/ purposefully subtle/sinister titles and a variant three-part work on paper.
* Neo Rauch "Heilstaetten @ David Zwirner / 533 W 19th St. I had a significantly belated psylocibin flashback upon experiencing Rauch's latest. The social realist (and subtle surrealist) unveils new oils (in both large-format and intimate flavors), plus a bronze sculpture "Falknerin". Spatial perceptions dissolve in multi-figure renderings like "Ware", w/ seemingly giant men (with greatly distended arms) intermingle w/ reduced figures, and in the much smaller "Rota", where either a Golden Age UFO or carnival ride breaks up an otherwise typical country landscape. Heavy, lovely works.
* Byron Kim @ James Cohan Gallery / 533 W 26th St. Kim's debut at the gallery exemplifies his exercise of the "abstract sublime". Previous exhibitions (the UN meditations at Max Protetch, his famous "Synecdoche" at MoMA) had a soothing planar regularity, like emotive Ellsworth Kelly or even flatter Brice Marden. Kim's new one, inspired by his viewings of the nighttime sky, is even sparser, moodier, almost impenetrable fields of black or midnight blue.
* Jim Lambie @ Anton Kern Gallery / 532 W 20th St. Lambie, who inaugurated MoMA's new building (and even some moneyed homes) w/ his site-specific multicolored vinyl tape ZOBOP, cuts into gallery walls w/ "Vortex"es and layers crushed sheets of colorful metal (like very stiff craft paper) elsewhere. His continued usage of nontraditional and industrial media is a riot to our senses.
* "Looking for a Fight" @ Visual Arts Center / UT Art Building, 23rd St at Trinity. Three studio art undergrads and members of the all-female Deluscious Group, Lucy Parker, Isabella Burden and Layne Bell, split this cross-media exhibition highlighting gender discourse and their respective feminine identities in a continually male-prone society. Each takes an ultrafeminine approach (think lots of pink, frilly cloth materials and truncated womanly forms) to hook us in and cerebrally wallop us to attention, as there's depth in all the surface-level cuteness. Bell walks the figurative tightrope most deliberately, suspending two pairs of scissors over an inflated balloon in "Emptied IV" (the fourth of a series of subtly simple assemblages, which also included the aforementioned frilly cloth elbow gloves and a Tooth Fairy-sized sewn pillow clothespinned to a wooden tray) and naming another "All Tits and Legs" after like a Bravo plastic surgery reality show stereotype. Though with this one, a pair of vaguely ghostly forms surmounting barstool legs, I got Rene Magritte vibes (both the Belgian surrealist's penchant for masking his figures and painting lingerie with erogenous zones plainly visible), but then I thought of Rebecca Horn's "Finger Gloves" performance from the early '70s, particularly in the elongated 'stems', as it were. In any case, Bell's assemblage is topped by sewn multicolored beads as the titular 'tits'. Burden included both video/sculptural assemblages (her "Upskirt Series"), augmenting cropped body parts with distended branchlike physicality, and two photographic prints (her "Tongue-in-Cheek Series"). The prints struck me more deeply, as I was reminded of both Ana Mendieta and Adrian Piper's very physical, conceptual oeuvres. Though the one artist she directly references is Joseph Beuys, the granddaddy of conceptual and philosophical performance, via the icky sculpture "Boys, Beuys, Boys!!!", combining a loglike beaver muff with glistening, white lard, tangentially recognizable to Beuys' style while superseding him in pronounced decadence. Parker unveils only two works, but this editing makes their underlying force that much stronger. The one, "Suspended Bean Bag Chair (after Bruce Nauman)", is an older work, the titular smallish pink chair stretched painfully in four directions overhead by metal accoutrements, is like Nauman's own self-portrait face-pulling, highlighting artificial elasticity and how the gesture can easily twist from affectionate to torturous. Her other, "Funk Trunk (including artist as Vito Acconci)", begins with Parker's disembodied voice emanating from a coffin-sized box. Kneel down and peer inside, and amid bedsheets and acid-pink fluorescent lighting is a video projection of Parker reenacting Acconci's perversely intimate "Theme Song" in her own spin on 'pillow talk'. "You could be anybody out there, but there's gotta be somebody watching me. Somebody who wants to come in close to me…Come on, I'm all alone..I'll be honest with you, OK. I mean you'll have to believe me if I'm really honest…" Parker-as-Acconci monologues, shifting on her bed as she stares straight into us.
+ Mika Tajima "The Architect's Garden". Tajima's the artist-in-residence this fall, and she adapts her modular chromatic chaos to fill and cover the VAC's Vaulted Gallery. She pairs a grid of candy-colored spray-painted acrylic frames, her "Furniture Art" (after Erik Satie's "Musique d'ameublement"), on one gallery wall, flat-boards "The Roundabout" covered in paint and tacked-on adverts, and wheeled scaffolds lined w/ geometric silkscreens and huge letters, "Detour (1-7)" and "Untitled (Go)".