* Rashid Johnson "Rumble" @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. Ahead of the NY artist's 1st major solo museum exhibition "A Message To Our Folks" at MCA Chicago in April, the gallery debuts Johnson's cross-media series on boxing mega-promoter Don King. Consider this one of my most anticipated shows of the new year (and yeah, go see it).
* Malcolm Morley "Another Way to Make an Image, Monotypes" @ Sue Scott Gallery / 1 Rivington St. The seasoned printmaker's first foray into monotype, demonstrating his knack for experimentation and color.
* "Switchblade Sisters" (dir. Jack Hill, 1975) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 9:45p. Go with the tagline: "so easy to kill, so hard to love". Also: this classic mid-70's girl-gang exploitation film is a favorite of Quentin Tarantino (remember "Kill Bill"'s Elle Driver?).
* Thomas Scheibitz + Mat Collishaw @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21st St. Big awesome two: Scheibitz inaugurates his SEVENTH solo at the gallery, "A Panoramic VIEW of Basic Events", w/ a powerful array of paintings, works on paper and sculpture that highlight his knack for classical architecture, urban imagery and pop culture. Collishaw fills the upstairs w/ an installation and photography from his "Insecticide" and "Last Meal on Death Row - Texas" series.
* Shirin Neshat @ Gladstone Gallery / 515 W 24th St. Really stoked for this: Neshat unveils her new photographic series "The Book of Kings", composed of b&w portraits of Iranian and Arab youth covered in calligraphic text, plus a new three-channel video installation.
* "Hoodwinked" @ Nyehaus / 358 W 20th St. Why would I send you off the beaten W. Chelsea path? (technically, it's barely a long avenue away, but still). When it's subersive gents Mike Kelley (showing stuffed-animal assemblages) and Richard Prince (showing Brooke Shields photographs), plus some other seminal work from the two artists, then it's a LIST-worthy must-see.
* Jeff Keen @ Elizabeth Dee / 545 W 20th St. The U.S. debut of the UK artist's post-Surrealist paintings and video, focused mainly on his influential body of work from the '60s and '70s.
* Michael Zelehoski "Secondary Structures" + Daniel Phillips "River Street" @ DODGEgallery / 15 Rivington St. The gallery pairs an alchemist of found objects and wood (Zelehoski) with Phillips' architecture/landscape-attuned video work.
* "Marble Sculpture from 350 B.C. to Last Week" @ Sperone Westwater / 257 Bowery. First off: props for an awesome group show title and concept. I don't know how the gallery pulled this off, but this does indeed include Greek and Roman antiquities and Neoclassical sculpture, plus Dadaist biomorphic works and recent examples from Ai Weiwei, Barry X Ball and Tom Sachs.
* Bill Jensen @ Cheim & Read / 547 W 25th St. I like Jensen's drizzly, corroded surfaces in his very colorful abstract paintings. He introduces some triptychs here, and some worked-over etchings, in this exhibition of new works.
* Ai Weiwei, Wang Xingwei, Ding Yi "Persona 3" @ Chambers Fine Art / 522 W 19th St. Ai's big "Sunflower Seeds" installation at Mary Boone Gallery a few blocks north of here may be drawing huge crowds, but I urge you to check this intriguing pairing as well. The three Chinese contemporary artists have created a cooperative work, temporarily exchanging artistic profiles in a demonstration of their mutual admiration for Chinese art scholar Hans van Dijk. Ai focuses Ding Yi's abstract style in iron; Wang channels Ai's furniture-manipulation in a new rosewood sculpture; and Ding Yi hearkens back to his earliest representational style in painting a Shanghai cityscape.
* "End of Days" @ Mixed Greens / 531 W 26th St. A dozen artists inaugurate Mixed Greens' new year, working off the notion of apocalyptic and transcendent revelations. Main draw for me is Patrick Jacobs' totally mesmerizing mixed-media dioramas (he was in my Top Ten LIST-worthy Cultural Events of 2011), though Valerie Hegarty's installation sounds dope too.
* Darlings + The Suzan @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8:30p/$10. Pair Darlings' fuzzy punk-tattooed pop with The Suzan's splashy, sunny riot-grrrl punk and you get a sonic cocktail like a rollercoaster to your best buzz, w/o the hangover. w/ DAYTONA (mems. Harlem & Wild Yaks)
* "Benefit For Esme" @ Scoot Inn / 1308 E 4th St, 7p/$5-10. Young Austinite and music-lover Esme Barrera's untimely passing runs deep. This solid showcase of local bands — Follow That Bird, Love Collector, The Dead Space, Foreign Mothers, Kingdom of Suicide Lovers, Neighbor, Ichi Ni San Shi, and Eric Static — fill out a benefit concert, w/ 100% proceeds going to Esme's family.
* "Walk up / and down / form / being formed" @ NADiff a/p/a/r/t / 1F 1-18-4 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku (JR Yamanote Line/Hibiya Line to Ebisu Station). Feat. Yoichi Sano, Taku Hisamura, Mitsuhiro Yamagiwa, who explore distance, scale and movement in pinhole photography, installation and mixed-media works.
* Plastic Girl In Closet @ Koenji High / 4-30-1 Koenji-Minami, Suginami-ku (Chuo Line to Koenji Station, South Exit), 6:30p/3000 yen. What I would do to attend this showcase of Tokyo's scorching shoegazers PGIC. This is the indie live-house's fourth anniversary! w/ SCARLET
* Alfred Jensen/Sol LeWitt "Systems and Transformation" @ The Pace Gallery / 32 E 57th St. An intriguing pairing of Jensen's orderly abstract paintings based off grids and color theories vs. LeWitt's basic geometrical open structures. Beyond inclusions in group exhibitions, this is the first show to examine and contrast the artists' oeuvres in depth.
* "Domain" (dir. Patric Chiha, 2011) @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). Chiha's debut feature-length film gets under your skin. This 2011 Film Comment Selects entry smartly pairs the enigmatic and ever-beguiling Béatrice Dalle as a "fairy godmotheresque" aunt for Isaïe Sultan, who plays Pierre, both young and gay.
* "We Need to Talk About Kevin" (dir. Lynne Ramsay, 2011) @ Angelika NY / 18 W Houston St (BDFM to Broadway/Lafayette, 6 to Bleecker St). This bracing psychological thriller was a one-time-only late addition to Fantastic Fest 2011…and I missed it. Considering friends' reactions — Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly as grieving parents of a son who just murdered a bunch of his classmates — I missed something major.
* "Benefit for Esme Barerra" @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$7 (band proceeds go to: http://forouresmeb.blogspot.com/ and Girls Rock Camp Austin). Indie-rock singer-songwriter Nicole Schneit delivers Air Waves (w/ friends), plus Brooklyn's gossamer-toned groove outfit Open Ocean, in this showcase for a dearly departed friend and music-lover. w/ Soft Healer
* "True Story" @ Grayduck Gallery / 608 W Monroe Dr. What's really real, and how quickly do we latch onto a fond memory, regardless of its authenticity? Three artists work in this narrative, feat. paintings by Austinite visual artist Paul Beck and Allen Brewer, plus mixed-media watercolors by Pat Snow.
* "巧術 2.51" @ Radium / 2-5-17 Bakurocho, Chuo-ku (JR Yamanote Line to Bakurocho Station. AKA "skillful technique", the eponymous serial exhibition held at Spiral yearly since 2010. The third iteration, subtitled "Kowaku/fascination", gets a gallery preview, feat. artists Takuro Sugiyama, Haruo Mitsuda and others.
* "Zombie Lolita + Heaven's Door Project" @ Heaven's Door / 1-33-19 Sangen-jaya, Setagaya-ku (Den-en-toshi Line to Sangen-jaya Station), 7p/2300 yen. Does Friday the 13th hold the same connotations in Japan as it does the States? Consider this showcase title for a second and tell me it's not coincidental. feat. HYMENs and MIDARI (actual zombie lolita punk girls) plus artsy twosome ザリガニ＄ (means "crayfish"!) w/ their new album, uh, "Avocado".
* Keiji Haino @ Club Liner / B1F 2-9-11 Umesato, Suginami-ku (JR Chuo Line to Koenji Station, S. Exit), 7p/2800 yen. Haino-san has proven himself endlessly creative as a solo and group musician since the '70s, whether he's mauling a guitar, executing tape-loops or shrieking vocals or cranking a hurdy-gurdy. His set tonight could be anything from psychedelic to hard-rocking to pure noise.
* Doug Wheeler @ David Zwirner / 519 W 19th St. A major new installation from the pioneering "Light and Space" artist, and the first-ever presentation of Wheeler's "infinity environment" in NYC.
* Natalia Fabia "Punk Rock Rainbow Sparkle" + "Hybrid Thinking" group exhibition @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery / 529 W 20th St, 9th Fl. The debut E. Coast solo exhibition of young Fabia's glittering, grimy portraiture, accented by a group exhibition organized by Marc & Sara Schiller of Wooster Collective and feat. six international artists.
* Udomsak Krisanamis "Space Out" @ Gavin Brown's Enterprise / 620 Greenwich St. The Thai-born collage alchemist (and avid golfer, apparently) comes off a successful cross-media show at Kunstverein Freiburg w/ a visual and textural panoply.
* Burning Star Core + DIVE @ 285 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$7. Gorgeous sonic fury. Burning Star Core is drone-revisionist C. Spencer Yeh, conjuring hypnotic and biting soundscapes off his treated violins. Plus DIVE (feat. Beach Fossils' guitarist Cole Smith and among the hardest-working indie groups right now) contribute a "weirdo set". w/ Thee Source ov Fawnation (WA)
* Girls (San Fran) + Real Estate @ Terminal 5 / 610 W 56th St (1/AC/BD to Columbus Circle), 7p/SOLD OUT. To hear sunny San Fran indie rockers Girls crooning "Honey Bunny" in cavernous Terminal 5 is enough reason to get ME to haul out to that joint. Including NJ surf outfit Real Estate, and their super-fine new LP "Days", makes it that much sweeter. w/ King Krule
* Jill Magid "Failed States" @ Arthouse / 700 Congress. The NY-based artist draws from the unknown motives of Fausto Cardenas, who fired a handgun into the air outside the Texas State Capitol in 2010, and Goethe's 19th-c epic poem "Faust", in a meditation on the intermingling of private and public. Sounds tough? Luckily Magid introduces her work and leads a discussion at 2p, during the public opening.
+ "Evidence of Houdini's Return". The provocation of abstract forms in interrupting or reconstructing everyday life, feat. Sterling Allen, Facundo Argañaraz, Strausse Bourque LaFrance, Katja Mater, Christopher Samuels, Justin Swinburne, and J. Parker Valentine.
+ Nina Fischer & Maroan el Sani "Toute la memoir du monde/The world's knowledge". The artists reinterpret Alain Resnais' '56 film, filming the historic and now barren original location of the French Bibliotheque Nationale and the imbued memories within its empty shelves.
* Laurie Frick "Quantify Me" @ Women & Their Work / 1710 Lavaca St. Geometric abstract wall reliefs composed from up-cycled paper, wood, cardboard and industrial color samples, but drawing from neuroscience and engineering? Sign me up.
* "The Divide" (dir. Xavier Gens, 2011) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse S. Lamar / 1120 S. Lamar, 10:30. Gens' harrowing New French Extremity tale "Frontier(s)" was like a filmic axe-handle in my cerebral cortex. Meaning: I dug it. He moves from mud-drenched current-day dystopia to full-out near-future post-apocalypse, w/ a collection of strangers in NYC vs. ultra-violent HAZMATs! Plus: Peter Stormare. I am beyond stoked.
* Wu-Tang Clan @ Emo's East / 2015 E Riverside Dr, 9p/$40. The WU, man! Bringing some Strong Isle, classic NYC hip-hop to the Hill Country. Current lineup for the show: RZA, Raekwon, Method Man, GZA, Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa, U-God and Inspectah Deck. Hell, that's eight out the original nine (RIP Ol' Dirty).
* Reverend Horton Heat @ Antone's / 213 W 5th St, 8p/$20. Ask me to name the quintessential Austin live-music experience? That'd be Jim Heath, aka The Rev, the baddest-ass rockabilly heavyweight…oh, EVER. w/ Not In the Face
* M.C. Escher @ Bunkamura Gallery / 2-24-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit). YES! Bunkamura is back open, after nearly a year-long refurbishment. I missed this joint, so what better way for the box gallery to kick off 2012 than a dozen prints from the trompe-l'oeil legend M.C. Escher?
* Ayano Kaeba "mourning flowers" @ Gallery MOMO Roppongi / 2F 6-2-6 Roppongi, Minato-ku (Hibiya/Toei Oedo Lines to Roppongi Station). One of my favorite Tokyo galleries, feat. young Kanagawa-born painter Kaeba in her second solo show, incorporating detailed floral patterns into her figurative silhouettes.
* Motoyuki Daifu x Ken Kagami @ Strange Store / 12-3-301 Uguisudani-cho, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, Toyoko Shibuya Line to Daikanyama Station). Young realist photographer Daifu-kun and the absolutely bonkers Ken Kagami (like a younger, Japanese Mike Kelley…sort of) collaborate in a special dual show…which, considering their respective backgrounds, should be nothing short of badass.
* Masafumi Kawakami @ Taimatz / 1-2-11 Higashi-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku (JR Sobu Line to Bakurocho Station, Toei-Shinjuku Line to Bakuro-Yokoyama Station). More nightmarish, subtly figurative paintings and collages from the young artist, who had a pretty significant solo show at Taro Nasu Gallery in 2010. Right on.
* "Himizu" (dir. Sion Sono, 2011) @ Cine Quinto / 14-5 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit). Sono's devastating latest is a violent coming-of-age love story w/ a backdrop set in post-earthquake Tohoku region. His films are never easy, but there is totally graspable emotion w/in the nihilism.
* "Bunraku" (dir. Guy Moshe, 2010) @ Shinjuku Picadilly / 3-15-15 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi/Fukutoshin, Toei Shinjuku Lines to Shinjuku-sanchome Station). 'bout time this visual feast hit the Far East, w/ strong showings from countrymen Gackt as the sword-wielder and Shun Sugata, playing his sushi-chef dad (also deft w/ the knifework). Considering it barely got a proper U.S. screening, I'm pleased.
* Incapacitants @ Koenji High / 4-30-1 Koenji-Minami, Suginami-ku (Chuo Line to Koenji Station, South Exit), 6:30p. As loud as possible!!! I'll give it to Merzbow for most ferocious live set — and My Bloody Valentine bring their own brand of decibel-shredding guitar sonics — but this duo should not be underestimated. They've been at it for nearly three decades, and each crackle of their contact mics brings bolts of pure sonic decimation.
* Frankie Knuckles @ Liquidroom / 3-15-5 Higashi, Shibuya-ku (JR Yamanote Line/Hibiya Line to Ebisu Station), 11:30p/4500 yen. The legendary NYC house DJ and producer drops the needle on wax at Shibuya's big-ass dance club.
* Paul Heyer + Virginia Poundstone "I KNOW that I am awake" @ Rachel Uffner Gallery / 47 Orchard St. I am intrigued about the possibilities from this bicoastal pairing, feat. new work from the NYC-based Poundstone and LA-based Heyer.
* Keiji Haino @ Shibuya O-Nest / 6F Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit), 6p/3300 yen. Pair improv-king Haino w/ Japanese space-squallers Bo Ningen (think Faust cut w/ noise-rock) means a very heavy night.
* 住所不定無職 @ Fever / 1-1-14 Hanegi, Setagaya-ku (Inokashira Line to Shindaita or Shimokitazawa Stations), 6p/3300 yen. What I would do for a plane ticket to Tokyo to attend this show! #1. Fever the venue is DOPE. Love it. #2. The three pop-punk girls behind "Juusho-Futei-Museki" (lit. "no job nor fixed address") rawwk in the realest sense. Whether it's bandleader Yurina singing from her drum-kit or cutie Yoko crooning whilst playing her double-neck bass-guitar, this is a surefire WIN.
* Merpeoples @ Heaven's Door / 1-33-19 Sangen-jaya, Setagaya-ku (Den-en-toshi Line to Sangen-jaya Station), 7p/2100 yen. Local four-piece Merpeoples inject a groovy sensibility to their retro-toned indie-pop. w/ END&ODDS
* DODDODO @ UFO Club / B1F 1-11-6 Koenji-Minami, Suginami-ku (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line to Higashi-Koenji Station), 6:30p/2500 yen. LIST readers will recognize Kansai cutie DODDODO, who perched over her samplers, snarling off-kilter raps whilst cueing howling Aphex Twin-esque drum loops.
* "Haywire" (dir. Steven Soderbergh, 2012) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Village / 2700 W. Anderson Lane, 7p. CIA double-crossing never looked this good. Feat. Gina Carano, aka former American Gladiator "Crush", as a freelance covert operative vs. a lot of dudes: Michael Fassbender, Ewan mcGregor, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas…who can she trust? Whose ass will she need to kick? Co-presented by Austin Film Society.
* "Aliens" (dir. James Cameron, 1986) Action Pack screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 7p. "Get away from her…you bitch!" So says Sigourney "Ripley" Weaver in one of modern cinema's classic exchanges, as she faces off w/ the Alien Queen in the final showdown. As breathtaking and PERFECT Ridley Scott's original is, you throw in some swimming aliens and a huge-ass Queen sharing the screen w/ Ripley and Mr. Badass Michael Biehn, and you've got yourself cinematic gold.
* "Goke: Bodysnatcher From Hell" (dir. Hajime Sato, 1968) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 9:45p. News to me: the deliberately artificial shots of Uma Thurman flying into Japan from Quentin Tarentino's "Kill Bill vol.1" were directly influenced by "Goke", aka Sato-san's spastic sci-fi/horror smashup involving possible extraterrestrial terrorists!
* FOUR GET ME A NOTS @ Shibuya O-Nest / 6F 2-3 Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit), 7p/TKTK. Hell yeah. On the eve of FOUR GET ME A NOTS' "Silver Lining" tour, these Chiba-based pop-punks rock the roof off O-Nest. Crowd surf a few songs for me.
* Michael Wang "Carbon Copies" @ Foxy Production / 623 W 27th St. This NY-based Conceptualist has a history of intriguing interventions, like speculative proposals for the World Economic Forum conference hall in Davos, Switzerland and a series for controlled-release of invasive species called…"Invasives". In his debut NY solo project, he crafts sculptural forms based off not only previously made artworks but also their respective carbon footprints during initial production.
* 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. (ENDS SAT)
* Carsten Höller "Experience" @ New Museum / 235 Bowery (F to 2nd Ave). You need to devote time to the Brussels-born Conceptualist (and former entomologist) and his two-decades' survey. Like I mean devote some serious hours queuing for that damn slide, aka "Untitled (Slide)", that crowning achievement first seen at the Tate as "Test Site" in 2007 that now winds itself three stories through the stacked white-box galleries of the New Museum. Because while you'll no doubt kill 1-2 hours, easy, waiting for your 10 seconds of breathtaking velocity down that damn slide, you're also riding on a slide in a museum. Think about that good and hard for a second. It's among the most obvious examples that this is not your regular survey show. You will truly experience Höller in attending "Experience", where wearing "Upside Down Goggles" have you trudging about zombie-like when the world flips upside down on you; or disrobing and floating within many gallons of super-salted, body-temperature water within "Giant Psycho Tank; or nondiscriminantly popping a "Pill Clock" capsule w/o considering what, if anything, it'll do to you. Stuff like the self-administering series of rooms w/in "Experience Corridor" are banal if somewhat amusing (I swear that "Love Drug" totally didn't work), and Höller's glassy mockups of super-high-rises (like a combo of children's laboratory sets and translucent Snakes & Ladders) don't hold attention w/in rooms of flashing lights and neon polyurethane animals. But, hell, the whole shebang is just part of the "Experience". Oh yeah, and the "Slide" is open for one more week.
* Vasily Kandinsky "Painting With White Border" @ Guggenheim / 1071 Fifth Ave (456 to 86th St). Need a serious visual palate cleanser from the Cattelan cacophony suspended in the Rotunda? Though it's uncommonly rare of me to advise staring at Kandinsky's warped landscapes as a "calming mechanism", this suite of compositions around the rolling Moscow hills within the massive "Painting With White Border" is a treat.
* Kazuhiro Ito "unknown touches" @ hpgrp Tokyo / B1F 5-1-15 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku (Chiyoda/Hanzomon/Ginza Lines to Omotesando Station). Ito pushes bronze sculpture to even further dimensions, exploring liquid-like abstraction and elongated forms in series "Dear Blind Phantom", "Liquid Golden Baby" and "Starman Loves You". (ENDS SUN)