TUESDAY, JANUARY 19Talk: “The Afterlife of Slavery: Markets, Property and Race” at Artists Space: Books & Talks
To coincide with Cameron Rowland’s show “91020000” at Artists Space, Dr. Cheryl I. Harris, law professor and director of the Center for Critical Race Studies at UCLA’s School of Law, will speak about the cultural value of blackness in terms of contemporary economics, including the art market. In a statement, Harris writes, “Despite efforts to obscure slavery and indigenous dispossession in the genealogy and narrative of American nationhood, these realities remain deeply embedded in the relationship between race and markets where in fact race and economic domination are fused. Racial hierarchy is continually replenished through the market, while the market encodes property in accord with racial regimes. For example, ‘black’ spaces are forever unstable, subprime, and ‘waste,’ making them always available for (re) appropriation through various technologies such as debt, (de)regulation, and development.”
Artists Space: Books & Talks, 55 Walker Street, 7–8 p.m.
Opening: Mark Grotjahn at Gagosian
Mark Grotjahn’s show “Untitled (Captain America),” which was first shown at Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Tokyo in 2010, opens at Gagosian with a quote from Captain America himself: “I am loyal to nothing, General…except the [American] dream.” In a large-scale, ten-part drawing, Grotjahn evokes the comic-book hero through colored-pencil drawings that depict outward-radiating geometric lines of red, blue, and white. A Renaissance-inspired use of multiple vanishing points, as well as color theory borrowed from Russian Constructivism and Op art, merge to evoke a characterization of Captain America, and the idea of American Exceptionalism, “as timely, if not more than a little ironic,” according to a press release.
Gagosian Gallery, 980 Madison Avenue, 6–8 p.m.
Gagosian presents one of Chris Burden’s Buddha’s Fingers (2014-15), created shortly before the late artist’s death last year. In keeping with his fascination with the oftentimes unfathomable limits of the human body—both literally and metaphorically, in the sense of technological vicariousness—Burden began collecting street lamps sourced from 1920s and ’30s suburban Los Angeles, which he then arranged in a honeycomb formation. The resulting 32 cast-iron lamps, which stand 12 feet tall and are powered by LED lightbulbs, are related to his 2008 work Urban Light, which guards the entrance to LACMA. According to a press release, the title of the work “refers to the fingered citrus fruit ‘buddha’s hand,’ a recurrent still-life motif and subject in classical Asian art, and a religious symbol of happiness, longevity, and good fortune.”
Gagosian Gallery, 980 Madison Avenue, 6–8 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20Opening: “Betty Tompkins: WOMEN Words, Phrases, and Stories” at FLAG Art Foundation
In her text paintings, Betty Tompkins is fond of four words: “mother,” “slut,” “bitch,” and “cunt.” Because these works often appear in graphically sexual contexts (“The only thing that would make her more beautiful is my dick in her mouth,” reads one), these paintings are the kind that are designed to provoke, yet they also speak to something important about how we talk about women. This show of 1,000 of these smallish, hand-painted works, all made after 2012, focuses on how Tompkins’s uses text in her art. Between this and her warmly received show at Bruce High Quality Foundation, Tompkins is finally moving into the spotlight after being told she couldn’t during the ’70s, when dealers refused to show her work.
FLAG Art Foundation, 545 West 25th Street, 9th floor, 6–8 p.m.Opening: “Cheryl Donegan: Scenes + Commercials” at New Museum
Cheryl Donegan’s 1993 video Head features the artist sucking milk out of a carton, spitting it back into the top, and repeating the process again and again. As she gets more and more milk all over face, the sexual metaphor becomes obvious, and so too does the fact that this image looks all too normal—with the Sugar song “A Good Idea” played over it, the video looks like your average, absurdist music video. Concerned with the politics of representation and the intersection of mass media, fashion, and high-art aesthetics, Donegan finally gets her first New York solo museum show with “Scenes + Commercials,” which includes a concept store for an upcoming fashion line that Donegan will launch in April.
New Museum, 235 Bowery, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.THURSDAY, JANUARY 21
Opening: “Hard Love” at Martos Gallery
“Love is a come on, love is release. Love is exhausting, love is enduring and enduringly difficult.” No, this isn’t a line from a Nicholas Sparks novel. It’s actually the opening to the press release for “Hard Love,” a group show at Martos Gallery. Curated by Barry Blinderman, who used to direct the SoHo gallery Semaphore, the show focuses on the nitty-gritty aspects of romance and boasts a really solid list of 13 artists. The show will features everything from Walter Robinson’s pulpy characters, to Sue Williams’s phallic abstractions, to Martin Wong’s sexy cops.
Martos Gallery, 540 West 29th Street, 6–8 p.m.
For her first solo show at the gallery (and her second solo show in Manhattan; the first was held at Johannes Vogt Gallery in 2012), 75-year-old painter Mernet Larsen will present new paintings in an exhibition titled “Things People Do.” Influenced by El Lissitzky and 12th-century Japanese and Renaissance paintings alike, this show of typically dizzying paintings featuring hard-edged figures, “demonstrate two of Larsens distinct approaches: reverse perspective and what she refers to as ‘rorschaching’… Larsen uses these two approaches as catalysts to develop highly idiosyncratic and narrative worlds that stretch beyond the seemingly static categories of ‘figurative’ and ‘abstract,’” according to a press release.
James Cohan Gallery, 291 Grand Street, 6–8 p.m.SATURDAY, JANUARY 23Opening: Rochelle Goldberg at SculptureCenter
Six years ago, in an Interview article about her jewelry, Rochelle Goldberg explained that she prefers the moody look of Victorian-era clothes than contemporary ones, and it shows in her sculptures, many of which dark and surreal. Like Dora Budor and Josh Kline, Goldberg has become known for combining synthetic and organic materials, usually in uncomfortable ways. Chia seeds meet steel structures; sprouts get laid on top of ceramics. For her SculptureCenter show, titled “The Plastic Thirsty,” Goldberg will show new human-scale work, only heightening the post-industrial, weird quality of her sculptures.
SculptureCenter, 44-19 Purves Street, Queens, 6–8 p.m.SUNDAY, JANUARY 24
Opening: Henrik Olesen at Reena Spaulings Fine Art and Galerie Buchholz
The image presented on the gallery’s website shows an early ’60s-era color photograph of a skyward-looking George Harrison, his face mottled by what appears to be a square space of thin vertical bursts of oversaturation. The work is by Danish artist Henrik Olesen, who has spent his career probing the invisible social codes that manifest as systems of power and fuel the existence of hierarchies of knowledge. As a bio on MoMA’s website elaborates, “Olesen’s projects, based on in-depth research, have addressed a range of subjects including legal codes, the natural sciences, distribution of capital, and art history,” and if past behavior is any indicator of future behavior, it is likely that this show will explore similar themes in the form of both 2-D paper and 3-D-sculptural and spatial mediums.
Reena Spaulings Fine Art, 165 East Broadway; and Galerie Buchholz, 17 East 82nd Street, 6—8 p.m.