TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7
Talk: Arthur Jafa at School of Visual Arts
Few New York gallery debuts receive as much attention last year as Arthur Jafa’s at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, where he showed his video Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death (2016), an ambitious consideration of blackness in America. That video will screen along with Jafa’s 2013 film Dreams Are Colder Than Death at this talk, in which the Los Angeles–based artist, cinematographer, and director will discuss his recent work. Film critic Amy Taubin will lead the discussion with Jafa and moderate a Q&A after.
School of Visual Arts, 214 East 21st Street, 7–9 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8
Opening: “Raymond Pettibon: A Pen of All Work” at New Museum
Naughty nuns, Joan Crawford, Osama Bin Laden, a little figure that shouts “VAA VAA VOOM“—all have been subjects for Raymond Pettibon over the past few decades, and many will appear in this 700-work show, which will survey the artist’s drawings. Pettibon became famous during the ’70s punk movement in California, and he’s still widely known today for, among other things, his album covers for the bands Sonic Youth and Black Flag. In recent years, he’s developed a strong fan base for his bizarre Twitter presence and his surfer drawings, some of which will be on view in this show. Somehow, this is Pettibon’s first major museum survey in New York.
New Museum, 235 Bowery, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Opening: Mark Tansey at Gagosian Gallery
Mark Tansey’s figural paintings are instantly recognizable—they always look photographic at first glance, and they’re often done in monochromatic tones that resemble yellowed books or old magazines. They often combine unlike pieces of found imagery to surreal effect, creating narratives that can give way to strange critiques of Americana. Part reflection on a world of images, part playful reaction to the trend toward abstraction, Tansey’s work will be the subject of this show of new paintings—such as Reverb (2017), in which a woman holding a wine glass leans against a gallery wall at an opening.
Gagosian Gallery, 821 Park Avenue, 6–8 p.m.
Talk: “Commercial Break: Artist Panel” at the New School
With the Public Art Fund having opened its 20-artist show “Commercial Break,” you’ll start seeing art about identity, the internet, and digital technology around New York City. A Meriem Bennani video about the meaning of the hijab is now installed at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, at LinkNYC kiosks around New York, a Hannah Whitaker piece that mocks the language of advertising will be on view, and in Times Square, a new Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley work that remixes ancient imagery will play. The four artists will be present at this panel to discuss their work with Public Art Fund associate curators Emma Enderby and Daniel S. Palmer.
The New School, 66 West 12th Street, 6:30 p.m.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9
Performance: MPA at Whitney Museum
As part of a solo show at the Whitney, MPA will prepare to go into space—or at least simulate what it might be like to do so. For a ten-day performance titled Orbit, MPA and fellow artists Malin Arnell and Amapola Prada will, with the help of a group of technicians (Whitney curator Jay Sanders among them), become like astronauts, surviving in the museum’s theater with a supply of food and water, a composting toilet, and a treadmill. The performance will be viewable inside and outside the theater during museum hours, and from the street 24/7 between February 9 and 19. On the final day of the performance, MPA will end the piece with a final action titled Assembly.
Whitney Museum, 99 Gansevoort Street, 10:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
Opening: Lorna Simpson at Fisher Landau Center for Art
With a new Whitney Biennial not too far off, a notable work from a past edition comes back on view in New York. Lorna Simpson’s Hypothetical? appeared in the 1993 Whitney Biennial, and its concerns remain contemporary today. For the piece, Simpson, taking a 1992 comment from Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley as her inspiration, reflects on the possibilities of speaking up. (Bradley’s comment, which appeared in a newspaper article about the riots following the beating of the black motorist Rodney King by LAPD officials, is shown in a frame as part of the work.) The artist removed the mouthpieces of wind instruments, displayed on them on a wall, and played the sound of heavy breathing through speakers nearby. This show also includes two of Simpson’s “phototext” pieces from the early ’90s.
Fisher Landau Center for Art, 38-27 30th Street, Queens, 12–5 p.m.
Opening: Vija Celmins at Matthew Marks Gallery
Vija Celmins has always been hard to classify within art history, even if her photo-realistic paintings, drawings, and prints appear often in museums. She’s known mainly for her images of nature, in particular her pictures of ocean wavelets, which are wrought with such intensity that they look like black-and-white photographs. At this show, her first in seven years and her first solo exhibition with Matthew Marks Gallery, she’ll debut similar oil paintings of night skies and ocean surfaces, yet she’ll also have on offer two new sculptures that pair real objects with exacting simulacra.
Matthew Marks Gallery, 522 West 22nd Street, 6–8 p.m.
Opening: Uta Barth at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
For her first gallery show since she was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2012, photographer Uta Barth will debut two series about how viewers experience light. The first will be “In the light and shadow of Morandi,” an homage to the Italian modernist painter Giorgio Morandi, whose subtle still lifes paired blocky vases and bowls. Barth created these irregularly shaped photographs using a parallax correction, which warps an image and causes its depth to appear strange. Her second series won’t look like much at first glance—it’s simply large-scale photographs of the artist’s white wall—but close observation will prove rewarding for viewers who notice subtle changes of light.
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, 521 West 21st Street, 6–8 p.m.
Performance: Raúl De Nieves and Colin Self’s The Fool at the Kitchen
Raúl De Nieves and Colin Self’s chamber opera The Fool is, according to a summary on the Kitchen’s website, “an allegorical journey drawing an ante-narrative around time, beauty, communion, and mortality.” Perhaps that doesn’t help you understand what it is? Here’s some more information, also from that summary: “The Fool is the spirit in search of experience. The Fool is both the beginning and the end, neither and otherwise, betwixt and between. The Fool is a story.” Well, then! De Nieves, whose work will be in the upcoming Whitney Biennial, stars as the Fool and the Dog; Self plays the Old Woman.
The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, 8 p.m. Tickets $15
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10
Opening: Martha Friedman at Andrea Rosen Gallery 2
This show by Martha Friedman, aptly titled “Dancing Around Things,” will feature a sculpture installation and a video about the relationship between bodies and various objects. The show’s centerpiece will be the sculpture Two Person Operating System, which was initially created for NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts and includes a number of sharp industrial elements. On February 18 and March 4, performers will activate the work, moving through it to create the fusion of organic forms and inanimate, industrial ones of which Friedman is so fond.
Andrea Rosen Gallery 2, 544 West 24th Street, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.