MONDAY, MAY 23
Talk: Shahzia Sikander and Eleanor Heartney with Phong Bui at Pratt Institute
This talk, titled “Democratic Vistas,” focuses on globalization and art—a topic that, by now, has become somewhat tired, but which thankfully includes Shahzia Sikander, the exciting Pakistani-American artist. Sikander is best known for appropriating the form of miniature painting and then subverting it, populating her images with violence that refers to various conflicts across the Middle East. She and Eleanor Heartney, a contributor to Art in America (which, full disclosure, is owned by the same parent company as this magazine), will look at how globalization has changed the way we make and think about art. Phong Bui, the editor-in-chief of the Brooklyn Rail, will moderate.
Pratt Institute, 61 Saint James Place, Brooklyn, 6:30 p.m.
TUESDAY, MAY 24
Screening: “Two Videos by Adrian Piper” at Light Industry
From 1982 to 1984, Adrian Piper taught mostly white audiences how to dance to funk music, a genre that had been embraced by black culture. In doing these performances, titled Funk Lessons, Piper was looking at how different bodily movements function depending on the identity of the performer. Can gestures be racially coded? Several years later, Piper, who is black, but very light-skinned, staged another performance in which she handed out a card to unsuspecting people. “Dear Friend, I am black,” it begins. She then filmed their reactions and documented these “meta-performances,” as Piper calls them, on video. As expected, they differed greatly based on the identity of the unwilling audience member. Videos of both performances are rare, but they’ll appear together in this must-see screening.
Light Industry, 155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m. Tickets $8
WEDNESDAY, MAY 25
Opening: “If Only Bella Abzug Were Here” at Marc Straus Gallery
To celebrate the life of Bella Abzug, a congresswoman and activist for equal rights, human dignity, environmental causes, and sustainable development, Marc Straus Gallery has organized a group exhibition featuring women artists including Nicole Eisenman, Shirin Neshat, Genieve Figgis, and Emily Wardill, among many others.
Marc Straus Gallery, 299 Grand Street, 6 p.m.
Screening: Eva Hesse at Film Forum
Directed by Marcie Begleiter, this documentary showcases the life and decade-long career of one of America’s greatest postwar artists. The film collages footage of her Post-Minimalist sculptures—which she created from latex, fiberglass, and plastics—with that of interviews with peers such as Richard Serra, Robert Mangold, Dan Graham, and her mentor Sol LeWitt. Hesse died from a brain tumor at the age of 34, but, as Arthur Danto once wrote, her work was “full of life, of eros, even of comedy…Each piece vibrates with originality and mischief.”
Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, 8:35 p.m. Tickets $14/8
THURSDAY, MAY 26
Screening: Ericka Beckman at Anthology Film Archives
Ericka Beckman emerged in the late 1970s as a filmmaker of the Pictures Generation, having created a variety of complex and formalist Super-8 movies. Though she earned an M.F.A. from CalArts and studied under John Baldessari, Beckman quickly gravitated toward cinema over plastic or other conceptual mediums. Here, Anthology will screen her “Super-8 Trilogy,” which comprises the three films WE IMITATE; WE BREAK-UP (1978), THE BROKEN RULE (1979), and OUT OF HAND (1981). These films were influenced by the theories of the Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget.
Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd Avenue, 7:30 p.m.
Opening: Sara Murphy at Cleopatra��s
Cleopatra’s remains mysterious regarding this new exhibition of work by Sara Murphy, titled “How to Read a Room.” A single image provides a clue: an open notebook shows a sketch of a person sitting in a chair, flanked by graphic lines. The sketch takes an aerial point of view, making the viewer feel like they are participating in either a master class of human gesture, or a more insidious study of human nature.
Cleopatra’s, 110 Meserole Avenue, Brooklyn, 6–8 p.m.
FRIDAY, MAY 27
Opening: “Moholy-Nagy: Future Present” at Guggenheim Museum
It’s no coincidence that Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s work feels so prescient—the Hungarian artist’s work was often about using technology to push art in the future, and now it seems that young artists have caught up with him. In the early 20th century, at a time when many modernist artists were still thinking of abstraction in oil-on-canvas terms, Moholy-Nagy pushed painting far beyond where artists thought it could go, attaching such industrial elements as glass and steel to his canvases. But Moholy-Nagy’s interest in how abstraction and technology were perfectly matched didn’t end there—he also created camera-less photography as a way of looking at how technology had positively changed the way we perceive light and other humans. Walking around Lower East Side these days, one can see how art has begun to look like Moholy-Nagy’s. And the title of this retrospective, the first comprehensive one in America in half a century, pays homage to that—it’s rather accurately called “Future Present.” —Alex Greenberger
Guggenheim Museum, 1071 5th Avenue, 10 a.m.–5:45 p.m.
Opening: Jordan Kasey at Signal
On the heels of the Whitney Museum’s “Flatlands,” an exhibition of young figural painters, comes Jordan Kasey, whose work evokes a landscape where people and things are improbably thrown together. In one painting, a black figure has fallen asleep while eating Fruit Loops in milk; in another, an androgynous person, sans any eyes, sees their reflection from two different sides. Something about her mysterious work evokes René Magritte by way of the digital—an Internet-inspired Surrealist fantasy where images mash together and produce unexpected combinations. This show, titled “Free Time,” is Kasey’s New York debut, and it certainly seems promising. —Alex Greenberger
Signal, 260 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn, 7–10 p.m.
Screening: Orpheus at Anthology Film Archives
Anthology will screen Jean Cocteau’s 1950 variation on the classic Greek tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, one in which Orpheus is a famous French poet and Eurydice is his pregnant wife. Of this film, Cocteau once said, “Orpheus could only exist on the screen. A drama of the visible and the invisible, Orpheus’s death is like a spy who falls in love with the person being spied upon. The myth of immortality.”
Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd Avenue, 8:30 p.m.