Opening: Jeff Witscher at Lisa Cooley
It’s hard to know what Jeff Witscher’s first gallery show will be like, based on the enigmatic text on the gallery’s site, which comes courtesy of the exhibition’s curator (and Witscher’s studio-mate) Mark Lewis. Witscher is best known for his slow and ambient electronic music, sometimes made under the moniker Rene Hell. There may or may not be sound involved in these new works—the release, which mostly recounts Lewis and Witscher’s times together in a few short paragraphs, doesn’t give away much information. (A deep-blue square above it doesn’t help much, either.) After this show’s opening, Witscher will perform at the gallery.
Lisa Cooley, 107 Norfolk Street, 6–8 p.m.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 18
Opening: “Intuitive Progression” at Fisher Landau Center for Art
The concept behind “Intuitive Progression” is itself somewhat intuitive—it’s about artists whose work moves in a very obvious direction over a series of pieces. Among the pieces on view here will be Jasper Johns screenprints of Painting with Two Balls (another intuitive title) that change color with each version and Sherrie Levine paintings of stripes and checkerboards that likewise are done in different shades. Also on view will be works by Susan Rothenberg, Thomas Nozkowski, Kiki Smith, and others.
Fisher Landau Center for Art, 38-27 30th Street, Queens, 12–5 p.m.
Lecture: “Deborah Kass’ Art History: Before and After Queer Theory” at Leslie Lohman Museum
This lecture discusses the work of Deborah Kass, whose appropriated images from Pop art, often redone with a queer and feminist twist, have recently come into the spotlight. By more or less claiming ownership of work by men, Kass was furthering something Sherrie Levine had already begun in the 1980s by re-photographing Walker Evans works and displaying them as her own. For the past two decades, Kass has done something similar, restaging Warhol paintings with Barbara Streisand portraits, for example, as a way of inserting her own narrative into art history. State University of New York at Buffalo professor Theodore Triadnos will be on hand to talk about how the rise of queer theory changed Kass’s work.
Leslie Lohman Musuem of Gay and Lesbian Art, 26 Wooster Street, 6–8 p.m.
Part of BAM’s survey of Robert Frank’s films, this screening program will feature a selection of the American artist’s works from the early ’80s. Among the films that will be screened here is Frank’s 30-minute short Energy and How to Get It (1980), a pseudo-documentary that includes appearances from William S. Burroughs and Robert Downey. Also in this program will be a short filmed at a Jack Kerouac convention and what a release describes as “candid footage” of Allen Ginsberg.
Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Avenue, 7 p.m. Tickets $7/$14
FRIDAY, AUGUST 19
Screening: Blow-Up and Blow Out at Anthology Film Archives
In honor of the International Center of Photography’s inaugural show, about surveillance and photography, Anthology Film Archives is showing films that deal with images, paranoia, and voyeurism. A must-see double feature opens the series: Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966), followed by Brian De Palma’s Blow Out (1981), the latter somewhat based on the former. In Blow-Up, a photographer in Swinging ’60s London accidentally photographs a murder in a park. Then again, maybe not. In Blow Up, John Travolta plays a sound editor who unknowingly records the audio of a politician’s assassination. In both films, photographic images, once thought to be truthful, mislead the people who see them.
Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, 7 p.m. (Blow-Up) and 9:15 p.m. (Blow Out). Tickets $10, separate admission
Concert: Senyawa, Zs, Arrington de Dionyso, and Special Guests at Pioneer Works
Though at this point in the summer many art spaces are opting for lighter events, Pioneer Works is showcasing experimental, minimalist music. This week, they’ll have Senyawa, Zs, and Arrington de Dionyso perform, as well as some special guests who have yet to be announced. (A release notes that the mystery band—if it even is a band—is “a powerhouse from across the seas.”) The three members of Zs will do their usual—a combination of no-wave, brutal-prog, and post-minimalist sounds—while Arrington de Dionyso will mix ancient, out-of-fashion musical techniques with contemporary ones.
Pioneer Works, 159 Pioneer Street, Brooklyn, 8 p.m. Tickets $15
SATURDAY, AUGUST 20
Meditation Session: “Guided Meditation for Black Lives Matter” at New Museum
As part of its Simone Leigh show, the New Museum is hosting its weekly meditation session for Black Lives Matter. You’ll have to wake up early on a weekend to attend, but the session should be well worth it, given that the most powerful elements of Leigh’s work are often experienced live, as social-practice works. (Plus, these sessions are free, which is never a bad thing.) Considering that the theme of Leigh’s New Museum show is healing for black women, this seems like a timely, relevant work worth participating in.
New Museum, 235 Bowery, 10–11:30 a.m.
Party: LIC Block Party at SculptureCenter
After a week of humidity in New York City, it should be nice to be outside for SculptureCenter’s annual LIC Block Party. Free and family-friendly, this year’s party will include performances by Erin Markey, Daisy Press, OTIUM, Jessica Lang Dance, and Bianca Benson, as well as activity booths by Lauren Halsey, Jeannine Han & Eliza Fisher, Jan Mun & Gil Lopez, Other Means, Sam Stewart, Sydney Shen, Diamond Stingily, Schuyler Tsuda, and Emma Banay & Dave Scanlon’s Quilt Music.
SculptureCenter, 44-19 Purves Street (party extends down the entire block), Queens 12–5 p.m.
Screening: Hoop Dreams at Museum of the Moving Image
Even people who aren’t sports fans agree that Steve James’s epic basketball film Hoop Dreams (1994) is one of the great documentaries. This nearly-three-hour film follows two Chicagoan high school students are recruited to play for a largely white basketball team in rural Illinois. Because they are black, the students face adversity, and continue to for the coming six years, both on and off the basketball court. Famously snubbed by the Oscars in the year it came out, Hoop Dreams has endured as a classic—Roger Ebert once called it “the great American documentary.”
Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Queens, 2 p.m. Tickets $12