The Lookout: A Weekly Guide to Shows You Won't Want to Miss
With an ever-growing number of galleries scattered around New York, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Where to begin? Here at A.i.A., we are always on the hunt for thought-provoking, clever and memorable shows that stand out in a crowded field. Below is a selection of current shows our team of editors can't stop talking about.
This week we check out David Shrigley's laugh-out-loud funny exhibition "Signs" at Anton Kern, Michal Chelbin's bleak yet richly colored photos of Russian and Ukrainian prisoners at Andrea Meislin, and "Now Dig This!," a group show of pioneering black artists from L.A., at MoMA PS1.
David Shrigley at Anton Kern, through Feb. 16
Shrigley's new show, "Signs," beckons you from the street with the most absurd neon imaginable: "HOT DOG REPAIRS." Cat-shaped pillows with messages painted on the front will make you hope for a licensing arrangement between Shrigley and Bed, Bath and Beyond. A group of large prints hangs in the back room, with gloomy messages like "shit shit shit and more shit," and, terrifyingly for the lovelorn, one that warns "Sadly, no more fish in the sea." (Or is it an ecological warning? Discuss.)
Michal Chelbin at Andrea Meislin, through Jan. 19
Last chance to see the Israeli artist's latest series, documenting the women and men, mostly young but some old, passing their days in seven Ukrainian and Russian prisons. (Chelbin has spent the past decade traveling around these countries.) The facilities, with peeling, incongruously cherry wallpaper and grim courtyards, look more like run-down community centers. The girls wear matching flowered dresses, headscarves and cardigans, while the tattooed boys display visible cuts and bruises.
Francis Alÿs at David Zwirner, through Feb. 9
The riveting Reel-Unreel shows young boys rolling film reels throughout the craggy, dusty streets of Kabul, unfurling lengthy spools of celluloid behind them as they go. The action refers to recent history and its aftermath, specifically a Taliban raid just days before 9/11 on the Afghanistan National Film Archive in which all the prints stored there were set alight. Small paintings of Afghan scenes superimposed with television test patterns are, the artist has said, expressions of his inability to represent the endemic violence of the nation in paint.
Robert Lazzarini at Malborough, through Feb. 16
Known for his outlandish distorted sculptures based on ordinary objects, New York-based sculptor Robert Lazzarini here shows nine new large-scale works. A huge, twisted expanse of chain-link fence (torn) looks like it barely survived Hurricane Sandy. Other works, including liquor sign (broken) and motel door (kicked in) might have been excavated from the sites of other natural disasters—like an earthquake, perhaps—or the remnants of a human-made catastrophe.
"Now Dig This!" at MoMA PS1, through Mar. 11
There is an increasingly loud buzz in the art community about the way this survey of African-American artists of the mid-20th century was critically received in New York when it opened in the fall. The show's coverage sparked a real-life controversy about the racial and sexual politics of art-world journalism today. But has anyone seen the actual exhibition? The sprawling display of some 140 works by artists such as David Hammons, Melvin Edwards, Betye Saar and many others is an eye-opener, at once thought-provoking and exhilarating.