This week, New York brings you video games, emojis, and Planet of the Apes — pop culture galore. For those in a more serious frame of mind, there’s a show of films highlighting Merce Cunningham’s choreography for the camera, plus a debate over the influence of biennials … although that one’s a death match that ends with a winner. What can we say? It’s a playful week. May as well cap it off by trying out the must-play video games going on view at the Museum of the Moving Image.
When: Thursday, December 12, 7pm ($7)
Where: The Silent Barn (603 Bushwick Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn)
The Clocktower Gallery may have closed, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead and gone; on the contrary, it’s alive and well, presenting programs at different venues around the city. The latest is John Mejias’s shadow puppet play I’m wurried, which is based on Mejias’s conversations with his students (he’s a teacher) about their fears. The set looks delightful, and Mejias will be preceded and followed (respectively) by indie comics-ers Julia Wertz and Jeffrey Lewis.
Coco Fusco Plays a Chimp
When: Thursday, December 12, 8pm, and Friday, December 13, 6:30pm & 8pm ($10)
Where: The Studio Museum in Harlem (144 West 125 Street, Harlem, Manhattan)
Expect this to be bizarre and brilliant. Artist Coco Fusco will perform “Observations of Predation in Humans: A lecture by Dr. Zira, Animal Psychologist.” What is that? Well, we offer you the event blurb:
The legendary female chimpanzee of the Planet of the Apes films resumes her life as a public intellectual after more than twenty years of seclusion in remote circuses and primate study labs. For her lecture at the Studio Museum, she will concentrate on her assessment of the particular characteristics of human aggression in the twenty-first century.
The trailer for Coco Fusco’s lecture
When: Thursday, December 12–Saturday, December 14
Where: Eyebeam Art + Technology Center (560 West 21st Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
Finally, the exhibition we’ve all been waiting for! The Emoji Art & Design Show surveys the prevalence of emoji throughout popular culture. After an open call, the exhibited work includes a wide range of media, from digital prints to sculpture, video, and performance. Best to prepare for this by brushing up on emoji art history.
To Biennial or Not to Biennial?
When: Saturday, December 14, 7–9pm
Where: Queens Museum (New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens)
’Ennial Spectacle is the fifth and last edition of Flux Factory’s death match debate series. Critic Ben Davis, artist Natalie Jeremijenko, and Queens Museum Executive Director Tom Finkelpearl will discuss the role of major perennial events in the global art world, debating their influence on artistic production, consumption, and the construction of art history — all within a museum currently showing its own biennial! The debate will be followed by a Q&A, and then the the most important part: the audience gets to choose the winner.
Must-Play Video Games
When: Opens Saturday, December 14
Where: Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35 Avenue, Astoria, Queens)
Back in 2010, film critic Roger Ebert caused a stir when he opined that video games “can never be art.” The Museum of the Moving Image’s new exhibition presents an opportunity to assess Ebert’s argument … or to just have fun playing some of the two dozen games on display. Indie Essentials focuses on examples that have had a major impact on games design and culture over the last decade.
Merce Cunningham on Camera
When: Sunday, December 15, 2 pm ($13)
Where: BAM Rose Cinemas (30 Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn)
As part of the Migrating Forms festival, the Brooklyn Academy of Music is screening a Merce Cunningham double bill, in celebration of the choreographer’s innovative use of technology and media. Nam June Paik’s Merce by Merce by Paik (1978) and Charles Atlas and Cunningham’s Channels/Inserts (1982) will be followed by a discussion with Electronic Arts Intermix’s Rebecca Cleman and Atlas, who, together with Cunningham, pioneered the form of videodance.
A Sculptor Worth Knowing
When: Opens Sunday, December 15
Where: Klaus Von Nichtssagend (54 Ludlow Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan)
Joy Curtis is a brilliant Brooklyn-based sculptor who creates work that feels like it’s reinventing the world each time. For her latest show, which opens this Sunday, she writes, “I want my work to do something to a viewer’s body: slow time, absorb something out of their body, and reflect themselves and the world back into their eyes.” If that doesn’t make you curious — it certainly piqued my interest — I don’t know what will. —HV
Last Chance: Come Together: Surviving Sandy
When: Through Sunday, December 15
Where: Industry City (220 36th Street, Sunset Park, Brooklyn)
This ambitious undertaking features over 200 Brooklyn-based artists in a 100,000-square-foot space. It’s a little false to call it one show, as it really feels like five shows in one, but regardless, it’s a fantastic place to discover one of the constellations of artists that make this borough great. From Chuck Close to Tamara Gonzales, from Ursula von Rydingsvard to Rico Gatson, there are famous, emerging, and excitingly unknown talents of all stripes. Treat yourself and wander this sprawling show, which is curated by The Brooklyn Rail‘s Phong Bui. —HV
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With listings by Hrag Vartanian