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2015 is barely cold, but artists and cultural institutions around the city are raring to go for the new year. Start off 2016 by enjoying one or some of the many performance festivals happening this month, or visit the Reanimation Library in its new home, or catch a historical survey of art brut in America before it’s gone.
Performance Festival Month
When: January 5–17
Where: Various locations throughout New York City
It’s January 2016, which means not only that it’s the new year, but also that it’s festival time in NYC! All kinds of fantastic performance festivals converge on the city in January. The two longest runners are PS122’s COIL, which features a wide range of performances that cross genre lines, and the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival, which brings new theater from around the world to New York. Abrons Arts Center’s American Realness, which errs toward performance art and dance but with much more in the mix, and Beth Morrison Projects and HERE’s Protoype, which spotlights opera and music theater, are slightly younger but already indispensable. And this year there’s a newcomer to the scene: Fridman Gallery’s New Ear Festival, which will focus on sound and performance; the lineup is stellar, and the whole thing will be MCed by Hyperallergic’s beloved art critic in drag, Mona Chromatic.
Architectural Photos of Lower Manhattan
When: Opens Thursday, January 7
Where: Deborah Bell Photographs (16 E 71st Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan)
It’s said that you can always spot a tourist in New York City, as they’re the only ones looking up. Well, that isn’t true — residents look up too, but they do so while standing on the inside of the sidewalk. This week, Deborah Bell Photographs presents a selection of Bevan Davies’s architectural images of the city. Between 1975–77, Davies used a tripod-mounted camera to capture the facades of New York’s buildings. Devoid of people, the images capture the interplay of light and shadow as they dance upon the city’s surfaces. The resulting prints are absolutely stunning. —TM
Drawing for Sculpture
When: Opens Friday, January 8
Where: Tiger Strikes Asteroid (1329 Willoughby Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn)
TSA is kicking off the new season with an enticing group show. Curated by Courtney Puckett, Drawing for Sculpture will feature drawings by 41 sculptors, from heavy hitters like Louise Bourgeois to up-and-comers like Rachel Beach. The chance to see how these artists cross mediums and use drawing in different ways should make for a smart and fun exhibition.
Reanimating the Reanimation Library
When: Saturdays January 9, 23, 30 & February 6, 20, 27, 12–5:30pm
Where: Studio 5, Queens Museum Studio Program Wing (New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens)
In the next two months, you could spend your cold Saturday afternoons browsing images of elephant trunks, learning about oriental massages, or listening to recordings of underwater creatures. The Reanimation Library, a project by artist and librarian Andrew Beccone, opens this weekend in one of the Queens Museum’s nine working artist studios. The library, which has traveled worldwide and has been growing for more than 10 years, is a collection of over 1,700 items, mostly books, which Beccone picked up at thrift stores, flea markets, and used bookstores, as well as from piles of unwanted stuff. Visitors are welcome to scan and photocopy these (in the artist’s words) “relics of the rapidly receding 20th century” on-site, where Beccone will be available to discuss the collection. —EWA
Last Chance: Art Brut in America
When: Ends Sunday, January 10
Where: American Folk Art Museum (2 Lincoln Square, Upper West Side, Manhattan)
If folk art has a canon, French artist Jean Dubuffet’s collection of art brut is it. From 1945 onward he began acquiring an eclectic and enveloping assortment of works in every style and medium, from the ornate, medieval-looking paintings of coal miner Augustin Lesage to the bold, fantastic, and erotic drawings of Swiss psychiatric hospital patient Aloïse Corbaz. The nearly 200 works gathered here, all from the Collection de l’Art Brut in Switzerland — to which Dubuffet donated his holdings in 1971 — testify to his discerning eye and shed some light on the early years of a fascinating genre of art. —BS
Last Chance: Jim Shaw
When: Ends Sunday, January 10
Where: New Museum (235 Bowery, Lower East Side)
When talking about artists, this can start to sound like a cliche, but in this case it’s also true: Jim Shaw has a singular mind. Right from the start of this four-decade survey, and continuing over three jam-packed floors of work, the depths of Shaw’s imagination and his commitment to illuminating them are apparent, not to mention impressive. Galleries devoted to his considerable collections — of thrift-store paintings, cult religious literature, and more — round out an eye-opening, brain-bending, and thoroughly exhausting (in the best way) show.
Discussing Robert Smithson’s Pop
When: Sunday, January 10, 1pm
Where: James Cohan Gallery (291 Grand Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan)
Smithson is most widely known for his earthworks, but this show — recently extended through January 17 — focuses on his smaller sculptures and electric works on paper, which often feature erotic nudes gussied up with peculiar accessories and colorful, angel-like wings. This panel brings together art historian Andrianna Campbell and curators Eugenie Tsai and Jens Hoffman, who will discuss themes from this early period of Smithson’s life that continued to emerge throughout his career. —CV
A View from the Bridge
When: Ongoing through February 21 ($30 and up)
Where: Lyceum Theatre (149 W 45th Street, Midtown, Manhattan)
Belgian director Ivo van Hove is all over New York lately, from the David Bowie musical Lazarus to Antigone with Juliette Binoche, recently at BAM. Each is a unique experiment in stark visuals and bare emotion; however, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, originally at the Young Vic in London, is really an exceptional experience in flaying a play down to its bones. On a blinding white stage in the Lyceum, the doom of the Red Hook longshoreman Eddie Carbone, played by Mark Strong, unravels into its ultimate bloodbath, which van Hove stages with the brutal elegance of a George Bellows–painted brawl. —AM
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With contributions by Elisa Wouk Almino, Allison Meier, Tiernan Morgan, Benjamin Sutton, and Claire Voon