Faye Wong in Chungking Express (1994), dir. Wong Kar Wai (©Miramax Films; image courtesy Everett Collection)

Bye 2020. You’ve been a whole lot. For this final month of a wild year, we’ve pulled together a list of shows and film series that provides both ample distraction and some opportunities for reflection. Scroll below for our top 10, the majority of which are available online or by appointment.

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Installation view of Sheida Soleimani: Hotbed, Denny Dimin, 2020 (image courtesy Denny Dimin)

Sheida Soleimani: Hotbed

When: through December 23
Where: Denny Dimin (appointments available) (39 Lispenard Street, TriBeCa, Manhattan)

For her first solo exhibition in New York, Soleimani presents a series of photocollages focused on the increasingly timely issue of the strained nature of US-Iran relations. Myriad crises-within-the-crisis manifest in her layered compositions, yielding intriguing, if occasionally unsettling visual treatises that reflect on power and corruption.

Alex Ito, “Western Verbiage I” (2020), steel tank head, steel sheet, wood, paint, sheep horn, chromed resin and foam, oxidized iron, 1873 Winchester rifle parts, dimensions variable (image courtesy Interstate)

Alex Ito: Half Life

When: through January 10, 2021
Where: Interstate (appointments available) (66 Knickerbocker Ave, Bushwick, Brooklyn)

In this meditation on environmental waste and degradation, Alex Ito charts a dystopian vision of our present and near-future. Steel sculptures and elements of science-fiction blend with Americana ephemera, evincing a vision that’s at once surreal and starkly familiar.

Nick Quijano, “Mercado (Market)” (2020), 12.5 × 12.5 inches, gouache on arches paper with wood matte (image courtesy the artist and Fort Gansevoort)

Nick Quijano: Memories of Puerto Rico

When: through January 02, 2021 
Where: Fort Gansevoort (online)

The latest in Fort Gansevoort’s series of online exhibitions — many of which have focused on under-celebrated artists working in 2D media — Memories of Puerto Rico celebrates the everyday intimacies and vibrancy of the island. For his first solo show with the gallery, painter Nick Quijano presents a series of brightly hued gouaches that nod to the rich history of Caribbean vernacular art.

Jesse Krimes, “The Myth of the Golden Legend” (2020), assorted textiles, used clothing collected from incarcerated people, image transfer, gouache, color pencil, 70 x 130 inches (image courtesy Malin Gallery)

Jesse Krimes: American Rendition

When: through January 23, 2021
Where: Malin Gallery (515 W 29th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)

For his third exhibition with Malin, Krimes presents a vibrant selection of quilt-based works which reflect on notions of home. Formerly incarcerated, the Philadelphia-based artist often makes work that critiques the dehumanization of individuals maligned by the state. For visitors not yet ready to see art inside, check out his large-scale “Rikers Quilt” which will be displayed on specific days on the gallery’s exterior and visible from the High Line. (Another massive work by Krimes can also be seen in PS1’s ongoing exhibition, Marking Time.)

Installation view of Sareh Imani: Center is not a particular point on the earth’s surface, AIR Gallery, 2020 (image courtesy AIR Gallery)

Sareh Imani: Center is not a particular point on the earth’s surface + Rachelle Dang: Couroupita/Corpus

When: through December 20
Where: AIR Gallery (by appointment only) (155 Plymouth Street, DUMBO, Brooklyn)

Projected on stacks of moving boxes, Sareh Imani’s movingly mundane recent video invites the viewer to slow down and reflect on what makes a space home. Shot using a single, stationary camera, the multi-channel work layers footage of the artist packing, unpacking, and rearranging her domestic space while in quarantine — a process that ultimately culminated in her leaving the city. Nearby, Rachelle Dang’s exquisite sculptures reflect on colonial conquest and the fraught nature of anthropological research, all in luminous shades of blue.

Ming Smith, “America seen through Stars and Stripes, New York City, New York” (printed ca. 1976), gelatin silver print, sheet: 15 3/4 × 20 inches; image: 12 1/2 × 18 1/2 inches (© Ming Smith; image courtesy Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)

Working Together: the Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop

When: through March 28, 2021
Where: Whitney Museum of American Art (advance tickets required) (99 Gansevoort Street, Meatpacking, Manhattan)

Spotlighting 14 members of the celebrated Black photography collective Kamoinge (a Kikuyu word for “a group of people acting together”), Working Together highlights the importance of self-representation. Founded in 1963, the images produced by these distinct luminaries chronicle times of significant social upheaval and reflect nuanced perspectives on communities long mischaracterized by news media.

Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-wai in Happy Together (1997), dir. Wong Kar Wai (image courtesy Film at Lincoln Center)

The World of Wong Kar Wai

When: through January 1, 2021
Where: Online via Film at Lincoln Center

Five weeks of films by the cinematic giant who brought us gems like In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express, and Happy Together — need I say more? In a partnership with distributor Janus Films, Film at Lincoln Center’s full retrospective features several new restorations of Wong’s most celebrated films, as well as an opportunity to catch some of his lesser-known but equally important works.

From America (2019), dir. Garrett Bradley (image courtesy the filmmaker)

Projects: Garrett Bradley

When: November 21, 2020–March 21, 2021
Where: Online and in-person at the Museum of Modern Art (advanced timed tickets required) (11 West 53rd Street, Midtown, Manhattan)

Building off of her celebrated film America (2019), Bradley’s solo exhibition likewise aims to fill in the gaps of Black film history by focusing on the stories of individuals lost to time and institutional neglect. Twelve short black-and-white films, shot by Bradley and scored by artist Trevor Mathison and composer Udit Duseja, center figures like the African American composer and singer Harry T. Burleigh and Bahamian-American performer and actor Bert Williams, whose once-lost-and-now-restored film Lime Kiln Club Field Day (1913) remains a progressive example of how cinema could have treated Black stories (but didn’t) in its early days.

An image from the earth from space. Blue and turquoise lagoon shapes with bits of cloud scattered on top of them, they are the type of clouds that look like popcorn. Black text in the middle of the screen reads “to see if it will hold” and “my weight” underneath it. There is some text at the very top of the screen that is cut off. The text in this video moves horizontally up the screen as lyrics to a song played on a karaoke monitor do.
Sandra Wazaz, What’s the word for worse than depression? (Still) (2018), video and sound, TRT: 00:05:11 (image courtesy the artist)

support structures

When: opens December 3
Where: Online via 8th Floor

Originally conceived as a physical exhibition, support structures looks at our foundations. Bringing together the work of eight artists whose practices consider the presence (and absence) of structures that undergird our society — be they physical, emotional, architectural, or social — support structures hones in on issues of sustainability and interdependence.

From In Sudden Darkness (2020), dir. Tayler Montague (image courtesy BAM)

Programmers’ Notebook: New York Lives

When: December 4, 2020–January 3, 2021
Where: Online via Brooklyn Academy of Music

A cinematic tour of the city, New York Lives offers a welcome revisiting of a landscape that’s felt so close yet so far away amid these many months of quarantine. Featuring celebrated works like Los Sures (1984) and Dark Days (2000), alongside recent gems like Through the Night and In Sudden Darkness, New York Lives highlights local talent and offers a refresher on the many quirks and complications of this city we call home.

Dessane Lopez Cassell is a New York based editor, writer, and film curator, as well as the former reviews editor at Hyperallergic. You can follow her work here.