Art Rx

In New York, performance is in town this week, as Hyperallergic contributor Alexis Clements wrote in a recent post. The COIL, Under the Radar, and American Realness festivals are all underway, as well as tons more shows and events; it’s all far more performance than any single person could see in a week. The doctor’s prescribing just a small dose to give you a taste, but if her picks aren’t enough, check out the master calendar here.

Also on tap this week are a talk about illuminated manuscripts with Kiki Smith at the Jewish Museum, a multimedia performance by DJ Spooky at the Metropolitan Museum, and two openings on the Lower East Side. If all of that sounds fun but a little too tame, the doctor recommends you check out a festival dedicated to the Cinema of Transgression. “If it’s not transgressive, it’s not underground. It has to be threatening the status quo by doing something surprising, not just imitating what’s been done before,” said the movement’s founder, Nick Zedd. This week’s prescription: rebellion.

An image for “Super Nature,” by the BodyCartography Project (image via

 Trial Against Art

When: Tuesday, January 15, 6 pm ($20)
Where: Dixon Place (161A Chrystie Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan)

We’ll admit that it sounds a little gimmicky, but we’re also intrigued: for The Curators’ Piece (A Trial Against Art), part of this year’s COIL festival, Croatian artists Tea Tupajić and Petra Zanki are staging, well, an imaginary trial against art. They worked with a number of international curators, who also act in the show, to create a piece that questions the value and power we accord art in this day and age. At heart is an impossible but provocative query: can art really change the world?

BodyCartography Project

When: Tuesday, January 15–Thursday, January 17, 8:30 pm ($20)
Where: Abron Arts Center (466 Grand Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan)

We love the name of this group and the images it evokes — the BodyCartography Project, the idea of mapping the human body or mapping its movement and/or evolution. The duo behind the project, Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad, working with composer Zeena Parkin, are premiering a new work at the American Realness festival this year: Super Nature. The show is apparently a “radical ecological melodrama” … whatever that means!

 Cinema of Transgression

When: Tuesday, January 15–Saturday, January 19, 9 pm
Where: Glasshouse (246 Union Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

The Cinema of Transgression was born in the 1980s on the Lower East Side at the hands of Nick Zedd and a handful of others. It’s meant to be what it’s name suggests — confrontational and shocking. According to White Hot magazine, Zedd even coined a word, xenomorphosis, to describe the goal, which is when the “domain wall of an alternate universe smashes your reality tunnel and neurological re-engineering occurs.” This week, Zedd sets up shop at Glasshouse for a five-night festival and celebration of the Cinema of Transgression. If you want a taste before you commit, check out Ubuweb.

The Nick Zedd/Cinema of Transgression Festival at Glasshouse
The Nick Zedd/Cinema of Transgression Festival at Glasshouse (image via Glasshouse’s Facebook page)

 Illuminated Manuscripts

When: Thursday, January 17, 6:30–7:30 pm
Where: Jewish Museum (1109 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

Internationally acclaimed artist Kiki Smith and Dr. Alexander Nagel of NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts will discuss the current Jewish Museum exhibition Crossing Borders: Manuscripts from the Bodleian Libraries, a selection of over fifty illuminated Hebrew, Latin, and Arabic manuscripts from the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries. The discussion will center on Nagel’s study of connections between medieval and modern and contemporary art, along with Smith’s artistic practice as inspired by the history of decorative objects and the tradition of biblical storytelling. —Kyle Petreycik

Fire Escapes, Waterfronts, & Rooftops

When: Opens Friday, January 18, 6–10 pm
Where: A Gathering of the Tribes (285 East 3rd Street, 2nd floor, Lower East Side, Manhattan)

For his solo exhibition Fire Escapes, Rooftops, & Waterfronts as Urban Landscape, Eugene Hyon exhibits both sepia and digital color photographs of these features of the urban landscape. A good way to show much needed support to A Gathering of the Tribes and its founder, Steve Cannon, who is fighting an ugly legal battle and faces possible evictionJ.D. Siazon

 DJ Spooky at the Museum

When: Friday, January 18, 7pm ($30)
Where: Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

“For me, it’s such an honor to work with the Met …” says Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid, the highly touted techno music progenitor, fine artist, philosopher, and author. His Friday night performance, The Nauru Elegies, reflects on the Republic of Naura, a small island in the South Pacific Ocean that was mined and depleted by larger countries for its phosphate deposits. The piece is a theatrical smorgasbord of artistic media including live string music and projections of video, digital animation, and images from an internet feed. Spooky performs as part of his yearlong residency at the Met (and if $30 is too steep, the show will be live streamed). —JDS

The Making of Americans

When: Friday, January 18, 7 pm–Sunday, January 20, 11 pm
Where: 155 Freeman Street (Greenpoint, Brooklyn)

For the second year in a row, art magazine Triple Canopy hosts a weekend-long marathon reading of Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans, a 925-page “allegedly unreadable” novel that took Stein eight years to write. Various authors, artists, performers, and others will take turns tackling the text, a tradition that apparently dates back to 1974, when the Paula Cooper Gallery began hosting marathon readings of it around New Year’s Eve. There may be no better way to read the eminently unreadable Stein than by listening and letting her words wash over you.

 US Debut

When: Opens Sunday, January 20, 3–6 pm
Where: MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38 (38 Ludlow Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan)

Organized by Jakob Schillinger, the exhibition B.A.C.K. will feature new work by Peter Wächtler, a young German artist whose narrative art covers a wide range of media, from vivid drawings to ceramic reliefs and photographs. With a distanced passivity towards the human experience, Wächler explores different genres of storytelling and their relationship to having a “meaningful” existence. This will be his first exhibition in the United States. —KP

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