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Engaging Turbulence at One of New York’s Only Smithsonian Institutions

The Carl Beam retrospective now at the National Museum of the American Indian Heye Center in Lower Manhattan could be a response to the museum itself. Located in the imposing Alexander Hamilton US Custom House, a monolithic reminder that New York City was originally built on European immigration, the museum presents artifacts and art by North America’s first people. Beam’s work likewise was always aimed at juxtaposing the modern culture of North America, a transformation of the country that he marked with the arrival of Columbus, with the traditional imagery of the American Indians. Neither the museum nor the influential Canadian artist’s work offers much harmony between these two clashing worlds, but in the resulting collage of Beam’s work is an engaging sort of turbulence.

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Getting Naked for Ai Weiwei [NSFW]

BEIJING — When Ai Weiwei’s assistant, Beijing artist Zhao Zhao, was brought in for questioning recently, the supposed charges were simple: distribution of pornography. The image in question was “One Tiger, Eight Breasts,” a shot of Ai with four young women, all of them naked. I first saw the photo in August 2010, when he tweeted a link to it and said “Trusting each other fully,” though the link to the image no longer works.

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Re-Kitschifying a New Orleans Post-modern Icon (Prospect 2 Spotlight)

NEW ORLEANS — The Piazza d’Italia generally isn’t high on many people’s lists of Things To See And Do In New Orleans; in fact, I’d guess that most of the tourists who stumble across it do so while getting lost on their way to or from the nearby Harrah’s casino or Hilton Riverfront. They probably no idea that this gaudy urban ensemble, designed by Charles Moore and opened in 1978, represents one of the seminal pieces of postmodern architecture in the country. In his Prospect 2 biennial piece, Francesco Vezzoli adds an extra layer of kitsch to New Orleans’ Piazza d’Italia with his “Portrait of Sophia Loren.”

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Boogieing Back to the 60s at Williamsburg 2nd Friday

Are the 60s still cool? Williamsburg says yes. This month’s 2nd Friday event convinced me that some things will never go out of style. For example, hot chocolate from Ella Cafe on a crisp November evening and the light sweet taste of cotton candy, thanks to the boutique and gallery Cotton Candy Machine. It also persuaded me that Williamsburg has a foot remaining in the 1960s. And it’s not just because everyone is wearing bull-horn black glasses.

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Arrested During Nov 17 OWS Protests, Artist Man Bartlett Talks to Us Post-Release

Earlier today we reported that artist Man Bartlett had been arrested early Thursday morning during the #N17 Day of Action. We also reported that the artist was released from jail after being detained for roughly 27 hours. We gave him some time to rest and then caught up with him to hear about his experience at the protest, the arrest and the how he got the word out to his dad about his arrest despite the fact that he had no cell phone.

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A Sculpture Show With Too Much Twin Peaks Not Enough Freaks

Sanford Biggers new exhibition, Cosmic Voodoo Circus, is currently on view at the Sculpture Center in Long Island City. Curated by Mary Ceruti, the executive director and chief curator of the institution, the exhibition is a polite — if not enigmatic — tableau. The work is visually striking, but stiff like Nicole Kidman’s face. The sum is not greater than its parts.

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Post-Raid OWS Pushes Back Stronger

The police raid on unsuspecting Occupy Wall Street protesters at Zuccotti Park early Tuesday morning was a disturbing sight. Cops in riot gear smashed tents, arrested groggy protesters from the park, confiscated possessions and books from the People’s library (although we have confirmed that the materials are safe) and even brought in bulldozers to rid Zuccotti of the movement’s micro-city. Although protesters have returned to re-occupy their space, they will no longer be allowed to bring tents or sleeping bags into the park according to a New York Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday. With the symbolic and physical base of the movement under threat, everyone is asking what is next for Occupy Wall Street.

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Traveling the Visual Highway

Day trips beyond New York City for visual art can feel decadent, especially with all the spectacular shows we don’t have time to see. And although it might be a small hassle to get there, the Brant Foundation’s current solo show of David Altmejd is really worth every minute of the trip to Greenwich, Connecticut. With his hallucinogenic and kaleidoscopic aesthetic, Altmejd also seems to be asking viewers to take a trip.