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Laurie Kang: Her Own Devices

In Her Own Devices—an installation featuring 35 unique photograms—Kang refocuses attention on skin and permeability in a way that feels simultaneously gentle and insistent.

Alexa West: Triple Expo

You encounter Triple Expo, a new performance choreographed by Alexa West, in a shop window on a nondescript corner of a residential block in South Williamsburg. The performers are behind the glass, you are not.

Lin May Saeed: Arrival of the Animals

Saeed’s practice is at once deeply psychological and disconcerting, and draws on imagery from history and mythology to illustrate encounters between animals and humans. The artist is perhaps best known for her reliefs and sculptural works crafted out of polystyrene foam (commonly referred to as Styrofoam), while welded steel “gates” and works on paper also populate the gallery’s walls.

Erik Olson: Through the States

The 20 hand-colored etchings of Erik Olson’s Through the States, an online exhibition hosted by Luis de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles, document a motorcycle trip, but as the virtual gallery interweaves text and images, they assume the guise of an animated scrapbook or graphic novel.

Flávio de Carvalho

Carvalho’s experiences were cultivated by his fascination with multiple fields of research, including psychoanalysis, ethnology, literature, and politics—“a source of mental turbulence” that he considered the foundation of artistic invention.

Virtual Views: Video Lives

The selection of video art included here explores our digitally-driven moment by highlighting the fact that privacy and leisure are privileges not often extended to women, queer people, and people of color. Even though the exhibition is framed as an exploration of intimacy and technology, intimacy is not often afforded to these artists, whose emotional labor and identities are still contested within the domestic sphere.

Gary Simmons: Screaming into the Ether

In this unnatural movement of dread and looming disaster lies the artist’s characterization of racial degradation lurking in the seemingly innocent faces of impish animations of the 1930s. The centerpiece of the exhibition, a cheerful, toothy cowpoke stroking the ivories in Piano Man (2020) dissolves in front of our eyes, slowly and painfully torn apart by the artist’s dragging hand and inevitable vectors of force pulling in opposite directions.

Mulyana & Iwan Effendi: Jumping the Shadow

The charming critters by Iwan Effendi and Mulyana presented in Jumping the Shadow, curated by John Silvis at Sapar Contemporary, invite reflections on our empathy towards lives (that only seem to be) beyond our own.

LigoranoReese: School of Good Citizenship

Through the School of Good Citizenship, LigoranoReese have created compelling collaborations that activate dialogues related to previous subjects that they’ve tackled such as the meaning of democracy, the nature of the economy, and the contestation of truth.

Tim Kent: Enfilade

There is something comforting yet dreadful about the idea of an enfilade in architecture. The painter Tim Kent has rhapsodically incorporated both the aesthetic highs and the sociological lows of this hierarchical space in his cycle of six oil on linen paintings.

Aliza Shvarts: Purported

Shvarts’s work engages a remarkably capacious set of considerations: the interpersonal and the institutional, the practical and the theoretical, a historical act and its circulation. These concepts expose the systems that structure our societies, revealing their inequity while encouraging us to imagine how our own bodies are already ensnared within them.

Valerie Jaudon: Prepositions

The titles of Jaudon’s 11 paintings refer explicitly to rhythmically organized sound—music. But terms like Aeolian (2017) and Lydian (2019) are strange to most of us and require a dictionary for elucidation. Even after we decipher the words, we wonder how we spectators are supposed to make the leap from visual experience to the music these titles ask us to hear?

All What I Want is Life

Seldom is civil unrest in the Arab world discussed beyond hushed dinner conversations or in the context of economic decay on corporate roundtables. In Dubai’s center for photography, Gulf Photo Plus (GPP), however, it’s the topic du jour. A pictorial and filmic essay drawn from Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, and Sudan, All What I Want is Life takes its title from a cri de cœur strewn across the walls of the Saadoun Tunnel in graffiti in Baghdad. “This is an exhibition of protest photography, not photojournalism”

Brown’s a Color, Black is Not

Despite the depth of curatorial research into the pioneering works on view, the peculiarity of ecofeminism(s)’s delimited scope presents an occasion to think through the role of cultural essentialism in the mediation between appropriation and inspiration, and offers insights on the strategies through which the politically correct anti-Black art world is currently reconvening.

Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective

Almost inevitably, we initially describe and understand what is marvelous but unfamiliar in terms of what we know. And so the quilts of Tompkins have been compared with the paintings of Josef Albers, Paul Klee, and Piet Mondrian; and her improvisations related to those of jazz musicians.

Thaddeus Mosley

A Pittsburgh native, Thaddeus Mosley, now 94 years old, makes organic abstractions from leftover wood: trees from Pittsburgh urban woods, as provided by local governmental sources (the Forestry Division); wood taken from local sawmills; and reclaimed building materials.

The New British Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Here, Britain’s engagement with the outside world comes to the fore, and the galleries highlight both the oppression and the wealth brought on by precocious imperialist activity, industrialization, and commercial enterprise.

From Pot to Plate: Eli Ping at And Now

Ping’s exhibition of artworks that don’t make explicit their intent is an opportunity, for any who are willing, to become unmoored from conventional viewing expectations and knowledge production. It is an offer to engage with objects that risk uncertainty.

An Incomplete History of Muralism at Rikers Island

The artworks I discuss in this article are, for the most part, unseen. They are either unrealized, destroyed, lost, or on display in a place that is geographically, administratively and, largely, psychically removed from New York City’s mainstream society—Rikers Island


You could say it is a terrible time to open a gallery show. New York City languishes in an ongoing lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic, while a nationwide civil rights movement calls for our attention. But for one of the few exhibitions recently opened in the city, the timing feels powerful. It is a show about ecological urgency in the time of a global crisis. It speaks to activism as an artistic strategy, and points to the entanglement of struggles for social and environmental justice.

Tatiana Arocha: Respiro un bosque/I breathe a forest

Because of a growing understanding of their importance to world climate change, the tropics of South America loom large in the popular imagination of Americans but still feel as remote, to most of us, as the bottom of the sea. Not so for Tatiana Arocha.


New York-based curatorial initiative Duplex and digital designer Hollie Pollak helped the organization to gather presentations of new or existing artworks from Visual AIDS alumni, such as Carlos Motta, Conrad Ventur, and Pamela Sneed, in addition to fresh faces, including two video artists, Jake Brush and Jaimie Warren.

Josh Smith: High as Fuck

The paintings show the empty streets of Smith’s neighborhood, seen during his morning and evening walks through a city in lockdown. Choosing a cool palette of greens and blues for street and sky, Smith creates a forlorn environment into which he angles houses and buildings in vibrant hues of red, yellow, and pink.

Farah Al Qasimi: Back and Forth Disco

When I returned to the city in early May, Al Qasimi’s energetic, saturated shots were not needles in the haystack of New York’s hurly-burly, but rather stark ensigns, conspicuous reminders of the individually inconspicuous lives we are supposed to be fighting to maintain.

Painting at Night

Historically the professional art world has depreciated motherhood—forcing artists to choose between careers and motherhood or hide their status as mothers lest their work be dismissed1—but a new wave of exhibitions and online communities over the last five years or so has been challenging this.

The Tree of Life

Online exhibits provide a different viewing experience. If all these works were in the Lower East Side gallery, you might walk in, look around, occasionally watch one of the time-based works, perhaps put on headphones for sound, and meander to the next piece. The online configuration asks for greater engagement, something that surprises many by requiring a conscious commitment to the work.

Letter From New York: Marcin Muchalski and David Rhodes

The pairing of the works in the online gallery—Muchalski with 23 photographs and Rhodes with six paintings and four works on paper—brings out a common luminosity, like a recollection of lived experience, as the refined tones of Muchalski’s black-and-white photos coax echoes of tonality from Rhodes’s closely spaced bands of black.

The Rock

A large, squat boulder occupies what would otherwise be a parking spot at the corner of Montrose and Manhattan Avenues in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Flanked by yellow caution tape and four orange construction barriers, the placement of this massive stone was clearly meant to be temporary. And yet, like many aspects of daily life under COVID-19, this rock is now stranded in an unfamiliar predicament with an uncertain future.

Within Global Isolation: Asian Artists in America

Within Global Isolation: Asian Artists in America is a virtual exhibition, organized by curators Han Hongzheng and Chandler Allen, and fueled by a spike in anti-Asian sentiments, xenophobia, and discrimination as a result of COVID-19.

Hard Opening: Vigil for Black Death

Divided into two cycles—the second cycle began streaming on Juneteenth—the exhibition presented a wide range of videos and performances by younger contemporary artists punctuated by a few historical works that function as both a critical framing device and a daunting attestation of the enduring cultural and political failures that have been inherited by the current generation.


Focusing on the moving image, the show is an antidote to viewing room fatigue and ill-begotten exhibitions made virtual. More importantly, it presents the vicissitudes of contemporary Black life in a world rife with racial injustice, while responding to the disproportionate impact of the virus on historically racialized, marginalized, and underserved communities.

do it (around the world)

Do it, an exhibition conceived in 1993 by curator Hans Ulrich Obrist with artists Christian Boltanski and Bertrand Lavier is a constellation of instructional art that can be explored at home cross-continentally.

Elizabeth Ibarra

Ibarra is a Mexican artist from Guadalajara, Jalisco, who lives in Los Angeles, and this is her first exhibition on the East Coast. Joel Mesler, whose gallery seeks to make connections between the Southern California and New York arts scenes, came across her works at the pop-up Newsstand Project in LA at the end of 2019.

2 Lizards

In a time now regularly described as “challenging” or “unprecedented,” it’s tricky to find balance between the uplifting, or even saccharine—phrases like “We’re all in this together” come to mind—and the downright horrifying. Director and editor Orian Barki and artist Meriem Bennani’s animated Instagram series 2 Lizards locates the middle while speaking to the volley of emotions activated by COVID-19.

Paintings Boarded-Up

Exhibitions of paintings have been an ongoing challenge to present over the past several months. Given the restrictions prescribed to protect citizens from the novel coronavirus in crowded environments, the automatic reflex has been for museums, galleries, independent curators, and artists to turn immediately to virtual programming as a surrogate method for viewing. Yet those of us who know the differences between the texture, light, and scale of a painting in real-time and space and its presence on a screen also know why the latter is no match for the former.

Jonathan Berger: An Introduction to Nameless Love

Not long before COVID-19 rendered in-person art viewing a faint memory, I walked into a dimly lit gallery where clusters of illuminated words appeared to float in space, like the digital rain of the Matrix. Yet unlike computer code, I could read these clusters of text—they were conversations, poems, confessions. “What can I ask you that nobody seems to ever ask you?” one began. “After months of being in that funk, I got accustomed to it,” another one continued.

The Pursuit of Aesthetics: Artwork Created During Quarantine

This certainly seems like a time for image and text: straightforward and direct gestures for marshalling ideas, crowds, and righteous fury. So one has to stop and collect a reeling brain, full of protest acronyms and painful or ghastly YouTube footage, in order to focus on the premise of an exhibition that emphasizes, as its title suggests, “The Pursuit of Aesthetics.”

Mike Childs: The Journey: Grids, Color and Curvilinear forms, 2004 to 2020

Toronto-born and South Bronx-based Mike Childs has been working in New York since 1995. In this exhibition, 28 paintings from the last 16 years are presented, revealing a constant and evolving exploration of how humans negotiate their surrounding modularly built, urban environment. Patterns and contiguous space interface, interlace, and proliferate like so many passing surfaces and colors, changing with the passage of time or the panorama of a gaze. Walls, graffiti, signage, and bridges of the Bronx all began to fold into the flux of Childs’s images during his time living in the neighborhood.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2020

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