Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very New York art events this month, including Robert Gober, Shannon Ebner, Sherrill Roland, Suné Woods, and more.
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The mood is reflective and inward-looking in New York City this January, as artists consider mirrors and windows, the people we’ve lost, and the punitive and patriarchal systems — political, carceral, and capitalist ones — that were built to fail us. Yet, hope is present, too, in the manifold possibilities and boundless love that our bodies, communities, and planet carry. Enjoy, mask up, and be safe.
When: through January 22
Where: Kerry Schuss Gallery (73 Leonard Street, Tribeca, Manhattan)
Organized in collaboration with Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, this exhibition spotlights five decades of reflective art by the feminist artist and antinuclear activist Helène Aylon, who died last year at the age of 89. Highlights include “Mirror Covering” (1987), a series of gauze-draped mirrors that mourn those lost in the Holocaust, and “Elusive Silver” (1969-73), early process-led paintings made from industrial materials like Plexiglas and aluminum that shift based on light conditions and the viewer’s perspective.
When: through January 29
Where: online & Matthew Marks Gallery (522 West 22nd Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
Supplemented by a virtual viewing option, Robert Gober: “Shut up.” “No. You shut up.” presents a selection of recent drawings and sculptures that engage with motifs of windows and apertures, inhabiting the tension between inside and outside. There is a spare, intent poetry to these works, which range from a formal jacket embedded with a square section of diminutive waterfall to a nest containing three blue robin eggs that peeks through a weathered window frame.
When: January 6–February 12
Where: Petzel Gallery (35 East 67th Street, 2nd Floor, Upper East Side, Manhattan)
Working in the historically populist medium of woodblock print, artist collaborators Zorawar Sidhu and Rob Swainston reference images that are seared into our collective memory of 2020 and 2021, from the Washington DC Park Police teargassing peaceful protesters, to a fly temporarily taking up residence on former Vice President Mike Pence’s head. Printed on distressed plywood appropriated from boarded-up Manhattan storefronts, the imagery is stacked, overlaid, and montaged to evoke doomscrolling’s visual and affective overload.
When: January 7–February 19
Where: kaufmann repetto (55 Walker Street, Tribeca, Manhattan)
New York-based artist Shannon Ebner deepens her exploration of photographic text fields in FRET SCAPES, composing a “poem” from 17 screen compositions featuring photographs of a peeling paper alphabet that has been fragilely adhered to a building’s interior using water. Ebner describes the conceptual poetry, which is titled “fret” after climate reports on water evaporation rates, as a “weather event” that pushes up against socially coded images and signs.
When: January 8–February 5
Where: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (521 West 21st Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
Sherrill Roland’s experience with the US carceral system — he spent ten months in prison before he was exonerated for wrongful incarceration — finds a form in Hindsight Bias, the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery. Characterized by a minimalist, architectonic appearance that belies their more personal content, the works on view incorporate materials that had significance to Roland in prison, including Kool-Aid, personal letters, and a basketball.
When: January 8–February 13
Where: Tiger Strikes Asteroid (1329 Willoughby Avenue #2A, Bushwick, Brooklyn)
Iranian-American interdisciplinary artist Sholeh Asgary, the winner of TSA New York’s 2021 Open Call, presents video, prints, and installation at the intimate and fluid nexus of sound, water, and body. In an interactive sound piece titled “Qanat” after an ancient Iranian underground aqueduct, gallery-goers can experiment with moving their bodies to modify the amplified sounds that emanate from a traditional rug with radial symmetry symbolizing a fountain.
When: January 19–March 5
Where: Rachel Uffner Gallery (170 Suffolk Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan) and Fridman Gallery (169 Bowery, Lower East Side, Manhattan)
In this two-venue solo show, Hana Yilma Godine combines collaged traditional fabric and layers of paint in bold, flat works inspired by her metropolitan hometown of Addis Ababa. Godine imbues everyday scenes with a vital spark: women gathering in hair salons and unpeopled domestic interiors alike brim with colors, patterns, and plants. The artist gets fantastical, too; in one work, a bee seems to alight upon a woman’s protruding tongue, which is patterned to resemble the Ethiopian flag.
When: January 20–February 26
Where: David Zwirner (525 & 533 West 19th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
Organized by the writer and critic Hilton Als, who penned Toni Morrison’s New Yorker obituary in 2019, this group show forms an aggregate portrait of the late novelist and literary icon, who is celebrated for her depictions of Black lives. Archival material relating to Morrison is interspersed with work — some of it directly inspired by her texts — made by a formidable group of artists including Garrett Bradley, Julie Mehretu, Kerry James Marshall, and James Van Der Zee.
When: January 27–May 8
Where: BRIC (647 Fulton Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn)
Los Angeles-based multimedia artist Suné Woods’s five-channel video installation “Aragonite Stars” (2021) immerses viewers in waterscapes populated by humans that swim in non-anthropocentric ways, drawing connections between marine ecology, Black feminist thought, and water’s spiritual and curative properties. Expanding upon an earlier version of the work that debuted at the Hammer Museum’s 2018 exhibition Made in L.A., this iteration features a new sound installation by Meshell Ndegeocello.
When: January 28–June 25
Where: Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art (26 Wooster Street, Soho, Manhattan)
11 contemporary queer artists, including Math Bass, A.K. Burns, Troy Michie, and Jibz Cameron (aka Dynasty Handbag), present an array of painting, drawing, sculpture, assemblage, and time-based media shaped by an exploration of bodily fragmentation. With its title taken from a 1980 text on horror and abjection by Bulgarian-French critical theorist Julia Kristeva, Not Me, Not That, Not Nothing Either considers the transformative potential of rupture and fragmentation, and the boundlessness of queer bodies.
Cassie Packard is an NYC-based writer and cultural critic with bylines at publications including Artforum, BOMB, frieze, and Los Angeles Review of Books. She is a regular contributor to Hyperallergic. More by Cassie Packard