previews

  • “RACHEL HARRISON: LIFE HACK”

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    October 25, 2019–January 12, 2020

    Curated by Elisabeth Sussman and David Joselit with Kelly Long

    “Every sculpture should have a trapdoor,” Rachel Harrison once mused, although she didn’t say whether the entrances and exits would be made by the art or the viewer or both. One could joke that such insurgence—formal, conceptual, material—is what directs the ins and outs of her virtuosic productions. Her mixed-media pieces can look like acts of oogey buffooning, object comedies that swipe at the sublime by way of the sad sack. Starring blobs and stacks and stuff blasted with perplexing color palettes, punctuated by masscult references, they are tightly composed while radiating anarchic energy. The artist’s first museum survey and its catalogue will present twenty-five years of her sculptures, installations, drawings, and photographs, taking stock of how and why her gloriously unsettling and invigorating work works.

  • HANS HAACKE

    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    October 24, 2019–January 26, 2020

    Curated by Massimiliano Gioni and Gary Carrion-Murayari

    Hans Haacke’s 1986–87 New Museum exhibition, along with the exceptional catalogue that accompanied it, set the terms for our understanding of the artist’s searing critiques of corporate sponsorship, provenance, and the tangled networks of art, business, and politics. Now the pioneering Conceptualist returns to the institution with a long-overdue American retrospective. The show’s curators have gathered together more than thirty of his works, from the early wind-and-water sculptures—among them the famous Condensation Cube, 1963–67, as well as audience-manipulated pieces like Wave, 1964—to recent projects on global capitalism and nationalism, including the US debut of his outstanding commission for London’s Fourth Plinth, Gift Horse, 2014, which will make its US debut here. The selection underscores how systems theory has informed the artist’s work for six decades; at this moment of renewed activism and unionization, Haacke’s expansive practice, particularly his investigations into museums and money—pieces like On Social Grease, 1975, and MetroMobiltan, 1985, both on view here for a second time—will no doubt seem more urgent than ever.

  • “RACHEL FEINSTEIN: MAIDEN, MOTHER, CRONE”

    The Jewish Museum
    1109 Fifth Avenue
    November 1, 2019–March 22, 2020

    Curated by Kelly Taxter

    While Game of Thrones viewers longed for the petite, fair-haired Daenerys to become a sweet and merciful queen, they instead got their eyelashes singed by this “mother of dragons.” Rachel Feinstein, whose life and fairy-tale work are often mistaken for a Cinderella story, can probably relate—the lightest surface scratch of her darkly surreal tableaux looses ominous multitudes. This November, the Jewish Museum will host the first US survey of Feinstein’s twenty-five-year career, uniting her winter-white grotesques in all their berserk and flamboyant glory with roughly fifty of her installations, drawings, videos, and maquettes, as well as a mammoth swath of panoramic wallpaper and a thirty-three-foot-long wall relief. Feinstein’s sensibility can encompass everything from a Rococo salon to a spectral snowscape: Walt Disney meets Francis Bacon, Fragonard meets the White Walkers. In a world of glib oppositions, it’s significant that there’s no “versus” in Feinstein’s nightmare wonderland. Here, Beauty and the Beast isn’t about genders or genres locked in a duel. It’s about how these non-binary struggles inhabit everyone.

  • “ON OUR BACKS: THE REVOLUTIONARY ART OF QUEER SEX WORK”

    Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
    26 Wooster Street
    September 28, 2019–January 19, 2020

    Curated by Alexis Heller

    Though internet censorship, including last year’s passage of the devastating FOSTA-SESTA legislation, is relatively new, the suppression of sex workers, queers, and other deviants is an analog tradition. With “On Our Backs,” the Leslie-Lohman Museum will turn to art and archives to center the twentieth-century phenomenon of sex-work activism and advocacy—movements from which LGBTQ history is inextricable. Named for the first magazine to defy the conservative factions in the feminist sex wars with erotica for a lesbian audience, the exhibition reveals the radical impact of sex-worker organizing and expression on the gay and trans liberation movements and the political intersections this coalition embodies. Featuring the art of shawné michaelain-holloway, Shine Louise Houston, Bruce LaBruce, Madsen Minax, Annie Sprinkle, David Wojnarowicz, and others, “On Our Backs” is a crucial resource in the era of the shadow ban.

  • “AMERICAN ARTIST: MY BLUE WINDOW”

    Queens Museum
    New York City Building Flushing Meadows
    October 6, 2019–February 16, 2020

    Curated by Sophia Marisa Lucas

    Blackness and blueness are intimately entwined in America. There are so many blue screens of death. The tension between the two, between black visibility and the violence of surveillance, forms the foundation of American Artist’s practice. The artist’s change to their legal name, meanwhile, grants them anonymity even as it works to overwrite art history, to make the default American artist black. Technology, like humans, inherits all the prejudices of its precursors. American Artist’s second institutional solo show will extend their consideration of systemic bias to the algorithmic racism hard-coded into artificial-intelligence tools. A new multimedia installation will marry video, bleachers, a curtain, and a downloadable phone app to focus on predictive policing technologies that dispatch cops before any crimes occur. What could possibly go wrong?

  • “THE PENCIL IS A KEY: DRAWINGS BY INCARCERATED ARTISTS”

    The Drawing Center
    35 Wooster Street
    October 11, 2019–January 5, 2020

    Curated by Claire Gilman, Rosario Güiraldes, Laura Hoptman, Isabella Kapur, and Duncan Tomlin

    “The Pencil Is a Key” will take a global approach to the genre of “prison art,” exhibiting works made in carceral conditions ranging from the Soviet gulag to Chilean prisons under Pinochet’s dictatorship to America’s Japanese internment camps, its contemporary institutions of mass incarceration, and its offshore penal colony at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Radical pieces made despite intense surveillance, along with those created within the reformist space of penitentiary arts programming—the latter often used by the state to humanize, and thus obscure, prison’s inherent violence—will be on display, continuing the vital undertaking of legitimizing art made “inside,” be it against or condoned by the institution. Implicit in these drawings is a call for viewers to stretch their imaginations beyond the act of witnessing, to take literally the metaphor proposed by the title of the show. Can we not just envision but materialize a world without cages?

  • “THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ALVIN BALTROP”

    Bronx Museum of the Arts
    1040 Grand Concourse
    September 7, 2019–February 19, 2020

    Curated by Sergio Bessa

    Documenting the West Side Piers from 1975 to 1986, Alvin Baltrop’s photographs of nude sunbathing, gay sex, s/m, cruising, artmaking, crime, and death chronicle an era of deindustrialization. Bodies and buildings hide each other, dissolving the boundaries between their divergent forms. An important record of queer and trans history, the Bronx Museum’s retrospective—featuring 120 photographs, archival materials, and a catalogue with contributions from Douglas Crimp, Hilton Als, and curator Sergio Bessa—will also provide audiences an opportunity to gauge Baltrop’s acuity with 35-mm film, his chosen medium. Baltrop’s small-scale work commands us to look closely, often at figures who themselves are searching for something (or someone) amid the crumbling architecture of the piers. Their voyeurism becomes Baltrop’s, which becomes our own—a collapsed line of sight connecting past and present.