I could pull a cheap trick here and talk about V-Day, but I think we’ve exhausted ourselves whining over PDA and the unoriginality of expensive flowers paired with shitty chocolate. For those of you who want to step back because the coming stockpile of engagement announcements on Facebook is like the end of the world, ease up—we still have the ends of the earth. See what I did there?
In celebration of invented, alternate universes in which we can find solace in solitude, here’s what you should check out in the coming weeks. I’ve never taken an art history class. Trust me?
Janet Biggs: Somewhere Beyond Nowhere at Smack Mellon
Selected for the Arctic Circle residency program in 2009, Biggs was brought to Svalbard, an archipelago between Norway and the North Pole, where there’s midnight sun, polar winter, and a population just short of 3,000. Somewhere Beyond Nowhere, befittingly installed in a darkened room, pours forth the extremity of isolation with a two-channel video installation. Referencing the failed (and tragic) expeditions of nineteenth century polar explorers, in addition to notes from her own journal, Biggs accompanies the visual magnitude of place/space with wistful narration, underlining the “destabilizing” force of nature and solitude. This one’s for wanderers. Part of the Brooklyn/Montreal Exchange; through February 24.
Mark Tribe & Chelsea Knight: Posse Comitatus at Momenta Art
An ongoing project intended to investigate the power of performance, Posse Comitatus unveils the contemporary American militia movement by way of dance. Having spent time filming a paramilitary group in snowy upstate New York, Tribe and Knight flesh out their footage in collaboration with Cecil Slaughter, whose choreographed participation is based on these rare glimpses of radicalism. The three-channel video installation sets the vigilantes beside the performers, creating a bodily conversation of reciprocity as both parties exhibit uncannily similar rituals of rigor and self-discipline with measured precision. The dancers, simply clothed and washed in summer sweat, move like wind-up woodland creatures while the survivalist, bundled up to anonymity in the cold, jerks repetitively in reaction to a recoiling firearm. Nicely uncomfortable. Part of the Brooklyn/Montreal Exchange; through February 17.
James Jean: Parallel Lives at Jack Tilton Gallery
Disclaimer: You’ll Google this show and you might moan, predictably, about shuffling your way to the Upper East Side. Yes, I know this is FreeWilliamsburg and you’ll only want to go as far as your fixie will take you (sorry, had to)—but just stick with me for a second.
From Fables to fine art, it’s always a fever dream with James Jean. In an interview with Juxtapoz Magazine conducted shortly before Parallel Lives opened, we were subtly told what to expect: the intricacies of “insatiable mutation,” the grating dualism of creation/destruction, the “mysterious and privileged” nature of eroded identity. As its title might imply (Jean “decided to be undisciplined”), the show is not unlike a set of fractured, semi-conscious memories. Parallel Lives delivers in threadlike detail, unraveled and reinvented, swept up by Jean’s whirlwind of an in-between. Through February 16.
Eric Leiser & Jay Masonek: Heartcore at The Living Gallery
Moment of truth: I know close to nothing about this—installation hasn’t yet begun—and yet, as if activating some unknown reflex, the words “interactive forest environment” spark a wag of the proverbial tail. Details are elusive, but there’s something about the way Leiser and Masonek reference redwoods and “divine mystery” that engages wishful thinking here. This manmade metamorphosis of space will feature paintings, photographs, and animated films. Did I mention holograms? Holograms. Opens February 16.
Samantha Wolner of My Social List