After attempting a general top 10 list of shows, I felt a mild distaste for my own artistic leanings, which, while not limited to investigations of gender and queerness, are definitely weighted by a gigantic lavender anchor.
But you know, it’s the culture wars redux and Roberta Smith has already claimed this year for the ladies, so yeah…
1.) Salomania, at Ellen de Brujine Projects
In an ecstatic homage to queer performance and with a kind of Vermeer lust for beauty and detail, Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz film gender activist Wu Ingrid Tsang and artist/choreographer Yvonne Rainier as they re-imagine the seductive dance of Salome. Encased by palm trees made of ostrich feathers, the installation feels like a rapturous look behind the scenes at the subtle mechanics of attraction.
2.) the t.A.T.u. Project, at Ellen de Brujine Projects
Jesper Nordahl’s T.a.T.U project was realized after the artist embedded himself in the Russian duos’ entourage, gaining access to a melange of characters, most notably t.A.T.u’s international promoter, whose feverish rambling seems clouded by drugs, money and the receding specter of fame. In one scene, Nordahl captures t.A.T.u. as they engage in sapphic posturing for the cameras; As the lenses drop, so do their arms, suddenly betraying their clammy schoolgirl intimacy.
3.) Community Action Center at Horton Gallery
A.K. Burns and A.L. Steiner revive some of the rough, revolutionary zeal and bushy fun of the 1970’s with their rollicking homespun queer porn and accompanying zine.
*I liked it so much I wrote a short comic about it.
5.) Troy Brauntuch at Capitan Petzel
With his series of naked dress forms and odd, haunting anachronisms, Brauntuch shows us the empty vessels of femininity in a coolly detached tone that is part Mad Men and part dystopian soothsayer.
6.) Mary Heilmann at Barbara Weiss
As always, Mary Heilmann’s transgressive artistic practice speaks to physical otherness. In this show at Barbara Weiss, Heilmann presents a really strange series of pizza-shaped works as part of her “Hellfire” series, which are coated in heavy reds and blacks and seem to playfully re-gender color.
7.) Wahlos Reloaded at Dock 11
M.S. Shrittmacher’s choreographed dance experience contains a lot of pants-grabbing, licking, and stone throwing (literally). The entire piece is performed on a rocky runway, with the dancers alternating between the physical language of sadomasochism and more minimal, nimble movements.
8.) L’école de Stéphanie at Kunst-Werke
This was a series of lectures organized by French critic Stephanie Moisdon, and included gems like Ruwen Ogien’s What’s Wrong with “Dirty” Feelings? The Case for Pornography.
*Hans Peter Feldman covered the lecture hall in straw and rabbit cages, resulting in a physical and olfactory discomfort not unlike the schoolhouses of yore.
9.) Nilbar Güreş & Nathalie Djurberg at Supportico Lopez
With a constantly rotating series of costumes for her clay reprobates, Djurberg’s new video seems like a gilt passion play whereas Güreş’s video shows the artist as she slowly and solemnly removes a series of face-concealing veils and recites the names of female family members. The pairing seems strangely inspired.