1. Hito Steyerl is open at Artists Space until May 24, 2015.
Hito Steyerl presents eight existing works and one new commission within an exhibition design conceived by the artist and her team. The exhibition spans both Artists Space venues and also encompasses a program of talks and screenings, and an online aggregation of Steyerl’s writing. Steyerl studied documentary filmmaking, and her essay films of the 1990s address issues of migration, multiculturalism and globalization in the aftermath of the formation of the European Union. Her films November (2004) and Lovely Andrea (2007) mark a move towards the extrapolation of the essay form as an open-ended means of speculation. They locate representations of herself and her friend Andrea Wolf as object lessons in the politics played out within the translation and migration of image documents. Steyerl’s prolific filmmaking and writing has since occupied a highly discursive position between the fields of art, philosophy and politics, constituting a deep exploration of late capitalism’s social, cultural and financial imaginaries.
2. Jonathan Monaghan: Escape Pod is open at Bitforms until May 3, 2015.
Jonathan Monaghan crafts surreal and psychologically driven works that operate within the real, imagined and virtual worlds. He builds absurdist 3D environments that contain compelling objects, often pulling from populist sources, such as historic architecture, religious iconography, design, science fiction, and advertising. Escape Pod is an exhibition that features Monaghan’s new video installation of the same name, as well as recent prints created in a process of computational collage. Conceived of as an ambitious and dreamlike HD animation, Escape Pod has been in production for several months, and was created with commercial animation software. It builds on a rich visual vocabulary of his past works, which will also be presented at the gallery in a special one-night screening. Escape Pod is based on hunting mythologies of the Greek and Nordic traditions. It captures the journey of a golden stag that roams modernist spaces of authoritarian confrontation and material excess. Lavish bedrooms, airport checkpoints, and a luxury riot gear boutique are encountered, as the scenery unfolds from the perspective of a floating viewpoint that is framed as a continuous shot. In a climatic moment, the golden fawn is birthed out of a BoConcept sofa, only to be carried away, into a heavenly Duty Free shop in the clouds. Seamlessly looped in a twenty-minute cycle, Escape Pod suggests an apocalyptic decadent future – one that is militarized, totalitarian and permeated by extravagance. It is a representation of labored pursuits, particularly of the otherworldly or unobtainable.
3. Folkert de Jong: The Holy Land is open at James Cohan until April 25, 2015.
Folkert de Jong is internationally recognized for figurative sculptures—executed in the inorganic industrial materials of Styrofoam and polyurethane—that mine issues of empire, trauma and myth. In 2012, De Jong made his first works in cast bronze, bringing experimentation and edge to the medium, as well as engaging in the history of the monument and public art. The works in The Holy Land were developed for De Jong’s recent solo exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield in Yorkshire, UK, where, in collaboration with the Royal Armories in Leeds, the artist made 3D scans of suits of armor belonging to Henry VIII. The resulting bronze sculptural portraits depict a battle-ready ruler at three stages of his life, from the young peacock to the fat stoic. Old DNA, which grew out of the monarch’s final suit of armor, depicts a top-heavy cannonball of a man, with legs that hollow out from the back. An external nervous system or energy field running around the figure—derived from casting channels that would typically be clipped off the work before completion—is exposed, unprotected.
4. Janine Antoni: From the Vow Made is open at Luhring Augustine until April 25, 2015.
From the Vow Made is a solo exhibition by Bahamas born Huge Boss prize-nominated artist Janine Antoni presented at Luhring Augustine. The show includes a collection of seven sculptural works and a video collaboration with choreographer, Stephen Petronio. For the past seven years, Antoni has turned to dance and movement for her inspiration. She has engaged in several somatic movement practices to further her exploration into what it means to live from an embodied place. These new works emerge from her somatic revelations and her study of milagros, sculptural votive offerings used in Latin cultures. Ranging from body parts to domestic objects, milagros are often hung in churches as symbols of things in life requiring prayer, healing and protection. Antoni’s milagros are prayers for embodiment. In unusual meetings, Antoni grafts the inside of the body to the outside of the body to the environment of the body. Through these marriages, psychological space turns physical. These artworks depict an impossible touch made possible. The translucent objects are created with a purposeful erasure of detail, a memory half remembered.
5. Nicole Miller: The Borrowers is open at Koening & Clinton until May 16, 2015.
The Borrowers, an exhibition by LA-based video artist Nicole Miller, features three recent single-channel videos played in tandem: David, Ndinda, and Anthony. Their subjects as their namesakes, the works spotlight unique individuals, set against an ambiguous backdrop, whose performances employ representation, appropriation, and theater as tools for reconstituting that which has been lost. Implementing a method common to the artist’s practice, Miller devised a controlled narrative structure for David, Ndinda, and Anthony within which her subjects were free to extemporize at their discretion. Whether through storytelling, improvisation, or mimicry, these unscripted moments enabled access to authenticity during performance. In David, a man stands askew in front of a mirror while recounting the story of random violence that resulted in the loss of his left arm. Simultaneously, he gesticulates to generate a false image of his missing appendage in his own reflection — an exercise that relieves the pain of phantom limb. Ndinda introduces a narrator who intersperses dialogue with unprompted eruptions of roaring laughter. An instructor of therapeutic Hasya Yoga (laughing yoga), Ndinda utilizes the same method of performance for the camera that she offers in her classes, triggering a parallel cathartic response in the video’s viewers.