Your Concise New York Art Guide for October 2021

With October upon us (how?!), New York City arts organizations of all stripes are offering up a veritable cornucopia of compelling exhibitions and performances. From MoMA PS1’s quinquennial survey featuring 47 intergenerational artists and collectives, to a presentation of the late Winfred Rembert’s intricately tooled leather paintings, here’s a choice slice of what we’re excited about this month.

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Baseera Khan: I Am an Archive

Baseera Khan, “Level of Psychic Distress, (Orange)” (2021), chromogenic photograph and laser-cut acrylic, 62 × 37 inches (image courtesy the artist and Simone Subal Gallery, New York, © Baseera Khan, photo by Stephen Takacs)

When: October 1, 2021–July 10, 2022
Where: Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Park, Brooklyn)

In their first museum solo show, Brooklyn-based artist Baseera Khan explores their bodied subjectivity as a femme Muslim American living in a racist and xenophobic surveillance state that runs on extractive capitalism and frenetic othering. Across new and recent works of sculpture, installation, textile, collage, video, and more, Khan examines the frequently traumatic archives that bodies can hold, often using well-placed parody and hyperbole to drive the point home. Six new works by the artist will debut at the show, on view at the museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

The 2021 Socrates Annual: Sanctuary

Yvonne Shortt, Jenna Boldebuck, and Kelly Li, “African American Marbleization–An Act of Civil Disobedience: Hair Sanctuary” (2021), image based on installation by Mayuko Fujino (image courtesy the artists and Socrates)

When: October 2, 2021–March 6, 2022
Where: Socrates Sculpture Park (32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, Queens)

This year, the Long Island City sculpture park’s annual open call is centered around the theme of “sanctuary,” fittingly for a venue that spent the summer hosting a series of healing outdoor sound baths led by Guadalupe Maravilla. Made by 13 participating artists, the 11 sculptural projects on view imagine new sanctuaries as they pay homage to the ones that we’ve already built, drawing upon queer dance parties, plant care rituals, dreaming, inherited spiritual practices, hair care, engagement with nature, and more.

Greater New York 2021

Ahmed Morsi, “Green Horse I” (2001), acrylic on canvas (image courtesy the artist and Salon 94, New York, © Ahmed Morsi)

When: October 7, 2021–April 18, 2022
Where: MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens)

Every five years, MoMA PS1 mounts a survey of work by artists with a relationship to New York City. This edition, which was postponed by a year due to the pandemic, features art across media by a fascinating selection of artists and collectives ranging from young up-and-comers like photographer and video artist Diane Severin Nguyen, who currently has a show up at SculptureCenter, to Paulina Peavy, a 20th-century West Coast spiritualist whose work has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years.

Winfred Rembert: 1945-2021

Winfred Rembert, “Sunshine II” (2012), dye on carved and tooled leather (©2021 Winfred Rembert / ARS NY)

When: October 7–December 18
Where: Fort Gansevoort New York (5 Ninth Avenue, Meatpacking, Manhattan)

Artist Winfred Rembert, who passed away in March of this year at the age of 75, learned how to tool leather during the seven years he spent in prison in Georgia. Decades after his release and subsequent relocation to Connecticut, Rembert began carving narrative scenes from his traumatic experience in the Jim Crow South onto tanned leather, producing intricate images in low relief that he painted with colorful dyes. The exhibition coincides with the posthumous release of the late artist’s memoir, Chasing Me to My Grave.

Cosmologies, Above and Below, and where they go & what they leave

Installation view of Cosmologies at A.I.R. Gallery, New York (image courtesy A.I.R. Gallery, photo by Matthew Sherman)

When: through October 10
Where: A.I.R. Gallery (155 Plymouth Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn)

Three solo shows with overlapping interests in the environment and textiles are currently on view at A.I.R. Gallery. Daria Dorosh, one of the 20 women artists who co-founded the historic gallery in 1972, considers the place of human beings in ecological and technological networks in Cosmologies, a show of digital prints, textile sculptures, and neckwear pieces. Meanwhile, painter Mimi Oritsky presents bold, atmospheric landscapes in Above and Below, while 2020-2021 A.I.R. Fellow Destiny Belgrave displays new textile works that pay homage to sleep and dreams in where they go & what they leave.

Betsy Damon. Passages: Rites and Rituals

Betsy Damon, “7,000 Year Old Woman,” performance at Cayman Gallery, New York (March 21, 1977) (archival Print © Betsy Damon 1977/2021, courtesy the artist)

When: October 15–November 21
Where: LaMaMa Galleria (47 Great Jones Street, East Village, Manhattan)

American artist and activist Betsy Damon’s 250-foot paper pulp cast of riverbed in Utah was among the standout works in ecofeminism(s) at Thomas Erben Gallery last year. The curator of that show, Monika Fabijanska, is now zeroing in on the 81-year-old lesbian eco-artist’s oeuvre with an exhibition of photographs, videos, ephemera, and documents. The show focuses on Damon’s outdoor performance practice from the 1970s and ’80s, frequently guerrilla affairs that staked a claim to public space, grappled with themes of violence perpetuated against women and the environment, and asked how we might approach healing.

Paul Thek: Relativity Clock

Installation view of Paul Thek: Relativity Clock at Alexander and Bonin, New York (image courtesy Alexander and Bonin, photo by Joerg Lohse)

When: through October 16
Where: Alexander and Bonin (47 Walker Street, Tribeca, Manhattan)

The strange, slippery material of time runs through the work of Paul Thek, a multidisciplinary artist who died of AIDS-related complications in 1988 at the age of 54. Loosely centered around this theme, Relativity Clock presents pieces made by Thek from the mid-1960s into the 1980s, including newspaper paintings, meat cable sculptures, and picture light paintings. Thek’s sketchbooks and journals from that period and Polaroids of him at work taken by Peter Hujar are also on view. The 1966 “Untitled (Meat Piece with Chair),” a hunk of wax “flesh” with blue skin encased in a clear vitrine, is an exhibition highlight.

DO write [right] to me

Rodrigo Pimenta, “Broken Whisper” (2021) acrylic painting on paper (image courtesy the artist and Uncool Artist)

When: through October 23
Where: Uncool Artist (227 West 29th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)

Responding to legacies of Latin American mail art in the ’60s and ’70s, this exhibition brings together work by 20 artists who are interested in questions of how we connect and communicate across space — with a focus on the cities in which the artists largely reside, New York, Miami, and São Paulo. Visitors are invited to write their fears on index cards and deposit them in a dropbox, complete a crossword based on the desires of the artist, and send postcards to anonymous strangers and government officials alike.

Countercapture

Lyndon Barrois Jr., “Start Spreadin’ the News” (2017), collage and solvent transfers on canvas and chipboard, chalk pencil, oak frame (image courtesy the artist and Miriam Gallery)

When: through November 7
Where: Miriam Gallery (319 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

How do opacity and redaction, refusal and obfuscation, operate as representational tools? Miriam Gallery, a new-ish artist-run space (and bookshop) to watch, presents a group of works that leverage these strategies in their engagements with Blackness. Among the media-spanning pieces on view are Patrice Renee Washington’s knobby grab bar, made to provide support for people who are recoiling; Keli Safia Maksud’s formalist response to social media phenomena like “Blackout Tuesday”; and Uwa Iduozee’s photographs of individuals from the African diaspora population in Finland.

Robert Swain: Immersive Color

Installation view of Robert Swain: Immersive Color, Minus Space (image courtesy the artist and Minus Space, photo by Yao Zu Lu)

When: through November 20
Where: Minus Space (16 Main Street, Suite A, Dumbo, Brooklyn)

Three monumental, gridded paintings in a rainbow of hues overtake the gallery walls in Immersive Color, a show dedicated to the work of Hunter Color School painter Robert Swain. Swain, who first embarked upon his carefully calibrated color system of nearly 5,000 hues in 1969, takes his hallmark modular approach here, arranging painstakingly painted squares of color to compose new perceptual and emotional experiences.

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