"Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video"
Guggenheim Museum, Fri 24–May 14
Along with Lorna Simpson, Glenn Ligon and Kara Walker, Weems was part of what was arguably the first generation of African-Americans to truly command the attention of the white art world. Like her contemporaries, Weems used various methods associated with Conceptual Art to explore the fraught subjects of race and gender. Her particular approach was to filter these issues through the narrative conventions of photography and video, resulting in works notable for their visually stark elegance and their poignant focus on the individual’s relationship to history. The Guggenheim puts it all into focus with this 30-year survey of Weems’s career.
“Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module”
New Museum of Contemporary Art, through Apr 13
The entire fifth floor of the New Museum has morphed into a retro-futuristic spaceship interior, thanks to the constructive nostalgia of Eastern European artist collective Tranzit. Artwork by its various members is installed throughout the space, which has been modeled after the fictional spacecraft from 1963 Czech science-fiction film Ikarie XB-1.
“Antonio Canova: The Seven Last Works”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, through Apr 27
The nude seemingly made flesh in marble was the specialty of Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova (1757–1822), certainly one of the greatest practitioners in the medium and a key proponent of the Neoclassical style. But as this show demonstrates, he took a bit of a departure from the work that established his reputation for the final project of his life: a plan to illustrate 32 scenes from the Bible as a suite of reliefs, intended for the Tempio Canoviano, the Palladian-style church (which later became his mausoleum) that he built for his hometown of Possagno, northwest of Venice. He managed to complete only seven clay models for the series before his death at age 65. The Met collected those studies for their first appearance in the United States.
Guy Ben-Ner, Soundtrack
Postmasters Gallery, Sat 25–Mar 8
The Israeli artist is known for wryly ingenious, low-tech “home movies,” in which various family members enact different scenarios. (One notable video features the artist and his kid acting out Melville’s Moby Dick in their kitchen.) For his latest effort, Ben-Ner creates a “family drama,” using the soundtrack from Steven Spielberg’s underwhelming Tom Cruise vehicle, War of the Worlds.
“Two Moon July: Film and Video from the Kitchen’s Archive”
Paula Cooper Gallery, through Feb 12
Before it became a high-end shopping district for tourists, Soho was the Bushwick of its day, an artist’s neighborhood that managed to remain that way for some 20 years between the 1960s and ‘80s (an indication, perhaps, of how slowly the gears of gentrification turned back then). One of the area’s cultural mainstays was The Kitchen, the multimedia center currently located in Chelsea. Founded as an outpost to promote video as an art form, The Kitchen expanded into presenting performance, music and dance, thanks to its longtime location on the corner of Broome and Wooster Streets. It was there, in a second-floor loft space, that The Kitchen became the incubator for such well-known talents as Laurie Anderson, Bill T. Jones and Philip Glass. The video Two Moon July, which aired on PBS in 1987, turned out to be a valedictory to the Kitchen’s Soho era: an artfully edited compilation of archival footage documenting the key productions mounted there during its formative years.