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The 16 best exhibits we can’t wait to see in 2016

Fairy-tale fashion, textbook sculptures and medicinal plants all get the exhibit treatment this year

Written by
Leah Faye Cooper
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Mark your cultural calendar now–these 16 exhibits already have us excited for 2016. The exhibits, found in museums and galleries that are New York's top attractions all by themselves, have everything from Fischli and Weiss’ citywide art scavenger hunt of sorts to fantasy high fashion. And we also already rounded up this year’s 20 best theater shows and new films we’re excited about, too.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best of 2016

  • Art
Chances are your eyes glazed over at the sight of a textbook more than once throughout middle school. But through sculpture, Beijing-based artist Li Hongbo casts a critical light on academic culture in America and China. Works made with binder clips, textbooks and old desks comprise an immersive exhibit just as thought-provoking as any grad school class.
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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
Socialites and celebrities may get all the sartorial praise, but this fantasy of a show will quickly remind you that your favorite fictitious characters clean up pretty nicely, too. Feast your eyes on looks by Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, Rodarte and others, all reflective of the bold, elaborate fairy-tale aesthetic. We promise not to judge if you leave yearning for a pair of glass slippers.
“Cheryl Donegan: Scenes and Commercials”
  • Art
Bring your couch potato tendencies here for a look at Donegan’s videos, which parody commercials and music videos. On the way out, you can even shop garments, drawings, prints and textiles by the artists, available at the exhibit’s pop-up concept shop.
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  • Art
  • Installation

A symphonic experience awaits you at this exhibit, with Sala’s audio and visual installation spanning three floors. Works touch on everything from the post-communism era in Sala’s native Albania to the ways in which music and sound conjure images and nostalgia.

  • Art
  • Contemporary art
If you find the art world too serious for your taste, the collaborative works of Fischli and Weiss—made over the span of three decades—offer a refreshing departure from the status quo. Their photos, videos and clay and rubber sculptures dare to poke fun at the banalities of everyday life—and they do so in colorful, mesmerizing fashion. Keep your eyes peeled for the exhibit’s public works, which will be planted throughout the city.
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“Laura Poitras: Astro Noise”
  • Art
  • Contemporary art
Drones. The War on Terror. Guantánamo Bay. Academy Award and Pulitzer Prize–winning filmmaker Poitras addresses facets of post-9/11 America through immersive, video-rich installations, giving us a creative take on troves of hot-button issues.
  • Art
  • Photography
Journey through Israel and the West Bank, courtesy of more than 600 photos snapped by a dozen artists between 2009 and 2012. You’ll see tinges of the Israeli-Palestinian War as well as universal themes of family, home and nature.
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  • Art
  • Textiles
Our chances of getting invited to the Met Ball? Slim. Our chances of showing up on another day sans over-the-top getups? Highly likely. With 100-plus garments, the Costume Institute’s spring exhibit will examine the impact of technology and mass production on the fashion industry, proving that, yes, there’s a big difference between how your grandmother’s favorite skirt was made and how the one you just bought from Zara was.
  • Art
  • Mixed media
Peruse the tongue-in-cheek pieces that have earned collaborators Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel enfants terribles reps in the art world. Works, which include furniture, light fixtures and bronze casts, are inspired by their European travels and were crafted in their Antwerp atelier, Studio Job.
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