In one corner is Juergen Teller’s 2005 color photo of Hitler’s Nuremburg podium, the concrete now uneven and stained, and his shot of an animal—stripped to orange ribs and carbonized pelvis—on a rotisserie spit at a German festival. This theme of regimented, mechanized beastliness is countered by Dash Snow’s digital prints of what look like enlarged Polaroids; although taken in recent years, these shaggy guys fighting with feather pillows or thrusting out of water with bare-breasted beauties on their shoulders radiate hippie hijinks. Jeffrey Vallance stakes out the middle ground in this show of nine diverse artists, constructing witty reliquaries that range from a standard collection of religious medals and dice (representing lots cast by Roman soldiers at the foot of the cross) to The Gods of Las Vegas, a black box containing rhinestone pins spelling out “Elvis,” “Nixon,” “Liberace,” and “Jesus.” There’s also Lenin in a red cupboard, basking in the glow of lacquer pins from the Soviet era, and a Coral in the Shape of Connie Chung. All await your veneration.
Hrafnhildur Arnardottir’s 2-D, life-size sculpture The Hairy Hunchback is made of tangled human hair braids and sports a face-size hole like those photo ops on the boardwalk—grotesquely funny, it sets the tone for this wide-ranging, multimedia jaunt through the horrors of summer camp. Borna Sammak has laser-burned scenes of flaming skyscrapers and swaying palms onto a fluorescent-pink skateboard (Escape From Miami, 2006); Brendan Fowler’s angry letter to rival campers uses cagey misspellings (“our squad has every rite to our space”) to channel tear-blinded teen angst. And don’t miss Noah Lyon’s homemade buttons, sporting such bons mots as “Get a Job Hippy!” and “Harmony Kareem Abdul Jabar.” John Connelly Presents, 625 W 27th, 212-337-9563. Through Aug 30.
David Hilliard’s five-panel photograph of a store aisle begins on each end with masses of large red and white flowers; the foliage gently curves toward the center panel, with its stacks of plastic goods and gardening merchandise. This group photo exhibit about humanity confronting nature also includes Justine Kurland’s shot of a pine forest populated by nude women and wandering children, their soft pink bodies vulnerable to spiky tree trunks, and Jim Cooke’s Eden Project, a wide-shot of geodesic domes and undulating, grass-clad buildings under England’s steely skies. Yancey Richardson, 535 W 22nd, 646-230-9610. Through Aug 25.
In this show of work by more than two dozen women from around the world, Maria Piñeres provides tart commentary on celebrity foibles with hand-stitched mug shots of Lizzie Grubman and Lil’ Kim. Jaishri Abichandani’s “Khajuraho” sculptures feature whips, dildos, latex pussies, and other sex toys covered with velvet, crystals, and glitter—a disco fever update of the erotic reliefs that festoon the ancient Hindu temples. Ogechi Chieke’s video Thee Creation Theory runs backward: black, red, and white liquids poured over the artist’s face and breasts magically rise up from her skin in a narrative of birth and, perhaps, relief from the myriad fluids that shower women in porn. Exit Art, 475 Tenth Avenue, 212-266-7745. Through Aug 26.
On Photography: A Tribute to Susan Sontag
Eli Lotar’s 1929 photograph of dozens of large, cloven hooves, sheared off just above the ankle and propped in rows against a stone building, is hung next to a wall text excerpting Sontag’s 1974 essay “Melancholy Objects,” which observed that the camera’s view of reality is “narrower but more dramatic than the one perceived by natural vision.” Examples of Edward Weston’s silver prints of peppers and nudes hang next to an excerpt questioning whether the vegetables are, in fact, more voluptuous than the naked women. This combination of Sontag’s words with 150 years of images by numerous photographers makes for an insightful memento, a book of revelation upon the wall. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave, 212-535-7710. Through Sept 4.
The Art of S. Clay Wilson
Gnarly pirates brawl with leather-clad bikers; weeping (and salivating) nuns bend over to receive monstrous strap-ons; leprous zombies hit on beatnik chicks: They’re all denizens of this legendary underground cartoonist’s strips—including Can Capers, wherein saucy cannery girls slaughter and castrate men for “Cream of Crank Soup.” This new coffee-table book features myriad human orifices being plundered and defiled in scenes that would be disgusting on video, yet become morbidly hilarious in Wilson’s big-foot cartoon style (which achieves a Pollock-like intensity through his densely entwined crosshatching). As Wilson once noted in an interview, “Just because you depict evil, doesn’t mean you are evil. . . . People show up in leathers and shit, looking like my characters, I won’t let them in my house.” tenspeed.com