Lindman has fabricated metal contraptions that stretch and squash her face into various contortions, recalling A Clockwork Orange’s Alex clamped in his re-education chair with eyelids pinned open by thin reeds of steel. The videos of her endurance tests (she remained in each pose for an hour) were cut into short chunks, which she then made partially transparent and layered on top of one another, compressing each ordeal into a one-minute clip. Flared ears pinned down by magnetic bolts and lips pulled open, exposing teeth that recede like a skull’s, remain in focus, while the rest of her face and shoulders waver in fleshy, blinking blurs; the segments flow by like the records of strange, coercive lab experiments. Adults warn kids not to make ugly faces or they might freeze that way; Lindman viscerally connects human expression—that alchemy of thought, emotion, and desire—to the pieces of meat that give it form.
‘More Than Coffee Was Served’
The European kaffeehaus was the fave hangout for modernity’s early bohos, here captured by Kathe Kollwitz’s earnest etching Conspiracy (1895), with its dark figures hunched and whispering over their small cups. Georg Grosz’s fleshy whores, cigar-chomping capitalists, and cadaverous derelicts are among these drawings, prints, and posters by more than two dozen artists. Egon Schiele’s ravishing black, white, and orange crayon sketch depicts his circle of friends; an utterly charming 1922 watercolor by Grethe Jürgens of a cabaret singer is enhanced by triangles of light. Galerie St. Etienne, 24 W 57th, 212-245-6734. Through Nov 25.
Two of the three large bird sculptures in this ersatz aviary feel as earthbound as the Maltese falcon. The third, Dawn Chorus, is a wing-splayed bird drenched in multicolored drips sitting on a branch; its perch rests on a platform placed atop loaded spray-paint cans. When the piece was originally placed, its heft caused the cans to expel soft fans of blue, red, pink, and yellow across the dark floor. These sunrise hues, and the silver pillars formed by the spent cans, convey a delicate (if somewhat garish) equipoise, that moment when flight surrenders to gravity. Anton Kern, 532 W 20th, 212-367-9663. Through Oct 14.
Amelia Biewald: ‘Wicked Sisters’
Enter through a lush black archway; on the floor lie rabbits feet tied with black bows, and a collapsed electric candelabra, faux flames flickering. Baroquely framed painted ovals of stuffed velvet adorn the walls like props from one of Hammer Studios’ softcore horror flicks. Biewald uses bleach to paint these pillowy forms; her thin lines turn pink on the dark grounds, forming negative images of bats, owls, and twisted tree branches that clutch at naked vixens and cherubs. Elsewhere, toy ponies bristle with antique nails, nightmare versions of girlish fantasies. Magnan Projects, 317 Tenth Ave, 212-244-2344. Through Oct 14.
Ten buckled belts, suspended at waist height from three-bladed motors on the ceiling, rotate in lockstep to follow passersby, as if a phalanx of old-school authority figures with a penchant for corporal punishment can’t wait for you to make a wrong move. Furthering the Big Brother vibe is a monitor that turns your image (captured in real time by a tiny camera) into repeated frames that act as pixels. These are mixed with earlier subjects’ faces and bodies stored in the software’s memory; as you move, your image casts shadowy movements across the screen. Bitforms, 529 W 20th, 212-366-6939. Through Oct 21.
In a color shot, Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar yanks at the neck of his sweater, as if even clothes are too confining. Radiant but clearly in an existential funk, Isabelle Huppert clutches her head, cascades of hair flowing through her fingers. These 72 images (several were cover photos for this newspaper) zero in on the off-screen faces of some of the silver screen’s biggest mavericks. Film Society of Lincoln Center, 165 W 65th, filmlinc.com. Through Oct 22.
Like thrift store paintings, this book is morbidly fascinating. Washington’s neat, regimented marginalia are appropriate for the aristocratic, meticulous father of our country; LBJ was more manic—scrawled figures sprout three heads and multiple expressions. The buttoned-down Nixon barely doodled at all, but Ike, a dedicated if pedestrian Sunday painter, penciled numerous self-portraits, some of which restore his long-lost hair.
The huge gallery is mostly dark as long, mournful notes, as if from a hidden organ, float and overlap through the space. In time with these elegant harmonies, lights glow and fade. As your eyes adjust, tiny lamps and harmonicas become visible, attached to vacuum cleaners controlled by timers—the alternating suction propels the beautiful elegiac dirge. It’s like the cheesy candlelit, subterranean lake in Broadway’s Phantom, but this Frenchman’s music is much better. Paula Cooper, 534 W 21st, 212-255-1105. Through Oct 14.