In this age of 500-channel cable television, radical art—the hair-raising, mystifying kind—seems to have largely fallen victim to the tenets of 24-hour entertainment. So leave it to old-school experimenter Hans Breder—founder in 1968 of the University of Iowa’s Intermedia program, a laboratory for cross-breeding the liberal arts—to install a trippy dreamscape of a show.
One of two central videos here, the 28-minute Tlacolula (1974) creates what Breder calls aesthetic ethnography. In shadowy slow-motion, the camera surveys the eponymous Mexican village to capture a fog-shrouded hillside, strolling villagers, and several less distinct sequences—sometimes obscured by a super-imposed scrim or flowing curtain—that suggest mysterious rituals. Breder further overlays foreboding with a nightmarish score, a cacophonous mix of atonal chimes and electronic drones reminiscent of György Ligeti.
On the other side of the screen, Breder projects his interpretation of Kurt Schwitters’s 1932 Dadaist sound poem “Ursonate”—a filmed dot-matrix printer writes out English translations of the work’s German phonetics while early Macintosh voice synthesis reads the syllables of quasi-baby-talk. Schwitters’s own recording is far more interesting, but Breder’s version benefits from its proximity to Tlacolula‘s strident sonic clashes, which gives the poem—an exploration of language’s roots—a primeval vibe.
Elsewhere, shown on the ceiling, Ikarus reveals another mystical apparition—a nude silhouetted woman rising and descending in super slo-mo against a cloudy sky, a video that updates Breder’s earlier impression of abbreviated joie de vivre in boxed-in (a woman leaping and falling). The show also includes early and recent photographs of body art, but the thrills here lie with the heady media mash-ups, overwhelming ear and eye.
Label him a regional artist if you want, but Anton Lamazares paints his native Galicia—the lush, mountainous area of Northwest Spain—like a man who adores the world. Combining the simple forms and materials of Art Brut with beautifully nuanced palettes, Lamazares makes rustic, semi-abstract images of nature, spiritualism, and sex. In a series titled Bes de Santa Baia, for example, he has laid down gorgeous shades of green on thin sheets of corrugated cardboard, which he’s nailed to frames of wood planks. Patchworks of coarsely outlined squares suggest aerial views of fields while evanescing streaks create the flow of rivers; the rippled surfaces, perforated throughout, resemble the texture of soil or water. In another sequence, Sueño e Colorado, devilish but enigmatic acts, rendered in childlike drawings, emerge as vague memories from backgrounds of deep, ominous red.
More explicit, the Follente Bemil series is sometimes like bathroom graffiti, colored in the muted shades of dirt: breasts spurt milk, giant phalluses stretch across the cardboard. Free of angst, shining with varnish, Lamazares’s paintings celebrate life with a vivid and roughhewn verve. Queen Sofia Spanish Institute, 684 Park Ave, 212-628-0420. Through January 16
Gently quirky, this group show of 12 artists plays as a series of teasers for multilayered projects or intriguing oeuvres. Composer Emanuel Pimenta presents two examples of his complex virtual scores—three-dimensional structures, mathematically formed from real or fictional data, that visually describe his eerie mixes of synthesized and acoustic sounds. Psychedelic collages, blooming with shapes and colors, are excerpted from the illustrated novel-in-progress of 20th-century history by the Voice‘s R.C. Baker, while another sequence of collages, joyously Fluxus-like (clippings, photographs, sketches), comes from an ongoing collaboration between Laura Bell and poet Ian Ganassi in a form of Exquisite Corpse, the art game of exchange and addition. Jackie Matisse, renowned for her kites, does something similar with melancholy boxes of objets trouvé.
In sculpture, Marcia Grostein conjures the erotics of furniture with her delicate chairs, whose tree-like legs and frames are charmingly entangled. And Pilyun Ahn has fashioned a new kind of eye candy: minimalist reliefs of pyramidal shapes modeled on topography and molded (surprise) in specially preserved and aromatic chocolate. But the most unlikely piece here might be Good Morning, Mr. Orwell 1983, a rare pairing of Joseph Beuys and John Cage, each with a sketch of chaotic lines merging toward a sense of order. Zone: Contemporary Art, 41 W 57th St, 212-255-2177. Through February 20