It’s Mom’s Day weekend, and what better way to show your love/inherited sense of humor than to shock her with some edgy modern art? There are lots of great options on the up-and-up, like Studio Museum Harlem’s massive exhibition on the American South, or Kara Walker’s equally massive Sugar Baby (more like a sugar sphinx). For a less traditional approach see one of the many performance art pieces, including a rare informal dance by Rashaun Mitchell. We’ve also got Japan Day and Astoria’s new flea market if you and ma would like to enjoy the nice weather.
Friday, May 9
[Party] A dazzling bill featuring an orgy of DIY punk is presented here in a singular evening showcasing the raddest of music and television. There’s de facto King of Public Access TV BJ Rubin, premiering his latest ‘n’ greatest brain-twisting, music/comedy freak show, starring noise luminaries Black Dice and Blues Control but highlighted by ascendant songstress Frankie Cosmos. Tonight, Rubin and the teenaged Frankie celebrate the CD release of the heavenly Zentropy, her lo-fi treasure of a record that marries Beat Happening’s playful strum with candy-sweet melodies and charming lyrics about dogs, art school, and love are sung in the most saccharine of voices. Rounding out the bill is rainbow-streaked pych-pop tunesmith Alice Cohen, yet another delicious Rubin staple. Wowza. –Brad Cohan. At 8, The Brooklyn Rod and Gun Club, free.
[Art] The Studio Museum in Harlem presents the work of 35 intergenerational American artists in the new exhibition, “When the Stars Begin to Fall: Imagination and the American South.” Pieces include paintings, drawings, sculptures, and assemblages by well-known artists such as Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems (who also has a show at the Guggenheim), and Ralph Lemon, as well as “self-taught, spiritually inspired, and incarcerated artists,” with most of the work dating from 1964 to the present day. The museum also welcomes “Glenn Kaino: 19.83,” a collaboration between Kaino and American athlete Tommie Smith, best known for giving a black power salute from the medal podium at the 1968 Olympic Games, and “Draped Down,” a group show that looks at both the implicit and explicit references to fashion in visual art. –Araceli Cruz. At noon today and Sunday, 10 a.m. on Saturday, Studio Museum Harlem, $7.
[Performance] Boru O’Brien O’Connell is one of those Vito Acconci-types who deals in stunts. After you witness his interactive slide show about the life of a stuffed platypus or hear his Thelonious Monk cover, you won’t be able to tell if you’re amused or pissed off. And therein, friends, lies the art. We have no idea what You Are Traffic, his collaboration with Luke Stettner, is going to look (or feel, or taste, or smell) like, but we think it’s going to be about the subtlety of movement, or maybe consciousness, or maybe Bridgegate. Go find out. At 9, The Kitchen, free.
[Dance] Rashaun Mitchell’s work is bold and bright, much like the hot pink lace jumpsuit he has been known to wear. The movement’s pace alternates between dreamy and frenzied, which makes for a sort of real-life time lapse video. The young up-and-coming choreographer has already staged work at Baryshnikov Arts Center and Danspace Project. Tonight he’ll perform as part of the Studio Series. It might be one of the last chances to see him in an informal setting before he hits it big. At 6, Friday and Saturday, New York Live Arts, $5.
[Art] It might be the best possible fate for Williamsburg’s much-squabbled-over Domino Sugar Factory. The industrial ruin hosts the first public project by the brilliant Kara Walker, commissioned by Creative Time. A Subtlety, or The Marvelous Sugar Baby pays homage to the laborers who worked the cane fields before any of the sweet stuff ever arrived at the Brooklyn refinery. And if Walker takes full advantage of the space, it’s gonna be huge. Stunning photos of the work have already been leaked by Creative Time (as seen on page 1). Open from noon to 6, Saturdays and Sundays through July 6, Domino Sugar Factory, Brooklyn, free.
[Performance] Anna-Sophie Berger is shaping up to be a darling of the art blogs. It’s probably because her performances combine two concepts that rarely ever occur together: simplicity and human relationships. In Tell Me What to Do, a reboot of her 2012 performance Modeanweisung, she directs Hanna Putz to act out various movements on stage, a bit that changes every time depending on the mood of the two women. See them explore a dom-sub dichotomy in the most straightforward, and public, way possible. At 7, JTT Gallery, free.
[Festival] This Mother’s Day, why not skip the usual flowers and instead give your mom an arrangement of gyoza? The fried dumplings, along with ramen, miso soup, and other treats are on offer at the eighth annual Japan Day, a Central Park-based celebration of the island nation. For Japanophiles, the festival hits all the right notes: A stage features performances that range from taiko drumming to a rendition of “Fortune Cookie in Love,” the hit song from J-Pop powerhouse AKB48. Activity booths run the gamut from culturally edifying to simply cute, with calligraphy workshops, Kabuki face-painting, origami lessons, and the chance to take a photo with Japanese idol Hello Kitty. Everything is free of charge, but get there early: Last year’s Japan Day had lines that rivaled the Cronut’s. –Alanna Schubach. At 9:30 a.m., Central Park, free.
[Talk] Loudmouth feminists are the best feminists. Contribute your vocals to the The Socially Sentient Event: The Feminist Edition (Sort of!). At this installment of the weekly screening and discussion, the gastro-theater will screen selections from Ways of Seeing, a 1972 BBC documentary about the female nude and the male and female gaze. Drop in for some good discussion. And nachos. At 5, Videology, Brooklyn, free.
[Film] If you appreciate the hilarious art of English-language voice-over, come on down for this weekly dose of audio that doesn’t quite synch. At Fist Crunch, a mystery kung fu matinee from the ’70s, ’80s, or ’90s will be extracted from a treasure trove of VHS and DVD cast-offs. The feature is a surprise, but the curators promise you can’t go wrong with this bunch. At 3, Spectacle Theater, $5.
[Shopping] If you’re a fan of LIC Flea & Food, the largest flea marked and smorgasbord in Queens, then check out its brand-new, 80-vendor offshoot at Kaufman Studios in Astoria this weekend. Fashion, jewelry, furniture, crafts, and every other kind of good you would otherwise take a shot in the dark with on Etsy will be there. It also provides a good opportunity to check out on of New York City’s historic film sites. From 10 to 6, Kaufman Studios, Queens, free.