This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

MARY CORSE: A SURVEY IN LIGHT

Mary Corse, “Untitled (Space + Electric Light),” Argon light, plexiglass, and high-frequency generator, 1968 ( Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; museum purchase with funds from the Annenberg Foundation. Photograph by Philipp Scholz Rittermann)

Mary Corse, “Untitled (Space + Electric Light),” argon light, plexiglass, and high-frequency generator, 1968 ( Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; museum purchase with funds from the Annenberg Foundation. Photograph by Philipp Scholz Rittermann)

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St.
Through November 25, $18-$25
212-570-3600
whitney.org

“Your perception creates the painting,” Mary Corse says in a video about her first museum survey, “Mary Corse: A Survey in Light,” continuing at the Whitney through November 25. Since the mid-1960s, the California native has been addressing unique aspects of light, time, and space in her paintings and sculptures, the vast majority of which are shades of white. Many of the works change as you approach them, appearing different when seen from different angles and distances, forming an ever-changing relationship between viewer, surface, and light. “Corse’s White Light paintings are not works that depict movement but rather works that embody, and require, movement. To truly see Corse’s art we must move: there is no ideal vantage point,” Whitney director Adam D. Weinberg writes in the foreword to the catalog. “As much as we might try, we cannot ever find the perfect viewing position; experiencing a Corse painting is in and of itself a process.” The exhibition consists of two dozen works ranging from shaped monochrome paintings, screenprints, and acrylic on wood and plexiglass to her White Light, Black Light, and Black Earth series, documenting her changing use of materials as she began incorporating glass microspheres (the material used to reflect light in road markings), hidden Tesla coils to transmit electricity, and argon gas into her work. “I try to bring reality into the painting,” she says in the video. “I try to bring the reality of our moment here on this ball of mud; it’s not that the painting relates to nature but it is nature.”

Installation view of “Mary Corse: A Survey in Light,” Whitney Museum of American Art (© Mary Corse. Photograph by Ron Amstutz)

Installation view of “Mary Corse: A Survey in Light,” Whitney Museum of American Art (© Mary Corse. Photograph by Ron Amstutz)

The work demands, and rewards, viewer engagement in a way that is distinct from that of other artists from the Light and Space movement, which includes James Turrell, Robert Irwin, Larry Bell, and Doug Wheeler. Divided into “Beginnings,” “Painting with Light,” “Black Earth, Black Light,” and “New Forms in White Light,” the Whitney show traces Corse’s career and experimental process primarily chronologically as she followed her own path. In 1970, the Berkeley-born artist moved away from Los Angeles to live and work in remote Topanga Canyon, building her own kiln and enjoying a more private life. “Untitled (Two Triangular Columns),” a pair of eight-plus-feet-high white columns with a space between them, echoes such paintings as “Untitled (Hexagonal White)” and “Untitled (White Diamond, Negative Stripe),” which feature a strip running down their centers. An entrancing glowing light emanates from “Untitled (White Light Series)” and “Untitled (Space + Electric Light).” Shapes and colors shift as you make your way around “Untitled (White Grid, Vertical Strokes)” and “Untitled (Horizontal Strokes).” Such 1970s pieces as “Untitled (Black Light Painting)” and “Untitled (Black Earth Series)” offer a stark counterpoint to the white light works. The more recent Inner Band paintings are like optical illusions in subtle motion. Exhibition curator Kim Conaty writes in the catalog, “For Corse, the subjectivity of perception — the acknowledgment that everyone experiences visual phenomena differently — has been a consistent driving force in her artistic practice for more than fifty years.” This survey ably represents Corse’s career, a long overdue exhibition that is, dare we say, illuminating. (In addition, Dia:Beacon has a new gallery of Corse’s work on view through 2021.)

A CHILLING MAKE BELIEVE: ALEXIS ROCKMAN ON GRANT WOOD

Grant Wood (1891–1942), Spring Turning, 1936. Oil on composition board, 18 1⁄4 x 40 1⁄8 in. (46.4 x 101.9 cm). Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; gift of Barbara B. Millhouse 1991.2.2. © Figge Art Museum, successors to the Estate of Nan Wood Graham/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Image courtesy Reynolda House Museum of American Art, affiliated with Wake Forest University

Grant Wood, Spring Turning, oil on composition board, 1936 (image courtesy Reynolda House Museum of American Art, affiliated with Wake Forest University)

Who: Alexis Rockman
What: Artists on artists talk
Where: Whitney Museum of American Art, Floor 3, Susan and John Hess Family Gallery and Theater, 99 Gansevoort St., 212-570-3600
When: Friday, April 6, $10, 6:30
Why: New York City native Alexis Rockman, who creates fantastical outdoor worlds in his paintings, will be at the Whitney on April 6 at 6:30 to discuss the landscapes of Grant Wood in conjunction with the exhibition “Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables,” which continues at the museum through June 10. The show reveals Wood to be more than just a portraitist who is most famous for “American Gothic”; among his landscapes at the Whitney are Young Corn, Stone City, The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover, and Spring in the Country. Rockman’s “The Great Lakes Cycle” is now on view at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Tickets for the talk, “A Chilling Make Believe: Alexis Rockman on Grant Wood,” are $10; if you can’t get to the Whitney or the event is sold out, it will be livestreamed on YouTube.

ZOE LEONARD IN CONVERSATION WITH REBECCA SOLNIT

Zoe Leonard (b. 1961), detail of You see I am here after all, 2008. 3,851 vintage postcards, 11 × 10 1/2 × 147 ft. (3.35 × 3.2 × 44.8 m) overall. Installation view, Dia: Beacon, Beacon, New York, 2008. Collection of the artist; courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne. Photograph by Bill Jacobson, New York

Zoe Leonard, detail, You see I am here after all, 3,851 vintage postcards, 2008 (installation view, Dia: Beacon, Beacon, New York, 2008. Collection of the artist; courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne. Photograph by Bill Jacobson, New York)

Who: Zoe Leonard, Rebecca Solnit
What: Zoe Leonard in Conversation with Rebecca Solnit
Where: Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort St., 212-570-3600
When: Friday, March 16, 6:30
Why: In conjunction with the large-scale retrospective “Zoe Leonard: Survey,” which opened March 2 and continues at the Whitney through June 10, New York native Zoe Leonard will sit down with writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit to talk about art, feminism, politics, photography, and landscapes. Don’t worry if the event is already sold out; the Whitney will be live-streaming it on Facebook.

mecca vazie andrews and the MOVEMENT movement: [title]

(photo courtesy of mecca vazie andrews)

mecca vazie andrews and the MOVEMENT movement will present new immersive work in dialogue with Laura Owens exhibition at the Whitney (photo courtesy of mecca vazie andrews)

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St.
Saturday, February 3, $10, 4:00
Exhibition continues through February 4
212-570-3600
whitney.org
meccavazieandrews.tumblr.com

In conjunction with the exhibition Laura Owens, a midcareer survey of the work of the LA-based artist, the Whitney is hosting the immersive multimedia performance [title], by LA dancer, choreographer, and teacher mecca vazie andrews and her company, the MOVEMENT movement. The fifty-minute presentation will feature movement, sound, and projection as andrews responds to Owens’s radical style of painting, exploring freedom, enlightenment, and the future. The performance takes place on February 3 at 4:00, the day before the exhibition closes; tickets are ten dollars in addition to museum admission. Also currently on view at the Whitney are “Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined,” “An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940-2017,” “Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900-1960,” and “Experiments in Electrostatics: Photocopy Art from the Whitney’s Collection, 1966-1986.”

HÉLIO OITICICA: TO ORGANIZE DELIRIUM

Whitney retrospective offers a journey into Hélio Oiticica’s colorful “Éden” (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Whitney retrospective offers a journey into Hélio Oiticica’s colorful “Éden” (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St.
Through October 1, $18-$25
212-570-3600
whitney.org

In 1971, Brazilian artist and activist Hélio Oiticica proposed “Subterranean Tropicália Projects,” a participatory public artwork for Central Park. While it never was realized, the extensive Whitney retrospective “Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium” is a kind of indoor interactive park, offering visitors entry into a communal, collaborative space in New York City. The exhibition, which continues through October 1, comprises painting, sculpture, film, writings, installation, and paraphernalia documenting Oiticica’s too-brief career, which included a seven-year period in the Lower East Side in Manhattan that initially fueled his artistic desires but ultimately left him frustrated and disappointed. “I feel as if I’m in prison in this infernal island,” he wrote to Lygia Clark regarding immigration problems related to his homosexuality. A Neo-Concretist who was also a member of Grupo Frente, he died in Brazil in 1980 from a massive stroke at the age of forty-two. However, “To Organize Delirium” is filled with life, and the more you put into the show, the more you can understand Oiticica’s methods — while having a great time. You can take your shoes off and walk barefoot through water, sand, and gravel in “PN27 Penetrable, Rijanviera” and greet parrots, watch an infomercial, and read poems by Roberta Camila Salgado in “Tropicália,” Oiticica’s groundbreaking 1967 installation that gave its name to the Brazilian musical, artistic, and sociopolitical movement that emerged from South America in the 1960s. You can wave a flag, take a rest on an enclosed mattress, and walk through sand, dry leaves, water, foam flakes, crushed bricks, and straw in “Éden,” while in another room you can put on any of numerous politically tinged Parangolé capes and dance with dissidents in a digital slideshow.

Hélio Oiticica. Installation view. CC5 Hendrix-War,1973.Thirty-three 35mm color slides transferred to digital slideshow, sound, and hammocks. Site Specific Collections of César and Claudio Oiticica and Neville D’Almeida. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, N.Y. Photograph by Oto Gillen

Hélio Oiticica, installation view, “CC5 Hendrix-War,” thirty-three 35mm color slides transferred to digital slideshow, sound, and hammocks, 1973 (Site Specific Collections of César and Claudio Oiticica and Neville D’Almeida. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, N.Y. Photograph by Oto Gillen)

You can play a game of pool as part of “Appropriation — Snooker Room, after Van Gogh’s ‘Night Café.’” For “Block Experiments in Cosmococa, Program in Progress: CC1 Trashiscapes,” you are encouraged to sit on a mattress or pillow in a large room and file your nails while watching slides and listening to music, combining creativity and leisure, what Oiticica called “creleisure,” which references the artist’s use of cocaine. You can gently swing in a hammock and groove to Jimi as part of “CC5 Hendrix — War,” a collaboration with Neville D’Almeida. Unfortunately, you no longer can interact with such architectural works as “NC1 Small Nucleus 1” and “PN1 Penetrable” because they are too fragile, but you can marvel at how they evoke the geometric patterns Oiticica used in his painting series “Metaesquema” and his plywood “Spatial Reliefs.” There are also unedited films of the Gay Pride Parade, the Fillmore East, the South Bronx, drag performer Mario Montez, and artist Lee Jaffe playing on small monitors. It’s a revelatory show about an important, utterly original twentieth-century artist who immersed his oeuvre in social and political concerns while inviting everyone into a playful world where art is everywhere. To get in the mood for the exhibition, the Whitney has a Tropicália playlist, with music by João Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Os Mutantes, the Velvet Underground, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, and others that you can listen to here.

PERFORMANCES AND ACTIVATIONS FOR “CALDER: HYPERMOBILITY”

Christian Marclay will perform Alexander Calder’s “Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere” July 19-23 at the Whitney (photograph © Jerry L. Thompson. Calder Foundation, New York; Mary Calder Rower Bequest, 2011. © 2017 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

Christian Marclay will perform Alexander Calder’s “Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere” July 19-23 at the Whitney (photograph © Jerry L. Thompson. Calder Foundation, New York; Mary Calder Rower Bequest, 2011. © 2017 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St.
Wednesday - Monday through October 23, $17-$22
212-570-3600
whitney.org

Alexander Calder, kineticism, and the Whitney have been inextricably linked since the institution acquired in May 1982 the Pennsylvania-born artist’s delightful “Calder’s Circus,” which, when on view, is always accompanied by a video showing the work in action. In addition, on rare occasions, it is activated live. The Whitney will be activating many of Calder’s other works in the new exhibition “Calder: Hypermobility,” set in motion at specific times to a specially commissioned sound walk by Jim O’Rourke. Activations, by motor or air, will take place multiple times each day (Monday to Thursday at 12 noon, 2:00, and 4:00; Friday at 12 noon, 2:00, 4:00, 7:30, 8:00, and 9:00; and Saturday and Sunday on the hour from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm). In addition, the Calder Foundation will activate the rarely exhibited “Object with Red Ball” on June 21 at 2:00, “Boomerangs” on June 28 at 2:00, “Tightrope” on July 9 at 4:00, “Goldfish Bowl” on July 12 at 2:00, and two untitled pieces on July 18 and 26 at 2:00, with more to come in August, September, and October. Below is a list of special performances by other artists during the run of the show, some of which require advance tickets.

Wednesday, July 19
through
Sunday, July 23

Christian Marclay performs Calder’s “Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere” (Calder’s first suspended mobile), with cellist Okkyung Lee, Susan and John Hess Family Theater

Saturday, August 5
and
Sunday, August 6

Jack Quartet, music by Earle Brown, John Cage, Morton Feldman, and others, Hurst Family Galleries

Thursday, September 7
through
Sunday, September 10

Arto Lindsay, noisemakers and rattles, in conjunction with the exhibition “Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium,” Susan and John Hess Family Theater

Thursday, September 28
Jill Magid, Susan and John Hess Family Theater

Friday, September 29
through
Sunday, October 1

Math Bass and Lauren Davis Fisher perform “Quiet Work in Session,” Susan and John Hess Family Theater

Thursday, October 5
and
Friday, October 6

C. Spencer Yeh, Susan and John Hess Family Theater

Saturday, October 7
A screening of films commissioned by the Calder Foundation by artists Ephraim Asili, Rosa Barba, Lucy Raven, Agnès Varda, and others, followed by a conversation moderated by Victoria Brooks, Susan and John Hess Family Theater

Friday, October 13
through
Sunday, October 15

Empire State Works in Progress, with artist Abigail DeVille and director Charlotte Brathwaite, Susan and John Hess Family Theater

Friday, October 20
through
Sunday, October 22

Nora Schultz, Susan and John Hess Family Theater

LAURA POITRAS: ASTRO NOISE

(photo by Ronald Amstutz)

Laura Poitras examines the War on Terror from various intriguing angles in immersive Whitney exhibition (photo by Ronald Amstutz)

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St.
Through May 1, $18-$22
212-570-3600
whitney.org

Award-winning documentarian, journalist, and former chef Laura Poitras has opened a lot of eyes around the world with such films as Citizenfour, The Oath, and My Country, My Country and her investigative reporting for such outlets as the Guardian, the Washington Post, and the website she started with Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Cahill, the Intercept. The New School graduate is now sharing highly sensitive information about surveillance, drones, Guantánamo Bay Prison, the NSA, and more in a fascinating new way in “Astro Noise,” a five-room immersive installation on view at the Whitney. Poitras, whose Oscar-winning Citizenfour featured whistleblower Edward Snowden, invites viewers into a frightening world that is all too real. In the catalog, Astro Noise: A Survival Guide for Living under Total Surveillance, curator Jay Sanders notes that the title “echoes with associations. Discovered accidentally by astronomers in 1964 and initially thought to be a technical error, astro noise refers to the faint background disturbance of thermal radiation left over after the big bang. . . . More pointedly, Astro Noise is the name Edward Snowden gave to an encrypted file containing evidence of NSA mass surveillance that he shared with Poitras in 2012.” The exhibition begins with selections from her “Anarchist” series, consisting of full-color, large-scale prints of images Poitras created based on documents Snowden gave her of descrambled signals from the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters, including “Israeli Drone Feed (Intercepted February 24, 2009)” and “Power Spectrum Display of Doppler Tracks from a Satellite (Intercepted May 27, 2009).” In the middle of the second room is a thick two-sided screen on which two different films are projected on opposite sides; for O’Say Can You See, Poitras filmed people coming to Ground Zero and looking at the destruction wrought by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, while on the other side is U.S. military footage of 9/11-related interrogations of Said Boujaaida and Salim Hamdan, who both ended up at Guantánamo. In the third room, “Bed Down Location” visitors can lie down on a carpeted raised platform and gaze up at a screen on the ceiling that shows night skies in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, where drone attacks have taken place, as well as the sky at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, where drones are tested and flown.

Laura Poitras (b. 1964), ANARCHIST: Israeli Drone Feed (Intercepted February 24, 2009), 2016. Pigmented inkjet print mounted on aluminum, 45 × 64 3/4 in. (114.3 × 164.5 cm). Courtesy the artist

Laura Poitras, “ANARCHIST: Israeli Drone Feed (Intercepted February 24, 2009), pigmented inkjet print mounted on aluminum, 2016 (courtesy of the artist)

For “Disposition Matrix,” Poitras situates narrow, rectangular viewing peepholes at different heights in six walls; inside are official documents, video interviews, cell-phone footage, screenshots from intercepted drone feeds, and diagrams that deal with various aspects of the War on Terror, including Abu Ghraib prison, definitions of such phrases as “clandestine collection” and “covert action,” and home video of a town in Yemen on two successive days in August 2012, one depicting a wedding, the second the aftermath of a U.S. drone strike. Because of the way the peepholes are arranged, it is difficult to get the full picture of what is inside each slot, evoking how hard it is to get the full story from the government. In the fifth room, Poitras, who participated in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, makes herself the subject, something she specifically avoids in her documentaries, detailing how the U.S. government put her on a secret watchlist, continues to track her, keeps detaining and interrogating her at airports, and considers legal action to arrest her under the Espionage Act. (Meanwhile, she has sued the government.) Poitras adds a little surprise at the end, revealing how any one of us could be next. In a catalog interview with Sanders, Poitras states, “I very much like the idea of creating a space that challenges the viewer as to whether to venture in or not. . . . We live life not knowing what will happen next. What do people do when they’re confronted with choices and risks?” Poitras’s debut art installation does just that, confronting visitors with ideas and information that, unfortunately, might no longer be shocking but still come with alarming choices and risks.