Need an antidote to the anodyne mawkishness of Valentine’s Day? These thought-provoking exhibitions, picked by What Should We Do?!’s art experts, should do the trick. Explore time and neurology at the Rubin, get a political-statement tattoo at Recess, and encounter the human toll of the Flint, Michigan, water crisis up close. Because February is for (art) lovers.
The Brooklyn-based installation artist has performed at a number of NYC’s most prestigious venues, including MoMA PS1, Pioneer Works, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
“Brainwave: The Future Is Fluid,” through April
Things get trippy this month at the Rubin Museum, where neuroscientist and New York Times bestselling author David Eagleman curates films, discussion series, and immersive experiences that explore the influence of time on our own neurology, day-to-day existence, and—most important—comprehension of the future.
Invisible Man Tattoo, through March 3
Even if you’re ink-free, Doreen Garner’s performance piece at Recess is absolutely compulsory. The gallery space will transform into a pop-up tattoo shop, offering original designs to patrons relating to the historical and cultural experiences of black people and the African diaspora. Specifically, Garner aims to draw attention to an underrepresented portion of black history: the medical industry’s horrific abuse of black bodies from the 1800s to the all-too-recent past, when medical professionals used black people as test subjects for surgeries and other experimental treatments, often without pain relievers or anesthesia. Don’t worry, though; while I think the show is mandatory, the body art is not.
As the founder and editorial director of Art F City, a highly regarded art criticism and commentary site, this longtime art writer and curator knows what she’s talking about. She has written for New York magazine, The New York Times, The Economist, and more.
“LaToya Ruby Frazier,” through February 25
Three series of photographs document the Flint, Michigan, water crisis; the long struggles of Frazier’s hometown, Braddock, Pennsylvania, as a de-industrialized steel town; and Frazier’s own journey to Noah Purifoy’s outdoor museum in California’s Joshua Tree. Each deals with racism, social justice, and the American experience. Not easy viewing, but deeply thoughtful work.
“Chris Dorland: Civilian,” through February 11
This show is being described as “a futuristic and cagelike installation that enhances the gallery’s architectural features.” That means nine semiabstract painted panels and five video screen works presenting a computerized and dystopic vision of our near future. For those familiar with Black Mirror, the themes of technology and consumerism that Dorland explores will be eerily similar. This isn’t a feel-good show, but there should be no end to the visual spectacle. Worth a look for sure.
The contemporary art adviser and collector is the founder and publisher of the online art blog Arte Fuse.
“Katherine Bernhardt: Green,” through February 11
Juxtapositions of joy and distress characterize Bernhardt’s fifth solo show at art gallery Canada. The color green holds a particular symbolic importance throughout her body of work as a symbol of our rampant materialism, as well as the bleak future of our environment. Although alluding to heavy subject matter, the bright, overwhelmingly large paintings lend an air of joviality to the viewing experience. Garfield, huge avocados, Nike swooshes, and the Pink Panther appear on various canvases. This Brooklyn-based artist’s approach to contemporary problems is a must-see this month.