Important media works by American video pioneer Lynn Hershman Leeson are currently on view at Bridget Donahue. The exhibition shows key works from the 1970s until today which relate Leeson’s primary concerns with feminism, gender identity, and sexuality in an ever-tightening online straitjacket. Particularly disquieting is “Home Front”, a video installation in a pinterest-worthy doll house where the viewer becomes an oversized creepy voyeur to scenes of domestic strife. But it is Leeson’s often brutal self analysis in the single channel video confessional “The Complete Electronic Diaries” (1986-1994) that haunts long after you leave the gallery. It is a brutally honest, Nan Goldinesque, autobiography of love, loss and sexual dependency that shows the artist’s brilliant manipulation of viewer’s unease by directly confronting the camera and thereby transforming the spectator into the reluctant role of psychoanalyst. Through March 19.

How do you inhabit the world through a line on paper? Columbian artist Mateo López’s multi-disciplinary installation at the Drawing Center takes a stab at solving this vexing problem. Trained as an architect, López uses drawings, video, performance, and architecture to engage the human body in space. In conjunction with accompanying video work, and leaning heavily on Bauhaus conceptualist Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet, López engaged choreographer and dancer Lee Serle in a performance that takes over several architectural spaces and objects. The result is a piece of choreographed geometry that highlights the limitations and challenges of the human body in relation to its surroundings. Through March 19.

In “Fifteen Million Merits”, Episode 2 of the darkly satirical TV series “Black Mirror”, everyone in a bleak dystopian future must cycle daily on exercise bikes to accumulate a currency called Merits. Obese people are second class citizens who are relegated to cleaning around the machines or are made fun of in game shows. Soul Gym, the brilliant new show by artist duo Simon Evans and Sarah Lannan currently on view at James Cohan Gallery, takes on our increasing obsession with fitness, self-improvement and social media representation through brilliantly collaged text clutters and elaborate drawings. The artists are savvy readers of our current social reality and imply that the dystopian fiction in Black Mirror is closer than we think. Here is a detail of the elaborate patchwork “Black Magic Capitalism” where the viewer is pounded into visual exhaustion by an onslaught of exertions to Run, Run, Run to self-fulfilment and success! Through March 5.

Rezi van Lankveld’s new works at Petzel Gallery’s uptown outpost are unapologetically beautiful paintings of thick impasto and sweeping movement where hints of the real are only allowed to peek through in the form of shadows or highly abstracted forms. The Dutch artist’s sense of color is superb. Rich purples blend harmoniously with subtle greys and artichoke greens. One particularly fetching work takes the viewer on an exhilarating upward journey into cool blues: midnight into blue-green interspersed by hints of pink and beige. Another one is a brilliant study of the color grey. Van Lankfeld’s deliberately bucks the mega-size trend of other artists. Her intimately scaled works belie their immense emotive impact and sheer joy that they extract. Through February 25.

The recent wave of 80s nostalgia shows no signs of abating. In this context, Steven Kasher is showing 30 newly discovered Cibachrome photographs of one of the quintessential photographers of that decade: the late Jimmy DeSana. Ravaged by the physical and psychological afflictions of AIDS, DeSana, in the early 1980s, pushed out a heartbreaking body of work that communicates the often devastating isolation and despair that accompanied the decease. Particularly haunting is this self portrait from 1985 that uses the solitary confinement of the darkroom to create a blurry ambiguity which underscores the gradual loss of the body and the self. At Steven Kasher through February 18.

Deep in the Tehachapi Mountains in California, at an elevation of 3,970 feet, sits the small town Tehachapi (pop. 14,414). Wedged in between the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert, Tehachapi is the kind of town that conjures up romantic, Hollywood-fabricated notions of hardened ranchers, tumbleweed swept alleys and a native population that is tolerated in the context of a rustic Frontier narrative. It is also the subject of a brilliantly embroidered denim fabric artwork by California-based artist Ivan Morley. Morley is a masterful story teller and virtual collector of bits of American history which he bends and twists into fantastical tactile narrations that seek to dissect the historical context that shape myths from the American West. At Bortolami through February 18.

Seven years after her death, Louise Bourgeois still does not cease to amaze. The breadth and depth of the late artist’s diverse artistic practice ranges from installations, paintings, and printmaking to, of course, her celebrated sculptures. But very few people outside her extensive fan base know that in 1998 Bourgeois, in collaboration with C-Project, also created eight hauntingly beautiful Holograms. The small boxes transport viewers into 3D scenes suffused with the artist’s emblematic brooding and sexually charged psychology, underscored by a hazy bordello red that conjures an uneasy feeling of impeding dread. The technology was state-of-the-art at the time: Laser beams recorded the light bouncing off of the contents of a photograph and are then etched onto glass. The glass appears black until the viewer stands directly in front of the boxes resulting into an uncannily voyeuristic 3D view onto scenes where either something dreadful has just happened or is about to commence. At Cheim & Read through February 11.

Early brushmark paintings by David Reed from 1975 are currently on view at Gagosian Gallery. The show is curated by Christopher Wool and Katy Siegel and shows Reed’s significant influence on the younger Wool in terms of colour and paint handling. Working from left to right, Reed produced broad bands of disrupted movement on tall canvases that read like a time-line from his break with conventional art practices at that time. Reed’s lines set out confidently with thick impasto and move straight for a distant juncture but stall frequently on the journey to get there. They suggest a confident historical narrative interrupted by the Vietnam war and the subsequent oil crisis and a questioning of the infallibility of the American ambition. Through February 25.

Silke Otto-Knapp, the master of the monochrome grisaille-like painting, returns with a gallery-specific installation of works that explore repetitive movement. Taking cues from modern dance, and simultaneously playing on the repetitiveness in her painting practice, Otto-Knapp presents a series of large canvases that show overlaying scenes of animation: uniform figures at times suspended on austere backgrounds; at times floating in a moon-like landscape of indeterminate place or time. Stand in the middle of the gallery and let the paintings swirl around you – the effect is both disorienting and strangely phantasmagorical. At Mary Boone through February 25.

Everyday objects are getting a second act in Matt Johnson’s new exhibition at 303 gallery. This time Johnson’s focus falls on discarded construction objects such as crumpled cardboard boxes, masking tape, or foam cups which, freed from their original use, receive new a new life under an alternate consciousness. Often Johnson’s deadpan humour seeps through as in this elegant masking tape sculpture where the tape needs taping and propping up – its original humble function negated apropos an exalted art object. Through February 25.

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