Who knew that discarded Christmas trees would make a perfect home for a beaver? That at least is the claim of Joanna Malinowska’s darkly humorous installation “Still Life” currently on view at Canada gallery. A decapitated Lego-like figure lies splayed on the floor – apparently felled by the now dried out branches. The beaver is nowhere to be seen. The accompanying press release informs us of Malinowska’s fondness for Hugo Ball whose nonsensical poetry makes perfect sense in the context of the scene. Perhaps Malinkowska realizes that a healthy dose of Dadaism is urgently needed in our bizarre political climate. jolifanto bambla o falli bambla/großiga m’pfa habla horem/egiga goramen/higo bloiko russula huju/hollaka hollala/anlogo bung/blago bung blago bung etc. etc. Through March 12.

Elliot Hundley’s dense three-dimensional works are a complicated challenge for the eyes and mind. Hundley uses thousands of newspaper clips, photographs, drawings, pieces of fabric and found objects and molds them into elaborate collages that are often suspended by metal pins. A new series of works is loosely based on the interpretations of Antonin Artaud’s unfinished play “There is no More Firmament”. Lacking a clear plot and held up only by the flimsiest of narratives, Artaud’s Surrealist play thrives on carefully constructed turmoil. Hundley works on the same premise. His pins hold up tiny cut-outs or gather in clusters to obfuscate the image behind it leaving it up to the viewer to make sense of the unfolding chaos. At Andrea Rosen through March 11. (Note: This marks the last exhibition of a living artist at Andrea Rosen. The venerable dealer is closing shop and will henceforth concentrate on a handful of artists’ estates.)

British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare’s latest project is a timely commentary on the invaluable contributions that immigrants make to enrich other cultures. Thousands of beautifully bound books on dark library shelves feature the gold-embossed names of immigrants that made Great Britain into the enlightened multi-cultural society that it is today. They sit side-by-side with immigrant skeptics such as Nigel Farage or Jonathan Arnott who champion tighter restrictions on new comers and refugees. Their shared space questions attitudes of xenophobia and narrow-mindedness and asks where we would be without the brilliant minds and contributions of individuals such as T.S. Eliot, Henry James, Hans Holbein, Zaha Hadid, Mick Jagger, George Friedrich Handel, Amartya Sen and many more. At James Cohan through March 5.

Lehman Maupin gallery is currently presenting the deeply emotional video installation “Reason’s Oxymorons” (2015) by French-Algerian artist Kader Attia. Employing a sterile cubicle maze as incubator, “Reason’s Oxymorons”, shows 18 video interviews with African and European psychoanalysts, historians and mental health practitioners discussing the psychological fallout of Western hegemony on African cultures. Attia’s multi-faceted practice has long focused on the emotional and economic reverberations of Post-Colonialism. “Reason’s Oxymorons”, hones in on the dichotomy of mental health repair between Western and non-Western cultures. Whilst Western approaches to healing emotional distress is primarily focused on fixing the problem to make it disappear, many African and Asian societies are embracing the imperfections of the mind and allow the individual to be active members of communities. The result is a Western culture that is increasingly suppressing the imperfect in favour of an immaculate and antiseptic environment echoing the modular cubicles the work is presented in. Through March 4.

Kenyan-born Wangechi Mutu is the visual artist equivalent to the brilliant Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Drawing from their shared limbo-land experience of African-American vs American-African, both women investigate urgent questions of race, identity politics, and the objectification of the black female body. Mostly known for her large-scale, complex and colorful collages, Wangechi Mutu’s current exhibition at Gladstone Gallery offers two beautiful new cast bronze sculptures that use imagery and symbolism to challenge concept of representation and perception. A perfectly balanced and larger-scaled new work of the artist’s nguva (Mermaid) series, stuns with grace and elegant beauty. Through March 25.

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.

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