The fifth edition of Performa, New York’s performance art biennial, is in full swing right now, which means there are ample opportunities just about every night to see art types engaged in some fairly unusual behavior. On Monday night, curator Matthew Higgs could be found at the West Village alternative space that he directs, White Columns, sporting a yellow safety vest emblazoned on its back with the visage of Karl Marx. He was helping to stage a fashion show by the artist Rainer Ganahl called “Comme des Marxistes.”
Kim Gordon, the longtime bassist for Sonic Youth, is a brilliant musician, a captivating performer, a clever critic and, judging by her current show at White Columns, a fairly uninteresting visual artist.
The walls of White Columns are studded with work by dozens of artists for its latest exhibition, “The Cat Show,” which is organized by Rhonda Lieberman, but at the opening last Thursday evening, stars like Andy Warhol and Matthew Barney played second fiddle to five homeless felines.
Visitors pressed their noses and smart phones against the chicken wire dividing them from the cats, who spent the opening exploring the amenities of their artsy enclosure, such as Rob Pruitt’s Zen Litter Tray (2013) and Jonathan Horowitz’s carpeted Cat Pedestal (2006). The crowd cooed every time one of the kittens did something cute, which was pretty often. By the end of the night, a dozen people had filled out adoption applications and by the end of the weekend, all five cats had found homes (as had two more that arrived on Saturday). While the gallery originally planned on only holding two adoption weekends, it will now host Social Tees Animal Rescue cats every weekend (except for that of July 4) during the show.
“If you really loved me you would be able to admit that you’re ashamed of me” is the American solo debut of the relationship between two male Norwegian artists, Sverre Bjertnes and Bjarne Melgaard, who share a studio in Bushwick. Their relationship is mediated by images of Mr. Bjertnes’s girlfriend, Hanna Maria, who appears in the series of realist oil paintings, all made this year, that constitute Mr. Bjertnes’s American solo gallery debut; Liv Ullmann, as incarnated by Hanna Maria re-enacting a single, painful scene from Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage, in Mr. Bjertnes’s six-and-a-half-minute video of the same title; and writer Alissa Bennett, who sits beside Mr. Melgaard in the brilliant interview video If You Really Loved Me You Would Be Able to Admit That You’re Ashamed of Me, answering the questions posed by Mr. Bjertnes to Mr. Melgaard as Mr. Melgaard silently listens.
2012 is over, but “Looking Back,” which opened on Thursday, presents a compelling case for a bit of nostalgia. The exhibition features work shown in New York during the past year. Selecting is curator Richard Birkett of Artists Space, whose recent work includes fall’s fashionable Bernadette Corporation retrospective.
“It’s really just like he jumped in at the deep end and became this painter,” said Matthew Higgs, the director of White Columns. He was talking about writer Wayne Koestenbaum, who is known for his books on Warhol and Jackie O. On Oct. 27, White Columns will present Mr. Koestenbaum’s first-ever solo show, with about 50 smallish paintings—some brightly colored self-portraits and a smattering of male nudes.
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The second show at the new Upper East Side gallery Venus Over Manhattan is filled with bulletin boards. (Disclosure: Venus Over Manhattan is owned by Observer contributor Adam Lindemann.) The West Village alternative space White Columns, which has been home to a bulletin-board exhibition space for a number of years, gave bulletin boards to more than 20 artists and art types and asked them to present something with it.
After its dark, moody debut exhibition “À Rebours,” which channeled the feel of a late-19th-century aristocrat’s private chambers, the Venus Over Manhattan gallery is going in a comparatively contemporary and light-hearted direction for its sophomore effort. This outing is titled “Bulletin Boards,” and it’s being organized by West Village alternative space White Columns. (Full disclosure: VoM is owned by Observer contributor Adam Lindemann.)
For the show, Matthew Higgs, the director and chief curator of White Columns, has asked more than 20 artists and art types, including Rita Ackermann, Darren Bader, Gavin Brown, Margaret Lee and Michele Abeles, Bjarne Melgaard, Virginia Overton, Daniel Turner and B. Wurtz, to present work using a bulletin board. The show opens July 19.
It may not be quick, but it’s certain: sometime after the Deluge, fish will learn to walk. At the entrance to the downtown alternative space White Columns, above a glass-covered bulletin board containing a Mary Cassatt reproduction, a handout about Fernand Léger, and Chloe Dzubilo’s 2007 marker-on-canvas announcement There Is a Transolution, hangs Maria Lassnig’s six-and-a-half-foot-tall 2009 painting Die Optimisten.