What to See in September 

As I write this, sounds of construction pervade Chelsea, an otherwise vacated district preparing for the madness brought on by September’s annual rush of gallery openings. There’s the usual sense of excitement and anticipation — nobody knows the winners from the stinkers yet, but now’s the time to start making a few educated guesses. And so, this week’s column includes a few of my best bets. 

Artist and self-professed jack-of-all-trades Robert Longo curates Monsters, an exhibition at Rental Gallery on the Lower East Side. The theme — ‘My employees over the years have been talented too, let’s give them a show’ — is not unknown in the art world, though a show like this, with lesser known artists, is typically launched in the slower seasons. Additionally, these kinds of exhibitions often include the staff of generous gallery owners and auction houses, which tends to signify a certain level of education rather than quality of work. Who knows how good Robert Longo’s employees’ art will be, but given his reputation for compelling realist drawings made with a team of assistants, it will at least be proficient. 

Also on the Lower East Side, On Stellar Rays’ inaugural exhibition, A Seer Out of Season, opens September 14th and looks very promising. Curated by Tairone Bastien and Candice Madey, both key former employees of ex-diamond importer turned Chelsea dealer Moti Hasson, the show brings together emerging artists who appropriate imagery and symbols with spiritual undertones. I’ve noticed a fair amount of interest in the subject of mystic truths lately, particularly in association with recycled imagery, so it will be interesting to see how the work of participating artists Danny Jauregui, Dave McDermott, Elizabeth Neel, Alessandro Pessoli and Tia Pulitzer hangs together. 

In Chelsea, The Kitchen is featuring a four-channel commissioned video by Alix Pearlstein. Known for her work employing discrete groups of performance artists, cinematic lighting and theatrical scenarios, After the Fall captures multiple, simultaneously projected perspectives on a confrontation between two sets of actors. The layered non-linear narrative structure may fall into the category of “ultimate art world cliché,” but her work has an emotive quality that usually transcends these criticisms.

Finally, those who don’t get out to Brooklyn much should really use Light Industry’s screening of : a play in two acts, a project iWaiting For Godot in New Orleansn three parts, September 23, as an excuse to do so. Presented by Paul Chan, his New Orleans staging of the Samuel Beckett play has not been seen outside of that city due to both legal issues and the desire to keep the play in its original context and form. This is a chance to see rare footage of a play that was part of a larger project designed to provide financial assistance to the people of New Orleans and isn’t to be missed.

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