Brent Green, Paulina Hollers: Moving Images
Through February 3
Self-taught filmmaker Brent Green creates beautiful nightmares. His first solo show in New York is charmingly lo-fi and deliciously creepy. The artist, who started making art only five years ago at the age of 23, takes inspiration from his rural upbringing on a farm in Pennsylvania; Carlin is an eerie seven-minute movie shot in his childhood home on a blindingly sunny day. In it, life-size carved wood sculptures — representing his dying aunt and a skeleton that haunts her — whirl around the deserted, rundown house to the sound of Green’s narration. The stop-animation Hadacol Christmas, a film (made with sharpie drawings on glass) of a gaunt Santa Claus addicted to cough syrup, is set to acoustic music by the folksy rock band Califone. Green’s work extends into three dimensions, too: Lodged in a spindly hand-carved grandfather clock in the main gallery is a small screen and a dollhouse-sized bedroom in which ghostly figures float up from a bed and out through a slit in the wall, escaping the passage of time like vaporous Peter Pans.
Jenny Perlin: The Perlin Paper Series
Through Feb 10
For two decades following the June 1953 executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the government spied on hundreds of people they believed to be connected to the case. Jenny Perlin uses now-public FBI documents from the Red Scare of the 50s in her films, Transcript and Inaudible. The first re-creates a dinner conversation between two couples that was covertly recorded by FBI agents. While the camera focuses on an empty hallway in a New York apartment building, we hear men and women conversing, though much of the talk is too muffled to make out. The film loop Inaudible is a succession of words that the agents couldn’t quite hear — and their guesses as to what might have been uttered — such as “torture (pressure),” “him (hide him),” and simply “(inaudible).” Perlin, whose distant relative, lawyer Marshall Perlin, forced the government to release the documents in the 70s, points out the multitudinous uncertainties of the investigations’ results while also highlighting the paranoia of the time, giving a tacit nod to today’s governmental surveillance of potentially “un-American” activity.