It’s summertime, you need air conditioning and you’ve watched all the 3D movies you can. What next? As I see it you’ve got two choices: the grocery store or the museum. I can’t help readers much on the food front, but I’m happy to offer an evaluation of museum shows in the city based purely on how much time they’ll allow you to spend in air-conditioned galleries.
Ryan Trecartin, Any Ever, at MoMA PS1: This show has huge potential since it features several hours’ worth of video footage, often with rather plush seating arrangements. But it still falls short; anyone ever tried to watch seven Trecartin videos straight? It’s not possible.
Estimated viewing time: 90 minutes. Return viewing recommended.
Francis Alÿs, A Story of Deception, at PS1: This show is full of videos shot in hot weather, but only one offers conceptual respite from the heat. "Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing" (1997) documents Alÿs kicking a giant block of ice around the hot streets of Mexico City until it melts into nothing. Other than that, viewers can watch thousands of workers shoveling sand in an effort to move a sand dune an inch and Alÿs trying to jump into a tornado. I suppose that’s cooling too, but only very briefly.
Estimated viewing time: 75 minutes.
Maya Zach, Living Room, at the Jewish Museum: Black and white photographic prints capture a Jewish family’s apartment in 3D. That’s right, some museum art now must be viewed with 3D glasses. Add to this an accompanying audio narrative provided by a man named Nomburg, a German-born Jew in Israel who fled from Berlin in 1938, and you’ve got at least 25 minutes worth of air-conditioning.
Estimated viewing time: 30 minutes.
Charles Atlas, Joints Array, and Ostalgia at the New Museum: A leading practitioner of "Mediadance," a term the artist coined himself to mean dance specifically conceived for film and video, Atlas breathes new life into footage of the late dancer Merce Cunningham. Following the choreographer’s death in 2009, Atlas assembled shots of his wrist, elbow and ankle set to a soundtrack of city sounds by Cunningham’s partner, John Cage. As (bad) luck would have it, this work is stuck behind the icky glass partition in the New Museum lobby, so it’s almost impossible to view it comfortably. Better to spend a bit of time experiencing the air-conditioning in the New Museum’s five-floor Eastern European survey, Ostalgia.
Estimated viewing times: 5 minutes (for Charles Atlas), 90 minutes (for Ostalgia).
(Images courtesy Francis Alÿs, David Zwirner Gallery, MoMA)