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Take a Walk on the (Not So) Wild Lower East Side

Even though the New Museum’s not reopening on the Bowery until next year, the area is already reconsolidating its reputation as an arts district. What’s worth seeing—or not?


1. Seth Price
Reena Spaulings, 165 E. Broadway; through October 7 (additional work at Friedrich Petzel and Electronic Arts Intermix)
What happens to video art in the YouTube era? Seth Price, whose sources have ranged from beheadings on jihadist Websites to the computer-generated background known in the industry as gak, is one of several artists beginning to wonder. In his short film at this gallery—its new location has an unmarked entrance behind a Chinese restaurant—vintage news clips and ads alternate with artist Joan Jonas’s video of Robert Smithson and Richard Serra talking about money with dealer Joe Helman. In repurposing footage of the sacrosanct Smithson, Price seems to say that the ideals of an earlier generation of artists may not hold up among viral marketers and MySpace auteurs.

An installation view of Scott Lyall's A Dancer Dances.  

2. Scott Lyall
Miguel Abreu, 36 Orchard St.; through October 22
Canadian artist Scott Lyall fills this storefront gallery with a stylish but scattershot mix of work ostensibly inspired by A Chorus Line. Lit by blinding high-efficiency bulbs, a sprawling pink platform divides the space; film gels, muffin wrappers, and rotting grapes litter the floor. The mad cast-party-gone-awry atmosphere makes more sense after you learn about Lyall’s last U.S. show, a Los Angeles collaboration with sculptor Rachel Harrison titled “When Hangover Becomes Form.”

A slide from Nicolás Guagnini's The Middle Class Goes to Heaven.  

3. Nicolás Guagnini/ Dan Graham
Orchard, 47 Orchard St.; through October 15
Two unusually witty examples of architecture-inspired conceptual art. Guagnini’s slideshow pairs fragmentary shots of housing projects and other Brutalist buildings with a deadening management-speak voice-over: “Mutual funds … couples therapy … health insurance.” And in the rear space, Graham’s video Death by Chocolate: West Edmonton Shopping Mall (1986–2005) more than lives up to its title.


An installation view of Børre Sæthre's I've Been Guilty of Hanging Around.   

4 Børre Sæthre
Participant Inc., 95 Rivington St.; through October 15
A life-size sculpture of a snarling polar bear greets visitors to this over-the-top installation by a Norwegian artist, which takes the form of a vaguely menacing diorama. Follow the persistent crashing noise back, past the row of taxidermied ravens, to the false window that opens onto a mesmerizing video loop of an exploding star or planet. It’s as if Kubrick had directed An Inconvenient Truth.

Dash Snow's Women of the Gestapo.  

5. Dash Snow
Rivington Arms, 4 E. 2nd St.; through October 15
Dash Snow’s second solo show at Rivington Arms probably won’t disappoint anyone in the artist’s ever-expanding coterie of downtown fans—but for the most part, this work lacks the freshness of his Polaroids, seen in the last Whitney Biennial Catalogue and on, which document the nocturnal exploits of Snow and his friends in the manner of Nan Goldin. (Art-world legend has it that he takes these photographs to fill in the mnemonic gaps left by his blackouts.) In the absence of such autobiographical immediacy, his Dada-style works on paper and paraphernalia-cluttered sculptures look a little inert—boasts of last night’s debauchery without the dark circles to back them up.


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