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32 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend

‘TOWARD A CONCRETE UTOPIA: ARCHITECTURE IN YUGOSLAVIA, 1948-1980’ at the Museum of Modern Art (through Jan. 13, 2019). This nimble, continuously surprising show tells one of the most underappreciated stories of postwar architecture: the rise of avant-garde government buildings, pie-in-the-sky apartment blocks, mod beachfront resorts and even whole new cities in the southeast corner of Europe. Tito’s Yugoslavia rejected both Stalinism and liberal democracy, and its neither-nor political position was reflected in architecture of stunning individuality, even as it embodied collective ambitions that Yugoslavs called the “social standard.” From Slovenia, where elegant office buildings drew on the tradition of Viennese modernism, to Kosovo, whose dome-topped national library appears as a Buckminster Fuller fever dream, these impassioned buildings defy all our Cold War-vintage stereotypes of Eastern Europe. Sure, in places the show dips too far into Socialist chic. But this show is exactly how MoMA should be thinking as it rethinks its old narratives for its new home next year. (Farago)
212-708-9400, moma.org

‘DAVID WOJNAROWICZ: HISTORY KEEPS ME AWAKE AT NIGHT’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art (through Sept. 30). This artist was there when we needed him politically 30-plus years ago. Now we need him again, and he’s back in this big, rich retrospective. Wojnarowicz (pronounced Voyna-ROH-vich), who died at 37 in 1992, was one of the most articulate art world voices raised against the corporate greed and government foot-dragging that contributed to the early AIDS crisis. But he was far from a one-issue artist. From the start, he took outsiderness itself, as defined by ethnicity, gender, economics and sexual preference, as his native turf. And from it he attacked all forms of exclusion through writing, performing and object making. In the show, we find him working at full force in all three disciplines, and the timing couldn’t be better. Not long before his AIDS-related death, during the culture wars era, he wrote, “I’m convinced I’m from another planet.” In 2018 America, he would have felt more than ever like a criminal migrant, an alien combatant. (Cotter)
212-570-3600, whitney.org

‘WORLD ON THE HORIZON: SWAHILI ARTS ACROSS THE INDIAN OCEAN’ at the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington (through Sept. 3). The Swahili coast of East Africa is home to a crossroads culture. For millenniums, the port cities in Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique have been centers of long-distance trade and cultural exchange from multiple directions. To the west, they were anciently connected by caravan with Central Africa; to the east, by ship with India, China and Japan; to the north, with an Arab world that included Oman, Iran and Yemen; and to the south, via roundabout shipping routes with Europe and the Americas. This exhibition makes evident both the great beauty and the deep disturbance of those connections — East Africa was a nodal point on the international slave trade. (Cotter)
202-633-4600, africa.si.edu

Last Chance

‘BEING: NEW PHOTOGRAPHY 2018’ at the Museum of Modern Art (through Aug. 19). At the last survey of new photography at MoMA two years ago, the atmosphere was so self-referential and hermetic that a visitor panted for oxygen. It seemed as if photography, which continued to engage with the world after modernist painting and literature turned inward, had finally crumpled into solipsism. A lot can change in two years. In response to the last exhibition and to the intervening political upheavals, this show offers a broader and more stimulating range of work from 17 artists — two of whom collaborate as a team — all under 45. Its rubric proves capacious enough to include portraiture, reportage, fashion and pretty much everything you can turn a camera on. Although questions of racial and gender identity and politics perfume the air, the best photography in the show touches lightly, if at all, on these subjects. (Lubow)
212-708-9400, moma.org

‘MEL CHIN: ALL OVER THE PLACE’ at the Queens Museum (through Aug. 12). Spanning nearly 40 years of work and sprawling through the Queens Museum, Times Square and the Broadway-Lafayette Street subway station, this survey offers a consistent and excellent display from this skillful maker of objects that often highlight social injustice. A few standouts include Mr. Chin’s recent “Unauthorized Collaboration,” in which he reconfigured formal portraiture he purchased on eBay into objects that critique cultural authority; “Cross for the Unforgiven” (2002), a wall sculpture made with AK-47 assault rifles; and a community project, “Flint Fit,” created with citizens of Flint, Mich., using discarded plastic water bottles to make fabric as well as garments (fashioned by the Michigan-born designer Tracy Reese) that accentuate the water crisis in that city. Even the Queens Museum’s beloved scaled-down layout of New York City is part of Mr. Chin’s show. A disturbing video memorializes 9/11, but Mr. Chin’s panorama intervention commemorates “all victims of terrorism,” reminding us of how humans are bound together, globally, by a growing awareness of injustice and acts of violence. (Schwendener)
718-592-9700, queensmuseum.org

‘MEMORY UNEARTHED: THE LODZ GHETTO PHOTOGRAPHS OF HENRYK ROSS’ at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (through Aug. 19). This collection of images captured by Henryk Ross are haunting in a particular way. He took pictures for the statistics department of the Lodz Ghetto’s Judenrat, or Jewish Council, which reported to the Germans. He was only meant to shoot portraits for ID cards, propaganda images showing the productivity of Jewish workers and the like. But he clandestinely took other ones, too, such as harrowing images of deportation. When the Nazis began to liquidate the ghetto, he buried 6,000 of his negatives, nearly 3,000 of which survived the war somewhat intact and about 200 of which are on view in this exhibition. Arranged chronologically alongside a timeline of events, they tell a story of systematic dehumanization. (Jillian Steinhauer)
646-437-4202, mjhnyc.org

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