Volume 75, Number 36 | January 25 - 31, 200

The A List

Fight Club To say that “The End of Reality” is Richard Maxwell’s most dramatic play is not saying much. Like his Obie-winning “House” and “Good Samaritans,” his characters all strive for the same deadpan delivery, ignoring punctuation and placing an awkward emphasis on every sentence, phrase, and monosyllable they utter. The result is the performative equivalent of flatlining, but dramatic fight scenes and original banter livens up this one-act play about security guards who can’t even protect themselves. Though it’s been described as a meditation on the banality of violence and our apathetic lives, the long monologues on Jesus and liberals seem like pointed commentary on America’s ineffectual, evangelical response to terrorism. Brian Mendes is the most adept at striking a balance between underacting and boring the audience to tears, and when everyone converses—or fights—in concert, the result is a chuckle a minute. Ends January 28. The Kitchen, 512 West 19th St. between 10th and 11th Aves. (212-255-5793; thekitchen.org).
Paula Court
The Avant Martha Stewart Like other artists who have left New York for wider spaces—Donald Judd, Michael Heiser—Andrea Zittel decamped from her Brooklyn digs, the now-defunct A-Z East, and set up shop in her native California to work on her “designs for living.” She returns on January 26 in her first major solo exhibit “Critical Space” at the New Museum, where the fruit of her “investigations” in the desert will be on view through May 27. Often confused as a designer, Zittel re-examines utilitarian things like homes, clocks, and wardrobes and customizes them in fanciful ways that reflect her unique sensibility, and our basic human need for organization and simplicity. Opens Thursday, January 26, New Museum of Contemporary Art, 556 West 22nd Street btwn. 212-219-1222; newmuseum.org).Courtesy New Museum

Miguel Mendez
Singer-songwriter Miguel Mendez wraps up his month-long residency at the Knitting Factory next Wednesday, where he’s been building up a strong base of admirers. The seductive folk-rock on his first full-length album, “My Girlfriend is Melting,” falls somewhere in the musical spectrum between Beck and Elliot Smith, minus the former’s hip-hop hijinks and the latter’s angst. (Or as one blogger so astutely described it: “Good stoner folk for people who used to like Beck.”) Live, he and his band give his album’s songs more of an electric, psychedelic spin. 8 PM Wednesday, January 25 and February 1 at the Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard Street btwn. White and Church (212-219-3132; knittingfactory.com).

Outsider Art Contemporary self-taught artists from Tokyo to Columbus, Ohio will get their share of recognition this weekend at the 14th annual Outsider Art Fair, from January 27 through the 29th. Highlights include work from LAND, Brooklyn’s first artist’s leagues for people with disabilities, the works of George Widener, who uses his “lightening calendar calculating” gifts in his drawings, and work by Yumoto Mitsuo, a member of the first vocational-training facility for the mentally disabled in Japan. Daily admission is $15. Puck Building at Lafayette and Houston (212-977-7170; sanfordsmith.com).Phyllis Kind Gallery

Out of Africa Africa conjures many ideas in our minds: wildlife, poverty, famine, disease. To counter these ingrained ideas, Gigagantic ArtSpace along with the American Folk Art Museum, has asked over 20 artists to provide their own interpretations of this mass-mediated continent (like “Artificial Afrika,” left, a video still by guitarist and artist Vernon Reid). Rife with images from African mythology, religion, music and other artistic forms, the show will attempt to visually redefine the birthplace of humanity. Opens Thursday, January 27 and runs through March 17. Gigantic ArtSpace, 59 Franklin St. btwn. Lafayette and Broadway (212-226-6762; giganticartspace.com). Courtesy Gigantic ArtSpace

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