As New York City’s galleries begin their irrevocable annual shift to keeping comically impractical summer hours, many will forgo solo presentations to mount group exhibitions of their stable artists or guest-curated thematic shows, many of them with funny, attention-grabbing names. Last year we ranked the 10 oddest summer group show titles, and though this year doesn’t have anything of quite the same caliber as Canada‘s “Hot Tub Time Machine” or Simon Preston‘s “Someone Has Stolen Our Tent,” there are more than enough oddball exhibitions this summer to pick out the 10 best.
10. “Truck Baby” at Rachel Uffner Gallery: This enigmatically named exhibition, which features works by Graham Collins, Samara Golden, and David Wojnarowicz, runs June 7-July 21.
9. “<laughter>” at apexart: Curator Kari Cwynar tackles the motif of laughter — in artworks by Christian Boltanski, Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen, Yoshua Okón, Stuart Ringholt, and Althea Thauberger — as a potentially disruptive and subversive force. The title evokes both an HTML tag that, hypothetically, would trigger a laughter function, and the closed captioning accompanying the laugh track on sitcoms. The exhibition runs through July 27.
8. “Oedipus and Sphinx, Pictures of Junk” at Invisible Exports: This compelling pairing features Brooklyn-based Brazilian artist Vik Muniz’s rendering of Ingres’s “Oedipus and the Sphinx” out of trash from a Sao Paolo favela and found object assemblages by legendary outsider artist the Philadelphia Wireman. It runs June 7-July 13.
6. “Made in Space” at Venus Over Manhattan and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise: It’s our first tie, between two space-referencing show titles. The first is this uptown-downtown collabo, with its “Delirious New York”-referencing flyer, which was curated by Peter Harkawik and Laura Owens — although not in space, as far as we know. It runs July 11-August 10.
6. “Mind Is Outer Space” at Casey Kaplan Gallery: We can’t figure out if this title is an Allen Ginsberg quotation, or a Lil Wayne rhyme, but we’re positive we’ve heard it before. We also know nothing about the exhibition as of this writing, other than the fact that it runs June 27-August 2.
5. “The Cat Show” at White Columns: As if the premise of bringing together several dozen artists’ depictions of cats weren’t already enough of a no-brainer — including Rita Ackermann, Cory Arcangel, Mike Kelley, Ryan McNamara, Marilyn Minter, Rob Pruitt, B. Wurtz, and more — White Columns is upping the ante by hosting a “Cats-in-Residence” program (which is exactly what you think it means) on June 14 and 15, and July 19 and 20. The exhibition itself runs June 14-July 27.
4. “I Am The Magic Hand” at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.: This show, curated by Josephine Halvorson and featuring works by Allison Katz, Carmelle Safdie, Jane Corrigan, John Gutmann, Lisa Milroy, and Paula Wilson, takes its title from a Gutmann photograph in which the titular phrase appears scrawled on a wall in chalk alongside the outline of a hand. It runs through July 12.
3. “Jew York” at Zach Feuer and Untitled: As we previously mentioned, this exhibition’s title is not only a nice pun, but very succinct and descriptive. It features works by a selection of New York-based artists who are Jewish. It runs concurrently on the Lower East Side and in Chelsea from June 20-July 26.
2. “Endless Bummer II, Still Bummin'” at Marlborough Chelsea: Co-curators Drew Heitzler and Jan Tumlir took as their inspiration for the second of their “Endless Bummer” shows the 1966 surfer movie “Endless Summer” and Thomas Pynchon‘s 2009 novel “Inherent Vice.” Decide for yourself whether the result is summery, or an actual bummer, before it closes on June 15.
1. “I want that inside me.” at Feature Inc.: Well now this is a strange title for a group show of works on paper, isn’t it? Details on the exhibition’s content remain scarce, but we strongly doubt that it will feature either sexually explicit drawings, or immersive paper installation that visitors can wander inside, though those seem like the two most obvious ways of making sense of that title.
Honorable Mentions: “No Name” at On Stellar Rays, “Skin Trade” at P.P.O.W., “Summer Exposure” at Galerie Lelong, “To Pack and Wear” at Kate Werble Gallery, and “To the Friends Who Saved My Life” at Callicoon Fine Arts.
— Benjamin Sutton
(Image: Alfredo Jaar, “Double Vision,” 2005. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Lelong.)