Provocative and Wry Minds at Work

Visual Arts Erwin Wurm The Austrian-born Wurm both deflates and inflates staid notions of what constitutes sculpture, using stretchy sweaters, ordinary objects (fruit, furniture) performing curious balancing acts, and his "One Minute Sculptures" comprising people in odd positions, with photos and videos of all of the above capturing their temporality. (Lest he sound too obscure, his work inspired a typically frenetic and artsy 2003 Red Hot Chili Peppers video for "Can't Stop.") This retrospective at the Frye vividly demonstrates the 52-year-old artist's incisively provocative and wry mind at work. Particularly funny is his series "Instructions on How to Be Politically Incorrect," targeting a concept that's skewered ad nauseam these days, but Wurm takes it to the logical extreme—in one photo, a man buries his head down the front of a woman's sweater in an uninvited Inspection. In another series, an eerily unidentifiable person somewhat stupidly tangles himself in a white fabric, head completely covered. The title is: "Be a Terrorist." "Looking for a Bomb" (pictured) takes the piss out of obsessively ineffective Homeland Security and Patriot Act intrusions by showing people "hiding bombs" on their persons in ridiculous ways. Wurm also creates puffy anthropomorphic objects that say rather unexpected things when animated in video: A cartoonish car (Fat Car) howls a melancholy litany of world ills (from which the show gets its awkward title), and a marshmallow of a house (Fat House) swallows its occupant and grittily expounds on the definition of art (versus dog shit) in a mild self-referential existential jag— is it a house, or is it a piece of art, since it is in an art exhibit? There's a dadaist glee and surrealist mindwarp to much of Wurm's work—a creative combustible response to the horrors and absurdities of life. With this exhibit, curator Robin Held continues to up the ante in the city's contemporary art experience. This is an odd show, brilliantly so. "I Love My Time, I Don't Like My Time: Recent Work by Erwin Wurm." Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., 622-9250, www.fryemuseum.org. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Thurs., noon–5 p.m. Sun. Ends Jan. 28. SUE PETERSMusic Telefon Tel Aviv + Velella Velella While indebted to Autechre, the Chicago-based electronic duo of Charles Cooper and Joshua Eustis allow their music as Telefon Tel Aviv to take on densely romantic tones that their IDM progenitors have merely flirted with. The first audible sounds on 2001's Fahrenheit Fair Enough hover peacefully before erupting in pops, clicks, and whirs, sounding like phosphorescent flowers blooming underwater. "It freaked me out," says Chop Suey talent buyer Colin Johnson of their performance at this year's Decibel festival. "Very seldom do I close my eyes and uprock at the same time." TTA's ability to inspire both reactions shows their prowess as producers; the self-professed gear heads have used a live orchestra but never a loop. After years of trying to book them at the small venue, Johnson plays Santa Claus by having them reprise their Decibel performance at Chop's annual holiday party. But it's not just a treat for those who couldn't pay festival prices. The supporting lineup of local dance band Velella Velella, experimental group the Dead Science, and DJ collective SunTzu Sound—all of whom sound like nobody else in town—make it Christmas and your birthday rolled into one. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. $5. 21 and over. 8 p.m. RACHEL SHIMP

 
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