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Capsule Art Reviews: "Bert Long's RED Book", "Group Show: Shoman, Benhelima, Forero, Zet, Wilson & Wolfson", "Keep It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism With the Yes Men"

"Bert Long's RED Book" Houston art scene fixture Bert Long presents 18 new pieces based on The Red Book, Carl Jung's personal art journal that was published for the first time last year. Jung's artwork was based largely on the symbolism of dreams, and Long mines his own personal unconscious for this show, which manages to incorporate elements evocative of Jung's personal style. Many of Long's works utilize collage; they're assemblages of objects with paintings. Several of the works on display employ deconstructed pinewood frames beautifully stained with acrylic, giving the paintings a somehow "bookish" look. Self Examination, literally the theme of the show, evokes the surrealists — Tanguy in particular — with its blobby shapes and oozy texture. It's Long examining his body's output, both physically and psychically. Stumped is a nightmare vision of a human heart on fire and dripping with water, perched on a leg and coiled with a green snake. It's ubiquitous symbolism, perhaps, but Long's presentation is powerful. Beware after viewing: Long's work, appropriately on exhibit at the Jung Center, might provoke a restless night or two. Through May 28. C.G. Jung Center, 5200 Montrose, 713-524-8253. — TS

"Group Show: Shoman, Benhelima, Forero, Zet, Wilson & Wolfson" This sprawling show, consisting mostly of photography, examines political injustice (the Palestinian-Israeli conflict), the experience of foreigners in Belgium, cultural stereotypes and other sociological conflicts and issues. Charif Benhelima's black-and-white photographs of immigrant children and refugees in Belgium are impressive for their ability to convey dignity and perseverance, despite the somewhat desperate and dire circumstances presented. Czech artist Martin Zet's photographs of himself in a variety of silly poses manage to also reflect a deep sadness and a frustrated state of expression. In one, he jams his bare foot a few feet up into the corner of a room, arching his back into the wall. It's strangely affecting, and I'm not sure why. It's as if he could actually climb the wall. Santiago Forero's deep-color photos are dramatic scenes of stereotypical characters: a desperate housewife, a cowboy tourist beaten by urban thugs. In one series, Action Heroes, Forero photographs himself (he's a little person) posing as a terrorist, an American soldier in Vietnam and a masked rioter with Molotov cocktail. Forero's physical stature — he could never actually inhabit these characters — lends the photos a twisted humor, questioning the characters' identities as culturally heroic and defiant figures. Through May 30. The Station Museum, 1502 Alabama, 713-529-6900. — TS

"Keep It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism With the Yes Men" Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum are the main men behind The Yes Men, a prank constituency that infiltrates corporate seminars and poses as company spokespersons in the hopes of exposing greed and hypocrisy. Last year the film The Yes Men Fix the World documented some of their most famous stunts, like Bichlbaum's impersonation of a Dow Chemical spokesman taking full responsibility for the disaster in Bhopal, India; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reversing its position on global warming policy; and a widely distributed, fake New York Times with the headline "Iraq War Ends." This is the first-ever solo exhibition of The Yes Men's exploits, and it includes mixed-media works, video and a fully outfitted "conference room" with PowerPoint presentations. Don't miss the hilarious video of Bonanno and Bichlbaum crashing a Catastrophic Risk conference in Florida, posing as Halliburton employees there to introduce the Halliburton Survivaball, an absurd, body-encapsulating, inflated suit that promises to save lives in the case of a natural disaster. The confused faces of conference-goers, as well as the inevitable questions from attendees regarding Survivaball's effectiveness during a terrorist attack, are priceless and unsettling. Several actual Survivaballs are on display, too. Hysterical stuff. Through June 5. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 713-223-8346. — TS

 
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