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Art with ideas

The most provocative example of the dissonant group show is "Thanks to Apple, Amazon and the Mall" at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery (54 Ludlow Street, through Feb. 8), which expands our sense of the gallery's activities by celebrating the line of artists' e-books it started publishing in 2013. All nine of the writers, artists and filmmakers who created them are represented in this highly diverse presentation. The series has been edited by Brian Droitcour, a freelance critic and an editor at Art in America who also helped organize the show.

The works here include the erotic haiku of the artist duo known as Body by Body, rendered in big black letters on the wall, and the ephemera that Lance Wakeling collected while making his film "Field Visits for Chelsea Manning." Heightening the show's none-too-sanguine outlook, these include a Rubik's Cube produced by the National Security Agency and a brochure about the history of Leavenworth, Kan., home of the federal prison where Ms. Manning, convicted of releasing classified documents on WikiLeaks, currently resides.

Another standout in the show at von Nichtssagend is James Duesing's "End of Code," a droll, 15-minute computer animation in which fantastical semihuman creatures deliver deadpan non sequiturs, wisecracks and aphorisms while deciphering the code that controls both traffic lights and society. Whatever the future may bring, it seems to say, it is likely to be disorderly, but it could also be very funny.


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