Bobby Jindal as Art Basel Muse & Other Must-See Gems

imageI have family friends and relatives who are annoyingly quick to extol the virtues of Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal not because they agree with his parochial politics, but for a sense of cultural pride that when pitted against his politics, makes no sense to me. But now, thanks to Richard Phillips, we have this glorious work to translate Bobby Jindal’s value into visual terms — so that even the blindest Jindalites may pause for a moment, scratch their heads and say, “Oh, I suppose he doesn’t have my best interests at heart.” And it’s just one of millions (or more likely, hundreds) of pieces on display at Art Basel in Switzerland, some of which are rather unimpressive. And for the rest of you who can’t be bothered to venture so far out to Central Europe, fear not! There is still some excellent work that hasn’t been snapped up by the thieving hordes at Basel.

On some days, you may feel the non-joy of standing in a packed subway car stalled in the dark recesses of the MTA underground for no apparent reason for about 15 minutes. In those moments, as time crawls along like a slug, you find yourself awkwardly staring at nearby passengers, recoiling at what you can’t help but gape at. Video artist Josh Melnick knows this feeling well and uses it as the driving force behind “The 8 Train” at Art in General, a gallery space located where Tribeca, Chinatown, and Soho converge. “The 8 Train” runs until July 18.

Further uptown, in Chelsea, the tiny spartan Ippodo Gallery has a collection of intricately neat ceramic things on display by artist Park Young Sook through the end of June.

The Paul Kopeiking Gallery in West Hollywood, meanwhile, hosts photographer Hiroshi Watanabe’s “Ideology in Paradise” until late August. With this body of work, Watanabe’s initial aim to dispel Japanese myths about North Korean brutality was ultimately overshadowed by his exploration into the nuances of North Korea’s civilian life.

Best Bet: London’s White Cube collects gold stars for the most intrigue, presenting artists Raqib Shaw and Tracey Emin at their Hoxton Square and Mason’s Yard galleries, respectively. Shaw’s work (“Absence of God,” on display through July 4) is all about hedonism, drawing influences from old Indian jewelry, Japanese manga, and the work of Arthur Rimbaud. On the other hand, through the works in “Those who suffer love” (also showing through July 4), focuses on conveying more by saying less, with a series of stark, minimalist pieces. Says she with more aplomb than Jordin Sparks could ever hope for: “I’m constantly fighting with the notion of love and passion. Love, sex, lust — in my heart and mind there is always some battle, some kind of conflict.”