The Formal Absences of Precious Things — Tannaz Farsi's work has presence. It must be reacted to, not merely looked at. Farsi fills the room with oversize, clear vinyl pillows, over six feet tall and four feet wide. As viewers maneuver through the claustrophobic space, four plastic tubes run from the side of each pillow up to the ceiling, attached to a hidden, incessantly droning air compressor that keeps the pillows constantly puffed. Fluorescent lights placed behind the translucent pillows emit an eerie glow, adding to the otherworldly atmosphere. Farsi projects four videos on the gallery wall — nearly still images of outdoor scenes, shot from her apartment. Set off to the side, a pair of disembodied arms and hands, cast in clear resin, rests above what appears to be a control panel covered in dozens of knobs, suggesting that this surreal scene is under the command of some unseen force. The tubes running from pillows to compressor imply a lifeline or interconnectivity. Farsi's mastery of sensory engagement is impressive; the sights, sounds, and sense of space transform the gallery into a sterile area with an unsettling quality. Through May 31 at The Sculpture Center, 1834 E. 123rd St., Cleveland, 216-229-6527. — Theresa Bembnister
Sam Taylor-Wood — Make sure you see this exhibition soon. Not only is it profoundly affecting, but it could change at any moment. If there's one point British artist Sam Taylor-Wood makes in this bold, searingly honest photo-and-video show, it's that everything is always in flux. And that includes people, a message Taylor-Wood proclaims with large photo-portraits of crying Hollywood alpha males. Onscreen, all are men of steel, but here we see tender sides, and the contrasts are both surprising and touching. Doubly fascinating: No two sadnesses are alike. Laurence Fishburne stares stoically, ignoring the tears dripping down his face. Daniel Craig, meanwhile, seems disturbed, as if witnessing something painful, while Hayden Christensen, aka Darth Vader, appears bitterly remorseful. Taylor-Wood herself is the principal character in several more pieces. In five photos called "Bram Stoker's Chair," the artist is seen balancing impossibly atop a wooden chair, gracefully defying gravity. They're haunting, balletic images, with her shadows dancing on the wall behind her. The truth in each is the same: She's flying now, but pain is just ahead. But nothing conveys flux more neatly than Taylor-Wood's "Still Life." In this time-lapse video, a bowl of nectarines, the quintessential still-life subject, is seen gradually rotting and molding to the point of collapse. It's a dramatic transformation, actually, and all those endless, static paintings of fruit will never look the same again. Through May 11 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, 8501 Carnegie Ave., Cleveland, 216-421-8671. — Zachary Lewis
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