Misshaped Head by various

Neon Parc’s latest show at its Brunswick gallery is curated by gallery owner Geoff Newton and assembled from 90 years of work from all over the world, all broadly concerning the body. As with a lot of the gallery’s shows, it’s diverse and fun, with a focus on the psychedelic and the uncanny. It’s worth going just to see the work of French artist Dora Maar, whose simple line drawings outshine some of the louder work on show. It’s also worth checking out Jamie O'Connell's Car Spa, which is literally a Volkswagen Cabriolet converted into a functioning spa. If you go between 4pm–5pm on Saturdays you can go for a dip.

Misshaped Head is at Neon Parc, Brunswick, until April 8.
neonparc.com.au

Anomalous – Hilary Dodd

Just a few doors away at Tinning Street, Hilary Dodd's work highlights unloved urban textures in various states of decay. The 10 pieces in the show are all made from some combination of linen, cement, oxide, plastic and enamel, and at the gallery you experience their texture – the pictures of the show (in the gallery above) don’t do them justice. They’re at home in suburban Brunswick. At first, they look like scrap hauled off a building site. But on closer inspection Dodd demonstrates that the charred, rusted, warped and weathered can be strangely calming.

Anomolous is at Tinning Street until February 26.
tinningstreetpresents.com

Brutal – Penny Byrne

Inspired by the past 12 months of political carnage (“2016 sucked”, says the artist in an introductory video), Penny Byrne’s new show Brutal is satirical and savage. From a distance, you’ll see ornate and kitsch porcelain figurines – the sort your grandma has too many of. Get closer and you’ll see they’ve been repurposed into crude political statements. A figurine named Aleppo is a bloodied and bruised child reading a book. Sands of Gallipoli "is an angry response to the ANZAC merch of World War One". It’s made from commemorative badges, spoons and souvenir newspaper supplements. Trump is depicted as a gilded imperial lord. And the Catholic Church doesn’t get off easy either – that piece earns the show an MA15+ rating.

Brutal is at Linden New Art until March 8.
lindenarts.org

This is Not a Love Song – various

This new group show at Gertrude Contemporary is about sex. It’s not sexy – it’s a straight-on look at sexuality and the physical act. Catherine Ryan’s piece sets it up nicely: she presents a stereo and record player with a 12” record looping endlessly. It’s a vocal sample of a woman singing “Why, why can’t this moment last forever more?” It sounds like a sample from a dance anthem, but with the beat, synths and anything you can dance to stripped away. Without rhythm, it’s just repetition and banality. The other big highlight is William E Jones’s Tearoom, which consists of footage of gay rendezvous in public bathrooms somewhere in the American Midwest in the 1960s. It’s real, unexpurgated footage shot by the police and used to convict men of indecency and sodomy. Presented in its original form, it’s a powerful historical document and a voyeuristic look into some secret encounters.

This is Not a Love Song is at Gertrude Contemporary until March 11.
gertrude.org.au

Parabolic – Daniel Crooks

Daniel Crooks uses complex slit-scan photography techniques to play with our linear perception of time. Of these four new video works, two were shot in Bourke Street and two were shot in Hong Kong. Crooks shoots ordinary crowd scenes in remarkable ways, leading to trippy effects. Office building revolving doors are pulled vertically to the sky. Time is sucked upwards, and people are twisted into a corkscrew-like vortex. Passers-by are like ghosts, rippling into existence from a central point, where a pebble has been dropped into time itself. The effect is mesmerising, but there are no special effects or digital filters here. Crooks is putting time on its side and looking at it from a different angle.

Parabolic is at Anna Schwarz Gallery until April 1.
annaschwartzgallery.com