Let’s start with a caveat: “Best ofs,” even at the best of times, are a dubious enterprise. And these are not the best of times. This year, with its unforgiving lurches between hope and despair, “best” is an imperfect term for a complicated time. So, here are seven shows I saw that stuck, and that come back unbidden with something new to teach. That’s not best. But maybe it’s something better.
1. LEDELLE MOE: WHEN Moe’s great big exhibition in Mass MoCA’s great big building five — an indoor, football-field-size gallery with four-story-high ceilings and walls of windows on two sides — had opened way, way back in late 2019, in the Time Before. I’d walked through it a dozen times that first pandemic year, always struck by the almost visceral sense of loss it conveyed; the show, called “When,” felt unstuck in time, a stroll amid ruins, its giant,