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Your weekend: In the galleries

Linguistic gymnastics and personal and political history clash and coalesce in Xmas is a Four-Letter Word. This survey of new and old work, plastered across every available surface at DaineSinger, from Melbourne-based artist and co-founder of the infamous Hell Gallery, Jordan Marani, showcases the diversity and wonderfully acerbic tenor of his practice. There is his series of mixed-media paintings from the early-1990s - studded with found materials, fur trim and bottle caps - featuring ghoulish TV news anchors immersed in the depths of canned war rhetoric, while in another corner, his 2010 sculpture Little Boy - He's Lost Control Again, renders a young lad from the waist down (complete with daggy sneakers and chequered boxer shorts) who's had some, shall we say, evacuation issues. Marani's new body of work, Colourful Language, is particularly striking - geometrical text paintings piece together creative eight-letter compound words that Marani and his brothers have slung at each other at annual family Christmas get-togethers. The series sits alongside his portraits of World War II leaders whose names form the acronym ''CHRIST''. Wed-Sat, noon-5pm, until October 5, DaineSinger, basement, 325 Flinders Lane, city, 0410 264 036, dainesinger.com

Curated by David Homewood and featuring the works of John Nixon, Joshua Petherick, Elizabeth Newman and Helen Johnson, Monochrome Exhibition operates in a similarly ingenuous manner to its title - there's little to hide behind when it comes to the monochrome painting. But that's not to suggest that these works are obtuse. If there's one thing that this compact show suggests, it's the subtle potentials of the monochromatic pallette. Johnson's work is a highlight. The silk painting is immersed in a hazy, shifting, orange hue created via the smoke of a burning distress flare. While the notion of the monochrome evokes density, solidity and repetition, Johnson's work is delicate, fleeting and singular. Fri-Sat, 1pm-5pm, until September 14, Sutton Projects, 230 Young Street, Fitzroy, 9416 0727, suttongallery.com.au

The commissioned portrait has long been the domain of society's various upper crusts and nuclear-family units. While documentary photography has attempted to represent and crystallise those marginalised, exploited and ignored, the staged portrait has, by and large, remained the sphere of those deemed important and desirable. Jacqueline Felstead's new series, I Am Here, both defies and perpetuates the portrait's wider socio-economic and philosophical crux. Capturing residents of St Kilda's infamous Gatwick Private Hotel, Felstead's images are at once revealing and evasive. Beautifully composed and lit, each image features a resident, his or her torso obscured by the almost theatrical drape of a bed sheet. Though photographed and exhibited in a gallery, society's unseen remain that way.
Last day today, noon-6pm, West Space, level 1, 225 Bourke Street, city, 9662 3297, westspace.org.au

Justine Khamara's meticulously deconstructed portraits occupy an interesting space between sculpture and photography. Fastidiously cutting and reconfiguring sections and strands of photographic prints, Khamara's works seem to suggest both the fallibility and the incisiveness of the photographic image. Her 2D works operate in something of a suggestive and allegorical space. Two portraits picturing an older couple rotate and fold into one another, as if the pair's psychological and emotional matter is one and the same. It points to ideas of transactive memory and cognitive interdependence - the idea that, with time, we come to finish one another's sentences, thoughts and recollections. The 3D works essentially rupture the photographic device, fracturing the picture plane into dispersed sculptural strands and hoops. But if we are to look hard enough - and for long enough - the image re-emerges amid the visual and spatial din. Indeed, as the photograph seems to falter, we fill in the gaps.
Tues- Sat, 11am-5pm, until September 28, Arc One Gallery, 45 Flinders Lane, city, 9650 0589,