Kathy Acker in conversation with Angela McRobbie at the ICA 1987

Glob­al art cal­en­dar: May

Curator, writer and art-lover Shonagh Marshall has edited a list of the must-see exhibitions opening this month.

The Face’s new col­umn sees cura­tor, writer and art-lover Shonagh Marhsall edit a list of the must-see art and pho­tog­ra­phy exhi­bi­tions open­ing around the world each month. As Mar­shall explains, in Dream Spaces: Mem­o­ry and the Muse­um, author Gaynor Kavanaugh wrote that a muse­um ener­gis­es both our imag­i­na­tions and our mem­o­ries. It illu­mi­nates feel­ings. Anar­chic and unpre­dictable”. With­in these spaces, we can arrive at all sorts of pos­si­bil­i­ties not con­sid­ered by those who make muse­um exhi­bi­tions… many things might tum­ble through our minds: bits of songs, half-writ­ten shop­ping lists, things left unsaid”.

It’s the exact rea­son that Marhsall makes exhi­bi­tions. To do it well, I believe it is impor­tant to see a lot of them – big ones, small ones, con­tem­po­rary and his­tor­i­cal,” she explains. I go to around four a week. To me, these spaces offer an oppor­tu­ni­ty to see the world in a new way, to draw con­nec­tions and learn some­thing new. I mar­vel how a neigh­bour­ing nugget of knowl­edge had been wait­ing to be linked to a fresh fact all along.” Full of cajol­ing words, Marshall’s list is here to inspire your next gallery trip.

Goshka Macuga: What was I? Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai, until 2 June

Staged in a 1918 his­toric res­i­dence that has been ren­o­vat­ed into an exhi­bi­tion space by the Pra­da Foun­da­tion this show fea­tures a new com­mis­sion by Pol­ish-born, Lon­don based con­tem­po­rary artist Gosh­ka Macu­ga. Enter­ing a fic­tion­al, post-apoc­a­lyp­tic world, an android wan­ders the house, deliv­er­ing a mono­logue made up of excerpts of sem­i­nal speech­es from his­to­ry, while reveal­ing his per­son­al art col­lec­tion and belong­ings that com­pris­es 25 works from Collezione Prada. 

Dorothea Tanning at Tate Modern, London until 9th June

I wish you could see this show’ a female artist friend wrote to me, she so per­fect­ly depicts what it’s like to be a woman mak­ing art.’ Want­i­ng her work to evoke unknown but know­able states’ this exhi­bi­tion explores how Dorothea Tan­ning expand­ed the lan­guage of sur­re­al­ism. While there also go and see Nan Goldin’s Bal­lad of Sex­u­al Depen­den­cy’. The ever-evolv­ing slide show of Goldin’s images of her down­town New York cohorts set to a sound­track – it is one of my favourite pieces of art.

The Art of Disney: The Magic of Animation, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul, until 18th August

I love pop cul­ture. I am real­ly inter­est­ed in how you take some­thing that gar­ners such gar­gan­tu­an audi­ences, in this case, the ani­ma­tions Dis­ney is famed for, and instil it into an exhi­bi­tion. The suc­cess hinges on telling a sto­ry and con­sid­er­ing the work as an object wor­thy of scruti­ny. This show has 500 works, wow; rang­ing from the Mick­ey Mouse’s 1928 debut in the short film Steam­boat Willie, through to art­works from the 2013 hit Frozen.

I, I, I, I, I, I, I, Kathy Acker ICA, London, until 4 August

Art crit­ic Jonathan Jones gave this exhi­bi­tion five stars. Describ­ing Ack­er as a poet, nov­el­ist, self-styled pla­gia­rist and social vision­ary… [who] glee­ful­ly sailed the sev­en seas of lit­er­a­ture steal­ing what she want­ed and leav­ing nuggets of sav­age rhetoric in her wake’ he con­tin­ues that I, I, I, I, I, I, I, Kathy Ack­er is a Baby­lon­ian beast of an exhi­bi­tion’. This is the kind of show I want to imme­di­ate­ly go and experience. 

Whitney Biennial Whitney Museum of Art, New York, 17 May - 22 September

Intro­duced by the founder of the Whit­ney Gertrude Vender­bilt Whit­ney in 1932 the Bien­ni­al is the longest-run­ning exhi­bi­tion in Amer­i­ca. Curat­ed by Jane Panet­ta and Rujeko Hock­ley it shows work by 75 con­tem­po­rary artists span­ning paint­ing, sculp­ture, instal­la­tion, film and video, pho­tog­ra­phy, per­for­mance and sound. I am excit­ed about Heji Shin, Mar­tine Syms, and Kyle Thur­man but the point here is all about dis­cov­er­ing some­thing new, so go with no expec­ta­tions and a heart full of hope’ as my Mum would say. 

David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night, Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, 29th May – 30th September

I saw this exhi­bi­tion when it was at the Whit­ney Muse­um of Art in New York last year. Span­ning Wojnarowicz’s career, from the late 1970s until his untime­ly death in 1992 through AIDS-relat­ed com­pli­ca­tions, it presents his diverse body of work. Using mixed media to explore social con­structs encom­pass­ing the use of pho­tog­ra­phy as a nar­ra­tive tool; col­lage as a resource for cri­tique and polit­i­cal state­ment; paint­ing to explore dif­fer­ent alle­gor­i­cal process­es; and pho­tomon­tage and text as an approach to the queer and iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics which shaped his role as an activist. This is an impor­tant exhi­bi­tion, not to be missed. 

Camp: Notes of Fashion, Costume Institute at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 9 May – 8 September

Using Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay Notes on Camp’” as a frame­work the genius cura­tor Andrew Bolton’s year­ly behe­moth show scru­ti­nis­es how fash­ion design­ers engage with camp in a myr­i­ad of com­pelling, humor­ous, and some­times incon­gru­ous ways. Bolton’s shows gen­er­ate huge inter­est, from a huge cross sec­tion of peo­ple. I think exhi­bi­tions are sup­posed to both edu­cate and enter­tain; his shows do that in spades. 

Carsten Höller, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, until 30th June

The first exhi­bi­tion of Carsten Höller’s work in Mex­i­co City, this ret­ro­spec­tive charts the career of the Ger­man-born artist who trained as a sci­en­tist. Apply­ing this knowl­edge to his art prac­tice, he is inter­est­ed in human inter­ac­tion. Known for large-scale site-spe­cif­ic instal­la­tions, for this show he has built Deci­sion Tubes (2019) offer­ing a fresh per­spec­tive to the muse­ums bru­tal­ist archi­tec­ture. The exhi­bi­tion also includes a selec­tion of works span­ning his ten-year oeuvre. 

Mariette Pathy Allen: Rites of Passage, 1978 – 2006 and James Bidgood: Reveries Museum of Sex, Until 8th September

The Muse­um of Sex is a strange propo­si­tion, one part per­ma­nent col­lec­tion (includ­ing boob boun­cy cas­tle), the oth­er tem­po­rary exhi­bi­tions which pack a punch – notably The Incom­plete Ara­ki, Leonor Fini: The­atre of Desire and the Mari­ette Pathy Allen and James Bidg­wood shows that are on now. The pho­tog­ra­phy and film on dis­play by James Bidg­wood charts his work in physique pho­tog­ra­phy” – the high­ly cod­ed gay pornog­ra­phy of the 60s. The images are high­ly con­struct­ed, includ­ing young men in lav­ish sets. Along­side is a show by Mari­ette Pathy Allen, which spans 40 years of work doc­u­ment­ing trans and gen­der-vari­ant com­mu­ni­ties. Her images are a phe­nom­e­nal tes­ta­ment to the abil­i­ty of pho­tog­ra­phy has to cap­ture emotion. 

Frank Bowling, Tate Britain, London, 31st May – 26th August

Frank Bowl­ing was the first black liv­ing artist to have a work acquired by The Tate when they added: Spread Out Ron Kitaj” (198486) to their col­lec­tion in 1987 and the first Black British artist to be elect­ed to the Roy­al Acad­e­my of Art in Lon­don in 2005. His work fus­es abstrac­tion with per­son­al mem­o­ries and this major ret­ro­spec­tive offers an oppor­tu­ni­ty to see works from across his 60-year career, includ­ing those from key series such as the Map Paint­ings and the Poured Paint­ings of the 80s.

Iona Miriams Christmas Visit To From Brighton; Frank Bowling 2017


Jessi Reaves, Bridget Donahue, New York, until 12th May

Jes­si Reaves is part of a group of New York-based cre­atives who are devel­op­ing a dis­tinct visu­al lan­guage. In her first solo show, Reaves draws atten­tion to mate­ri­al­i­ty, in both con­struc­tion and styl­is­tic flour­ish­es. Fea­tur­ing chairs, tables, cab­i­nets and shelves – the sculp­tures are both irra­tional and imper­fect, their human scale and mate­ri­als ref­er­enc­ing his­tor­i­cal and con­ven­tion­al forms. 

Kyotographie International Photography Festival, Kyoto, until 12th May

Held in the ancient city of Kyoto this is Japan’s largest inter­na­tion­al pho­tog­ra­phy fair. This year’s theme charts the nation­al vibe’ as Japan enters the new impe­r­i­al era Rei­wa, which began on 1st May. Also, this month is Pho­to Lon­don anoth­er world-renowned pho­to fair held at London’s Som­er­set House, from 1619th May. 

Rembrandt, Vermeer & The Dutch Golden Age, Louvre Abu Dhabi, until 18th May

The devel­op­ment of Abu Dhabi as a built cul­tur­al cen­tre spans to an out­post of the Parisian his­toric insti­tu­tion the Lou­vre Muse­um. This exhi­bi­tion, end­ing soon, charts Rembrandt’s artis­tic jour­ney and his rela­tion­ships with friends, rivals, and con­tem­po­raries in the Dutch cities of Lei­den and the wider Nether­lands dur­ing the Dutch Gold­en Age of the 17th cen­tu­ry. Also includ­ing works by Ver­meer, Jan Lievens and Carl Fabritius. 

Civilisation: The Way We Live Now, Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing, until 19th May

Civil­i­sa­tions: The Way We Live Now includes 100 pho­to­graph­ic works look­ing at the inter­con­nect­ed nature of human soci­ety today. A chal­leng­ing and unruly sub­ject it is curat­ed by leg­endary cura­tor William Ewing with Bar­tomeu Mari and Hol­ly Rous­sell Per­ret-Gen­til. In a time when we con­sume plen­ti­ful images I am intrigued how we are devel­op­ing ways to read and com­mu­ni­cate through them. Fur­ther­more how they will act to doc­u­ment both real­i­ty and fic­tion and how do we tell this apart? I would love to see this show, which is on a world tour – next stops Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, Auck­land, New Zealand and final­ly Mar­seilles, France.

Korakrit Arunanondchai and Alex Gvojic (with boychild): No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5 Bangkok Citycity Gallery, Bangkok, until 19 May

This exhi­bi­tion serves as a recon­fig­u­ra­tion of Korakrit Arunanondchai’s con­tin­u­ous thoughts and col­lab­o­ra­tions over the past six years with two artists Alex Gvo­jic and boy­child. A video instal­la­tion in the piece boy­child plays the role of the Naga, a char­ac­ter con­stant­ly at state of becom­ing. Arunanond­chai is inter­est­ed in the way in which his­to­ry can mutate and form over time, espe­cial­ly with­in oral tra­di­tion, his work engag­ing in authen­tic­i­ty, self-rep­re­sen­ta­tion, and tourism through the lens of cul­tur­al transplant. 

00:00 / 00:00