Momo Okabe: Bible and Dildo at Foam, Amsterdam

Glob­al art cal­en­dar: August

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

The inter­na­tion­al art world is snooz­ing in the shade of September’s back-to-back mad­ness. With sum­mer hol­i­days in full swing and wan­der­lust crav­ings at an all time high, gallery shows are reflect­ing this need for space. 

Dur­ing this month inter­na­tion­al gal­leries will stage group exhi­bi­tions that fea­ture emerg­ing artists, rumi­nat­ing on a theme that will offer a chance to see some­thing unex­pect­ed. New Ruins at Soft Open­ing in Lon­don, Them at Per­rotin in New York and Mutaeri­um at Mum­bai Art Rooms are absolute highlights.

Con­tem­plat­ing a dif­fer­ent kind of space, the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art’s sum­mer block­buster Apollo’s Muse cel­e­brates the 50th anniver­sary of the Apol­lo 11 moon land­ing. The mag­i­cal and mys­ti­cal exhi­bi­tion is not to be missed. Why are we so des­per­ate to har­ness the moon in an image? Our obses­sion with the uni­verse out­side of our imme­di­ate tan­gi­ble one is fas­ci­nat­ing. This month, you’ll find two more shows that take us on a jour­ney out of this world and into the realm of sci­ence fic­tion in Shang­hai and Melbourne.

As for the big insti­tu­tions, it’s busi­ness as usu­al. Turn­er-Prize win­ning British-artist Lubiana Humid’s first solo US show is on at The New Muse­um in New York, Sweet Har­mo­ny: Rave | Today is at London’s Saatchi Gallery and Oth­er Bod­ies Behind by Adri­ana Vare­jão is on at the Museo Tamayo in Mex­i­co City until Novem­ber. Let’s dive into some art.

2019 Aper­ture Sum­mer Open: Deliri­ous Cities at Aper­ture Foun­da­tion, New York, until August 29

Tak­ing Rem Kool­haas’ 1978 man­i­festo Deliri­ous New York as its start­ing point, this annu­al exhi­bi­tion dis­plays work by 23 emerg­ing lens-based artists from across the world that Aper­ture and their cronies feel are defin­ing the con­tours of met­ro­pol­i­tan life in the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry”. Like any open call group show this is an out­ing of taste. My high­light is Adam Pape, whose noir-esque black and white film pho­tographs cap­ture New York City’s parks after dark. Each scene plays out like a drama­ti­sa­tion of the every­day – one image cap­tures a skunk caught in the head­light of Pape’s flash, while anoth­er sees a cou­ple make out (with tongues). 

Apollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Pho­tog­ra­phy at Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art, New York, until Sep­tem­ber 22

In cel­e­bra­tion of the 50th anniver­sary of the Apol­lo 11 moon land­ing, this exhi­bi­tion charts the visu­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the moon from the dawn of pho­tog­ra­phy to present day. The show is chrono­log­i­cal: it starts with some of the ear­li­est cap­tures root­ed in sci­en­tif­ic study, fol­lowed by a sec­tion focussing on the Apol­lo 11 land­ing, end­ing with the con­tem­po­rary artists explor­ing the moon as a form of inspi­ra­tion. I love Alexan­dra Mir’s First Women on the Moon (1999) that clos­es the show. The video doc­u­ments Mir craft­ing the moon’s sur­face on a Dutch beach in the height of sum­mer – fak­ing an all female land­ing in the process. 

Sweet Har­mo­ny: Rave | Today at Saatchi Gallery, Lon­don, until Sep­tem­ber 14

Sweet Har­mo­ny aims to embody and evoke the feel­ing that was asso­ci­at­ed with the acid house scene, while enthus­ing the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of ravers. In it, Vin­ca Petersen’s diaris­tic instal­la­tion charts her per­son­al expe­ri­ences from the ear­ly 90s to the cur­rent day through images and text, which seem to best cap­ture the spir­it of the time. The sub­cul­tur­al his­to­ries shared are both per­son­al and col­lec­tive; I find them best told sub­jec­tive­ly and with­out inter­fer­ence. It is hard to stage a show about hedo­nism, rebel­lious­ness, and free­dom with­in an insti­tu­tion – I hope this one inspires as it intends to.

Lubaina Himid: Work from Under­neath at The New Muse­um, New York, until 6th October

This is Turn­er-Prize win­ning British artist Lubaina Himid’s first solo US show, for which she has cre­at­ed a new body of work. It includes draw­ings, paint­ings, sculp­tures and tex­tile works that cri­tique the con­se­quences of colo­nial­ism while ques­tion­ing the invis­i­bil­i­ty of peo­ple of colour with­in the worlds of art and media. The title – Work from Under­neath – exam­ines how lan­guage and archi­tec­ture gen­er­ate a sense of fragili­ty or sta­bil­i­ty. It’s bor­rowed from the pro­nounce­ments of health and safe­ty man­u­als, whilst also dou­bling as a sub­ver­sive procla­ma­tion. Draw­ing view­ers in with monot­o­nous moments of dai­ly life, Himid’s urgent work asks us to query the way his­to­ries are formed.

Oth­er Bod­ies Behind at Museo Tamayo, Mex­i­co City, August 24 – Novem­ber 10

Oth­er Bod­ies Behind is arranged into three sec­tions that explore the lines of research Adri­ana Vare­jão has devel­oped in her artis­tic prac­tice since the 1990s. The first dis­plays her ear­ly career fig­u­ra­tive can­vas­es, the next is a selec­tion from her Ruinas de carne carne series and the final sec­tion focuss­es on the lat­est ver­sion of her Pol­vo instal­la­tion, which ques­tions race in rela­tion to skin colour. Varajão’s work reflects on the mul­ti­plex nature of Brazil­ian his­to­ry, mem­o­ry and cul­ture, unpick­ing Brazil’s post­colo­nial iden­ti­ty through paint­ing, sculp­ture, pho­tog­ra­phy and video.

Them at Per­rotin, New York, until August 16

Them sur­veys con­tem­po­rary, fig­u­ra­tive paint­ings that depict the romance of the embrace. With­in art his­to­ry ten­der moments typ­i­cal­ly depict het­ero­sex­u­al cou­ples, Them puts for­ward an inves­ti­ga­tion into sen­si­tive depic­tions of romance and the poet­ry in con­tem­po­rary quo­tid­i­an queer life. The exhi­bi­tion fea­tures some of the most buzzed about New York painters: Her­nan Bas, Jonathan Lyn­don Chase, Antho­ny Cud­ahy, TM Davis, Angela Dufresne, Louis Frati­no, Jen­na Grib­bon, Paul Hey­er, Maia Cruz Palileo, Ana Segovia and Salman Toor. 

Rebec­ca War­ren at More­na di Luna, Hove, until Sep­tem­ber 29

Locat­ed in the British sea­side town of Hove, More­na di Luna is an out­post of London’s Mau­reen Paley gallery. Rebec­ca Warren’s work is cur­rent­ly on show, includ­ing a paint­ed bronze sculp­ture and a series of neon-based col­lages. She often approach­es the female body in her work – indulging in its his­to­ry of sex­u­al guis­es from ancient fer­til­i­ty god­dess to misog­y­nis­tic car­toon char­ac­ter. The regency archi­tec­ture of More­na di Luna is a stark con­trast to Warren’s con­tem­po­rary work , which is exact­ly what Paley intend­ed for the space.

New Ruins at Soft Open­ing, Lon­don, until Sep­tem­ber 8

In keep­ing with the gallery tra­di­tion of stag­ing a group show in the sum­mer, Soft Open­ing presents New Ruins – a show­case that includes work by Gina Fis­chli, Matt Hil­vers, Anne Lib­by, Ten­ant of Cul­ture, Liz Queza­da-Lee and Lara Shah­navaz. The show exam­ines the melo­dra­ma of the ruinous, its rela­tion­ship to nos­tal­gia and what this reveals about the con­struc­tion of col­lec­tive or per­son­al mem­o­ry. Through the work of these six artists, New Ruins asks the view­er to rede­fine the ruin beyond phys­i­cal archi­tec­ture, invit­ing them to look into the space that ruins cre­ate for re-imag­i­na­tion, re-con­struc­tion and re-growth.


Momo Okabe: Bible and Dil­do at Foam, Ams­ter­dam, until Sep­tem­ber 4

Foam’s lat­est exhi­bi­tion cel­e­brates work from Japan­ese pho­tog­ra­ph­er Momo Okabe’s Bible and Dil­do series. The exhi­bi­tion charts the sto­ry of Okabe’s lovers as they strug­gle with gen­der dys­pho­ria, iden­ti­ty dis­or­ders and social iso­la­tion. The title of the work makes ref­er­ence to a body part that some trans­gen­der peo­ple may or may not ever have. In Bible and Dil­do Okabe also charts the com­plex lives of her friends and lovers deal­ing with issues of iden­ti­ty. Expect images of Tokyo’s under­ground nightlife and social vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty jux­ta­posed with images chart­ing the destruc­tion wrought by the heavy earth­quake and sub­se­quent tsuna­mi in 2011

Lucy McRae: Body Archi­tect at Nation­al Gallery of Vic­to­ria, Mel­bourne, August 30 – Feb­ru­ary 9 2020

In this new exhi­bi­tion body archi­tect, design­er and sci­ence-fic­tion artist Lucy McRae con­tem­plates how tech­nol­o­gy will trans­form the body. It’s her first exhi­bi­tion and it will include the grotesque­ly beau­ti­ful colour images she cre­at­ed with Dutch tex­tile artist Bart Hess between 2007 and 2009. Spec­u­lat­ing on fic­tion­al tech­nol­o­gy, the flicks pro­pose a future human body that is capa­ble of phys­i­o­log­i­cal trans­for­ma­tions, such as colour-excret­ing skin and nee­dle-like pores. Sev­en of McRae’s videos, pro­duced between 2009 and 2016, will be on show, each com­bin­ing sto­ry­telling with spec­u­la­tive sci­ence by delv­ing into the evolv­ing rela­tion­ship between the human body and tech­nol­o­gy. The exhi­bi­tion also includes col­lab­o­ra­tions with pop stars such as Robyn. 

The Kind Stranger at UNArt Cen­tre, Shang­hai, August 23 – Octo­ber 20

As the pre­dic­tions made in sci­ence-fic­tion nov­els over the past fifty years start to become a real­i­ty, there is increased inter­est in how today’s soci­ety will play out. This exhi­bi­tion fea­tur­ing the work of 30 artists (most­ly from or based in Shang­hai) focuss­es on a fic­tion­al sci-fi char­ac­ter – The Kind Stranger” – who uncov­ers a fic­ti­tious pri­vate col­lec­tion (made up of the art­works on dis­play). The text on the web­site explores the idea that human soci­ety is reach­ing the end stage” of its exis­tence, sug­gest­ing that we need to pre­pare for a New era”. It’s a show that encour­ages you to think.

Please recall to me every­thing you have thought of, curat­ed by Eve Fowler at Morán Morán, Los Ange­les, until August 24

Curat­ed by artist Eve Fowler – best known for her posters of Gertrude Stein quotes (the title is a Stein quote) – this exhi­bi­tion fea­tures the work of 20 female artists who are in the lat­er years of their careers. It’s an exten­sion of a film Fowler made about the artists. I’m not ask­ing the artists to tell me any­thing, but they allowed me in their stu­dios – a pri­vate place where artists often feel vul­ner­a­ble,” she explains. The exhi­bi­tion includes ceram­ics, paint­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy, sculp­ture, tex­tiles, works on paper and video, high­light­ing each artist’s prac­tice with over 30 art­works, dat­ing from the 70s to cur­rent day.

Mutareri­um at Mum­bai Art Room, until August 31

The title Mutareri­um is a port­man­teau of the Latin verb mutare” (to change or exchange) and ter­rar­i­um” (a glass unit for grow­ing plants). By using this as a metaphor for the world being in the sixth stage of extinc­tion (direct­ly due to humanity’s actions), this exhi­bi­tion looks at forms of growth while ask­ing ques­tions about the future of our exis­tence. Can we get used to the new way of liv­ing? Would it be more lan­guish­ing than liv­ing? Would there be a we” to pose that ques­tion from? Claim­ing to be both dystopi­an and cau­tion­ary in intent, the project offers alter­na­tive path­ways and non-lin­ear mod­els of growth that are ten­tac­u­lar and sym­bi­ot­ic. The exhi­bi­tion fea­tures work by Indi­an artists Mustafa Khanbhai, Priyan­ka D’Souza and Way­lon James D’Souza, and is curat­ed by Adwait Singh. 

Pierre Cardin: Future Fash­ion at Brook­lyn Muse­um, Brook­lyn, until Jan­u­ary 5 2020

Pre­sent­ing over 170 objects this block­buster show includes archive and con­tem­po­rary haute cou­ture, prêt-à-porter, fur­ni­ture, light­ing, fash­ion sketch­es and film excerpts that chron­i­cle the career of leg­endary French cou­turi­er Pierre Cardin. Bests known for his vision of futur­ism through­out the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the work seems par­tic­u­lar­ly rel­e­vant in light of the cur­rent renewed inter­est in space trav­el and our jour­ney towards an increas­ing­ly sci-fi exis­tence. I am intrigued by futur­is­tic” dress­ing for today, per­haps this show will inspire New York based design­ers to sneak some Cardin ref­er­ences into their collections.

Har­ry Gruyaert at Hôtel Départe­men­tal des arts du Var, Toulon, France

This ret­ro­spec­tive cel­e­brates the work of pho­tog­ra­ph­er Har­ry Gruyaert – best known for his use of colour and his trav­el doc­u­men­tary. By cap­tur­ing the every­day through his lens, he turns often-over­looked moments into enrap­tur­ing images via his approach to light and colour. The exhi­bi­tion will allow you to mar­vel at the poten­cy of his spec­tac­u­lar prints, far removed from the way they appear on a mon­i­tor screen.

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