Glob­al art cal­en­dar: June

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

In the sec­ond instal­ment of our month­ly art col­umn by cura­tor Shonagh Mar­shall, there is a focus on social issues. With Brex­it still loom­ing large, and Trump still in pow­er, culture’s role in bring­ing ques­tions around iden­ti­ty to the fore has become increas­ing­ly pertinent. 

This month Som­er­set House cel­e­brates the impact of Black cre­ativ­i­ty open­ing Get up, Stand Up Now, LAC­MA stages a major his­tor­i­cal mono­graph of the mid-cen­tu­ry Black artist Charles White, and the Guggen­heim puts into con­text Basquiat’s explo­ration of black iden­ti­ty. Kei­th Har­ing has his first major UK ret­ro­spec­tive in Liv­er­pool focus­ing on his art­work as activism. Female pho­tog­ra­phers Sheila Met­zn­er, Liz John­son Artur, Mary Ellen Mark, Mol­ly Mat­alon and Car­o­line Tomp­kins are all cel­e­brat­ed with shows and Seana Gavin’s images go on dis­play doc­u­ment­ing the 1990s utopic com­mu­ni­ty Spi­ral Tribe’. All cul­mi­nat­ing in remind­ing us – what a time it is to be alive. Exhi­bi­tions are great spaces to lay foun­da­tion­al thought about what we are going to do with our future, but they can also act as a reminder that we have been at this junc­ture before and that we still have a lot to learn. 

Get Up, Stand Up Now at Som­er­set House, Lon­don, 11 June — 15 September

Claim­ing to cel­e­brate the impact of 50 years of Black cre­ativ­i­ty in Britain and beyond” this exhi­bi­tion dis­plays works by 100 artists across film, pho­tog­ra­phy, music, lit­er­a­ture, design and fash­ion – an unruly propo­si­tion. Curat­ed by Zak Ové, an artist whose Trinida­di­an father Horace Ové was part of Win­drush gen­er­a­tion and is con­sid­ered the first Black British direc­tor to make a fea­ture film, this exhi­bi­tion starts with Horace and through both exist­ing and com­mis­sioned work by the likes of Steve McQueen, Mowalo­la, Nari Ward, and Grace Wales Bon­ner it aims to show how Black British cre­atives have shaped our con­tem­po­rary cul­tur­al landscape.

Liz John­son Artur: Dusha at Brook­lyn Muse­um, Brook­lyn, until 18 August

Russ­ian Ghana­ian Liz John­son Artur took her first pic­tures in Brook­lyn in 1986 when she stayed with a Russ­ian fam­i­ly in a pre­dom­i­nant­ly Black neigh­bour­hood (she can’t remem­ber exact­ly where). It was here that she dis­cov­ered pho­tog­ra­phy, allow­ing her to devel­op a prac­tice where she con­nects with oth­er peo­ple of African decent. This has led to the ever-evolv­ing body of work that she calls the Black Bal­loon Archive. Now based in Lon­don she has doc­u­ment­ed East Lon­don club night and com­mu­ni­ty PDA, South Lon­don cre­ative col­lec­tive Born n Bread and a mul­ti­tude of por­traits. Dusha, mean­ing soul in Russ­ian, com­pris­es of a selec­tion of the artist’s pho­to­graph­ic sketch­books dat­ing from the ear­ly 1990s along­side two videos and a sound installation.

Vir­gil Abloh: Fig­ures of Speech” at Muse­um of Con­tem­po­rary Art, Chica­go, 10 June – 22 Sep­tem­ber 2019

The first muse­um exhi­bi­tion to focus on Vir­gil Abloh’s career so far. Abloh has risen to heady heights with­in the fash­ion indus­try over the last five years, with his brand Off-White and in his role as Artis­tic Direc­tor for Louis Vuit­ton menswear – cel­e­brat­ed in equal parts genius and touter of the emperor’s new clothes syn­drome. Staged in an immer­sive space designed by Samir Ban­tal from AMO, the exhi­bi­tion includes work from across music, fash­ion, archi­tec­ture and design. There is also, obvi­ous­ly, a pop-up shop, called Church & State’ – such a great name – sell­ing ret­ro­spec­tive’ (a word Abloh clear­ly deems fash­ion­able right now) Off-White things. 

Kei­th Har­ing at Tate, Liv­er­pool, 14 June – 10 November

I walked past the Amer­i­can Eagle on Union Square this morn­ing where the win­dow dis­play proud­ly exhib­it­ed a col­lab­o­ra­tive cloth­ing line with Kei­th Har­ing art­works, it includes a hood­ie embla­zoned with the all too famil­iar radi­ant baby. What would Kei­th Har­ing made of this, I thought? This month the Tate in Liv­er­pool opens the first major UK ret­ro­spec­tive of Haring’s work. Focus­ing on his role as activist and how his art drew atten­tion to urgent issues such as polit­i­cal dic­ta­tor­ship, racism, homo­pho­bia, drug addic­tion, AIDS aware­ness, cap­i­tal­ism and the envi­ron­ment – there has nev­er been a bet­ter time for his work to be con­tex­tu­alised in this way. 

Basquiat’s Deface­ment”: The Untold Sto­ry at Guggen­heim, New York, 21 June – 6 November

In a sim­i­lar vein to the Har­ing show Deface­ment”: The Untold Sto­ry takes Basquiat’s paint­ing Deface­ment (The Death of Michael Stew­art), 1983 – cre­at­ed to com­mem­o­rate the death of the young, black artist Michael Stew­art who died at the hands of New York City’s trans­port police after alleged­ly tag­ging a wall in an East Vil­lage sub­way sta­tion – as a start­ing point. Exhibit­ing Basquiat’s work in the con­text of his role as cul­tur­al activist it also includes works by his con­tem­po­raries Har­ing and Andy Warhol. The cho­sen work hop­ing to present Basquiat’s explo­ration of black iden­ti­ty, his protest against police bru­tal­i­ty, and his attempts to craft a sin­gu­lar, aes­thet­ic lan­guage of empowerment. 

Play­ing for Keeps: Mol­ly Mat­alon and Car­o­line Tomp­kins at Micam­era, Milan, Until 29 June

In the spir­it of pre­sent­ing Amer­i­can life Play­ing for Keeps in Milan push­es against the all too well known his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tive of Amer­i­cana carved out by the white male. Through the lens of two Amer­i­can female pho­tog­ra­phers, Mol­ly Mat­alon and Car­o­line Tomp­kins, it aims to kybosh the famil­iar post­card era of auto­mo­biles, fam­i­ly val­ues and the great out­doors. Curat­ed by Jamie Alan Shaw, founder of mag­a­zine and cre­ative agency Enlarge Your Mem­o­ries, Mol­ly and Caroline’s work takes you on an image con­ver­sa­tion that updates our roman­ti­cism, filled with humour, pow­er­play, own­er­ship and sexuality.”

Mag­ic Met­zn­er at The Lumiere Broth­ers Cen­tre for Pho­tog­ra­phy, Moscow, 6 June — 1 September 

Mag­ic Met­zn­er cel­e­brates the career of fash­ion pho­tog­ra­ph­er Sheila Met­zn­er. I don’t think peo­ple pay enough atten­tion to Met­zn­er, her images are painter­ly and full of fan­ta­sy – could this be because of the weight placed on male pho­tog­ra­phers in form­ing his­to­ry? Her career began when she fea­tured along­side Gar­ry Wino­grand in the con­tro­ver­sial MoMA show Mir­rors and Win­dows: Amer­i­can Pho­tog­ra­phy Since 1960 held in 1978. Cham­pi­oning colour pho­tog­ra­phy at a time when this was frowned upon she takes fash­ion images that cap­ture women nymph-like and unob­tain­able, fan­tas­ti­cal and captivating.

Seana Gavin: Spi­ral Baby at Galerie PCP, Paris, 6 June — 27 July

Spi­ral Tribe was a free par­ty sound sys­tem col­lec­tive found­ed in the UK in 1990 that went on to tour Europe, throw­ing par­ties or tekni­cals’ as Seana Gavin calls them. An inte­gral part of the col­lec­tive from 1993 to 2003 Gavin doc­u­ment­ed this world and all its char­ac­ters. This exhi­bi­tion is the first to show­case unseen pho­tographs, fly­ers and ephemera of this utopic group that through music and drugs con­struct­ed a rov­ing com­mu­ni­ty that oper­at­ed between the gaps of con­tem­po­rary society. 

Shio­ta Chi­haru: The Soul Trem­bles at Mori Art Muse­um, Tokyo, 20 June – 27 October 

The largest solo show yet of the Japan­ese-born Berlin based Shio­ta Chi­haru it fea­tures six of the instal­la­tions she is best known for, where using pri­mar­i­ly black and red threads she weaves across entire spaces. The result­ing work rais­es uni­ver­sal ques­tions of iden­ti­ty, bound­aries and exis­tence, stem­ming from her per­son­al expe­ri­ence. Also on dis­play are sculp­tur­al work, video footage of per­for­mances, pho­tographs, draw­ings and ephemera from through­out her twen­ty-five year career. 

Ser­pen­tine Pavil­ion 2019 by Jun­ya Ishiga­mi at Ser­pen­tine, Lon­don, 21 June – 6 October

A mark­er of British sum­mer­time, the Ser­pen­tine Pavil­lion is unveiled this month. Com­mis­sion­ing an archi­tect each year this time Japan­ese Jun­ya Ishiga­ma, who is known for build­ing exper­i­men­tal struc­tures that inter­pret tra­di­tion­al con­ven­tions whilst reflect­ing nat­ur­al phe­nom­e­na, take inspi­ra­tion from roofs. Arrang­ing slates into a sin­gle canopy that appears to emerge from the ground of the sur­round­ing park, the inte­ri­or of the Pavil­lon is an enclosed cave-like space offer­ing a much need­ed space for contemplation. 

Gar­ry Wino­grand: Col­or at Brook­lyn Muse­um, Brook­lyn, Until 8 December 

Gar­ry Wino­grand is one of the most influ­en­tial pho­tog­ra­phers of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry; almost entire­ly known for his black and white images that pio­neered a snap­shot aes­thet­ic” in con­tem­po­rary art this show cel­e­brates his near­ly for­got­ten colour works. Curat­ed by Drew Sawyer it is mar­velous, con­sist­ing of a gigan­tic instal­la­tion where pro­jec­tors, teed up with dif­fer­ent images on loop, click through 400 slides. It was due to lack of resources that meant Wino­grand couldn’t afford to pro­duce colour images and that they remain on these kodachrome slides. The pho­tographs, cap­tur­ing every­day New York life, are so rich yet it is the con­nec­tions you make when see­ing them appear next to oth­ers that is mag­i­cal. Unex­pect­ed­ly allow­ing you to draw your own visu­al rela­tion­ships and nar­ra­tives with­out any boundaries. 

Ter­ra­cot­ta War­riors: Guardians of Immor­tal­i­ty at Nation­al Gallery of Vic­to­ria, Mel­bourne, until 13 October

Wide­ly described as the eighth won­der of the world, this exhi­bi­tion is a large-scale pre­sen­ta­tion of the Qin Emperor’s ter­ra­cot­ta war­riors. Dis­cov­ered in 1974 in China’s Shaanxi province it fea­tures more than 150 trea­sures from Chi­nese art and design: eight ter­ra­cot­ta war­riors along­side two full-sized hors­es from the Qin dynasty (221207 BCE) and objects from the Shaanxi provinces includ­ing gold, jade and bronze arti­facts dat­ing from the Zhou dynasty (1050256 BCE) to the Han dynasty (207 BCE220 CE). On along­side this exhi­bi­tion is a show by con­tem­po­rary Chi­nese artist Cai Guo-Qinag.

LAST CHANCE TO SEE

Charles White: A Ret­ro­spec­tive at LAC­MA, Los Ange­les, until 9 June

I saw this show at the MoMA in New York and it is real­ly great. Trac­ing White’s career it includes 100 draw­ings and prints, along­side less­er-known oil paint­ings. Split­ing the work into the­mat­ic sec­tions it looks at the impact he had in the cities he called home: Chica­go, his birth­place; New York, where he joined social caus­es and gained acclaim; and Los Ange­les, where he devel­oped his mature art and became a civ­il rights activist. Focus­ing on images of both his­tor­i­cal and con­tem­po­rary African Amer­i­cans, in both every­day scenes and ide­al por­traits, his work eulo­gized their dig­ni­ty, human­i­ty and hero­ism in the face of America’s long his­to­ry of racial injustice. 

Mary Ellen Mark at Fahey/​Klein, Los Ange­les, until 22 June

This exhi­bi­tion of the acclaimed pho­to­jour­nal­ist Mary Ellen Mark includes work from her series Indi­an Cir­cus, Twins and Damms, which was tak­en for the LIFE mag­a­zine series pub­lished in 1987 of the home­less Damms fam­i­ly. Doc­u­men­tary pho­tog­ra­phy has such author­i­ty to help us under­stand and empathise, some­thing that is tru­ly need­ed in todays West­ern soci­ety. Mary Ellen Mark’s work is so pow­er­ful; this show is not to be missed. 

Mari­na Abramović at Light Soci­ety, Bei­jing, until 15 June

A major exhi­bi­tion of the work of per­for­mance artist Mari­na Abramović, com­pris­ing of new and past work – many that have not been exhib­it­ed in Chi­na before. Since the ear­ly 1970s Abramović’s per­for­mance work, seen in this show through doc­u­men­tary video and pho­tog­ra­phy, has tak­en her body as sub­ject and medi­um, explor­ing its phys­i­cal and men­tal lim­i­ta­tions in a quest for emo­tion­al and spir­i­tu­al trans­for­ma­tion. It is on for anoth­er two weeks and also includes sculp­tur­al pieces. 


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