With February coming to a close, make sure to mark the beginning of March with a visit to one of the brilliant contemporary art exhibitions showing this weekend. With highlights including previously unseen photos by Robert Capa in New York, a diverse survey of contemporary Australian artwork in Sydney, and an exciting and thought-provoking look into the power of capitalism by Isaac Julien in London, there is something to see wherever you are. Here are our top five picks of current exhibitions.
1. Isaac Julien: PLAYTIME, Victoria Miro, London
Exploring the subject of capital, Isaac Julien’s exhibition at Victoria Miro showcases the premiere of his seven-screen installation, alongside the documentary KAPITAL, and a room of accompanying photography. The brand new installation features renowned actors from Maggie Cheung to James Franco, while the documentary depicts the artist in conversation with celebrated academics including Stuart Hall and David Harvey. Focusing on three cities defined by their relation to this motivating capital, London, Reykjavík and Dubai, Julien blends documentary and fiction to examine the way in which money can facilitate and hinder development.
2. Wael Shawky: Dictums, Lisson Gallery, London
Traditional modes of faith, belief, myth and history are all reinterpreted via modern media in Wael Shawky’s solo show. The artist’s filmmaking straddles documentary, performance, and music to tackle questions of national, artistic and religious identity. One such video is Cave (2006) in which the artist walks around a bright supermarket, reciting chapters from the Qur’an, blending the sacred with the profane. Accompanying Shawky’s films is a collection of drawings and wall-based vitrines displaying metal plaques which signal the transposition of a specific decorative taste into contemporary art.
3. Capa in Color, International Centre of Photography, New York
For the first time, Robert Capa’s photographic work in colour will be exhibited at the ICP. Despite working in colour from the 1940s until his death in 1954, many of the photographer’s vibrant shots have never been printed or seen before. Known for his black-and-white photojournalism, this exhibit shines new light on over 100 works from the post-war period of Capa’s career as he stepped back from political conflict and reinvented his style for the magazine industry.
4. Under Pressure: Politics in Contemporary Photography, MdM, Salzburg
Showing the profound and powerful emotion behind politics, this exhibition collates photographic work to question how images can ignite critical discourse on current issues and encourage us to confront history. Divided into several subject areas, the collection is centred around such topics as the perception and reception of history, politically motivated architecture, civil revolt, and the disturbing nature of catastrophe tourism in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The impact of photos by artists such as Tatiana Lecomte, Lukas Birk and Oliver Ressler demonstrates the unique power of the photograph as a catalyst for political debate.
5. Volume One: MCA Collection, MCA, Sydney
An entire floor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia will be devoted to a survey of Australian art from the last twenty years. Highlights include the moving image installations of Khaled Sabasi, Maria Kozic’s double portraits, the photography of artists including Fiona Foley and Simryn Gill, the diverse practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, and much, much more. The incredible variety of art on display is testament to the strength of Australia’s art scene and demonstrates how the country’s unique culture has cultivated fascinating artistic creation.
1. Robert Capa, Spectators at the Longchamp Racecourse, Paris, ca. 1952. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos.