Conflicting viewpoints are balanced by a reconciliation between differences in our 5 To See this weekend. Taking into account recent events, both the Whitney Museum of American Art and Parasol unit spend time with artists who consider a range of perspectives in today’s shifting sociopolitical landscape. The Whitney Biennial sees practitioners examine how economic disparities and polarising politics impact our sense of self, while Elger Esser takes centre-stage at Parasol unit with Morgenland – a contemplation on how Eastern countries have overcome stereotypical links to colonialism. On a lighter note, Vitra Design Museum reflects on the history of an everyday commodity, the plastic chair, and Eli Lotar’s penchant for documentary film and collective projects is revealed at Jeu de Paume in Paris.
1. Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
The 78th installment of the longest-running survey of American art arrives at a time rife with racial tensions, economic inequities, and polarising politics. Open until 11 June, the 2017 Whitney Biennial challenges us to consider how these realities affect our senses of self and community. The work of 63 individuals and collectives in a wide variety of forms, from painting and installation to activism and video-game design, adorns six floors of the gallery and is accompanied by a film programme and a line-up of special events.
2. Elger Esser, Morgenland, Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London
These photographic works by German artist Elger Esser were created during his travels in the Eastern countries of Lebanon, Egypt and Israel from 2004 to 2015. Shown for the first time at Parasol unit, the Morgenland (morning land) series refers to the concept of the Orient or the East. But rather than reflecting a negative stereotypical ‘Orientalism’ with its links to cultural colonialism, Esser’s depictions of the Near East convey a sense of reconciliation amidst regional differences and historical issues.
3. Rodney Graham, That’s Not Me, BALTIC, Gateshead
Canadian artist Rodney Graham is a genre defying practitioner who avant-garde experimentalism has confounded and thrilled audiences in museums and galleries all over the world. His latest show at BALTIC includes several installations of film and video and a collection of works inspired by literature and reading, covering more than two decades. Developed in close collaboration with the artist, this exhibition also includes new works and a large selection of his signature immersive light-box photographs, including the group The Four Seasons.
4. Monobloc – A Chair for the World, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein
The white plastic chair is the most widely used piece of furniture in the world. As the quintessential example of a mass consumer product, the Monobloc chair can be found wherever there is a need for cheap seating. Monobloc – A Chair for the World examines the history and the cultural connotations of an object that has put its mark upon the world. This is the third temporary exhibition in the Schaudepot, designed by Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron.
5. Eli Lotar Retrospective (1905-1969), Jeu de Paume, Concorde, Paris
Jeu de Paume invites viewers to discover the scope of the French photographer and cinematographer of Romanian origin Eli Lotar’s work from a new light. Organised around key themes ranging from the New Vision Movement to documentary film, it also taps into Lotar’s passion for urban, industrial and maritime landscapes. A selection of portraits taken by the photographer can also be seen, revealing his interest in having his models adopt various poses for the camera.
1. Elger Esser, Enfeh I (detail), Lebanon, 2005. C-print, Diasec, 142 x 184 x 5 cm (56 x 72½ x 2 in). Courtesy of the artist.