9 November 1989 is probably one of the most significant moments in 20th century history. I remember watching the television as the events unfolded. I was ten years old and even then, I knew that I was watching history, and so 20 years later, across Europe, Germany and Berlin, well really the world, this significant moment is being remembered.
Over the past few years, there’s been a particular emphasis on digital light installations. I come to expect now, every year when the clocks go back, to see a city, bridge or cathedral illuminated. It’s by no way shape or form old hat; in fact, these light installations give us new perspectives on our cities and play with the old and the new.
Hip Hop is now 30 years old. I know it’s hard to pinpoint an exact date when hip hop emerged, sometime in 1979 in the Bronx, as a reaction against gangs, drugs and violence. But what’s the story of Hip Hop in the UK? Urbis in Manchester is exploring this question with their new show, which opened on 15 October, ‘Home Grown: The Story of UK Hip-Hop’.
‘Home Grown’ focuses on the wonderful, unpredictable story of UK hip-hop: a music and culture that dragged itself up from the streets – with a little help from some surprisingly eminent friends – to change the face of British music and style. From producing some of Britain’s most esteemed artists, to helping spawn almost every major British dance music genre of the last twenty years, it makes for a cracking story. But surprisingly it is one that has never before been told.
This autumn, A Foundation, presents a solo exhibition of new work by the American-born artist Whitney McVeigh. Set in the cavernous first floor space of A Foundation’s Rochelle School in Shoreditch, East London, the exhibition will showcase a selection of monoprints, collages and works on found paper.
It has been remarked that Frieze Art Fair is pretty much like the circus coming to town. It’s extraordinary that this Fair, in its seventh year, has such a massive global impact. Everyone I speak to says, “it’s so hectic, but what do you expect from Frieze Week.” Fair enough. I’ve never had any direct dealings with the Fair or the Magazine, but as someone who founded and directs a contemporary art magazine, I have a lot of respect for Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp.
You might recognise Boo Ritson’s iconic work. She is one of the most fascinating artists working today. The way that she effortlessly moves between art forms, is she a sculptor, painter or photographer? Or all three. To read more about Boo Ritson click here for Issue 28, in which Boo’s work graced our cover and the feature Hybrid Art was the centre-spread.
Last night, we headed up to BALTIC in Gateashead for the opening of Parrworld, and I was not disappointed. I left the show feeling inspired to get my camera out, and start taking pictures, while at the same time, I started thinking about the notion of collecting, a cultural consciousness, memories and our constantly changing times.
Opening on 15 October at the October Gallery, London is the long anticipated show by Romuald Hazoumé, “Made in Porto-Novo”. You might recognise his name, as we featured his show “La Bouche du Roi” in Aesthetica back in 2007.
Hazoumé was born in 1962 in Porto Novo, in the Republic of Benin. Hazoumé’s work first came to prominence in the U.K. with the inclusion of his witty, tongue-in-cheek “masks” in the Saatchi Gallery’s “Out of Africa” show, in 1992. Since then his work has been widely shown in many of the major galleries and museums in Europe and beyond, including the British Museum, the Guggenheim, Bilbao, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, ICP, New York, the V&A Museum, London, etc.
The stellar trajectory of Hazoumé’s rise during these past 15 years has catapulted him into the first rank of the international artistic community, marking him out as unique amongst other African contemporary artists. “Made in Porto-Novo” will present masks, photographs, canvases and installation work selected from the artist’s studio. Although Hazoumé has lately developed his explorations over a wide range of media, there will be a welcome return of his earlier mask series with a number of new masks on display. The exhibition will also include a series of little-shown works on canvas focussing upon the iFa symbols, an ancient African knowledge passed down over many centuries within the Yoruba civilisation. These works have not, so far, been widely exhibited abroad, owing, in part, to their intrinsic complexity and in part also to their implicit involvement with the internal creative processes of the artist himself.
Hazoumé notes that these glyphic forms, which he calls ‘evocations,’ nourish the roots of all his artworks without exception – providing a common, elemental thread that draws the diversity of his oeuvre into a unified whole. There will also be further photographs from his revelatory series depicting real life in Benin today and an entirely new installation, using his signature petrol canisters, that will extend the exhibition’s reach into still further areas.
The exhibition’s title of “Made in Porto-Novo” functions as something of a wake-up call to anyone who’s never heard of the capital city of Benin as well as to anyone who remains unaware of the exceptional nature of some of the art being produced on the African continent today. It is quite typical of Hazoumé that he should be the one to announce Porto-Novo’s accession to the map of art capitals of the world in this breezily self-assured manner.
Yet, there is a muscular substance to his off-handed assertion that demands one at least pay some serious attention to it. As Jackie Wullschlager, the always perceptive Art Critic of the Financial Times, pointed out when reviewing 2007’s documenta 12, the balance of power in the art world is at present shifting dramatically away from the tired old monopoly of western cultural hegemonism with its serial fêting of the latest and greatest white wunderkind. Wullschlager rightly described documenta 12 as “the most exciting thrilling art show in the world, because it is genuinely of the world rather than a Euro-American take on global culture.”
The pendulum has indeed begun to swing in the other direction – and the haunting title of the FT piece, “We know our time is up,” bears prescient witness to the changes occurring. In going on to collect the prestigious Arnold Bode Prize at documenta 12 for his outstanding installation, “Dream,” Hazoumé was not only elevating a piece by an African artist to the highest summit of achievement in the contemporary western canon he was also laying down a marker for artists from across the entire continent of Africa.
So, if we can accept that some of the pent-up energy and creative vigour of the planet might just be running riot in places other than the centres of Paris, New York or Berlin, then maybe we can look forward to welcoming to London artwork that takes enormous delight in proudly proclaiming its provenance as – Made in Porto-Novo.
Romuald Hazoumé “Made in Porto-Novo” at the October Gallery
15 October to 28 November 2009
24 Old Gloucester Street
London WC1N 3AL
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 12.30 – 5.30pm
Free Entry, www.octobergallery.co.uk
Nearest Tubes: Holborn/ Russell Square
Buses: 19, 25, 38, 55, 168 and 188
Romuald Hazoumé, Liberté, 2009, Found Objects, 31 x 51 x 25 cm, photo by Jonathan Greet, Image courtesy of October Gallery, London
Produced by Alex Dellal’s 20 Hoxton Square Projects, in collaboration with Zoom Art Projects, The Embassy is a multi-disciplinary group show being held during Frieze Art Fair. Curated by Dellal and Xerxes Cook, the exhibition is a parody of outmoded cultural diplomacy in the form of an anonymous country’s embassy, a dystopia whose tyrannical government has tested the patience of its people and brought them to tipping point.
The UK’s most promising artist’s work takes a new direction in his latest solo show in the heart of Soho. 31-year-old Adam Neate’s trademark cardboard works have become one of the iconic symbols of the UK street art generation, avidly collected worldwide. A New Understanding marks a significant step in the young artist’s career, setting a new level of artistic growth and witnessing a significant development in Neate’s technique and innate sense of composition, use of colours and movement.
Opening on 3rd October and running until 6th October, Vendôme Luxury is the place to be this month. Vendôme Luxury reaffirms its position as the premium Parisian tradeshow by continuing to present the most elegant clothes and accessories from upscale designers. Evening bags in the finest crocodile, python, and glittering crystals have become a staple in our selection of high-end accessories at Park Hyatt Vendôme. This season, the venue with its exotic and refined atmosphere has the added distinction of introducing Marchesa’s first accessories collection.
New Issue Out Today
Aesthetica’s October-November issue examines the prelude to the recession through Tate Modern’s concentration on the business of art in Pop Life: Art in the Material World, and Martin Parr’s irreverent Luxury, while Julian Stallabrass discusses the role of art in our post-consumer culture. Counteracting this socio-political focus, Daniela da Prato argues for de-contextualising works of Middle Eastern artists with Golden Gates, and Alex Box relocates the fashion shoot into the realm of fine art.