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Experiments in Space Exploration: Secret Satellites, Belfast Exposed.

Review by Angela Darby

For the exhibition Secret Satellites curated by Karen Downey, the Belfast Exposed gallery has been divided into three distinct sections. The light filled foyer, a semi darkened space and a blacked out projection area. Across these three areas artworks by four artists reflect on the theme of space satellites. By definition, a satellite is any object that orbits another. Typically, the phrase space satellite is used to describe man-made satellites, artificial entities that orbit the earth. There are around 2,500 satellites in orbit around the Earth. They have been placed there at great expense to carry out a range of observational and communication activities. Some peer into the dark recesses of the universe as tools of astronomical research, some enable lightening speed contact between opposite sides of the globe whilst others may have both sinister and benign purposes. The GPS app on your phone owes its capability to the same set of satellites that deliver a cruise missile to its deadly destination.

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Arab Spring: Hesam Rahmaniam, Paradise Row, London.

Review by Jessica Jones-Berney

It is with acerbic wit that Iranian-born artist Hesam Rahmanian deplores the rapidly unravelling fabric of his native land, consumed by a maelstrom of political uprisings spreading throughout the Middle East. His painterly narratives offer an irreverent insight into his own turbulent relationship with Iran, a place the artist envisions as a “precarious mixture of culture and religion.”

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Contemporary sculpture in Croatia + Hungarian reflections, Hungarian National Gallery

Review by Adam Harangozó

For the opening event of the Croatian Culture Months, the Hungarian National Gallery has arranged a rich exhibition from the works of contemporary Croatian sculptors with reflections by Hungarian artists. Curated by Jasminka Poklečki Stošić and including 51 items from 17 artists, the selection is characterised by infinite richness and diversity – walking through the exhibition is like walking between the borders of concepts like substance, stability and surface.

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Cross-generational Dialogues: Margaret Harrison & The Girls, PayneShurvell, London

Review by Laura Barone,, a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond the American International University in London.

It’s only April, but what a year for feminist art in London: from Cindy Sherman at Sprueth Magers to Louise Bourgeois and Tracy Emin at Hauser and Wirth, to Nancy Spero currently at The Serpentine, it has certainly been a strong few months. I am a Fantasy at PayneShurvell featuring Margaret Harrison and the performance artist duo The Girls (Zoe Sinclair and Andrea Blood) energetically continues this trend. Curator Beverley Knowles has deftly combined several of Harrison’s ironic gender-bending series of media icons with The Girls and their creepily and wonderfully Sherman-esque ‘static’ performances.

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The Outsider: Still Lives, Robert Lenkiewicz, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol

Review by Regina Papachlimitzou

Speaking in relation to the second major controversy he triggered in a course of a creatively chaotic life (namely, his deal with one of his closest friends that the latter’s body would be embalmed after his death and kept at the artist’s studio), Lenkiewicz observed that, in his opinion, what people are struck with when witnessing death is the ‘total absence of the person running parallel to the total presence of the body’. Lenkiewicz’s preoccupation with absence, ageing, and dying, and his lifelong attempt to grapple with these concepts inform the majority of the works exhibited at the Royal West of England Academy.

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Everyday Scenarios & Complex Iconography: Paul Graham, Whitechapel Gallery, London.

Review by Emily Sack, a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond the American International University in London.

A visit to Whitechapel Gallery to view Paul Graham 1981-2006 is a transatlantic adventure beginning in England and Northern Ireland then moving to the United States after a brief sojourn in Tokyo. Graham presents his audience with a startlingly honest insight into the reality of daily existence. The exhibition moves in a roughly chronological order, but the viewer first finds himself or herself confronted by a relatively recent series of everyday people watching television. These figures are completely absorbed in the activity without acknowledging the photographer’s presence. These photographs highlight how television has become an integral part of modern life and the reality of its impact upon the human condition.

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Contemporary Russian Discourse: Practice For Everyday Life, Calvert 22, London.

Review by Sarah Richter, a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond the American International University in London.

Calvert 22 is a not for profit foundation that focuses its attention on exposing visitors to contemporary art from Russia and Eastern Europe. Promoting an understanding and exposure, the gallery hopes to generate excitement and interest in this rapidly developing art scene. These artists offer a fresh perspective, having studied on a global level and incorporating the canon of Western art as well as an examination of their own cultural identity and heritage, their work speaks to every viewer in a personal way.

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Joan Miró at Tate Modern: The Ladder of Escape

Review by Ruby Beelsey

The latest in a string of blockbuster shows at Tate Modern, Joan Miró needs no introduction. As one of the defining protagonists of the surrealist movement Miró also fused Fauvism, Cubism, magic realism and abstraction with his own surroundings and wild subconscious over his illustrious 60 year career. Profoundly defined by his Catalan identity, and living through the tumultuous events of the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship, not to mention an “internal exile” from occupied Paris during the Second World War, it is a testament to his art that Miró’s works have long been viewed as essentially internationalist. During his extended trips to New York he was impressed by the freedom and gestural liberation of the Abstract Expressionists and, while his mid-century works undoubtedly referenced this school, they always shy away from such a place-specific identification. Even the surrealism that defines him in many a soundbite is peppered with myriad elements from elsewhere in art history to the extent that his work, while undergoing a vast evolution over the years, is essentially unique, based on a life-long pictorial language of stars and line, which can be used to represent any and every figure in his boundless imagination.

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The Post-Photographic Era: Alastair Cook, Analogue Decay, Howden Park Centre

Review by Colin Herd

The names of difficult-to-get-hold-of and in some cases discontinued-altogether photographic film have something of the poetry of a catalogue of obscure plant-names or endangered species: Kodachrome 64, Kodacolor VR-G 200, V-G-40, Ektachrome 320 T, E100 VS, Fujifilm Sensia 100, 400, Ilford XP2, FP4, FP5. And that is precisely what they are becoming in a way, relics of an outdated technology, outstripped and surpassed in the public imagination by the instant gratification, the ease, of digital. But just as the advent of photography in the 19th century didn’t kill off painting, merely refocusing it on the specific qualities of its medium that it could do better than any other (in the first instance expressive abstraction) and producing some of the most exciting movements in painting history, it could be that the digital era or the ‘post-photographic era’ as it’s sometimes termed, will counter-intuitively come to be seen as a halcyon time for analogue photography, as its artists go through the same up-against-the-ropes period of re-adjustment that painting had to and is still going through, mining analogue’s unique processes and redefining its aims.

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The Future of Arts Engagement: A Sense of Perspective: Tate Liverpool

Review by Kenn Taylor

A Sense of Perspective deals with the in between and the undefined, in a groundbreaking exhibition developed and curated by young people in Liverpool, Helsinki, Paris and London. Curated by members of Young Tate, the organisation’s engagement programme for 16 – 25 year olds, the exhibition is part of a wider partnership, Youth Art Interchange Phase II, with major European galleries (Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and Centre Pompidou).

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Perspectives On A Charged Political Present: Huang Yong Ping and Wael Shawky, Nottingham Contemporary

Interview by Bethany Rex

Nottingham Contemporary is one of the largest and most ambitious contemporary art spaces in the UK. Designed by Caruso St John architects, the exterior of the building takes its inspiration from the surrounding 19th century buildings of Nottingham, and in particular, from the impressive façades of the Lace Market. This spring, Nottingham Contemporary presents two major exhibitions, by Huang Yong Ping and Wael Shawky. Both give perspectives on a charged political present – from Chinese and Egyptian viewpoints. We interviewed Jim Waters, Head of Exhibitions at the Centre.

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Concepts of Memory and Time: Gary Simmons, Simon Lee Gallery, London

Review by Sarah Richter a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond the American International University in London.

Haven’t we all wondered if antiques, places and objects from the past contain stories, memories of what has occurred and been seen. American artist Gary Simmons examines these same issues, confronting them in a most unconventional way. His second solo show, Shine, currently on exhibit at the Simon Lee Gallery draws its inspiration from Stanley Kubrick’s unforgettable 1980 horror film The Shining. The over sized images take their cue from memorable motifs and moments from the film, such as tricycle in Big Wheel Spiral and the infamous quote, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” in The Diamond and Full Page. In addition to drawing inspiration from this American film classic, Simmons takes inspiration from the structure of the Bryce Hospital in Alabama. This hospital served as an institution for African Americans who were considered insane and unfit for a place in contemporary society in the early 20th century. These large-scale works dominate the walls and gallery space of Simon Lee creating an inescapable impact.