Once Upon a Time: Fantastic Narratives in Contemporary Video, Guggenheim Museum Berlin.

Review by Katerina Valdivia Bruch

The Guggenheim Museum Berlin presents in Once Upon a Time: Fantastic Narratives in Contemporary Video, six artists from its collection that address possible or fictional realities through video. Reading the title, one might think that fairytales or myths will be the topic of the exhibition. Instead, the videos are critical reflections about society using a symbolic narrative.


Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978-2010, Whitechapel Gallery, London.

Review by Paul Hardman

There is a moment in the film that accompanies the Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978-2010 exhibition, when the artist seems momentarily irritated with the interviewer. The subject of the influence of his former tutors, Bernd and Hilla Becher, has come up, and it is apparent that the comparison of their work to his is something that Struth has become a little tired of.

Keith Harrison 'Float', 2011, photograph Tomas Rydin (2)

Inverting Preconceptions of Materials, Ideas and Craft: Jerwood Makers Open, JVA, London.

Review by Kara Magid, a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond, The American International University in London.

Jerwood Makers Open is a new open-submission initiative designed to support and showcase emerging artists working in the applied arts. This annual exhibition series offers significant bursaries to four makers to create new works, which are then exhibited as part of the Jerwood Visual Arts programme. This year, the exhibition features four very different artists; Farah Bandookwala, Emmanuel Boos, Heike Brachlow, and Keith Harrison.


My Hands are Tied: You Seem The Same Always, The Common Guild, Glasgow

Review by Alistair Q

Vince Lombardi, the 1960s American Football coach once said “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand,” and a very apt quote it is for marking the successes of the subtly original show running at the Common Guild this summer until 30 July. The exhibition is a large group show of 6 internationally recognised artists and is both a serious and at times humorous inquiry into that most invaluable of appendages: the hand. It marks the various conceptual forms the hand can take within art, having been the tool to make the tools throughout human evolution, the hand can seem comical for all it’s bendy cartoonish wriggling as well as marking itself as a powerful symbol in the form of propaganda posters for protest and upheaval. With all these concepts in mind the show itself investigates primarily with the former, the ways in which hands (specifically artists hands) have investigated this most useful prehensile.


Sibylle Bergemann: The Poetry of Polaroids: C/O Berlin.

Review by Katerina Valdivia Bruch

Quoting Susan Sontag in her book On Photography (1977), “All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability“: polaroids are the medium par excellence to enter these doors of privacy and intimacy. This summer, C/O Berlin pays homage to Sibylle Bergemann, one of the most exciting German photographers of the last decade, who died from cancer in November 2010. The solo exhibition Polaroids, presents for the first time 140 polaroids taken by the artist and in them, it reveals part of Bergemann’s private dreams: young girls with red coloured lips starring at the camera, a plastic ballerina turning in front of a mirror, a small rabbit behind a tree, models in romantic costumes or Soviet emblems in a cryptic atmosphere. All these are blurred and dream-like moments of poetic nostalgia, that the photographer caught with her polaroid camera, as a hunter of vanishing moments. Her photographs transport us to timeless spaces, as if the moment could be endless and last forever. The sensitive eye of Sibylle Bergemann captured moments of intimacy, and delicate, symbolic landscapes, such as a man sitting in a tram in East Berlin or a train passing in front of a man somewhere in the streets of Lisbon.


United by Difference: Michelangelo Pistoletto’s The Mirror of Judgement: Serpentine Gallery, London.

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

The Serpentine Gallery currently boasts an all-encompassing installation by Michelangelo Pistoletto, an artist renowned for his contribution to conceptual art, as well his founding role in the Arte Povera movement. The exhibition, entitled The Mirror of Judgement, incorporates various aspects from earlier works, such as Minus Objects (1966) and Third Paradise (2003-4), into a coherent and spiritual experience based on mathematical precision. The work focuses on our own perceptions of religion and culture, and thus depends on our participation as viewers.


The Simplicity of Existence: Daisy Boman: Encounter: Halcyon Gallery, New Bond Street.

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

Daisy Boman’s second exhibition entitled Encounter featured 20 new works from the Tahrisquare series which was inspired by the recent events in Egypt. The defining feature of Boman’s oeuvre of work is the presence of her Bo-Men. All of these small, pocket-sized, faceless figures are hand made of clay by the artist without faces or differentiating identities. But over time, and during the process of creation, each figure acquires different cracks or marks of exposure that lends them uniqueness similar to the burden each person carries. Even within their anonymity, they are unified. All white in colour, there is no distinction between them because in the end, race should not matter and thus the colour is blank. Unified by their anonymity, they are additionally united by their square blockheads. The presence of these square heads further represents that we are each products of the same mould; the one society has deemed we should live in. These figures of Boman’s creation visually represent the binding thread of humanity and ask to be seen for what they are, not who they are, proving that we aren’t as separate as we think we are.

Oil Paint and Grease Paint

The Brontës Went to Woolworths – Neil Shawcross: Penguins, The Naughton Gallery, Queen’s University, Belfast.

Review by Angela Darby

The affordable Penguin paperback book, now in its 76th year of production, was originally created to bring literature to the masses, simultaneously crossing all age and class divides. Unlike any other publishing company of it’s time Penguin’s emphasis was on the brand, visually reassuring the reader that their choice was a quality purchase by packaging their books in distinctively designed covers. Neil Shawcross’ exhibition Penguins in The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s University, Belfast has been programmed to celebrate the company’s remarkable achievement. The artist has documented and re-interpreted his own private collection of Penguin publications in bright acrylic paint and hand written text, focusing on the classic three, horizontal band design created by Edward Young who also drew the first version of the Penguin logo.


Sickly Sweet: Caroline McCarthy, Arrangements: Green on Red Gallery, Dublin.

Review by James Merrigan

We could lazily describe Caroline McCarthy’s readymade arrangements as sweet, and stop there, but there is an added dose of the sickly in her current solo show at the Green On Red Gallery, Dublin, which is reminiscent of Pop Art, but more specifically with the American Painter, Wayne Thiebaud (whose pop sensibilities were formed just before the movement began in the 1950s). Thiebaud once said that “Common objects become strangely uncommon when removed from their context and ordinary ways of being seen.” In McCarthy’s drawings and collective object displays there is an accumulation of stuff that add up to a total. An early precursor to this form of representation was the bizarre fruit and vegetable heads of the Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo, whose work some say was a design of his own mental illness. McCarthy registers peaks and troughs of banality and fantasy through her utilisation of the common or garden household item, that evokes the limp pages of a coffee table home improvement catalogue and the obsessions with home and nesting for ‘thirtysomethings’. There are also moments of nostalgia here in the playful and casual arrangements of objects.


Seeing Is Believing: Junya Ishigami: Architecture as Air, Curve Gallery, Barbican Art Gallery, London.

Review by Nathan Breeze

The pioneering American engineer Buckminster Fuller once famously asked the question ‘how much does your building weigh?’ This perhaps marked the moment where architects and engineers first started to consider the environmental impact of their buildings. Nowadays concerns about sustainability both in terms of construction and in the maintenance of buildings are defining the construction industry. Had he posed the question in 1982 to the Architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, who after 11 years onsite had just completed the Barbican; a mixed-use concrete jungle (and rightly listed cultural treasure) there would no doubt have been some serious head scratching.


Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography in the 20th Century, Royal Academy of Arts, London.

Review by Karla Evans

Mounting an exhibition that addresses 75 years worth of work and features over 50 photographers is no meagre task. Compliments then are due to the team behind the Royal Academy of Art’s Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography in the 20th Century. Taking visitors from 1914 through 1989, the Academy’s first photography exhibition in many, many years will quash any doubts of a staid historical show and presents some of the most provocative images of the century. What seems nigh on impossible to do without filling the Royal Academy’s entire floor-space, the curators manage to do in a coherent and succinct exhibition of two distinct parts. Firstly, presenting a clear, chronological retelling of Hungary’s conflicted history and secondly, how Hungarian photographers translated the century’s technological advances within the medium of photography through their own unique lens’.

BT Northern Ireland Press Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2011, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast

Every year The Northern Ireland Press Photographers Association (NIPPA) launches its search for the best photo journalists across Northern Ireland. Through the BT Northern Ireland Press Photographer of the Year competition, the outstanding work of Northern Ireland’s press photographers is duly recognised and rewarded.