Text by Angela Darby
Below the gilded King Edward VII chandeliers and between the Italian travertine engraved marble walkway the exhibition Contemporary Art in Northern Ireland is situated in The Great Hall of Parliament Buildings at Stormont. The exhibition’s curator Dr Suzanne Lyle, Head of Arts and Acquisitions at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, states: “The invitation from the Speaker to bring this exhibition to Parliament Buildings is an important opportunity to champion our artists… business leaders will cite the strength of a society’s arts and culture as a key factor influencing any decision to invest…” Staging the exhibition in Stormont is a positive step to improving public access and additionally the political decision makers who allocate cultural funds can view firsthand the quality of the works on display. The 24 selected artists are drawn from emerging and established artists. Miguel Martin (b.1985), a talented young artist pays homage to an established artist with an intricate, detailed line drawing entitled Neil Shawcross’s Studio Space whilst internationally recognised artist Colin Darke (b.1957) raises questions concerning intellectual copyright and appropriation in his painting Mannish Boy V – Policeman. This breadth of practice is well represented throughout the exhibition.
Text by Bethany Rex
We Have A Body is a comprehensive solo exhibition by Mette Winckelmann. Winckelmann initiates a dialogue with Den Frie Centre for Contemporary Art’s architecture and history as well as J.F. Willumsen’s thoughts behind the exhibition space’s layout and colour combinations. We spoke to Mette before the exhibition opening to find out more:
Text by Daniel Potts
United Enemies brings with it the spirit of Arte Inglese Oggi (English Art Today) – a 1976 British Council show in Milan featuring the work of many of the artists included – but concentrates on the complex nature of British sculpture in the 1960s and 1970s. Arte Inglese Oggi was organised into strict categories: Sculpture, Painting, Performance Art, Artist’s Film and Alternative Practices. United Enemies retrospectively allows us to carefully consider sculpture in relation to these other practices. The ambition is to impart how the concerns of sculpture at this time were relevant to contemporary artistic change and thinking, and thus formed the basis for the New British Sculpture of the 1980s, and what followed. This exhibition is divided into three sections – Manual Thinking, Standing and Groundwork.
This year the arts have been subject to a double squeeze – big falls in business contributions to the arts (making the renewal of BP’s sponsorship deal with Tate even more contentious) coupled with the much documented cuts to funding from the public sector, despite this visitor numbers at galleries have remained stable, highlighting that there is still much to celebrate. Three new public galleries have opened to great success: the Hepworth in Wakefield, the Turner Contemporary in Margate, and Firstsite in Colchester, whilst White Cube opened a third space in October. Perhaps in relation to the Turner Prize at Baltic, Nicholas Serota noted an increase in appetite for contemporary art across the country, which should come as no surprise given the quality of exhibitions coming out of galleries at the moment. At Aesthetica, we have spent 2011 doing what we do best, but better. In November, we launched our film festival, ASFF to great success and to top it all off, we extended the current issue of the magazine to include over 100 pages of visual content.
Text by Bethany Rex
Dislocated Flesh features the work of Julien Ottavi and Jenny Pickett. This new body of work stems from their long term collaboration exploring perception, memory and architecture. Considering physical and virtual space they are intrigued how these phenomenons influence the body, particularly in a post-human construction of society. Aesthetica spoke to Julien and Jenny about their collaborative practice:
Text by Heike Wollenweber
Mark Handforth’s (b. 1969) Rolling Stop opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, for Art Basel Miami Beach. Curated by MOCA Executive Director Bonnie Clearwater, the exhibit of 25 works marks a major milestone for Handforth, MOCA and the Miami art landscape, as the Miami based sculptor rarely actually shows his work in Miami. The exhibition stretches the physical boundaries of Art Basel by showing in North Miami as opposed to Miami Beach, relating back nicely to Handforth’s stretching of the physical limitations and space of art in his practice.
The Aesthetica Wish List 2011 offers interesting and creative options for your ‘To Buy’ list.
Michelle Oh ‘Twig Solitaire Ring’
Michelle Oh is an Indonesian designer and maker based in London. She trained in Jewellery Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and makes the most exquisite pieces. Her work is inspired by the commonplace and the everyday; the relationships we forge with others as well as our own environments. The whole collection is beautiful but we are particularly hoping to find the Twig Solitaire Ring under the tree. Cast from a real twig, this piece highlights Michelle’s interest in organic sources and challenging concepts of luxury.
Text by Paul Hardman
The main room of the South London Gallery is entirely taken up by Birnbaum’s latest piece, Arabesque (2011). Before even entering the room, the gently ebbing and flowing piano of Robert Schumann’s composition Arabesque Opus 18 reaches out to draw one into the space. Long benches face four screens, the furthest into the room shows video footage of a female pianist playing the music, the rest of the screens alternate between showing others playing the same piece (apparently various amateurs found on YouTube), text pages from a book, and black and white stills from an old film depicting a young woman and an older man conversing in a living room. Subtitles occasionally appear, perhaps from the book, perhaps from the film. A visitor will sit, observe the screens, listen to the soothing piano, and contemplate the text and images while considering the meaning the artist has constructed through this combination of elements. All quite pleasant, but this experience could hardly be in greater contrast to viewing the early film work from Birnbaum’s career on display in the upstairs gallery.
Text by Luke Healey
Taking its place in Chapter’s 2011 roll call directly after Resident (30/10/11 – 06/11/11), WITH Collective’s über-conceptual Autumn show, Paloma Varga Weisz’s solo outing at the Cardiff gallery is a difficult one to approach. The former exhibition had seen the café extended into the gallery space, but with the latter the habitual reverent hush has returned. Now, nine ceramic objects and one somewhat anomalous watercolour sit (or perch) in vast pools of white space, each one looking heavy, mute and sullen. In a text accompanying the artist’s 2007 show at Vienna’s Kunsthalle, Angela Stief wrote of Varga Weisz’s work, that “it requires the classical, pre-modern conditions of observation and feeling, of contemplation of the opening up of the works of art and an atmosphere of stillness”. Her advice is appropriate, and there seem to be few alternatives in confronting this artist’s output. But what are we to expect from opening ourselves up in this way?
Text by Liz Buckley
Since their original publication in 1865, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass have had an unprecedented influence on the visual arts. Charles Dodgson, working under the pseudonym, Lewis Carroll, created a kind of dream world that can be appreciated by both children and adults alike. Exploring themes of the uncanny, unexpected, irrational, absurd and fantastical, the story of Alice is one that we all know and love. Tate Liverpool’s current show, Alice in Wonderland, offers visitors everything from original manuscripts, sketches, photographs and memorabilia, to both traditional and contemporary painting, sculpture, and video responses to the Alice adventures. The pieces on show in this exhibit explore various ideas such as the temporary nature of time, the precariousness of childhood, the impact of the written word upon visual culture and issues of identity. As a collective, these works highlight the more sophisticated themes which, even as children’s books, the Alice stories still present.
Text by Colin Herd
When Mario Testino announced Glasgow-based Martin Boyce as the winner of this year’s Turner Prize at the Baltic last Monday night, he accepted the award with modesty to the point of bashfulness: “Uh, well,” he said, “I didn’t expect that”, before going on to dedicate his prize to the importance of teachers and education. His reaction reflects a quiet generosity (as well as a sense of modest unexpected surprise) that is ever present in his art practice, which Tate-director Nicholas Serota has praised for the way it explores “things which come together and then fall apart”.
The Craft Council celebrates 40 years of the Crafts Council Collection with a major online exhibition 40:40 – forty objects for forty years that launches today. It’s an innovative concept, with forty objects from the Collection, selected by makers, writers and curators, presented with a personal response from their selector alongside a range of archive material including exhibition catalogue texts, films, audio clips, sketches, press articles, loan correspondence and installation instructions. Essentially, by installing the exhibition online, the viewer is encourages to do all those things you promote yourself you’re going to do after you’ve seen a gallery exhibition – read a bit more about the artist, their work, what people are saying about them, and critical responses to the work.