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Dialogues With The Physical | The Space Between | Tate Britain

Text by Travis Riley

Facing out from the entrance of The Space Between, (the title given to the recent rehang of the Tate’s contemporary collection) kneels a disfigured male, with disarmingly large, erect phallus protruding heavenward from between his legs. The work, NUC CYCLADIC (2010) is one of three pieces on display by Sarah Lucas, each a small sculpture stood atop two breeze blocks, which themselves stand upon an makeshift MDF plinth. The sculpture is made simply from “tights, fluff, and wire”. The beige tights create an evocatively flesh-like surface as they stretch across the contours of their filling. Whilst, only hinting at recognisable bodily shapes, the forms the models imply are explicitly figurative. At the rear of the models the sewn joints in the tights are left on show, just like the human body, we are uncomfortable seeing the parts that would usually be hidden from view. One of the works looks less like a single figure, but instead two nude bodies embroiled in a struggle, undoubtedly erotic.

Art Doesn’t Act and Doesn’t Work | Forget Fear | The 7th Berlin Biennale For Contemporary Art

For the curator of the 7th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Polish-artist Artur Żmijewski, the concept of the Biennale is simple – presenting art that has a transformative impact on society, that opens a space where politics can be performed. Subtitled Forget Fear, the Biennale takes place against a backdrop of hostility; citing the decline of support for culture in Europe (namely the Netherlands, Greece and the UK) and the arrests of Russian feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot as a driving force. There are key themes of course, ranging from the political effectiveness of art to the way art is employed to construct historical narratives, but there’s something more significant at stake here – a drive to influence political and ideological agendas and goals.

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Big Brother is Watching You: David Dunnico: 1984 Looks Like This | Salford Museum & Art Gallery

Text by Liz Buckley

George Orwell’s enigmatic novel 1984, first published in 1949, got the world thinking; was this a prophecy, or simply science fiction? First written not so much as a prediction for the future, but as a topical fiction story, Orwell’s prophetic tale has turned out to be chillingly relevant to every generation since its publication. The current exhibition1984 Looks Like This at Salford Museum & Art Gallery centres on the story of 1984, as well as the photography of David Dunnico, who as an artist has occupied himself with issues surrounding surveillance, as well as the unnerving relevance of Orwell’s novel to today’s society. This exhibition offers a collection of work by Dunnico, as well as his impressive collection of copies of 1984 and related ephemera, showcasing not only the changing covers of the book but also its consistent relevancy to our modern culture. 

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Currents 106: Chelsea Knight | Saint Louis Art Museum | Missouri

Text by Laura Elizabeth Barone

Chelsea Knight’s current solo-exhibition at the Saint Louis Art MuseumCurrents 106: Chelsea Knight, is a two-part, show, split up into two galleries on opposite sides of the museum, each of which have a distinct – though language based – all-encompassing environment. Knight is clearly fascinated by the power of language, by what is meant and by what is said, and how language enables us to maintain ideas of our own race, class, gender, and identity every day. In one of the galleries is a short film, titled The End of All Resistance (2010), a single-channel, 29 minute video of psychological test and play. Across the hall is Frame (2012) an installation meant to look like a construction site with photographs and an 11 minute film with real construction workers reading and commenting on feminist texts.

Miró: Sculptor | Yorkshire Sculpture Park | Wakefield

Text by Elizabeth Holdsworth

The sky is wide in Wakefield, or at least it appears so. Shouldering this weight of blue, Joan Miró’s bronze sculptures trample the neat lawns of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the glossy black of polished bronze a slick upon amorphous and primal bodies.

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A New Art Fair for Yorkshire | Saltburn Arts Fair | 3 – 5 August 2012

Saltburn-by-the-Sea still has a pier, making it a seaside resort in the traditional and best sense. This time last year, the local creative community was preparing for The Exhibitionists , an artists open studios event that celebrated the quality and diversity of the work being made in the area. Following the success of The Exhibitionists, curators Jenny Hall and Becky Mitchell have taken things one step further by launching Saltburn Arts Fair, the first event of its kind to take place in the area. Aesthetica spoke to Jenny and Becky to find out more about the fair, and how artists can get involved.

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Interview with Satis House Project Space Belfast curators Eoin Dara and Kim McAleese

Over the next two years contemporary art in Northern Ireland will experience developments progressively on par to other successful regions in the UK. In 2013 the prestigious Turner Prize will be hosted by a select venue in the first UK Capital of Culture Derry/Londonderry. In Belfast the much anticipated multi-functional Metropolitan Arts Centre (The MAC) will open to the public this month. Adding to this sense of growth a unique project space entitled Satis House launched its inaugural exhibition last month.

The Transcendental World of Photographer Jordan Sullivan | Roadsongs | Clic Gallery | New York

Text by Bethany Rex

Brooklyn-based photographer Jordan Sullivan was born in Houston, Texas and raised in Ohio, Michigan, and Indonesia. He studied at the University of Michigan and University College London before moving to New York City. He previously worked as a construction worker in central Texas, a touring musician in New York City and as an artist assistant to photographers Mike & Doug Starn. Sullivan has exhibited in the United States and Europe, participating in PhotoIreland (Dublin), Flash Forward Festival (Boston) and Photomonth (Krakow).

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Contemporary Street Art From Israel | Broken Fingaz Crew: Crazy Eye Hotel | Shop 13: The Old Truman Brewery | London

Text by Bethany Rex

Broken Fingaz are a pioneering, multidisciplinary street art collection from Haifa, Israel. Heralded as the first crew to emerge from their homeland, their widely acclaimed and dynamic work includes graffiti, graphic design, installation and music. Since their beginnings 11 years ago, Broken Fingaz have steadily built a worldwide following, exhibiting on walls and in gallery shows around the work. In 2010 they took their work to Art Beijing, China, and in 2011, their success was elucidated by simultaneous exhibitions opening at Israel’s two most prestigious art institutions, the Tel Aviv Museum and the Haifa Museum of Art.

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Navigating Contemporary Oddities, Ideas & Ideologies | Shezad Dawood: Piercing Brightness | Modern Art Oxford

Text by Asana Greenstreet

People are always wishing, hoping for some sort of transformative experience from art. Gazing at a Gainsborough is all well and good, transporting the viewer back through two centuries of history. But what ought we to do when an artist takes us on a journey that we are uncomfortable with? At Modern Art Oxford, walking up the stairs strangely makes the visitor focus on the time and speed of the journey: on the distance travelled vertically, towards darkness.

Piers Rawson: Small Moments: The Human Face of Semana Santa | Forest Arts Centre | New Milton

Carrying just a single, unobtrusive camera, photographer Piers Rawson spent several days on the streets of Seville during the Semana Santa Easter celebrations.

Rawson was looking for the more intimate, human face and telling details behind the solemn outward formality and religious fervour of the Spanish Holy Week. Behind the showy theatricality and emotional intensity of the famous processions, this is a time for families, for commercial opportunities and for the display of social status.

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Sarah Browne: How to Use Fool’s Gold | Ikon Gallery | Birmingham

Text by William Davie

One of the current exhibitions at Ikon Gallery is Sarah Browne‘s exhibition How to Use Fool’s Gold. This exhibition is the first UK solo exhibition by the Dublin-based artist and presents a survey of film and sculptural works, including Browne’s entry for the 2009 Venice Biennale. Using “the economy” as the basis for her artistic practice, Browne investigates and analyses the way in which differing communities from around the globe utilise material items that can be seen in some contexts to be worthless, but in others develop to help define wealth and status.

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A Celebration of British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age | V&A | London

In preparation for the Summer Olympics and in conjunction with a trend of promoting British culture, the Victoria & Albert Museum explores the many facets of British contributions to modern design. Using the 1948 London Olympic Gfames as its starting point, this exhibition chronicles the character of British design from it’s traditional beginnings, subversive period, and finally the contemporary excellence in technology and engineering.

Bridging the Gap Between Landscape and Abstraction | David Wightman: Paramour | Halcyon Gallery | London

Born in Stockport, David Wightman’s first exposure to art was through the Manchester Art Gallery where he became captivated by the pre-Raphaelite collection and the fantasy worlds of William Holman-Hunt and John William Waterhouse. Wightman has come a long way since those early days. In 2010, Wightman was awarded a fellowship in Berwick-upon-Tweed by Berwick Gymnasium Fellowship, English Heritage and has exhibited at Sumarria Lunn, Cornerhouse, William Angel Gallery and Found Gallery.

Hans-Peter Feldmann | Serpentine Gallery | London

Text by Travis Riley

Despite having gained a considerable reputation across Europe, and having won the $100,000 Hugo Boss Prize in New York (2010), this is Hans-Peter Feldmann’s first show in a public gallery in London. Feldmann is known and acclaimed for his artist’s books. Called Bilder (Pictures), each is numbered, and contains a series of related photographs. He has carried this mentality of series and collections throughout his art. One Pound of Strawberries (2004) depicts its title. Although defined by their collective weight, the strawberries have been separated, each isolated into its own small, stark, photographic image.

Jim Dow: American Studies | Robert Klein Gallery | Boston

Jim Dow’s (b. 1942) photographs focus on the passage of time as it is recorded in landscapes from North Dakota to Great Britain to Argentina. Using an 8 x 10 inch view camera, Dow turns his lens to roadside signs, ageing buildings, and interiors that feel locked in another era. His images honestly record the scenes before his camera, avoiding sentiments of nostalgia while paying tribute to lands marked by past and current residents. A leading American photographer, Dow pushes his viewer to reconsider familiar surroundings and discern the beauty and cultural history hidden in modern landscapes.

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Art or Meme? | Eva and Franco Mattes | Carroll/Fletcher | London

Text by Bethany Rex

Eva and Franco Mattes’ current exhibition at Carroll/Fletcher was Anonymous, untitled, dimensions, variable on Wednesday, Building Stories on Thursday and today’s exhibition title remains to be confirmed. If you’re interested in the process of naming you can follow the daily change on their tumblr: www.exhibitiontitlechange.tumblr.com 

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El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa | North Carolina Museum of Art | Raleigh NC

Text by Sarah Richter

El Anatsui is widely recognised as one of Africa’s foremost contemporary artists. Most well known for his signature bottle cap sculptures, his artistic practice is punctuated by artworks that utilise a variety of mediums and explore themes of both personal and wider significance. Born in Ghana but actively working in Nigeria, El is inspired by his surroundings. His use of found materials is not a comment on Western recycling, but on giving discarded objects a new life.

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Anthony Earnshaw: The Imp of Surrealism | Cartwright Hall Art Gallery | Lister Park | Bradford

Text by Daniel Potts

Cartwright Hall sits in the award-winning Lister Park – an appropriate venue in terms of its relatively close proximity to the birthplace of the artist. The survey of the work of this son of Ilkley is housed modestly in one room of this grand edifice, which, for its aging, schoolroom-like aromas evokes the surrealistic mental muddles of childhood. Perhaps such early confusions, with all their cross-wired connotations, form the basis of our appreciation of the surreal. The dream-like associations, projected by us on to whatever form of surrealist media, when they are contrived to be invoked by artists betoken profound insight.

A Season of Artists’ Film and Video | Ben Rivers: Ode to the Flâneur | S1 Artspace | Sheffield

We’ve been keeping a close eye on S1 SALON: a series of artists’ film and video screenings that take place at S1 Artspace in Sheffield. Now in its sixth cycle, S1 SALON 2012 presents three new screenings of work by national and international artists selected by artist Linder Sterling, Head of Sculpture Studies at The Henry Moore Institute, Lisa Le Feuvre and artist Ben Rivers.

Shilpa Gupta, Steel Etched Books and Shelves (2010-11)

The Formation of Identity | Shilpa Gupta: Someone Else | Arnolfini | Bristol

Text by Regina Papachlimitzou

In her first major solo exhibition in the UK, Mumbai-based artist Shilpa Gupta uses an eclectic variety of media to explore some of the themes most central to her work: namely, censorship, the particularities of text and script as tools of communication, and individuality versus collective experience to name but a few.

Gillian Wearing, 2 into 1, 1997. Colour video for monitor with sound, 4 minutes 30 seconds. Copyright the artist Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

Public Faces and Private Lives | Gillian Wearing | Whitechapel Gallery | London

Text by Daniel Barnes

Before the mundane and grotesque content of anybody’s life could be accessed at a mere click, there was Gillian Wearing, who made subtle, engaging art about people. Her early investigations of public faces and private lives predate Big Brotherand Twitter, and in this Whitechapel survey the work appears both pioneering and slightly archaic. The Whitechapel gives a welcome glimpse at the work of an artist who is often overlooked because her work no longer seems shocking, since technology has eclipsed the initial surprise.

Danse-moi vers la fin de l'amour 2012

Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski | Danse-moi vers la fin de l’amour | French Riviera | London

Text by Bethany Rex

Danse-moi vers la fin de l’amouris the culmination of a two year project by the artists Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski. The project explores the freedoms that result from the hedonistic ritual of dance, paying particular focus to the aesthetic phenomenon of a dancer isolated from the crowd.

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A New Space for the Creative Community in the North-East | BALTIC 39 Opening | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Text by Rachel Van Greuning

BALTIC 39 is a new hub for Contemporary Art in Newcastle upon Tyne opens to the public on Friday 6 April. Aesthetica spoke to BALTIC Director Godfrey Worsdale on the gallery’s recent success.

Finn Dean, House at Night. Courtesy the artist.

The Art Collective | Gallery 40 | Brighton | Interview with Finn Dean

There is a lot of bitter chatter about public funded arts organisations at the moment. There’s the much contested ACE capital-funding programme, rumours of the creator of Big Brother, Peter Bazalgette, being made the new Chief Executive of the organisation, and the standard noise about London organisations being over-represented. Away from the anger, organisations such as the Art Collective, a not-for-profit philanthropic art movement which supports emerging artists, champions the benefits of art, and works to make art accessible to all, struggle to be heard above the noise.

Dieter Roth (Solo Szenen) Solo Scenes, 1997-1998 Video installation; 128 monitors, video content on 131 CF card media players Dimensions variable Videostill © Dieter Roth Estate Courtesy Hauser & Wirth

Interview with Edinburgh Art Festival Director, Sorcha Carey

Text by Bethany Rex

Edinburgh Art Festival announced its programme for its 9th edition last week. Taking place in more than 30 of the city’s museums, not-for-profit and commercial galleries, EAF will feature over 45 exhibitions, with further pop-up shows taking place in artist-run spaces and outdoor venues across the city. The festival runs from 2 August – 2 September so there’s plenty of time to get your head around the programme which is packed by any standards. If that’s too much of a stretch, we spoke to the Director of EAF, Sorcha Carey to find out more.

Roger Ballen: Shadow Land: Photographs 1983-2011 | Manchester Art Gallery

Text by Carol Huston

Currently showing at Manchester Art Gallery is Roger Ballen’s first major solo exhibition in the UK, representing three decades of Ballen’s photography. The retrospective guides the viewer through a 30 year progression of his photographic practice, from the documentary to documentary fiction to the more recent imaginary realism. As evidenced with 180 photographs of his work, it is certain that Ballen appreciates consistency, working strictly in black and white and printing in a square format.

Aesthetica Issue 46

Aesthetica April/May issue “Wider Narratives” Out Now!

Our April/May issue “Wider Narratives” goes on sale today. This issue is about critical thinking and wider narratives.

Inside the magazine, we start with the Bauhaus: Art as Life – a comprehensive survey of one of the most influential schools of thought from the 20th century, as well as Cuban-born artistic duo, Los Carpinteros opening at Kunstmuseum Thun with their show Silence Your Eyes, which juxtaposes the public, political and private spheres. Photographer, Roger Ballen’s first major UK retrospective opens at Manchester Art Gallery and explores three decades of the artist’s career. We re-examine the illustrious career and the phenomenon that was the YBAs, through Jeremy Cooper’s new book Growing Up: The Young British Artists at 50.