Aesthetica Short Film Festival returns to York this November: New Venues and More Screenings!

After a hugely successful inaugural year, Aesthetica is delighted to present the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) in venues across the city of York in November 2012. The four-day festival programme will showcase some of the best short film from across the world, chosen from an open submissions call, and will include a rich bill of talks and guest screenings from leading film industry organisations.

Anish Kapoor: Flashback at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The long trek from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park Centre to the Longside Gallery refreshes and furnishes the soul of the city dweller with a graceful marriage of nature and artifice. The verdant undulations of the sculpted terrain punctuated with wooded areas, and surrounding the main focal points of the lake and Bretton Hall, suffice to pervade the senses with an impression of organic unity. This general impression is heightened by the dynamism of passing clouds in the sky evoking an almost spiritual wonder at the apparent unity of their form, while being derived from random constituents. This works nicely as an appetizer to Flashback: a survey of Anish Kapoor’s work and development, spanning 18 years from 1982 to 2000. Why? The visitor is presented with highly sensual, organic and abstract forms exploring positive and negative space with a remarkably original employment of materials. Moving forward chronologically, the exhibition can be seen as consisting of two parts with an intervening transition.

Interview: Georgia Fendley, Mulberry AW12

Earlier this month Mulberry released its AW12 campaign, shot by renowned British photographer Tim Walker in an English forest. The series is beautiful and evocative, playing on the romance and darkness of children’s fairytales. Georgia Fendley, Mulberry Brand Director – reflects on the collection and the season ahead.

Aesthetica Art Prize: Installation & Performance Showcase

As a magazine, we celebrate the visual arts in all forms and that’s why the Aesthetica Art Prize welcomes entries from artists working in all mediums. Artists may submit their work into any one of the four categories; Photographic & Digital Art, Three Dimensional Design & Sculpture, Painting & Drawing, Video, Installation & Performance.

Earlier this week we showcased a selection of images from last year’s Photographic & Digital Art category. This selection was taken from the Aesthetica Creative Works Annual 2012, available to purchase here.

Still in need of inspiration? Here’s a selection of images from the Installation and Performance category. Enjoy!

Shonibare MBE

Block Party: Contemporary Craft Inspired by the Art of the Tailor at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester.

The Crafts Council touring exhibition entitled Block Party: Contemporary Craft Inspired by the Art of the Tailor is currently housed in the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery of Leicester, the third leg of its journey. The exhibition seems to reflect upon the location of Leicester as a former centre of garment and textile manufacturing and, in places, it mournfully echoes the decline of tailoring as it once was. The exhibition not only features a wide array of conceptual pieces that gives the visitor an insight into the art of pattern-cutting and tailoring but also brings elements of tailoring heritage to the foreground. Curated by Lucy Orta, one of contemporary art’s most renowned visual artists, the exhibition covers the concepts of Pattern-Cutting as Storytelling, Pattern-Cutting Embracing the Future, and Motif and Manipulation in Pattern-Cutting.


The Latitude Contemporary Art Award

Now in its third year, the Latitude Contemporary Art (LCA) Award and Exhibition boasts one of the largest contemporary art prize funds in the country. This year’s shortlist of five British artists have been selected and commissioned to compete for the £10,000 prize and an invitation to return in 2013 with a challenging new art work. The final pieces of art will be exhibited within the Iris Gallery, a dedicated woodland site at the heart of the festival.

Alongside creating artworks for the festival, the artists will also take part in a number of Q&A sessions in front of a festival audience. We hope you can make it to the festival to take part in these discussions yourself and in preparation we have put together a round-up of this year’s shortlisted artists; what they’ve been doing recently and what they will be creating for the LCA.

Preview of The 18th Biennale Of Sydney: Opens Tomorrow.

The Biennale of Sydney plays a central role in the visual arts in Australia and connecting artists from around the world. The 18th Biennale of Sydney opens to the public tomorrow, unveiling the work of more than 100 artists from over 44 countries. With the curatorial premise All Our Relations, the Biennale provides a collaborative framework that allows conversations to extend to both artists and audiences. The collaboration between Artistic Directors Catherine de Zegher and Gerald McMaster is the first time in the Biennale’s 39 year history that an exhibition has been developed by a curatorial duo. In Aesthetica’s April/May issue we spoke to Gerald McMaster about his part in the Biennale‘s curation.

The Rio Club, 1968 © David Bailey s

David Bailey’s East End at Compressor House, Newham.

It is a little known fact that David Bailey has photographed east London streets and their inhabitants from the early 1960s to the present day, returning time and time again to Newham, the stomping ground of his youth. This exhibition of pictures of the East End, taken over 50 years, will see the internationally celebrated photographer return to his home town while the world’s focus is on east London.


Portrait of the Artist As… at The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London.

The exhibition Portrait of the Artist As…looks at the ways in which artists have portrayed themselves, their peers and their predecessors over four centuries. Curated by the students of The Courtauld’s MA Programme Curating the Art Museum, it draws on the holdings of two major collections, The Courtauld Gallery and The Arts Council Collection, and includes 30 works in various media from the 18th century to the present day. We spoke to Sascha Feldman and Davida Fernandez-Barkan, both students on the course, about the experience of putting the exhibition together and historical or theoretical underpinning to the curation.

Aesthetica Art Prize: Photographic & Digital Art Showcase

As a celebration of excellence in art from across the world, the Aesthetica Art Prize welcomes entries from artists working in all mediums. Artists may submit their work into any one of the four categories; Photographic & Digital Art, Three Dimensional Design & Sculpture, Painting & Drawing and Video, Installation & Performance.

The prize offers a great opportunity for artists to showcase their work and further their involvement in the international art world. With a prize package including £1000 cash, a group exhibition in York hosted by Aesthetica, editorial coverage in the magazine and publication in the Creative Works Annual, why not submit your work into the competition and see where it takes you?

Zoe Strauss: 10 Years: A Slideshow at Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York.

Zoe Strauss (b. 1970) is a self-taught photographer and installation artist. This exhibition at Bruce Silverstein gallery marks the culmination of Strauss’ I-95 project, a ten year long endeavour for which Strauss displayed her photographs by affixing them to the pilasters supporting the flyover of Interstate-95 in South Philadelphia.

Stéphane Coutelle: Shoebox Studio.

There’s no doubt that Stéphane Coutelle’s book Shoebox Studio is a striking collection of images. Published by Damiani, Shoebox Studio features portraits of young women, all brand new to modelling, who filtered into the photographer’s small studio in Paris between 2004-2008, hoping to be discovered. Hardly speaking English, let alone French, many of the young women Coutelle encountered had yet to inhabit their newly prescribed roles of creatures of fantasy. Arresting and unflinching, this beautiful volume is an incredibly rare perspective on a population of women whose job it is to mask the very vulnerability that Coutelle uncovers.

Anouk Mercier - Cascade du Vaugeret

Anouk Mercier: Excursus at Antlers Gallery, Bristol.

Bristol-based artist Anouk Mercier has been championing the art of drawing within Bristol since graduated from UWE in 2008. Her latest exhibition Excursus open in two week’s time at Antlers Gallery. Read the interview below to find out more about the exhibition and the art scene in Bristol.

Bruce Nauman: Days and SOUNDWORKS at ICA, London.

Entering through the sliding doors of the ICA, a perceptible chatter drifts around the corner from the gallery’s ground floor exhibition space. It sounds as if the private view of the show is still underway. However, approaching the stairs to look down into the gallery, the space is empty except for seven pairs of white, flat-panel speakers, held taught at head height by thin wires stretching floor to ceiling. This is the UK premiere of Bruce Nauman’s piece, Days (2009).

Heatherwick Studio: Designing The Extraordinary at V&A, London.

Is there any other design or architectural practice as charming as Heatherwick Studio? Can we imagine anyone else going to such extremes of inventiveness to realise their projects? The word “innovation” has been used to the point that it has become hackneyed, but rarely would its use be so justified as describing, for example, a project that required the invention of a machine with a spike covered roller used on sheets of foil, in order to exert a precise amount of crinkling, allowing it to become an insulation material for the exterior of a building. Or in another case by solving the problem of how to retract a bridge, not by swinging it or lifting it, but by rolling it up like a millipede. This bridge is made up of eight triangular segments so that when it is fully contracted it makes a perfect octagon, combining functionality, a reference to nature, and pure geometry all at once, none of which are perhaps as important as the aspect of wonder and strangeness that this helpful animated object conveys.

Simon Pope - Memory Marathon 2009 stills

Simon Pope: Memory Marathon at John Hansard Gallery Central, Southampton.

Simon Pope (b. 1966) explores the interactions of memory and dialogue in relation to landscape representation. His work Memory Marathon will be on show at John Hansard Gallery Central during July and celebrates personal memory and international spirit in the London 2012 Olympic Games host city. We spoke to the artist about the project and how filmmakers can work with brands.

Graham Gussin: In and Out, Back and Forth at New Art Centre, Salisbury.

Graham Gussin (b. 1960)  is renowned for using diverse media, including text, photography, drawing, film and installation, to explore perceptions of time and space. The exhibition at the New Art Centre comprises new and recent works. We spoke to the artist to ahead of the exhibition opening to find out more.

Polly Morgan Talks About Endless Plains at All Visual Arts, London.

Ever since we interviewed artist Polly Morgan earlier last month, we have been following her movements as she continues to elevate taxidermy to an art form by creating vignettes that emphasise the romantic beauty of nature. To coincide with the opening of her show Endless Plains at All Visual Arts, London, visited the artist in her studio in Hackney Wick to see Morgan putting the final touches  to her pieces and install the exhibition. Inspired by her recent visit to the Serengeti, Morgan presents the viewer with the grave realities of the cycle of life, showcasing the relationships between the predator, the parasite and the prey.

Alessandro Imbriaco: The Garden

Italian photographer Alessandro Imbriaco is the 19th winner of the European Publishers Award for Photography, and will see his project – The Garden – published in a book in five European countries. Imbriaco portrays a small swamp under a flyover on the ring road circling the eastern outskirts of Rome that has become home to many illegal migrants who have nowhere else to go. The Garden is a powerful and intriguing series that explores the peripheral and hidden spaces of the cities in which we live.

walking in blossom.acrylic.50x50cm.emma brownjohn

Interview with Nigel Walker, Curator of Creation Fine Arts, Beverley.

Creation Fine Arts is a brand new art gallery in Beverley, East Yorkshire, showcasing the work of talented artists from the local area and around the globe. Aesthetica spoke to Curator, Nigel Walker, about the project and his hopes for the space.

Obsession at Louis Vuitton Maison, New Bond Street, London.

Collaborations between fashion houses and the contemporary art world are nothing new. Unlike some of the commercial tie-ins we witness today, countless Olympic athletes promoting products as distant as UPS for example, everyone is a winner when these spheres work creatively together. Not only do they allow the brands to engage with an audience they may find difficult to access through traditional marketing initiatives, they also give much needed exposure to emerging artists and designers and allow established ones to realise works in innovative and experimental ways.

Yto Barrada: RIFFS at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.

North African based artist Yto Barrada’s (winner of the Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year 2011) RIFFS is a highly anticipated and significant exhibition for Ikon Gallery.

The Dead of Night: William Eckersley: Dark City at VEGAS Gallery, London.

In our December/January 2011 issue “Locating Identity” we previewed photographer William Eckersley’s book Dark City. Eckersley’s vision of nocturnal London dissembles the conventional imagery of built environments where lost opportunities and chances not taken, abandoned housing estates and neon-lit corner shops reign. Eckersley, as his book reaffirms, is a photographer with a different perspective. Early next month, viewers will have the opportunity to witness Dark City  in the gallery setting at VEGAS, London. There’s something about this series that we just love; the use of various light forms and eerily unpopulated locations that work together to create a vision of a city that is scarcely even recognisable as the London we identify with.

FormContent: It’s Moving from I to It at Eastside Projects, Birmingham.

Tucked away in the far corner of Eastside Projects in a side-room is the exhibition It’s Moving from I to It. This exhibition is put on by the performance group FormContent, made up of Alejandro Cesarco, Goldin & Senneby, Douglas Gordon, Fitts & Holderness, Martin Gustavsson and Marine Hugonnier. The exhibition casts the viewer in the role of an investigator. Rather than forming a literal investigation, the exhibition has taken an existential stance on the topic. The gallery space forms an installation that mimics an evidence room allowing for the viewer to negotiate and disarm the pieces to a level they feel satisfactory. On a purely aesthetic level the works seemingly have no inherent connection and appear more as an intriguing eclectic mesh of different mediums.  From the mesmerising abstract juxtaposition of Marine Hugonnier’s series of newspaper prints to the eerie silence and thought provoking monitor images of Fitts & Holderness this exhibition is nothing short of inspiring and memorable.

Caroline Achaintre, Sara Barker, Alice Channer at Eastside Projects, Birmingham.

In the expansive industrial wastelands just beyond Birminghamcity centre is Digbeth, the social hub and heart of the Birminghamart scene. Located here is a small but significant gallery, Eastside Projects which along with Ikon attracts both British and international contemporary artists to exhibit in the city.

Loreana Toledo, 'Naive Melody 2 (this must be the place)' 2010. C Type contact print, acrylic paint, 29.7x21cm. Image courtesy opf TJ Boulting, London

Re-coding Narratives: Aesthetica speaks to Laureana Toledo.

With a background in photography, Laureana Toledo’s (b. 1970, Mexico) practice incorporates various media, chosen in relation to a specific concept or theme of the work. Laureana is inspired by the imperceptible or transient moments of the everyday, speculating on how such phenomena can gain new forms of visual presentation. Her work often involves systematic and repetitive interventions into different media (texts, books, photographs etc.) to re-frame their existing narratives.

Her work frequently explores the relationship between different cultures in the UK and Mexico, with a particular example of this being found in her work titled The Limit. Exploring the history of rock music – one of her passions – Laureana formed a Mexican cover-band that borrowed its name from a Sheffield cult rock venue of the eighties. The Limit interpreted songs of popular local bands such as Def Leppard, Pulp and The Human League and toured to Sheffield where they performed to local audiences. This work explored the processes of a local phenomenon ‘gone global’. By taking the music back to Sheffield, Laureana shows how it has acquired new layers of meaning.

Aesthetica spoke to Laureana about her work and her forthcoming projects.

The Kunsthalle Zürich Re-Opens: Interview with Director, Beatrix Ruf.

Switzerland’s leading contemporary art organisation, the Kunsthalle Zürich will officially open to the public this weekend in its new permanent home within the Löwenbräukunst for a special preview week between 10 – 17 June.

Aesthetica spoke to Beatrix Ruf, Director of Kunsthalle Zürich ahead of the opening.

Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences at Victoria Miro, London

Standing in the entrance of Grayson Perry’s exhibition at the Victoria Miro gallery I find myself caught between two images. On the left, a child is cradled in the arms of a young mother. She sits in a pub-carpeted, patterned wallpapered, trinket adorned room, the time-honoured depiction of working class living (The Adoration of the Cage Fighters, 2012). Two bald, tattooed men worship at the ginger-haired baby’s feet. They present gifts of a miner’s lamp and Sunderland football shirt. In the image to the right a man lies dead, cradled in the arms of a paramedic on the pavement of a London street (#Lamentation, 2012). A smashed sports car provides evidence of the accident. His curly ginger hair echoes the infant’s.

The Happy Couple: Laura Stevens: Us Alone in Paris

Paris-based photographer Laura Stevens’ (b. 1977) series Us Alone (2011) looks at the dark and melancholy aspects of relationships. The series is a powerful exploration of the moment when the romance of cohabitation is betrayed by the banal aspects of day-to-day living.  Capturing couples in their home highlights moments of tension and boredom between men and women who cohabit. These photographs are a departure from the traditional image of the happy, loving couple within vernacular photography and instead address the hidden moments of coexistence. Through exploring the disparity between each partner striving for personal freedom and identity, alongside the need to act as part of a whole in creating a shared and unified reality, Stevens’ understanding of the reality behind the “happy couple” is palpable.  We spoke to the photographer to find out more about the project and how you can get involved.

We Face Forward: Contemporary Art and Music from West Africa

We Face Forward is a season of contemporary art and music from West Africa, celebrated across Manchester’s galleries, museums, music venues and public spaces, as part of London 2012 Festival. The exhibitions, concerts, events and community activities recognise both the historic and contemporary links between Manchester and the various countries that make up West Africa. Exploring ideas of economic and cultural exchange, environment and sustainability, We Face Forward considers the place of tradition in contemporary culture.

Curator Liz Wells discusses Sense of Place at BOZAR, Brussels.

The focus of the 4th edition of the Summer of Photography, an international biennale that focuses on photography and related media, is on landscape. Central to the festival is the exhibition Sense of Place: European Landscape Photography at BOZAR featuring 160 works from more than 40 photographers. The exhibition is divided into three main European regions (North, Central and Mediterranean) and it explores the idea of the national and regional landscape in the context of a united Europe. Sense of Place is particularly poignant in the light of the current economic climate where the concept of a “united” Europe is on course to be significantly altered and disrupted. Featuring the work of Andreas Gursky, Massimo Vitali, Olafur Eliasson, Joan Fontcuberta, Pedro Cabrita, Reis and Carl De Keyzer, each who provides a personal vision of the landscapes of their homeland, Sense of Place is previewed in the current issue of the magazine which you can buy here. For an insider’s view on the exhibition, watch an interview with the show’s curator Liz Wells above.

Sense of Place is on show from 14 June until 16 September. 


Jenny Holzer: Sophisticated Devices at Sprüth Magers, London.

Jenny Holzer is an artist known for her words. Whether it’s T-shirts, plaques or LED signs, Holzer emblazons her medium of choice with witty quotes – or “truisms” – to create instantly satisfying pieces that every English speaker can understand. Since her emergence onto the art scene in the late 1970s, her quips like, “Money Creates Taste,” and “Freedom is a Luxury Not a Necessity,” have proved popular with critics and the public alike. Today, they continue to provoke a similar reaction, so much so, they’ve inspired a Twitter account all for themselves, (@jennyholzer) posting statements that have been previously inscribed in her art.

Near and Far: Landscape Photographs by Per Bak Jensen at 12 Star Gallery, London

It is hard to overestimate the enduring importance of attitudes to nature and ideas around the representation of landscape in Nordic culture and thinking. Landscape painting assumed particular importance in Denmarkaround the middle of the 19th century, when figures such as Johan Thomas Lundbye, Christen Købke and P.C. Skovgaard emerged as key figures, inspired by Caspar David Friedrich’s earlier mission to capture the sublime in nature.

Babak Ghazi and Gareth Jones at Raven Row, London

The top floor of Raven Row gallery is divided into two adjacent, small, white spaces. Each room contains two sets of shelves, back-to-back. On the shelves are arranged an assortment of uniform black box-files, labelled with their contents, presented in alphabetical order. A simple instruction on the wall, scrawled in informal purple text, reads “please touch”. The piece, by Babak Ghazi, has been made over the past four years, and is called Lifework (2008-).

Stella Vine’s 12 Hour Painting Marathon at HowTheLightGetsIn, Hay-on-Wye

HowTheLightGetsIn, the philosophy and music festival at Hay-on-Wye, offers an intellectually rigorous programme of innovative and inspirational debate, alongside live performances from world-class musicians. The term intellectually rigorous is a little frightening – is this going to be a Punchdrunk does philosophy type of affair? The programme is asking big questions that is for certain – have politics and big ideas become irreconcilably separated? What does the rise of the East mean for the West? How far can science really take us? 

Henry Moore: Large Late Forms at Gagosian Gallery, London.

Gagosian Gallery, in collaboration with the Henry Moore Foundation are bringing the artist’s large-scale sculptures indoors for the first time.  It was Moore’s intention that these large-scale forms be interacted with, viewed close-up and even touched. In order that their heft and mass be perceived in a myriad of settings, they were most commonly placed outdoors, subject to the effects of changing light, seasons and terrain. Within the controlled white environment of the gallery space, the sheer volume and mammoth proportions of the sculptures are more keenly felt. Brimming with latent energy, their richly textured surfaces and sensual, rippling arcs and concavities can be seen to new effect.