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.