Nicolas Righetti: Yes To A Rosy Future

Published just this week, Yes To A Rosy Future is a collection of unsettling photographs that cast new light on the conflict in Syria. Taken back in 2007, photographer Nicolas Righetti arrived in Damascus when preparations for the Syrian election were well under way. The City was saturated with one image: that of the unopposed President, Bashar al’Assad, who was to be re-elected for another seven years. Captured in captivating colour, the set of photographs record Bashar al’Assad’s publicity of monumental portraits and publicity handouts, shot in public and private settings. The title of the book, Yes To a Rosy Future , is the harrowing slogan taken from the campaign propaganda.  

Light From the Middle East: New Photography Review, V&A

Light from the Middle East: New Photography is a very intriguing exhibition currently on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Curated by Marta Weiss it showcases 30 artists from 13 Middle Eastern countries; a region that has been in political, social and economic turmoil for over half a century. The exhibition includes 87 works, a culmination of the collaboration between the British Museum and the V&A, and was made possible through the extensive funding of the Art Fund to develop a major collection of Middle Eastern photography. The photographs may be “new” to the Western exhibition-goers but the subjects they concentrate on are “ever-lasting”.

Valentino: Master of Couture, Somerset House

Known by just his first name, Valentino the man and Valentino the fashion brand are inseparable. In recognition of this Somerset House present: Valentino: Master of Couture, a celebration of the life and the work of Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani. This glamorous exhibition focuses exclusively on the haute couture created by the legendary Italian designer, from 29 November right up until 3 March 2013. With a 50-year career, there is plenty to exhibit and the show covers over 130 hand-crafted designs worn by icons such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren and Gwyneth Paltrow. Within the collection there will be dresses from the couture catwalk and red carpet alongside designs  commissioned by private clients, giving visitors a unique insight behind the catwalk doors and right into Valentino’s world. 

Jo Longhurst: Open Spaces Review, Ffotogallery

Empty geometric rubber mats occupy corners of the gallery space, as a trace of the event from the opening night where gymnasts from the Welsh National Squad performed a series of repetitions in search of the perfect form. Jo Longhurst’s exhibition Other Spaces at Ffotogallery looks at the concept of perfection and the social, physical and psychological undertones of a culturally bound and highly codified performance.  Longhurst incorporates classic portraiture and appropriated imagery with sculptural elements inspired by Plato’s perfect solids and the Constructivists experiments with new aesthetic forms for a new society. The work references the history of gymnastic and its links to a countries larger social and political structure.

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Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2012 at the ICA in London

Bloomberg New Contemporaries opened this week at the ICA for the third year running. Independent of place and democratic to the core, New Contemporaries is open to all. One of only two open exhibitions in the UK, participants are selected by a panel comprising influential art figures including curators, writers, and artists often who have themselves previously been a part of the New Contemporaries. On the judging panel this year are Cullinan Richards, Nairy Baghramian, and Rosalind Nashashibi, who have chosen defining works by the most promising artists coming out of UK art schools from a range of over 1,200 submissions.

Nordic Film Festival, London

For the first time, there is set to be a Nordic Film Festival opening in the UK from 30 November until 5 December. Taking place across London at Riverside Studios (Hammersmith), Ciné lumière (South Kensington) and Prince Charles Cinema (Leicester Square), the festival aims to celebrate the best in Nordic filmmaking, both past and present, by bringing together a varied mix of independent films from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. 

Ivan Seal: In Here Stands It Review, Bristol

In his first large-scale solo exhibition in Britain, Berlin based Ivan Seal presents a collection of paintings exploring his take on the still life genre. Small to medium size canvasses are showcased with ever-increasing density: sparsely dotted on the walls of the first gallery, the works start to converge in the adjoining spaces, ultimately flourishing in an almost congested ribbon of paintings in the central gallery. Along with computer generated sound works, Seal’s paintings will be appear in In Here Stands It, until 9 December at Spike Island, Bristol.

ÉCU Call for Submissions 2013

The world is always in need of a good story, and one of the most popular ways to digest stories is via film. In acknowledgement of this, ÉCU- The European Independent Film Festival, searches to uncover the talented story tellers that use cinematic innovation to make their stories a reality. ÉCU’s quest to find the best in independent cinema stems from the festival’s belief in the artistic efforts of their filmmakers. Taking place in Paris 29 – 31 March,  many of the films in ÉCU’s 2013 “Official Selection” will then go on to participate in ÉCU-ON-THE ROAD. The tour takes films across the globe, exposing them to new audiences. Most recently the ÉCU tour went to Jordan and China.  Now open for submissions, we take a look at the categories. 

Interview with Frances Barber, Julius Caesar at Donmar Warehouse

Later this month, an all-female version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar opens at London’s Donmar Warehouse, under the direction of the acclaimed Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!, Mary Stuart). Among the stellar cast are Harriet Walter, Cush Jumbo and, in the title role, Frances Barber. Aesthetica’s Grace Henderson caught up with Barber during rehearsals to learn more about the production, which runs until 9 February.

Edvard Munch: Symbolism in Print Review

An artist on the fringe, Edvard Munch was born in Norway in 1863. Norway, at that time, was a country far removed from the European centrality of popular Western painting. His father, though loving to his children, was an extremely pious Christian who imposed his stern beliefs and preoccupation with death upon his children. Suffering much sorrow and loss in his life – losing first his mother and then beloved sister to tuberculosis- was compounded by his artistic life in Oslo. Throughout the year, Norway experiences periods of seasonal variation of daylight hours, occasionally shrouding the Norwegian world in darkness. His life experiences as well as natural setting, contribute to the manifestation of art work that explores themes of emotional turbulence and anguished silence that often pervade human existence. Munch’s work now appears in Symbolism in Print, at the North Carolina Museum of Art until 10 February.

Alex Katz: Give Me Tomorrow Review, Turner Contemporary, Kent

Turner Contemporary is still a baby in gallery years. Only four major exhibitions old, its fifth still causes a sense of suspense amongst its home town: “will this one draw more people to our little town of Margate?” The town’s little seaside roads and alleys, lined with vintage shops and quirky cafes, await the answer holding their bait high for the expected and hoped for art-tourists. Following on from a Tracey Emin solo show that tore in two the views of locals and critics alike, Alex Katz’s exhibition, Give Me Tomorrow, has a lot (or little, depending) to live up to.

Interview with Tim Etchells of Forced Entertainment

The Coming Storm, currently on at Battersea Arts Centre, has already caused a stir, The Guardian noted “I could happily watch these performers for hours” and What’s On Stage labeled it, “a powerful and important piece of theatre”. Produced by performance group, Forced Entertainment, artistic director, Tim Etchells, speaks to Aesthetica about his approach to theatre and his soon to be released book, Vacuum Days.

Jannis Kounellis, Parasol Unit, London

Contemporary painter, sculptor and performance artist Jannis Kounellis exhibits his early works at Parasol unit from 28 November to 17 February. Considered a protagonist of Arte Povera, an art movement that emerged in Italy during the 1960s, Kounellis embarked on his artistic career by creating some of the most radical art works of the time. Often combining the inanimate and animate, he boldly incorporated things such as propane torches, plants and animals as integral if not vital parts of his works.

Lawrence Weiner, Lisson Gallery, London

Lawrence Weiner, widely recognised for his pioneering role in the development of conceptualism in the 1960s, has spent the last five decades deconstructing artistic practices into various concepts of language and idea. In his new show at the Lisson Gallery, Weiner  focuses on the concept of truncation, a mathematical term referring to the discarding of unnecessary digits, as an inherent meaning and material reality. Weiner’s works will populate the gallery walls on a grand and small scale, and will include a new piece occupying the entirety of a 12 metre wall.

The Vivisector, Spruth Magers, London

Mannequins and prosthetics provide a new way for us to view the human body, with a more objective outlook these plastic representations separate humanity and body. The Vivisector, curated by Todd Levin, investigates this idea through two bodies of work by Cindy Sherman; the photographic series Sex Pictures (1989-1992) and a series of black and white images entitled Broken Dolls (1999).  Opening at Spruth Magers, London, on Friday 23 November the show runs until 26 January 2013 and seeks to reexamine and contextualise the importance of these works within Sherman’s oeuvre. Although Sherman’s work takes centre stage, works by Morton Bartlett, Georges Bataille, Hans Bellmer and Frederick Sommer also present articles of their work that further engage with the transgressive figurative form. Along with the works on show, part of Jacques Offenbach’s opera The Tales of Hoffmann, Les oiseaux dans la charmille (also known as “The Doll Song”), will play throughout the exhibition as it recounts a story of a poet who is fooled into falling in love with a mechanical doll.

The Other Art Fair, London

Cutting edge work will be available to both view and purchase tomorrow as The Other Art Fair opens it’s second exhibition this year, following the success of it’s earlier May edition. Running from 22 November until 25 November, visitors and art lovers will have the chance to  delve into the world of alternative art and even take a piece of it home for themselves. In May, the three day event, attracted nearly 7,000 visitors from gallerists and seasoned collectors to first time buyers and art fanatics. The success of the show is evident in the fact almost a quarter of the exhibiting artists were approached to work with galleries afterwards. Unique in its ability to unite over 100  emerging artists directly with the public, The Other Art Fair has already gained a reputation of one of the best venues for collectors to uncover new talent. The underlying aim of the fair is to put the building blocks in place for artists and collectors to forge long lasting links.

Wade Guyton OS Review, New York

When the first printing press was invented in the mid-fifteenth century by Johannes Gutenberg, it was a scandal. The source of the scandal was the replacement of hand-made works with thoughtless reproductions, i.e. the cheapening of valued goods. The book was an object revered for its unique ability to communicate knowledge; so some were worried that just anybody could get a book now, shattering a solid network of social classes. And to nobody’s astonishment, the printing press realised most of the worries – it was the sole source of widely distributed texts for the first time. So it’s a wonder that after 500 years printing is still making leaps and bounds, giving rise to bombastic new abilities in expanded fields. Wade Guyton’s mid-career retrospective, Wade Guyton OS – currently mounted at the Whitney Museum, is momentous both for Guyton and for the next generation of artists who wish never to pick up the brush. Filled with attractive, sizeable stretched linen that has been printed upon, as well as small book sized images, almost everything in the exhibition was created using large format inkjet printers (with the exception of a few chair sculptures, and a sculpture consisting of a woodpile that reeked of afterthought). The show is, ceteris paribus, a solid accomplishment – a glimpse of the possibilities wherein digital media and manual labor synaptically combine, laden with both traditional formal properties and new technological channels.

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Interview with DC Moore, Playwright of Straight

Throwing out the provocative question of, “when is your best friend not your best friend?”, Straight is a play that deals with the intriguing topic of friendship and age. Following a very successful run at the Studio in Sheffield, Straight now arrives at the Bush Theatre, London from 28 November until 22 December. Adapted from the American motion feature Humpday, Straight was written by playwright DC Moore, whose other plays include Alaska (Royal Court), The Empire (Royal Court and Drum Theatre, Plymouth – TMA Award for Best Touring Production), Honest (Royal & Derngate, Northampton and Edinburgh Festival), Town (Royal & Derngate, Northampton) and The SwanAesthetica speaks to DC Moore about his approach to Straight and how the play pans out. 

Eastside Projects- Abstract Possible: The Birmingham Beat

At a time when the city of Birmingham seems to be growing to become a viable source of fantastically cutting edge contemporary art, the latest exhibitions to populate Eastside Projects prove to be an example to the rest of the country as to just what Birmingham has to offer. Abstract Possible revisits a quintessential 20th century artistic movement that was also to produce the backbone to many more subsequent movements, but has since taken intriguing routes  in the 21st century. Artists have redesigned the process of formal abstraction within a work’s particular aesthetics to now include social abstraction and abstraction as an economic process. This broad range of interpretations of “abstract” is majestically displayed within the seductive confines of the main gallery. This space has had a superficial makeover transforming it into an enchantingly glossy minimal paradise that can’t help but penetrate deep in to the depths of one’s psyche raising and addressing topical issues with a subtle fluidity.

The Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2012 Review

It’s been just over a week since the Aesthetica Short Film Festival closed. Following the Closing Night and Awards Ceremony, at which The Sugar Bowl took Best of Fest and Hollow scooped up the People’s Choice award, ASFF has met with great acclaim. Described by Creative England as “one of the innovative arts events in the UK”, this incredible event took over the city of York from 8-11 November, turning the city, which is one Britain’s greatest cultural treasures, into a series of cinemas that screened over 200 international short films, as well as hosting masterclasses and guests screenings from leading industry figures and organisations such as BAFTA, Warp and Channel 4.

The Roundel: 100 Artists Remake a London Icon

The Underground Roundel is a sign that millions of people see everyday worldwide, mostly during a dreary commute, but don’t attribute much thought to. However, 100 international artists have taken it upon themselves to redesign this iconic image in the newly published: The Roundel: 100 Artists remake a London Icon. Not only do these works celebrate the underground transport system but also capture the Roundel (the disk like Underground sign) in a completely new way. Including artists such as Alice Channer, Jeremy Deller, Sir Peter Blake, Ryan Gander, Roger Hiorns, Cornelia Parker, Olivia Plender, Yinka Shonibare, Gavin Turk, Susan Hiller and Richard Wentworth, this book records the Roundel in painting, drawing, print collage and sculpture. 

Chanel and Marilyn Monroe

Inside Chanel, is a retrospective website that is dedicated to rediscovering the history of Chanel. Featuring a timeline of Chanel’s development, the site’s latest release is a glamorous short film about Marilyn Monroe’s famous relationship with Chanel N°5. Created to embrace the ritual of femininity, N°5 has been embraced by women the world over and not least because of Monroe’s favouring of the scent. In the wake of the short film, For the First Time, a four minute short that traces the origins of Chanel right up to their recent work with Brad Pitt, Inside Chanel presents Chapter 2, a snapshot of the intimate relationship between two of the most infamous names in the world.

Botanica Interview: Eanna de Freine

Éanna de Fréine is the editor of The Velvet Cell, an independent publishing house. Recently releasing Botanica, a book of stunning photography by Dutch photographer Sander Meisner, de Fréine talks to Aesthetica about the ideas and collaborations behind Meisner’s latest works. Including vivid colours and hidden landscapes, de Fréine enjoys exploring the world through the medium of photography. Botanica is The Velvet Cell’s first large format book and is composed by Meisner who is represented by Brandt Gallery in Amsterdam.

Blank You Very Much Interview

Blank You Very Much is a platform for designers to take iconic brands and redesign them. The concept of “blank” is the space where designers are able to make their mark on what is an established and recognisable brand. Currently working with Burton, BYVM has already worked with Coca-Cola, Huf, Bert Rodriguez, Pele, and Dee & Ricky. Designers are able to join the online community and enter the current competitions which are critiqued and commented on by others in the community and finally judged by external judges who will pick one design to be the overall winner. BYVM connects talented designers with huge brands, allowing the brands to instantly access new trends in the design market. Aesthetica speaks to the director and founder of BYVM, Darren Romanelli. 

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize: Jordi Ruiz Cirera

This years Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize has been awarded to Spanish born and London based, Jordi Ruiz Cirera (b.1984). The winning photograph captures a Bolivian woman who was clearly reluctant to sit for the camera. The 26-year-old subject is of a Mennonite woman, which is one photograph from the Menonos project, Ruiz Cirera’s long term examination of the daily life of a religious community that forbids images. Over a period of time Ruiz Cirera managed to build up a relationship of trust with the community and was eventually able to photograph them. The National Portrait Gallery, presented the £12,000 award on Monday 5 November and the winning portrait has been on show at the Gallery since Thursday 8 November.

Interview with Alex Katz

Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate, from the 6 October 2012 to the 13 January 2013, will be home to an exhibition of works by acclaimed American painter Alex Katz. Featuring works from the 1950s to the present, the show takes a look at his studies in oil, his large-scale paintings, his collages and cut-outs in an impressive display of colour, scale and immense skill. Aesthetica sat down with Katz to talk about his work, influences and life.

ASFF Interview: Shasha Nakhai & Rich Williamson

Taking 200 short films from over 25 different countries, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) is set to launch tomorrow. Including shorts from the BAFTA and Warp Films archive, ASFF really is a celebration of emerging and established short filmmaking talent. Each of the carefully selected films have their own unique stories, and not just in the storyline but in the tales behind how they were made. Aesthetica speaks to the directors and writers of The Sugar Bowl, Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson, on how they came to make this film.

Interview with Cig Harvey: You Look At Me Like an Emergency

Opening on the 14 November at the Robin Rice Gallery in New York, Cig Harvey will be launching installation exhibition, You Look at me Like an Emergency, based around her best selling photographic book of the same name. The exhibition is set up to mimic the book and allow the audience the experience of walking through it, even the cover of the book is replicated in the large white title stuck onto the red back wall. Drawn into a world of stories of relationship failures, falling in love and adjusting to motherhood the viewers will be struck by the vivid colours and perfect compositions of Harvey’s friends, family and found objects. Previously featured in Aesthetica 48, Harvey speaks to Aesthetica about her first photos and her desire to exhibit in the UK.

ASFF Filmmaker Interview: Anya Camilleri

The Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) is opening in just three days. The City of York will be alight with 200 short films across 15 different venues. Amongst these innovative films will be Perfect, directed by Anya Camilleri with Pandemonium Films Ltd and in association with The Comedy Unit. Featuring Stephen Moyer (True Blood) Perfect is the chilling tale of a redundant estate agent taking on the world. Screened with six other Thrillers, Perfect will be on from 9 until 11 November at York City Screen and the Guildhall. Aesthetica has a quick fire interview with Camilleri to uncover the inspiration behind the film.

Eddie Peake & Prem Sahib: Feel Up at Southard Reid, London

Located up several flights of carpeted steps in a Dean Street townhouse is Southard Reid’s gallery space. A single room facing out towards the plush bars and restaurants that now populate the heart of Soho. The current exhibition, Feel Up (2012), was born of an ongoing collaboration between the artists Eddie Peake and Prem Sahib.

Sadler’s Wells: Alias, Sideways Rain

Arriving at Sadler’s Wells for the first time, Geneva based dance group Alias performs Sideways Rain. Directed and choreographed by Guilherme Botelho, Alias have produced more than 20 new works and performed in Europe, Africa, Asia and North and South America to critical acclaim. Sideways Rain was created in 2010 and is one of the company’s biggest hits, attracting popularity all over the world.  Performing on the 15 – 16 November at Sadler’s Wells, Aesthetica spends a few minutes with Guilherme Botelho.

ASFF Animation Preview: The Man With The Stolen Heart

The animation screenings will be one of the many highlights of the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF), beginning next week on 8 November. In total, ASFF will be screening over 200 films across 15 different venues in the City of York, and making up that number will be the 24 short animation films. Bar Lane Studios and St William’s College will play host to these little gems of cratfsmanship that include stop-motion and computer animation. In adition to this sparkiling programme of animations, Myles McLeod of winning animation company, The Brothers McLeod will be leading a masterclass on how to create an animated world and explore the process of shaping characters. The Brothers McLeod have worked with the BBC and Disney, and have directed commercials for Guinness and Skittles. We take a moment to look atThe Man With The Stolen Heart,one of the animations screened at ASFF.

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Interview with Stuart Semple, Artist and Fashion Designer

Artist, and now fashion designer, Stuart Semple, has utilised his artistic eye to create a cardigan, in collaboration with Aubin & Wills. Built upon the memory and close relationship he had with his Grandad, Semple’s newest piece has history and thought sewn into each seam of the cardigan. The piece even has deep pockets to replicate how Semple’s Grandad stored his supply of tissues. Semple came to prominence back in 2000 when he made his distinctive social commentary drawings available on ebay. Since then Semple has featured in many major international exhibitions, including his large scale canvases and installations. Semple has even also featured on the cover of Aesthetica back in 2008 discussing Mashups, an exhibition he curated that sought to make sense of the complexities of mass culture. Semple talks to Aesthetica once more about his journey into fashion designing.

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Sharon Lockhart | Noa Eshkol at The Jewish Museum, New York

Sharon Lockhart’s latest body of work Sharon Lockhart | Noa Eshkol, will be exhibiting at The Jewish Museum from 2 November through to 24 March 2013. In this exhibition, co-organised by the Los Angeles Museum of Art (LACMA) and The Israel Museum, Lockhart engages the legacy of Noa Eshkol, the Israeli dance composer, theorist, and textile artist who created an innovative notation system that describes virtually every perceptible movement of the body. Conceived by Lockhart as a two-person exhibition, Sharon Lockhart | Noa Eshkol consists of a new, large-scale, five-channel film installation, series of photographs and architectural interventions by Lockhart, and a selection of Eshkol’s carpets, scores, and archival drawings.

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ASFF Filmmaker Interview: Nicholas Paton

It is now exactly a week until the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) opens at City Screen in York. The following days will see 200 films screened at 15 different venues across York. These films are the products of incredibly talented filmmakers from across the world. Amongst these filmmakers is Nicholas Paton, director and writer of Candid. Based on a supernatural mystery that emerges from a photographers images, Candid will be screened along with five other short films at the York Explore Library and at the Guildhall. Aesthetica speaks to Nicholas Paton about drama, photography and his future plans.

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Karl Largerfeld and Carine Roitfeld: The Little Black Jacket, Saatchi, London

Karl Largerfeld is a strange icon. He appears, complete with his metal-adorned knuckles, his slick black and white attire, his silvery hair combed neatly on top of his sunglasses-wearing-head, like a fashion-conscious, aristocratic angel from a bizarre monochrome future. On top of his celestial appearance, as the designer for the iconic House of Chanel, Largerfeld is often also heralded as being Godlike for his impeccable sense in fashion-design and his sensitive handling of the iconic silhouettes and classic pieces of the very Coco herself… This isn’t where God ends in Karl though. Another step further takes us right to the gates of heaven where Largerfeld actually appears as God, tucked between the cheeks and folds of white, fluffy clouds in the world according to rapper Jean-Roch (see 2012 music video, Saint-Tropez). He is the Wagner, the Saatchi of fashion. He is… apparently… God.

Interview with James Richards, Jarman Award Nominee 2012

The winner of this year’s prestigious Jarman Award is to be announced on 5 November. Launched four years ago in 2008, the Film London Jarman Award supports and applauds artists working with moving image and whose work avoids conventional definitions. Inspired by avant-garde flimmaker, Derek Jarman, the nominated artists are: Brad Butler & Karen Mirza, Marcus Coates, Shezad Dawood, Benedict Drew, Nathaniel Mellors, James Richards, Ben Rivers, Aura Satz, Matt Stokes and Thomson & Craighead. Aesthetica takes a moment to interview James Richards, an artist with many occupations, spending his time producing film, sculpture and setting up public film screenings. He graduated from the Chelsea School of Art and has hosted solo shows in the UK and in Istanbul, he discusses the work he will be presenting as part of this year’s Jarman Award Touring programme and the importance of the production of film in art.