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 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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.