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Interview with Alexander Lass and Nadia Papachronopoulou – directors of the Orange Tree Theatre’s Writers Group new production Unrivalled Landscape

Written by members of Orange Tree Theatre’s Writers Group, which nurtures the talents of professional playwrights, Unrivalled Landscape comprises six new short plays in which a washed-up comedian, a park warden, a former war photographer, a Trinidadian security guard and a Bahraini prince encounter each other as they try to escape from their pasts. The pieces are set in and around Richmond, where the theatre has its home, which was described nearly 200 years ago by Sir Walter Scott as “an unrivalled landscape”. Unrivalled Landscape is directed by the Orange Tree’s Trainee Directors, who are part of a scheme which has launched the careers of leading Artistic Directors including the Lyric’s Sean Holmes, Glasgow Citzens’ Theatre’s Dominic Hill, and former Directors of Hampstead Theatre and Birmingham Rep, Anthony Clark and Rachel Kavanaugh.

Aesthetica spoke to its two directors, Alexander Lass and Nadia Papachronopoulou, about what audiences can expect from the work, and their future projects.

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Venice Biennale Report: Interview with Gilad Ratman for Israeli Pavilion

Aesthetica speaks to Gilad Ratman, currently representing Israel at the Venice Biennale about politics, narratives and his project for the event. The Workshop is  a five-channel video installation that interacts with the architectural structure of the pavilion to create an exciting work that draws the viewer along on a narrative journey. We are presented with video imagery, recounted in a non-linear chronicle, of a group of people tunnelling from Israel to Venice. 

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Venice Biennale Report: Interview with Tavares Strachen

Bahamian New York based artist Tavares Strachen talks to Aesthetica about science, the North Pole and the desire to fit in. Entitled Polar Eclipse, the Pavilion for the Bahamas at the Venice Biennale makes for a rich, multi-sensory experience.

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Interview with Artist & Creator of Playlust, Play Hunter

Born and bred in Zurich, Play Hunter is an artist, author and creative entrepreneur. Studying Fine Arts at Saint Martins College of Art, London, Hunter set up her website Playlust back in 2007. Six years later, what began as just a space for portraits of artist friends, transformed into a hub of artistic discussion across the world. Aesthetica speaks to Hunter about her inspiration, her exhibitions and her first photo book Now & Wow – A Style Hunter’s Book of Photographs.

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Review of Asymmetrical Cinema, London

Asymmetrical Cinema is a fitting title for the unsettling cacophony of noise and image currently on show at Beaconsfield. Curated by Dale Holmes and Kirsten Cooke under the moniker Material Conjectures, this is a highly visceral exhibition that probes the physical and psychological impact of mass media, film and television.

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Review of Gary Hume at Tate Britain

The man who made a name for himself by painting hospital doors has come a long way with a very simple formula: gloss paint in bold, expansive colours on aluminium panels, treading a line between abstraction and figuration.

Hume has always been called the quiet one among his YBA contemporaries, who are currently taking turns in staging spectacular mid-career retrospectives. He entered the scene with a devilishly simple idea and then subtly honed his craft so that he could explore the wealth of human experience from nature, love, celebrity and politics to melancholy, loss, joy and wonderment. This survey at Tate Britain offers a modest selection of 24 paintings that demonstrate how Hume’s work is replete with nuances of emotion, vitality and character.

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Venice Biennale Report: Jeremy Deller at the British Pavilion

The British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, English Magic, by artist Jeremy Deller is about as quintessentially English as they come. The building, evocative of a scaled-down version of the British Museum, cuts an imposing edifice within the Giardini. Deller uses the surfaces of the pavilion to present British society, reaching back as far as 4,000 BCE with his selection of Neolithic hand axes found along the Thames Valley, as well as creating imagined events that seek to reiterate his themes of Britain’s “broad cultural, socio-political and economic history”. The building is very much set up as a gallery space in which visitors are encouraged to interact with the work by means of observing rather than directly partaking.

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PINTA, London

PINTA is Europe’s only art fair dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American art. Returning to Earls Court Exhibition Centre for its fourth edition, the event offers visitors the chance to view  and purchase work by eminent artists from South America, Spain and Portugal. The programme of events includes speakers from Whitechapel Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, Barbican and Tate, besides Modern PINTA Solo Shows to honour influential painters, Cesar Paternosto and Luis Tomasello. There will also be PINTA Projects curated by Catherine Petitgas and Kiki Mazzucchelli, the UK launch of ART Numérique, a reflection on the relationship between art and technology, curated by Rolando J Carmona and the return of PINTA Design curated by Manuel Díaz Cebrian. The event runs 4 – 7 June.

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PHotoEspaña, Madrid

For 2013, PHotoEspaña expands its programme as it opens 74 exhibitions and activities in Madrid, Alcalá de Henares, Alcobendas, Cuenca, Lanzarote and Zaragoza. Running 5 June until 28 July, the event includes work from 328 artists from 42 different countries. Amongst those involved are Edward Weston, Harry Callahan, Shirin Neshat, Laura Torrado and Mark Shaw, and group shows with works by Ana Mendieta, Robert Doisneau, Cindy Sherman and Marina Abramovic.

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Venice Biennale Report: Who is Alice?, Korean Art

Down a narrow Venetian alley and up a flight of winding stairs, the sinister dream-world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice takes on a life of its own. The exhibition Who is Alice? brings together works by a range of Korea’s most significant contemporary artists, of whom there is currently an abundance, both within and outside of Korea itself. So much so that this exhibition runs in addition to the country’s national pavilion in the Giardini. The works have been hand-picked from the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul’s permanent collection, and features the work of 15 artists in total.

Review of A Book is A Performance at Centrespace, VRC

Recent exhibition, A Book is A Performance was a library of evidence on the longstanding connection and durability between performances and publications. Presented on a series of trestle tables and shelves punctuated by black chalkboard panels it displayed a broad selection of artists’ editions and multiples. All the works relate actions to printed materials and are selected from the collection and recent acquisitions from the Centre for Artists’ Books. A variety of artists and collectives were presented, from major historical figures like Christian Boltanski, Yoko Ono and Richard Long to recent contemporary artists like Edgar Schmitz, Rob Churm, Marcus Coates and Sharon Kivland. 

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Venice Biennale Report: Israeli Pavilion

The Workshop comprises a five-channel video installation by Israeli artist Gilad Ratman. The piece interacts with the architectural structure of the pavilion to create an exciting work that draws the viewer along on a narrative journey. We are presented with video imagery, recounted in a non-linear chronicle, of a group of people tunnelling from Israel to Venice. As we move through the space, we come to realise that every aspect of the video narrative is intrinsically linked to the building in which we find ourselves. The work is not just a presentation of Ratman’s ideas, as we the viewer become absorbed into the piece and assume our own part within The Workshop narrative.

10 to See: Degree Shows

At Aesthetica we like to keep an eye on emerging artists, and one of the best ways to do that is to take note of the numerous degree shows open this summer. Picking our ten favourites, we count down the best art presentations this June. We also take a moment to interview a few successful graduates, to investigate the value of an art degree and the benefits of their chosen Universities. Running from Glasgow to Plymouth, we give you a snippet into each show. Keep an eye on the blog for interviews with graduates in the next few weeks.

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Last Day to see Polaroid Factory

Tomorrow is the last day to see Polaroid Factory at Printhouse Gallery, London. The series is a collection of photographic images made at one of the world’s last remaining production facilities of traditional instant film in Enschede, the Netherlands. Produced by Sean Raggett using a large-format film camera, the resulting photos document and represent allegories of shifting technology. Fortunately this type of instant photography was saved from extinction by a small group of dedicated visionaries and investors, now collectively known as the Impossible Project. Inspired by the wonderful within the mundane, the collection presents a hyper-real observation of the world using both allegory and formalism in equal measure.

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African Masters, New Art Series on The Africa Channel

The Africa Channel (Sky 209, Virgin 828) presents a unique and insightful view of contemporary African art, in its new series, African Masters. Audiences will go on a visually stunning journey across the globe, as the programme reveals the story behind the African art scene, through revealing interviews on location with world-renowned artists including El Anatsui, Yinka Shonibare and Yusuf Grillo and key players in the art world like André Magnin (French Curator and Art Dealer) and Bisi Silva (Curator at the Center for Contemporary Art in Lagos).

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Interview with Brian Dillon, Curator of Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing

Behind glass doors, in rows on little wooden shelves; spread across rooms, on plinths, on mantelpieces, suspended from ceilings, objects – from sea-creatures to meteorites, from strange bones to unidentified mushrooms, from mummified cats to fragments of ancient pottery – line the “cabinets of curiosities” of history. These objects – however colossal, however miniscule – have for centuries represented the progression, boundaries and limits of our knowledge: little fragments of the world that we are forever attempting to define and understand.

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Notes from the Underground, Short Film from ASFF

Directed by Lukas Demgenski and produced by Valerie Hanson, Notes from the Underground is a 10 minute documentary on the people who run the London underground system which revolutionised transport and mobility within a dense highly populated city. Running like clockwork, Notes from the Underground reveals the work behind the punctuality and speed that makes the Underground so efficiently easy to use. Claiming success as the winner of the Special Jury Prize and the World Cinema Short Amsterdam Film Festival 2012, it also made it into the official selection for the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) 2012 where it was played in the Documentary series. There is still a chance to submit a short film for ASFF 2013, which runs 7-10 November across the city of York. The final deadline for submissions is this Monday, 3 June.

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Aesthetica Issue 54, June/July Out Now

We are living in interesting times. The past five years have seen a dramatic shift in our attitudes and behaviour, however I have recently noticed an undercurrent of optimism. I am excited by this, and it can be seen in new works by a range of artists. I pose a question: is the age of doom and gloom over? I think so.