Lady Gaga famously refers to her followers as “little monsters”, presumably hoping by this to encourage them to reclaim the darker elements of their psyches and feel more comfortable in themselves. She is by no means the first popstar to have urged fans to embrace their idiosyncrasies, but she probably is the only one to have lived so devoutly by her own creed: dressing, acting and music-making like the mother of all pintsize monstrosities.
Fossil Collective are a Leeds-based band duo who next month launch their UK debut album tour. The duo is made up of multi-instrumentalists Jonny Hooker and David Fendick. To date they have released highly acclaimed EP’s On and On and Let It Go both of which have secured the bands must hear and must see status. This April they release their debut album Tell Where I Lie, we spoke to Jonny about the impending tour and what to expect from their album.
In the year of his 66th birthday, David Bowie is back at the centre of the public’s consciousness. To celebrate his birthday on 8 January, Bowie released a surprise single, Where Are We Now?, with the announcement of an album, The Next Day which was released 8 March. To add to this recent flurry of activity, the V&A opens David Bowie Is 23 March. With ticket sales that look to be record breaking before the exhibition even opens, David Bowie Is demonstrates Bowie’s ability to continually inspire and interest the general public. In Aesthetica Issue 51 we speak to gallery curator, Geoffrey Marsh about the work behind David Bowie Is and what it was that drew the V&A to exhibit this show.
British designer, Haroon Mirza opens his exhibition, Untitled Song, this Friday 8 March at mima, Middlesbrough. Living and working in London, Mirza’s influences range from electronics and science to avant-garde classical music. His primary interest is in creating sensory experiences with strange and startling sounds through a variety of new and old technologies, which in turn draws visitors to question their perceptions of the surrounding space.
Four decades worth of British punk feminist work are presented in Linder Sterling’s Paris retrospective. Photography, collage, music and video works have been assembled under the exhibition title Femme/Objet, a troubling conflation of woman and commodity that lies, subverted for positive ends, at the heart of Linder’s practice: “I have always treated myself as a found object”, she says.
US band Tullycraft will release their new record Lost in Light Rotation this March. Following their 2007 release Every Scene Needs A Center, their new album is produced by Phil Ek (The Shins, Band of Horses, Built to Spill, The Halo Benders, The Shout Out Louds, Fleet Foxes, The Walkmen). Aesthetica speaks to the band about the new album, their relationship with Ek and their future plans.
Munich’s commanding Haus der Kunst provided a suitably grand backdrop for the recent, admirably comprehensive survey of ECM Records’ trailblazing work over the past 44 years. The gallery, like the label’s prodigious output, impresses first through its sheer size and scale, then further exploration reveals hidden treasures around every conceivable corner. It’s a clever marriage of site and subject, made even more special a celebration as Munich is ECM’s home city.
Sudden Elevation will be relished both by admirers of Ólöf Arnalds’s crystalline voice, and by devotees of the Nordic modern-folk music associated with fellow Icelandic musicians Björk and Sigur Rós. The multi-instrumentalist’s new release follows her acclaimed second album Innundi Skinni (2010), which caught the attention of critics at Q magazine and earned her recognition from Mojo as one of their “most exciting people” of the year. As the first of her albums to be sung entirely in English, Sudden Elevation marks a change in the singer’s creative direction and will, undoubtedly, provide an impetus for wider appreciation. It is also her first experiment in creating a conceptually unified record: she worked on it without interruption, holed up in a seaside cabin in western Iceland.
Inside this issue, we start with Abraham Cruzvillegas: The Autoconstrucción Suites, a major exhibition opening at the Walker Art Center that features 35 individual sculptures and installations, along with his recent experiments in video, film and performance. We also look at the latest show to open at the Hayward Gallery, London, Light Show, which is a comprehensive survey of artists who use light as a material. David Bowie is opens at the V&A and is the first major retrospective of Bowie’s significant impact upon the world of visual art and design. Thomas Zanon-Larcher’s Falling: A Part blurs the lines between fashion and fine art photography, using cinema as its reference point. In photography, Garry Winogrand is widely recognised as one of America’s finest photographers, and his retrospective opens at SFMOMA, highlighting 25 years of the artist’s career. Cuba is the subject for the latest exhibition to open at Michael Hoppen Gallery, London, which showcases four decades of Michael Eastman’s work. We also introduce the works of Marquis Montes, a Montreal-based photographic duo, as well as Kevin Cooley, whose use of light creates intense drama.
Joy Division’s bass guitarist Peter Hook is in artist conversation at the MCA on Tuesday 5 February. Reflecting on the band he helped co-found and his new book Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division. Covering the band’s friendships and fallouts, their rehearsals and recording sessions, Hook gives a truly fascinating insight, as only an insider can, into the larger-than-life characters that formed a vital part of the Joy Division legend. The conversation is led by Joe Shanahan who booked Peter Hook (with New Order) for their first Chicago appearance at The Metro 30 years ago.
Matthew Bourne’s haunting new production at Sadler’s Wells is a gothic romance; a supernatural love story that even the passage of time cannot hinder. Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty sees the choreographer return to the music of Tchaikovsky to complete the trio of the composer’s ballet masterworks that started in 1992 with Nutcracker! and, most famously, in 1995, with the international hit Swan Lake.
This December, Aesthetica Magazine – one of the most recognised and important art and culture publications both in the UK and internationally – celebrates its 10th anniversary with a spectacular 50th issue, available worldwide from 1 December. Founded in 2002 by Cherie Federico and Dale Donley when both were university students, the publication has achieved a remarkable feat, growing in stature and readership through one of the most challenging economic periods in recent history. A major success story for publishing, it has the distinction of being the only British art magazine to start and be sustained within the past decade.
The latest issue of Aesthetica has hit the shelves. It starts with William Klein + Daido Moriyama, opening this October at Tate Modern, which juxtaposes both photographers’ works and explores modern and urban life in New York and Tokyo. We also take a closer look at the work of Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, whose show Bivouac opens this autumn at MCA Chicago. Tim Walker presents a breathtakingly surreal exhibition, Story Teller at London’s Somerset House, which combines the worlds of conceptual art and fashion photography. M to M of M/M (Paris) is a survey of one of the most influential and emblematic design practices and art partnerships in the 21st century. The Serial Portrait opens this autumn and explores the practice of taking multiple portraits of the same subjects. Six Lines of Flight runs at SFMOMA, and features key artists from around the world who have developed unique artistic organisations in six different cities that have become burgeoning artistic centres. Nadav Kander travelled the full distance of the Yangtze River, capturing the changing face of China. Finally, we introduce Formento & Formento, whose works construct a powerful cinematic narrative.
Alpha-Ville 2012 is opening this weekend on Saturday October 6. Presenting to their guests both Alpha-Ville Live and Alpha-Ville Screening, this London based organisation are dedicated to the promotion of digitial culture through their annual festival and wider activies. As their subtitle suggests, ART, CREATIVE TECH, MUSIC, WEB CULTURE, the weekend seeks to explore all types of digital art.
The Nour Festival will be celebrating contemporary arts and culture from across the Middle East and North Africa, starting on the 1st of October and running until the 1st of December. It will be a borough-wide event based in Kensington and Chelsea and will take place at venues including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Science Museum, Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre and the Mosaic Rooms.
In its fourth edition, Festival Materiais Diversos makes its first stopover in Brazil. From the 14th to the 29th of September, 13 Portuguese artists and 9 Brazilian artists bring body, movement, dramaturgy and music to Alcanena, Minde and Torres Novas, with a total of 15 projects. In the year of Portugal in Brazil and of Brazil in Portugal, Festival Materiais Diversos addresses other facts and figures.
Facing the Music: 20th-Century Portraits of British Composers at the Barber Institute of Fine Art, Birmingham.
Set deep in the heart of the University of Birmingham campus is the Barber Institute of Fine Art. It’s a rather solemn looking building that feels impeccably out of taste with the rest of the campus, it does however therefore harbour its own intriguing personality. The ground floor of the building is reserved for the concert hall. On the second floor are the gallery spaces, consisting of permanently displayed works as well as smaller individual exhibitions, and it is here that the Barber Institute’s latest exhibition Facing The Music is located.
A free festival, celebrating 50 years of independence for Trinidad & Tobago from 12th until 26th August.
To celebrate 50 years of political independence for Trinidad and Tobago, award-winning literature producer and curator Melanie Abrahams and musician/composer Dominique Le Gendre have teamed up to bring a free festival of classical and contemporary music, theatre, literature, spoken word, participation, dance, carnival and food over two weeks, that explores Trinidad and Tobago’s cultural fusion and connections to England.
The August/September issue, subtitled “Redefining Place” is out today. This issue starts with The Way of Enthusiasts, a group show that utilises the context of the Venice Architecture Biennale as a platform to survey the last few decades of Russian art. Featuring over 80 artists, End of the Earth: Land Art to 1974 is on now at MOCA Los Angeles and challenges many myths about Land Art, including that it was primarily a North American phenomenon. We also take an in-depth look at Penelope Slinger’s Hear What I Say, which opens this September at Riflemaker in London – it’s the first solo show that artist has had in 32 years.
The Stone Roses’ recent homecoming gig in Manchester has been hailed as a triumph. For those of you who still want more, Dennis Morris’ photo essay on the rise of the band’s career should suffice. This Is The One features over 250 never before seen images of the band, including live photos from Spike Island and Glasgow Green, behind the scenes photos and intimate studio shots.
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.
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.
The June/July issue of Aesthetica comes with the subtitle of “Shifting Perspectives”. Concentrating on identifying new ways of seeing and challenging the status quo, asking questions and seeking answers “Shifting Perspectives” is not to be missed.
The Glyndebourne opera festival, held every summer in the sumptuous grounds of the Sussex country house that gives it its name, is steeped in glorious tradition. Founded in 1934 by Sir John Christie and his wife, soprano Audrey Mildmay, it has over time become one of the go-to operatic events in the UK, offering visitors the chance to enjoy world class productions, explore the beautiful house and gardens that host them, and while away the long interval that’s so key to the proceedings with a picnic and a stroll in their finery.
As part of the Wakefield Artwalk the Hepworth Wakefield has teamed up with Wichita Recordings to present an evening of free live music featuring one of our favourite indie folk band’s, Peggy Sue alongside DJ Nick Scott. What better way to spend your Wednesday? If you can’t wait until then, there’s a lovely little trailer above to whet your appetite.
Wichita Recordings Takeover at The Hepworth Wakefield, 5 – 9pm, 30/05/2012. www.hepworthwakefield.org
Text by Ruby Beesley
La Coquille et le clergyman – Imogen Heap and The Holst Singers
Oracles and Step Onto the Ground, Dear Brother! – Ana Silvera and The Estonian Television Girls Choir
Now in its second year after a successful launch in 2010, the Roundhouse’s Reverb Festival aims to dismantle the stuffy, jargon-loaded image of classical music. While commercially the past decade has seen our musicians take a battering, creatively it’s an exciting time for contemporary music with tastes broadening, genres metamorphosing and live performances defying the rough waters experienced by the rest of the industry. And why shouldn’t classical music experience the same resurgence?
The 4th edition of Crunch: the Art and Music Festival at Hay promises to be an extravaganza of contemporary art, talks and debates, new music, comedy and cabaret. Entitled ‘Awake in the Universe’ and looking at what gives art the ability to raise us from our emotional and intellectual slumbers and where is contemporary arts edge currently to be found? Are the elements of the contemporary art world asleep and where should we look for vitality?
Review by Amy Knight
Sound has, perhaps more than any other sensory stimulation, a transcendental power that can immerse the listener in an all-encompassing awareness of being. It is this notion that forces itself into consciousness at the entrance to the Fabrica gallery on a small street in Brighton, where a sublime, choral sound seeps out the open doors of the building and catches the unsuspecting ears of passers-by. The choirs of voices that come from within are not emerging from human throats, but an oval arrangement of electronic speakers, each emitting the recorded sound of one person in a Forty Part Motet.
Review by Jareh Das
As you approach mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) in Centre Square the viewer is confronted by a resounding female operatic voice. One wonders where this voice is coming from; it starts, stops and as you listen attentively, words are not being sung but rather, short energetic hums float through the open space. At the entrance of mima, there is a muted video on a screen. It keeps going in and out of focus, the singer unrecognisable as it zooms in on her mouth, but where is the sound being emitted? I take a seat and then viola! I hear that voice I heard earlier in the square, it’s very faint in the gallery’s atrium but the longer I sit, the more prominently the voice oscillates.
Review by Nathan Breeze
Touring six major European culture halls, Liebestod was a cross-genre performance by the Amsterdam Sinfonietta exploring the interaction between Classical Music, Theatre and Film. The evening was opened by Wagner’s celebrated Tristan und Isolde Prelude, a piece of music composed about the secret yet impossible desire that Tristan has for the wife of his uncle. Continuing with the theme of unobtainable love, Lyric Suite by Alban Berg proved to be heavily influenced by his clandestine obsession with the married Hanna Fuchs-Robettin after letters were found along with an annotated score of the piece in 1977.
This is the week that we launch our latest issue of Aesthetica Magazine! Following our recently expanded UK and international distribution, we have introduced a fresh new look for Issue 33. This edition has a sleek, updated design and features expanded content focusing on innovative and contemporary subjects. Exploring the creative zeitgeist, Aesthetica’s editorial is engaging and offers new perspectives on contemporary arts, looking at the arts in relation to the social, political and economic.
Now here’s a surprise, I never thought that I would be writing a blog about Royal Mail, but never say never. Great music and great art – Royal Mail launches its 2010 stamps programme with ten iconic album covers from the past four decades. And who better to launch the Classic Album Covers issue than Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, who helped design the cover of the band’s 32 million selling fourth album – IV – which features on the stamps, released on 7 January.
Guest Blog by Charles Kaufmann, specialist of the life and music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (15 August 1875 – 1 September 1912) is the person who set ‘Kubla Kahn’ to music. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote the poem.
I’m looking at five photos from the 1905 photo album of J. Rosamond ‘Rosie’ Johnson. One shows a woman and two children standing in front of a brick wall on a bright day; behind them, a row of brick houses like those found throughout the London conurbation. The girl, Gwendolen, is two. She has a tousled head of golden curls. Holding her is a white woman wearing a bonnet out of which four bird feathers jut as if a wayward pigeon has just flown into its cote. A veil extends from the bonnet over the woman’s face, obscuring her features. This is Jessie Walmisley Coleridge-Taylor. She smiles down at her daughter, who is upset. Apparently, Gwendolen wants someone else to hold her. Standing to the left is Hiawatha, furrowing his brows; he holds a hand up to his face, and is about to cry.
Sorry, I know that I’ve been silent for the past few days. I’ve been busy with our deadline, and in fact, I am busy now, but I wanted to take a few minutes to write this. I am a HUGE Malcolm Middleton fan. It reminds me of our very first office, I listened to him over and over again, finding new things with each turn.
We’ll Mr Middleton is back this winter with a series of intimate evenings. Malcolm will perform a collection of comforting wintry acoustic songs about love, hate, death, and other stuff.
Hip Hop is now 30 years old. I know it’s hard to pinpoint an exact date when hip hop emerged, sometime in 1979 in the Bronx, as a reaction against gangs, drugs and violence. But what’s the story of Hip Hop in the UK? Urbis in Manchester is exploring this question with their new show, which opened on 15 October, ‘Home Grown: The Story of UK Hip-Hop’.
‘Home Grown’ focuses on the wonderful, unpredictable story of UK hip-hop: a music and culture that dragged itself up from the streets – with a little help from some surprisingly eminent friends – to change the face of British music and style. From producing some of Britain’s most esteemed artists, to helping spawn almost every major British dance music genre of the last twenty years, it makes for a cracking story. But surprisingly it is one that has never before been told.
Good old Leeds is set to host Expo Leeds, the UK’s largest weekend of sound art and experimental music from 24-29 September 2009, is set to illustrate the powerful, creative and playful nature of listening.
Do we need any more AV festivals? Being in the throes of the multimedia/digital age, are they just getting started or will we continue to be challenged by AV? Let’s see.
VIDEOKILLS, a Berlin based video art collective, is hosting its first International Video Arts festival, taking place in Berlin from 26 August – 30 2009. As it’s their first year, and I love Berlin, I thought it might be worth flagging this up to you in the even you might be there later this summer.
Legendary festival creator, Michael Lang will cut the tape on this year’s action at The Big Chill festival and face questions from chillers at Word in Motion stage.
40 years ago Woodstock first conjured people’s emotions and truly captured the essence of the festival spirit. This year The Big Chill Festival is honoured that the creator of Woodstock, Michael Lang, is coming to the festival as The Big Chill celebrates Woodstock’s 40th birthday this August.
Can't wait for summer festivals...
Finally, the sun is shining, and in these credit crunch times I’m looking forward to some fantastic free festivals over the coming months. In my mind, festivals are what make the British summer – plastic cups of warm cider, the intoxicating smell of frying onions, floppy burgers and the holy trinity of wellies, cagoule and sunburn. And rather than heading for the bright lights (and inevitable mudfest) of Glastonbury or Reading, there’s something wonderfully homespun about the assortment of local community festivals which spring up each year. As a Leeds University veteran, the city’s annual Hyde Park shindig, Unity Day, holds a special place in my heart.