GRAD aims to spark new ideas through providing international audiences with insights into Russian art, design and culture. Through costume designs and period photographs, this exhibition explores Bolt, Dmitri Shostakovich’s ballet written in 1931, a musical experimentation full of skulduggery and drunken conspiracy, which was forbidden to stand on stage for 74 years as it was suspected to be a satirical piece, mocking the Soviet authorities. In fact, constructivist values are reflected in all of Bolt, with Shostakovich commissioned by the Moscow Art Theatre to compose the score to a ballet that would serve and support the goals of socialism and communism. Combining circus music, waltzes, marches and tangos together with popular tunes, the composer envisaged the piece to be a celebration of the proletariat.
For the 12th year, London Short Film Festival returns with an outstanding programme of events and short films. Running 9 – 18 January at ICA, Hackney Picturehouse and Oval Space, the festival aims to be as confrontational as ever and prove that the UK is truly a hotbed of film creativity. This year, LSFF received an 1,500 submissions in total, including international submissions for the first time, as such the event is sure to showcase the innovation of short filmmakers today.
2014 has been a great year for contemporary art exhibitions. The huge range of practices on display demonstrates the variety of artistic approaches being developed across the world. From Guy Bourdin to Barbara Kruger, Martin Creed to Annette Messager, all of the artists listed here demonstrate both skill and thought. We take a look at the top 10 exhibitions from 2014, considering why these shows were so important.
The first instalment of gap in the air festival took place in November with a mesmerising in-situ sound and video piece by noise DJ, artist and researcher Joe Banks. Working under the guise of Disinformation since 1995, Banks has pioneered the use of electromagnetic (radio) noise from sources such as mains electricity, lightning, laboratory equipment, and even the sun, to generate malleable sonic material. For The Analysis of Beauty at the Talbot Rice’s Georgian Gallery, Banks found inspiration in William Hogarth’s famous thesis on serpentine lines and his belief that S-shaped lines were active, lively and stimulating, and therefore beautiful.
Moving sites in spring 2015, Manchester-based cross art form organisation, Cornerhouse, closes its current space with nine international artists, filmmakers and musicians celebrating the iconic venue: Rosa Barba, Niklas Goldbach, Andy Graydon, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Gabriel Lester, Naomi Kashiwagi, Shannon Plumb, Humberto Vélez and Jan St Werner.
Established by fine-art photographer Anouska Beckwith in 2012, World Wide Women is an all-female international collective of photographers and artists which seeks to represent the free spirit of women in the contemporary art world. The group of 34 female artists defines itself as a sisterhood, united in effecting change through art; their shared vision stands as a feminist one, promoting equality, restoring balance and encouraging female empowerment through entirely positive action.
Film London has announced Ursula Mayer as winner of the 2014 Jarman Award. The Austrian-born filmmaker was selected from a shortlist of 10 visionary and boundary-crossing visual artists working in the UK. An annual celebration of experimentation, imagination and inspiration, the award recognises artist filmmakers whose creative practice defies conventional classification or definition. As winner of the seventh Jarman Award, Mayer joins the ranks of previous prize recipients Luke Fowler, Lindsay Seers, Emily Wardill, Anya Kirschner & David Panos, James Richards and John Smith.
The compelling collection of poetry and short fiction in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology unites established and emerging literary talent from around the world, and features the winners and finalists from this year’s Aesthetica Creative Writing Award. The prize was established to celebrate writers and poets and showcase their work to a wider audience. With over 140 pages of captivating stories in under 2,000 words alongside contemporary poetry, the anthology is a great opportunity for literary lovers to discover inspirational new writing.
There are few musicians who can parallel the aesthetic and imaginative influence of David Bowie – master of storytelling, fantasy and re-invention – over the past five decades. Ranging from androgynous alien Ziggy Stardust to the Japanese motifs of the schizophrenic Aladdin Sane, from the monochromatic classicism of the Thin White Duke to the dystopian metropolis of the Diamond Dogs, the characters and constructions of Bowie’s imagination have transcended the traditional boundaries of rock and pop music.
The use of physical theatre by DV8 honours the company’s name. Deviating from any traditional performative categories, it sits between finely tuned body language, as in theatre, and the body as language, as in dance. The company’s method is well suited to John, whose script retells verbatim an interview with the show’s eponymous hero, a drug addict and general malcontent. Entwined with movement, the anti-drama of the script begins to sing. Yet the reins are never fully loosed to the physical by director-cum-choreographer Lloyd Newson, whose guiding principle, it seems, is control. That this remains apparent despite the show’s use of a revolving stage is testament to the firmness of his creative grip.
For those who are passionate about contemporary art and culture, Aesthetica Magazine is the ultimate guide for keeping up-to-date with the latest news from the international art scene. Order a Gift Subscription for someone special this Christmas and save 20% off newsstand prices while also benefiting from a free gift wrapping service and a chance to write a personal message.
Art Basel Miami Beach brings together contemporary works for its extensive art fair from over 250 participating galleries worldwide. Running from 4-7 December, the exhibition is inclusive of photography, paintings, sculptures, multimedia and many other mediums. The annual event attracts tens of thousands of visitors, and each year, it grows. Everyone from admirers to collectors will attend. We feature five of the galleries and some of the artists represented this year.
The December/ January issue of Aesthetica is now available to purchase online and in stores internationally. In Issue 62, Aesthetica focuses on the idea of the unconventional. It’s a celebration of practitioners who are experimenting in their field by working in interdisciplinary ways and introducing concepts from other areas of art and design into their work.
Issue 62 of Aesthetica is out in shops now. One of the most thrilling discoveries is someone who is breaking new ground and embodying the word “innovation.” It’s important to look at both established and emerging artists that are the driving force behind this type of progress. At Aesthetica, we are interested in people who are experimenting while stepping outside of the everyday. We want to engage with works that challenge us and change perspective.
At the 2001 Tate Turner Prize, Yorkshire-born artist Martin Creed (b. 1968) presented Work No. 227: The lights going on and off. Consisting of an empty room, the work existed as, quite literally, the lights in the room going on and off every five seconds, cyclically submerging the room in darkness only to be lit up again. The work prompted outrage from both critics and visitors, a problem revisited again in 2013 when the Tate announced that it had purchased the work for its permanent collection. The upset is undeserved, and this winter, Creed has the chance to answer the critics with his first ever retrospective, which opens at the Hayward Gallery. The exhibition, curated by Cliff Lauson, is described as “genre-defying” and includes works from the past 25 years. Although, Creed has been the focus of several recent solo exhibitions (Museum De Paviljoens, Almere, 2013; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 2012) this will be the first major survey of his work, and it is a long time coming.
This autumn, the seventh Sacred season of live art and contemporary performance at Chelsea Theatre premieres new work from interdisciplinary artists, who explore our taboos, examine assumptions about gender and family love, challenge public art policies and toy with the boundaries of multimedia. Some investigate consumption, compulsion, and mental health, and others wonder what happens when the label of ‘human’ no longer applies.
Type Motion at FACT Liverpool features over 200 outstanding examples of text and typography being used alongside the moving image. Currently on display and running until 8 February, the exhibition showcases the creative possibilities of opening up uses of text, extending the medium beyond print and highlighting the importance of writing as an artform in itself.
Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry presents a provocative and fascinating new exhibition which makes us question identity in modern day Britain. Perry has become a celebrity on the modern art scene, regularly presenting a refreshingly subversive view of British life. In his latest exhibition, 14 portraits of individuals, families and groups, which represent many different aspects of modern day Britain, including a disgraced politician, a young female-to-male transsexual, Northern Ireland Loyalist marchers and X-Factor contestant Rylan Clark, occupy the Gallery’s nineteenth and 20th century rooms on Floor 1.
Collezione Maramotti and Whitechapel Gallery announce a special evening of conversation, reading and performance with Corin Sworn, winner of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women. The event forms part of the Glasgow-based artist’s showcase of work currently being created during the prize’s six-month Italian residency. An avid storyteller, Sworn uses drawing, video and installation to explore the assemblage of narrative through an infusion of collected and sometimes random stimulus.
The season of literature festivals is well and truly upon us. October saw the 23rd annual Off the Shelf Festival in Sheffield. For as long as the festival has existed, it has attracted plenty of famous faces. This year was no exception. From literary newcomers to veteran writers, the festival was a unique celebration of the written word. This year marked the biggest Off the Shelf festival yet, with over 200 events taking place across the steel city. Aesthetica takes a look at some of the best events across the City.
A new solo exhibition of the work of American photographer and filmmaker Alex Prager, opens at the National Gallery of Victoria from 14 November. Founded in 1861, Australia’s oldest public art gallery proudly introduces its audiences to Prager’s lusciously rich photographic oeuvres. In her elaborately conceived and poignantly staged photographs, Prager freely references the aesthetics of mid-20th century American cinema and photography.
Drawing its title from the antithesis inherent to the making and the experience of art, Freezer Burn focuses on the idea that artists are able to experience powerful forms of life and subsequently transform them into subtle yet potent sensorial realities, expanding the smallest sentiment into a world of its own. Organised by Hungarian-born, New York based artist Rita Ackermann, this group exhibition unites the work of 15 individual practitioners, each exploring the juxtaposing emotions of freeze and burn.
Pomona is a sinister and surreal thriller from Alistair McDowall, writer of Talk Show, Brilliant Adventures and Captain Amazing. The play rotates around Ollie whose sister is missing. Searching Manchester in desperation, she finds all roads lead to Pomona, an abandoned concrete island at the heart of the city. The performance runs at Orange Tree Theatre, London, 12 November – 13 December. Aesthetica speaks to McDowall about the process of writing the piece and his work with director Ned Bennett.
The 41st edition of leading international art fair, FIAC brings 191 galleries from 26 countries into the vast space of Paris’ Grand Palais. The fair’s founding principles are to be attentive to the evolutions and concerns of contemporary creation, to question the transformation of the careers of gallerists as well as artists themselves, to lead prospective actions, and to be creative and responsive while ensuring a spirit of continuity across each edition of FIAC.
The alternate title of the Contemporary African Art Fair is a neat reference to its unification of the continent’s 54 constituent countries. Yet though the titular focus of the fair may be continental, its reach is global: 1:54 sees an astounding geographical array of galleries, from Abidjan to Seattle via Cape Town, meet in London to exhibit their artists. The sense of cultural exchange is almost overwhelming, the proliferation of visual stimuli replicated aurally in the French, Italian and Danish that can be heard drifting along the corridors.
Like some sort of spandex-clad somersaulter often found in the medium itself, performance art has, in recent years, acrobatically risen to become the red-hot property in today’s contemporary art world. Ever since the mid-1960s, the likes of Yves Klein and Yoko Ono have been utilising the experimental and anti-commodity form to evoke radical messages and go against the commercial gallery grain. But nowadays, performance art is very much the toast of the establishment; in some cases for the better, and some for the worse.
The leading international contemporary art fair, Frieze London, returns to the heart of the UK’s capital, London’s Regent’s Park, for its 12th edition. Sponsored by Deutsche Bank and designed by Universal Design Studio, this autumn’s fair sees a few changes with the inclusion of two specialist sections: Focus, a celebration and fostering of emerging galleries up to 12 years old, and Live, a haven for performance or participatory-based work. Also new to 2014, is the fair’s novel allegiance to public space, using themes of contract, texture and tone. Design highlights of the fair’s bespoke housing include a timber-lined entrance courtyard and dedicated ancillary spaces.
The Other Art Fair places the spotlight on emerging artists and connects art lovers of all tastes and experience, directly with 130 of the most talented and unrepresented artists. Running 16-19 October at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, the fair presents thousands of pieces of art, starting from just £50. In addition to the various stands on display, the event is an art experience in its own right, featuring an immersive theatre with Non Zero One, art and live music performances, kids create area, Crate Brewery Bar, Soho House’s Dirty Burger pop up and much more.
Aesthetica Issue 61 is now available to purchase online and in stores internationally. The new edition considers progress and change. There are a few questions around this including how much time needs to pass before something needs to change, or is it simply the case that progress is continuous? The key element is to recognise developments, keeping your eyes and ears open. This is particularly important in the art world because when you start tracking artists and noticing trends, this is when things start to get exciting, especially when those trends are just under the radar.
Wysing Arts Centre celebrates its 25th birthday with a residency programme focusing upon ‘the future,’ exploring future potential through what we know of the past. In response to an open call, almost 300 artists applied to take part in the residency, The Future, and the final selection includes: Olivier Castel, Julia Crabtree and William Evans, Jesse Darling, and Alice Theobald.
Celebrating its 30th Anniversary, Forced Entertainment has spent the last three decades pushing the boundaries of contemporary performance. Founded in 1984 by six recently graduated artists, the theatrical group have created numerous productions that have continued to play with language, staging, costume, lighting, humour, narrative sound and the very nature of a performance piece. Artistic Director Tim Etchells is also a solo artist and has seen his work exhibited internationally. This year he is officially Artist of the City of Lisbon. He speaks to Aesthetica about upcoming performance, The Notebook, and his ability to sustain a theatre company for 30 years.
For 10 years Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival has continued in its aim to turn the small northern town into one big screen. Over the decade festival-goers have been given the opportunity to watch hundreds of international film premieres in a plethora of unique settings, besides the varied special events that last year saw performance artist, Sidsel Christensen, balanced precariously above the River Tweed. For their 10th year, festival organisers have not only produced a glossy anniversary catalogue, TEN, but they also prepared a spectacular Opening Gala with two UK premieres from Momcilo Mrdakovic and Ben Russell.
Artes Mundi 6 is a major contemporary art prize based in the UK, taking place bi-annually to bring together through an exhibition some of the world’s most celebrated artists of today. This year, the event branches out beyond the National Museum Cardiff to include Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff and ffotogallery, Penarth, with a programme of performance, music, site-specific installations, film, lectures and seminars.
RITE OF PASSAGE is New York’s first major exhibition devoted to the early years of the 20th century avant-garde movement, Vienna Actionism. Through a rare selection of early vintages prints and original contact sheets, as well as paintings and collages by artists such as Günter Brus, Otto Muehl, Hermann Nitsch, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler, and curated by Hubert Klocker, the exhibition is a representative survey of the formative years of Vienna Actionism.
In a town whose faded seaside glamour is both complimented and disturbed by a swath of public art, it is only at low tide that the feverish digging can commence. A swatch of beach that in the morning looks like the realisation of a grim prophecy in a Morrissey song is by late afternoon swamped by an ecstatic crowd. Michael Sailstorfer has buried £10,000 worth of gold bullion in the unforgiving sands of the Old Harbour.
This September, Rashid Johnson’s critically acclaimed piece, Dutchman, will run at Chicago’s Red Square Russian and Turkish Baths for five evenings with performances beginning at 11pm as part of Performa 10 Years. Dutchman is Johnson’s first live performance and is a reimagining of the Obie Award-winning theatrical play written in 1964 by LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), re-enacted within the setting of a traditional bathhouse – having premiered at the historic Russian & Turkish Baths in New York City’s East Village.
This exhibition currently on display is the first survey of works by David Farrell (1919-2013) since his death earlier last year, and showcases images of famous sitters from Louis Armstrong and Laurence Olivier, to Anthony Caro, Margot Fonteyn and the Rolling Stones. The British photographer is internationally renowned for his iconic images of the greatest musicians, actors, authors, dancers and artists of the 20th century, as well as documentary works depicting domestic life in Britain and anonymous street subjects.
To celebrate ten years of existence, Dover Street Market holds The Next Ten Years: a series of events, installations and special products. For the duration of September, the basement and second floor of Dover Street Market will be totally transformed, the Rose Bakery will be enlarged and artists design four new fitting rooms. Furthermore, an event space on the first floor, an expanded jewellery section and wallet display will be given over to Louis Vuitton for the entire A/W14 season.
In his Festival lecture The Culture of Violence in the Twentieth Century, Alan Kramer points out that, unlike the Germans, the English did not during World War I rely on prisoners of war as a labour force. Not only this, but English POWs were treated comparably well. As Professor of European History at Trinity College Dublin, Kramer is precisely one of those who, in the words of Albert Camus, “make history.” Yet as Festival Director Jonathan Mills quotes in full from Camus in his introductory statement in the Festival programme, “It is the destiny of the artist not to serve those who make history, but to serve those who are its victims.”
The Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) is delighted to announce it is now a BAFTA recognised festival, an achievement that is unprecedented for a festival in its fourth year. This latest accolade stands testament to the creativity and bold programming of ASFF, which has now firmly established itself as a dynamic player on the film festival circuit.