Ongoing since 2012, the Real DMZ Project interrogates the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea through annual, research-based exhibitions that bring together the works of Korean and international artists. Sunjung Kim, the independent curator behind the project, conceived the idea of exploring the DMZ while curating Japanese artist...
The fifth edition of Sydney Contemporary will take place once again at Carriageworks between 12 and 15 September 2019, with Spring 1883 bringing together a cohort of 27 galleries from across Australia and the region to inhabit rooms at the Establishment Hotel from 11 to 14 September 2019, uniquely presenting contemporary works propped up on...
Mark Bradford walks through Mark Bradford: Los Angeles Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai (27 July–13 October 2019) is the artist's largest solo exhibition to date in China. In this video for Ocula, Bradford and Diana Nawi, curator of the show, walk through selected works that convey the artist's concerns with...
Njideka Akunyili Crosby, And We Begin To Let Go (2013) (detail). © Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Courtesy the artist; Victoria Miro; and David Zwirner. Photo: Jason Wyche.
There are hundreds of exhibitions in Venice during the Biennale. Alongside the main exhibition in the Giardini and Arsenale, there are 90 national presentations, many in nearby pavilions in the Giardini and in spaces around the Arsenale, but also dotted throughout Venice. Then there are the official collateral exhibitions in museums and galleries, and extra shows across the city. The Art Newspaper team will be on the ground in Venice to report on all aspects of this festival of contemporary art, and here our writers—and those from our sister publications in China, France, Italy and Russia—pick the shows and events they are most looking forward to seeing, most of which take place from 11 May—24 November, unless stated otherwise.
John Akomfrah is a hugely respected artist and filmmaker, whose works are characterised by their investigations into memory, post-colonialism, temporality and aesthetics and often explores the experiences of migrant diasporas globally. Akomfrah was a founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective, which started in London in 1982 alongside the artists David Lawson and Lina Gopaul, who he still collaborates with today. Their first film, Handsworth Songs (1986), explored the events surrounding the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London through a charged combination of archive footage, still photos and newsreel. The film won several international prizes and established a multi-layered visual style that has become a recognisable motif of Akomfrah's practice. Recent works include the three-screen installation The Unfinished Conversation (2012), a moving portrait of the cultural theorist Stuart Hall's life and work; Peripeteia (2012), an imagined drama visualising the lives of individuals included in two 16th century portraits by Albrecht Dürer and Mnemosyne (2010), which exposes the experience of migrants in the UK, questioning the notion of Britain as a promised land by revealing the realities of economic hardship and casual racism. In 2015, Akomfrah premiered his three-screen film installation Vertigo Sea (2015), that explores what Ralph Waldo Emerson calls 'the sublime seas'. Fusing archival material, readings from classical sources and newly shot footage, Akomfrah's piece focuses on the disorder and cruelty of the whaling industry and juxtaposes it with scenes of many generations of migrants making epic crossings of the ocean for a better life. Vertigo Sea has as its narrative spine two remarkable books: Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851), and Heathcote Williams' epic poem Whale Nation (1988), a harrowing and inspiring work which charts the history, intelligence and majesty of the largest mammal on earth.
Akomfrah (born 1957) lives and works in London. He has had numerous solo exhibitions including The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, Australia (2017); Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, UK (2017); University of New South Wales, Paddington, Australia (2016); Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2016); The Exchange, Penzance, UK (2016); Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen, Denmark (2016); STUK Kunstcentrum, Leuven, Belgium (2016); Arnolfini, Bristol, UK (2016); Bildmuseet Umeå, Sweden (2015); Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan, USA (2014); Tate Britain, London, UK (2013–14), and a week long series of screenings at MoMA, New York, USA (2011). His participation in international group shows has included: Restless Earth, La Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy (2017); Unfinished Conversations, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY, USA (2017); The Place is Here, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK (2017); The 1980s: Today's Beginnings?, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (2016); British Art Show 8, (2015–17); All the World's Futures, 56th Venice Biennale, Italy (2015); History is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain, Hayward Gallery, London, UK (2015); Africa Now: Politcal Patterns, SeMA, Seoul, South Korea (2014); Sharjah Biennial 11, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2013); Liverpool Biennial, UK (2012) and Taipei Biennial, Taiwan (2012). He has also been featured in many international film festivals, including Sundance Film Festival, Utah, USA (2013 and 2011) and Toronto International Film Festival, Canada (2012).
With a practice that encompasses painting, sculpture, performance and tapestry, French artist Laure Prouvost is perhaps most known for her immersive and non-linear film installations. Through an ongoing inquiry into language, Prouvost invites viewers into a world where boundaries are indefinite and reality and fantasy merge.
Translation—whether between languages or artistic mediums—and its resulting misunderstandings are recurring concerns in Prouvost's work. For instance, her seven-part film and installation work The Wanderer (2012) is an adaptation of British artist Rory Macbeth's 2009 German-English translation of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis (1915). Macbeth, who does not read German, translated the novella without a dictionary, resulting in a story that bears only the vaguest traces to its original. For The Wanderer, Prouvost first translated Macbeth's words into film, then film into sculpture in accompanying installations. One of the video's seven sequences was filmed in a London pub—an environment that the artist later recreated as an installation in the exhibition the wet wet wanderer (2017) at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam as a vodka bar with fountains spraying diluted ink, and white neon letters from Macbeth's translation written on the wall. Prouvost's version of the story also undergoes a process of mistranslation; Gregor Samsa, a travelling salesman in Kafka's story and a wanderer in Macbeth's, appears in The Wanderer as an alcoholic writer who writes with squid ink and works at an African hair salon.
In 2013, Prouvost was awarded the prestigious Turner Prize for Wantee, a film installation that demonstrates her flair for blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality. Originally created for the Schwitters in Britain exhibition at Tate (also 2013), Wantee derives its title from the German artist Kurt Schwitters' partner Edith Thomas, who had a habit of asking, 'Want tea?' In the video, the artist narrates the story of her grandparents in their English Lake District cottage. The film blurs fact and fiction as do many of Prouvost's works that include her grandparents; throughout her oeuvre, it remains ambiguous as to whether the two characters are real, semi-real or entirely fictitious. This film recalls, for example, how Prouvost's grandfather (who was apparently a friend of Schwitters and a less successful artist) dug a tunnel in order to get to Africa; one day, he disappeared down the hole, never to be seen again. In a recent interview with Ocula Magazine, Prouvost commented on the potential of fiction to strengthen reality: 'I was thinking...about whether or not fiction is an answer to reality. It kind of enhances reality or through art, this kind of emotional reality. It makes you question your own reality, so that your reality becomes fictional.'
For Prouvost, the same fictional narrative can be expanded and expressed in different ways. The apocryphal grandmother from Wantee, for instance, returns in Grandma's Dream (2013), a film montage that visualises her daydreams. Prouvost also attributes to the same character the sculpture Forward looking teapot by Grandma (2017)—a whimsical glass teapot with an extraordinarily long spout that curves like an elephant's nose.
Through her installations, Prouvost seeks to create environments in which her viewers may lose themselves, forming their own, individual interpretations of her work. Swallow (2013), for example—an immersive film installation shown at Whitechapel Gallery in London—particularly aims to attract the spectator by interlacing snippets of pleasurable images. Close-ups of a freshly plucked flower, birds, bathing women, ripe raspberries and the blue sky, among other images, construct a visually and aurally stimulating sequence. The narration, voiced by the artist, addresses the audience directly—'This image is undressing you... You drink this image...'—further encouraging and anticipating our consumption of the film.
The female body (or parts of it) is another recurrent theme in Prouvost's humorous, imaginary world. In collaboration with CHART Art Fair in 2017, the artist placed posters, billboards and banners depicting parts of the female nude—mostly breasts and bottoms—throughout Copenhagen. Paired with phrases such as 'We are coming out' and 'We are staring at you', the series displaced the voyeuristic or male gaze historically associated with female nudity in art. 'The Hidden Paintings Grandma Improved' (2017–ongoing) reimagines this series and similarly depicts parts of the female body set against a black backdrop, with their respective titles such as Pushing Forward and This Is Not A Minimalist Painting written in white capital letters. In her interview with Ocula Magazine, Prouvost revealed that the artworks are a result of her grandmother amending her late grandfather's paintings of breasts with text, a gesture that references the history of scarce attention given to female artists unlike their male counterparts.
Prouvost graduated with a BFA from Central Saint Martins, London, in 2002 and an MFA from Goldsmiths, University of London, in 2010. She has held solo exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2018); Lisson Gallery New York (2018); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2017); Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing (2016); Grand Palais, Paris (2014); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013); Frieze London (2011, 2010); and Tate Britain, London (2010), among others. Prouvost's work has also featured in international exhibitions including the Baltic Triennial (2018); Kyiv Biennale (2015); Taipei Biennial (2014); and Art Basel (2014). She will represent France at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019. The artist lives and works in London and Antwerp.
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