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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Chiho Aoshima

b. 1974, Japan

In her most recent works, Aoshima looks past the disasters, past the end of the world. Reviving the premodern concept of history as cyclical (rather than linear and progressive), her imagery moves through the phases of urbanism or decadent civilization and the apocalypse to the rebirth of a fresh and innocent planet. In Graveheads, 2005, dark clouds converge on a crowded conglomeration of gravestones that resembles a city skyline and rain down blood; the clouds then disappear, leaving a rainbow behind. Less harsh in tone, the lovely animation City Glow, 2005 describes a city, its skyscrapers imagined as sinuous female figures twinkilng with lights, overtaken by a lush, primordial jungle. In an interview, Aoshima described a similar romantic vision: "To imagine (the city) all rotted away, overgrown with trees and weeds, is also really fun! For example, being in Shibuya at dawn when there are no people reminds me of a world where humans have perished. Like cities that met their downfalls in the past, our city shall too sometime be gone. Thinking of this makes me feel like a part of cosmic history. No matter how selfishly we live this life, we are still in the end part of nature, and no matter how we resist, we are still powerless."

Casting the collapse of present civlization as natural, part of an inevitable cycle that underlines the passive quality of contemporay identity identity that Murakami and others have noted. It seems to remove the political quality of current conditions like global warming, leaving the individual resigned to what must come. The distanced, cool effect of some of Aoshima's works seem to endorse the aestheticization of disaster, the idea that it is there for contemplation and even appreciation; as Aoshima puts it, "I would at least like to see with my own eyes what this society will look like as it crumbles away."

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In Related Press

'Juxtapoz x Superflat', curated by Takashi Murakami, Juxtapoz and Toilet Paper Magazine at Vancouver Art Gallery Related Press 'Juxtapoz x Superflat', curated by Takashi Murakami, Juxtapoz and Toilet Paper Magazine at Vancouver Art Gallery Art Radar Journal : 12 January 2017

Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s artistic practice is expansive – spilling into fashion, film and other commercial areas. The artist turned to curating in the early 2000s, producing several projects, including Superflat (an exhibition that toured Nagoya Parco Gallery, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Walker Art Center and Henry Art...

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