Weekend Viewing: 4-6 November
Introducing a brand new weekly series, where every Friday I highlight a few choice exhibitions and events from around the world that can be viewed online or in person. From biennials to blockbusters and everything in between, this short list will guarantee your weekends are never boring.
1. Art Week Tokyo (3-6 November)
In its inaugural iteration after the country's post-pandemic reopening, Japan's capital Tokyo will host an international art fair this weekend. Featuring major museum shows and gallery exhibitions, there is also a new video programme curated by Adam Szymczyk from the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam on display, and a dedicated bus system to take viewers around the city's sprawling districts. Unlike other fairs, where galleries, museums, artist's studios, bars, and social spaces form the periphery of the event, in Tokyo they will be front and centre. And unlike the headliners that Japanese galleries often show at international fairs (think Yayoi Kusama), Art Week Tokyo seems to pull focus on emerging, experimental and hitherto-unknown artists. One of these is Masayasu Mitsuke, whose highly sought after ceramic works will be on view at Ota Fine Arts in Roppongi, and XYZ Collective's exhibition of playful sculptures and photographic works by Naoki Sutter Shudo.
Shinro Ohtake, Mnemoscape 0, 2022. Image source: https://www.artbasel.com
2. Carolee Schneemann: ‘Body Politics’ at Barbican, London
It might come as a surprise that this retrospective of the pioneering feminist artist's work is the first of its kind in the UK, but it's better late than never. The monumental show traces her diverse, transgressive and interdisciplinary practice over six decades, spanning solo and group performances, sculptural assemblages and kinetic works, lyrical films and immersive multi-media installations. Boldly ahead of her time and, as a result, deeply controversial, Schneemann is nonetheless positioned in this show as a central and irrepressible figure of 20th and 21st century art, not least for her contribution to feminist art. The true innovation of Scheemann's work was using her body as both vehicle and medium for art, becoming in her own words both image and image-maker. Although it might not seem so revolutionary to us now, in its day Schneemann's work completely upended widely-held notions about femininity, the female body, politics, and art itself.
Carolee Schneemann, Meat Joy, 1964. Image source: https://www.barbican.org.uk
3. Yvette Mayorga: ‘What a Time to Be’ at The Momentary, Arkansas
The sumptuous exhibition by Yvette Mayorga brings together an entire year's worth of work from the multi-disciplinary artist. The show spans sculpture, installation, mixed media and painting, all in Mayorga's signature sugar-coated style. It looks to be an immersive show that, beneath its cotton candy veneer, interrogates and deconstructs the art historical canon. Mayorga references François Boucher and Leonardo da Vinci in the same breath as she adorns her canvases with acrylic nails and Nike shoes, creating clever anachronisms and disrupting the accepted chronology of art history. The show is about family, memory and survival, and all it takes to simply 'be' in our contemporary times.
Yvette Mayorga, Resting Scrolling After François Boucher, Madame de Pompadour, 1756, 2022. Image source: https://themomentary.org
4. Jasmina Cibic: 'Charm Offensive' at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, NZ
In her first solo exhibition in New Zealand, London-based Slovenian artist Jasmina Cibic continues her quest to expose and question the relationship between culture and political power, which she calls 'soft power'. Featuring the multi-channel film The Gift (2021), as well as a brand new site-specific installation Charm Offensive (2022), the exhibition centers around the concept of gifting, raising questions about cultural gifting as a tool for power and political dominance. Cibic's works are all-encompassing, adorning walls, ceilings and the exterior of buildings, taking the form of architecture as much as art in order to reflect the scale of the issues which are at the heart of her practice - nation-building and the role of cultural figures and institutions in this process. In an era where, thanks to the work of artist Nan Goldin, the Sackler name is being removed from multiple cultural institutions around the world due to their involvement in the opioid crisis, Cibic's work is incisive and relevant, threading a sharply intellectual needle through myriad complex concepts.
Jasmina Cibic, The Gift, 2021. Image source: dunedin.art.museum
5. David Thomas: ‘Love Poem to Life’ at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne
Will my obsession with love letters, notes and poems ever subside? Unlikely. Now in its last days, this site-responsive exhibition by Melbourne artist David Thomas references the history, architecture and atmosphere of Heide Modern, a repurposed artist's house and community that captures the zeitgeist of the Australian modern art scene in the 1930's and 40's. For the show, Thomas has ascribed a particular value or proposition to each room of the painstakingly preserved house, and used formal elements of movement, duration, colour and space to elicit a response from viewers. Thomas is concerned with the role of painting in contemporary life, and how it can offer us a different way to experience time and space through altered perspectives. For Heide, the site-specific paintings and sculptures embody the artist's response to this architectural and artistic icon of Victoria and the modern art movement.
David Thomas, installation view of Love Poems to Life, 2022. Image source: heide.com.au