CULTURAL WILDLIFE: MAY 2021
A monthly round-up of projects, exhibitions and events we’re most excited for.
On the day that many of our clients, friends and contacts re-open their spaces and look forward to a summer of arts and culture, we return with our regular Cultural Wildlife round-up, featuring some of the projects, exhibitions and events we’re most excited about seeing in the coming weeks.
Coventry City of Culture 2021
Despite facing huge challenges during the Covid pandemic, Coventry nevertheless officially becomes the 2021 UK City of Culture this week and for the next 12 months. Hoping their events can help rejuvenate the arts sector, this cultural accolade is more important than ever and we’re excited to be working on a number of projects which fall under the City of Culture umbrella, as well as looking forward to seeing some of the other projects that have been commissioned by our friends and collaborators.
We can highly recommend taking a look at the wonderful UnNatural History exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum which has been curated by our fantastic client Invisible Dust, which opens on 28 May, bringing together works by major artists including Yinka Shonibare, Mat Collishaw, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg and Frances Disley, exploring themes of natural history, biodiversity and nature. This engaging show will open alongside a great new music exhibition exploring the history of Two Tone and its Coventry roots and will then be followed by the 2021 edition of the Turner Prize exhibition, presented at the Herbert this year.
Meanwhile, across town, we couldn’t be more excited to also be working with Marshmallow Laser Feast, the incredible experiential art collective whose work explores our relationship with the invisible elements of nature. Observations on Being, presented at the Charterhouse Heritage Park, brings together a series of beautiful and thought-provoking audio and AV installations, returning us to our role as part of the natural world.
We’re also excited to see the brilliant Morag Myerscough has transformed the Brutalist architecture of Hertford Street with bold splashes of colour – one of a number of public artworks popping up around the city – and are most intrigued as to the outcome of the first artist in residence commission by West Midlands Police, with the playwright, filmmaker and poet, Kay Rufai.
Flatpack Festival – online until 31 May
Staying in the Midlands, we are also excited to direct you to this year’s edition of Flatpack Festival, the much loved and hugely creative festival of cinema, film and arts who we’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years and can’t wait to delve into again! Presenting its programme online this year between 21-31 May, the festival nevertheless keeps its idiosyncratic, imaginative and deep-diving programming in tact, with a fabulous array of feature films and documentaries, animation and shorts, films for kids, and heritage explorations.
Explore its eclectic offerings this month, before Flatpack embark on an epic and wonderful sounding, year-long, cinematic programme for Coventry City of Culture, CineCov, as the city becomes a cinema and screens pop up everywhere from forests and parks, to churches and towpaths.
Eileen Agar: Angel of Anarchy at Whitechapel Gallery
Whether dancing on the rooftops in Paris, sharing ideas with Pablo Picasso, or gathering starfish on the beaches of Cornwall, Eileen Agar (1899 – 1991) transformed the everyday into the extraordinary. Her unique style nimbly spanned painting, collage, photography and sculpture, even ceremonial hats. Combining order and chaos, Agar’s work fuses vivid abstraction with imagery from classical art, the natural world, and sexual pleasure.
This definitive retrospective opens on 19 May until 29 August, charting her ground-breaking career from the 1920s to the 1990s.
Jean DuBuffet: Brutal Beauty at Barbican Art Gallery
Meanwhile, the Barbican celebrates the work of an Agar contemporary, French artist Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) and another of the most singular and provocative voices in postwar modern art. Brutal Beauty champions Dubuffet’s rebellious philosophy. Railing against conventional ideas of beauty, he tried to capture the poetry of everyday life in a gritty, more authentic way. This is the first major survey of his work in the UK for over 50 years, showcasing four decades of his career, from early portraits and fantastical statues, to butterfly assemblages and giant colourful canvases.
Dubuffet endlessly experimented and was clear on his purpose: ‘Art should always make you laugh a little and fear a little. Anything but bore’. Touché, DuBuffet!
An Infinity of Traces: Lisson Gallery
An Infinity of Traces is a group exhibition featuring UK-based established and emerging Black artists whose work explores notions of race, history, being and belonging. The artists, who include Ayo Akingbade, Ufuoma Essi, Liz Gre, Evan Ifekoya, Liz Johnson Artur, Jade Montserrat, Emily Moore, Sola Olulode, Alexandria Smith, Rhea Storr and Alberta Whittle, address these themes through a variety of mediums, from moving image to sculpture and installation. Curated by Ekow Eshun, writer, broadcaster and former Director of the ICA, the exhibition reflects not only on the Black Lives Matter protests, but the existence of a more sustained antipathy to the Black presence that, in Britain, has deep roots in the nation’s imperial past.
With this legacy of hostility in mind, artists confront topics such as self-care, kinship, and collective solidarity in their work. The presentation offers a range of enquiries into the complexity of Black life and identity, recognising and highlighting it as a multiple not singular condition, and one that is liable to continual redefinition and reimagining.
It’s on at the Lisson’s Bell Street gallery until 5 June.
London Festival of Architecture – throughout June
The London Festival of Architecture is the world’s largest annual architecture festival, featuring a challenging and engaging series of hundreds of public events and activities aimed at anyone with an interest in the buildings and spaces around us. With an incredibly diverse programme of events and activities taking place right across London every June, this year’s festival takes on a hybrid ‘real’ and digital form, all focused on conversations around architecture and our city.
Presented with a broader theme of ‘Care’, the festival presents newly commissioned installations and artworks, an Architecture Film Festival, walks and tours, talks and workshops, and yes, there’s even an Architecture Bake Off! We are also particularly happy that our new client MSCTY, who create site-specific sound and audio works inspired by spaces and places, will be presenting two new works for the LFA, located at Potter’s Field Park and Gibbons Rent, both next to Tower Bridge.
You can check out these new commissions online, or visit the riverside locations and listen to them in situ!
London Design Biennale / 1-27 June
Under the theme of Resonance, the 2021 edition of the London Design Biennale will also take place at Somerset House throughout June. A global gathering of design, the world’s most ambitious and imaginative designers and curators respond to Artistic Director Es Devlin’s theme, with pavilions set across the historic location of Somerset House. One of many highlights we’re looking forward to seeing is Japan’s pavilion of friendship, ‘Reinventing Texture’, which pays homage to the ancient Japanese art of Washi paper-making and papier-mâché through a sensory experience that connects Tokyo and London. An experimental immersive installation that resonates with traditional and modern urban textures, objects and sounds in the cities of Tokyo and London, which features field recordings and immersive and interactive sound collage created by MSCTY’s Studio in Tokyo.
Witcih Digital Festival (9 – 11 June)
Founded by artist and composer Bishi, WITCiH is an inclusive platform supporting Womxn in Tech. An online and real world platform for research, creation, performance and networking, its’ mission is to educate and inspire women the world over through an understanding of Women in Tech & their history. This 9-11 June, Bishi has curated Witcih Digital Festival, featuring a fantastic line up of headline speakers including Laurie Anderson, Ana Matronic and Nemone, as well as five new commissions from artists
Halina Rice, Hinako Omori, Lula xyz, Gnarly and Bishi x Volta. It feels like the perfect contemporary follow on from our recent work on the UK release of Lisa Rovner’s film, Sisters with Transistors, released by Modern Films, which tells the story of electronic music’s female pioneers.
Two exhibitions at HOME
Two new exhibitions = two brilliant new reasons to visit photographer Ronan McKenzie’s (relatively) new space HOME on Hornsey Road N19, a multifunctional creative space, born out of the hunger for a more grounded art space with both a well curated presentation of exhibitions, and a wide programme of events. A modern hybrid of an art gallery and a community events space, HOME also offers a library, lounge and creative work space to be shared and enjoyed. Curated by its founder Ronan Mckenzie, ‘The Self Portrait’ is an exhibition celebrating Black Women photographers, demonstrating the nuance of not only the stories they tell, but the people behind the lens telling them, in collaboration with WePresent.
It is on show alongside ‘Ain’t I Soft’, a collection of humanising images of Black women, unframed from the boxes that are usually forcibly used to define their existence in a singular form. Capturing a small part of the bigger picture to decolonise identity and self-definition, this exhibition is presented by object to subject, in collaboration with HOME.
Peter Hujar: Heyday at Maureen Paley
The fourth solo show of work by the photographer Peter Hujar to be presented at Maureen Paley, this exhibition focuses on his series of images that capture performers backstage in New York theatres and nightclubs during the 1970s and early 1980s. Presenting this exhibition at a time when many performance spaces have been shuttered worldwide, the gallery aims to provide a glimpse into the heyday of New York’s bohemia and the much-celebrated underground drag culture that flourished during Peter Hujar’s lifetime. On until 13 June.
Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser at the V&A
Exploring its origins, adaptations and reinventions over 157 years, this immersive and theatrical show, opening at the V&A on Saturday, charts the evolution of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, from manuscript to a global phenomenon beloved by all ages. The V&A’s landmark celebrates one of the most iconic, imaginative and inspiring stories of all time. Offering an immersive and mindbending journey down the rabbit hole, this fantastical exhibition features over 300 objects spanning film, performance, fashion, art, music and photography. Fully exploring the cultural impact of Alice and her ongoing inspiration for leading creatives, from Salvador Dalí and The Beatles to Little Simz and Thom Browne, highlights include Lewis Carroll’s original handwritten manuscript, illustrations by John Tenniel, Ralph Steadman and Disney, stage costumes, fashion from Iris van Herpen and photography from Tim Walker and Annie Leibovitz.
James Barnor: Accra/London – A Retrospective at Serpentine Gallery
This major survey of British-Ghanaian photographer James Barnor opens at the Serpentine Gallery on Wednesday (19 May) until 22 October. Barnor’s career as a studio portraitist, photojournalist and Black lifestyle photographer spans six decades and records major social and political changes in London and Accra. Born in 1929 in Ghana, Barnor established his famous Ever Young studio in Accra in the early 1950s, capturing a nation on the cusp of independence in an ambiance animated by conversation and highlife music. In 1959 he arrived in London, furthering his studies and continuing assignments for influential South African magazine Drum which reflected the spirit of the era and the experiences of London’s burgeoning African diaspora. He returned to Ghana in the early 1970s to establish the country’s first colour processing lab while continuing his work as a portrait photographer and embedding himself in the music scene, returning to London in 1994.