What we’re doing this summer

Corita Kent, the stamp of thoreau, 1969. Screenprint, 12 x 23 inches. Image courtesy of the Corita Art Center, Los Angeles, and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.


July 29, 2021

We take a short break over August. A time to catch our breath and, praise be, to see some shows. To help us and you to make the most of the summer we asked a few of our recent contributors to nominate the exhibitions that they are looking forward to seeing. Our writers are creative individuals, liable to respond creatively to any brief, and so their responses encompass shows they have recently seen and will be thinking about for weeks to come, the books they are excited to read, and everything else under the summer sun. We’ll spend the next month plotting the year ahead and publishing archive material on social media: be sure to follow us there.

Hallie Ayres
Having been away from New York for a little while, I’m excited to see “Beyond Metaphor: Women and War.” Curated by Katarzyna Falęcka, the show aims to expand the reductionist trope of women’s lives under colonialism—heroic freedom fighter or defenseless victim—by highlighting five artists who trouble the facts and fictions of the Algerian War of Independence. I’m intrigued by this understanding of the struggle, which acknowledges that a slippage between categories is critical to the messy negotiation of liberation. “Beyond Metaphor: Women and War” is at Apex Art, New York through July 31

Caleb Azumah Nelson
In Jennifer Packer’s own words, she’s imaging Black people with “shameless generosity and accuracy.” The artist’s eye is keen and careful, rendering her figures in pinks and yellows and reds. They recline, hands are clasped or lazed over the arms of chairs, shoulders are relaxed, always a direct gaze; these are wonderful images of Black people, content, at rest, at peace. Jennifer Packer’s “The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing” is at the Serpentine Galleries, London, through August 22

Aaina Bhargava
The best thing I’ve seen in Hong Kong this year—a trend I hope will continue this summer—is the collaboration of artists and activists amid trying conditions; it has also been refreshing to see more experimental exhibition spaces gain international visibility. I was sorry, therefore, to miss “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America,” conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor: a show bearing witness to the effect of legacy during a culturally significant moment. Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America” was at the New Museum, New York, from February 17 to June 6

Gaby Cepeda
As most Mexican institutions turned to uninspired showcases of their collections, Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil embraced youth by entrusting their largest gallery to three local art collectives, including nohacernada.org. The artist/curator duo put together a smart group show including local artists Nicole Chaput, Lic. Sniffany Garnier Odio, and Carolina Berrocal. Hopefully the potential unlocked by this exercise will get the creative (and risk-assessing) juices of fellow institutions flowing this summer! “Hacer algo de la nada” was at Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico from June 12 to July 25

Jareh Das
I would love to see the joint presentation of Theresa Ankomah and Lois Arde-Acquah at Nubuke Foundation in Accra. Acquah’s sculptures in synthetic leather are realized through the performance of repetitive, strenuous exertions, while Ankomah has draped the institution’s cantilevered facade with colorful kenaf onion baskets sourced from local markets. Others are hung outside the main entrance, creating an entangled web that engages with the geopolitics of goods, services, movement, and migration. “Look at WE” is at the Nubuke Foundation, Accra through August 15

Travis Diehl
From the aptly named The Solar Anus (1998) to the glossolalic severed head of Louis XVI, Ron Athey has been performing since his teens. It’s staggering to see his range unfold across “Queer Communion,” a retrospective of raw photographs and operatic props left over from appearances in places ranging from punk clubs to the floor of the US Senate. There’s also his writing, featuring treats like an article for an ink mag he wrote, age 35, about his wary fascination with skinhead culture and why he finally covered up his swastika. Ron Athey’s “Queer Communion” is at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, through September 5

Ben Eastham
I’ll be visiting my family which, like EVA International, is in west Ireland. So I’m looking forward to seeing how curator Merve Elveren connects archival case studies from China (on water conservation) and Kosovo (on historical reconciliation) to Limerick’s own contested past, as well as to again hearing my aunts deliver their own versions of history over stout and blackcurrant (likely through the medium of song). At Beirut Art Center, Shuruq Harb explores similar themes around the construction of memory and place: another reminder that to talk about change is also to talk about what needs to be protected. “Phase 2” of EVA International, Limerick runs through August 22; Shuruq Harb’s “Ghost at the Feast” is at Beirut Art Center through September 10

Orit Gat
Of course, looking at art as images online is insufficient. But in the case of my friend Anna Plesset’s paintings, it’s also deceiving. Her exhibition “Value Studies” at Patron Gallery in Chicago focuses on the Hudson Valley School, and specifically the often overlooked women who were part of it. The paintings include sections in detailed trompe l’oeil showing the Google Images view of the historical work by women that the artist is referencing. The rest of the canvas is unfinished “copies” of those nineteenth-century paintings, an allusion to the historical recovery Plesset is attempting, and the impossibility thereof. Anna Plesset’s “Value Studies” is at Patron Gallery, Chicago through August 28

Alan Gilbert
Continuing to exert control over the narrative surrounding her art, Cady Noland has resurfaced in New York City this summer with an exhibition at Galerie Buchholz that includes new and older pieces. Perhaps even more enticing is the self-published, two-volume book containing various texts and photographs of Noland’s work that the artist co-edited with Rhea Anastas in tandem with the show. Cady Noland’s “THE CLIP-ON METHOD” is at Galerie Buchholz, New York through September 11

Cora Gilroy-Ware
After reading Burmese Days (1934) by George Orwell I’ve been increasingly fascinated by the sinister aspects of provincial England, how the fabrication of “the English countryside” is inextricably linked to the crimes of the British Empire. On that note, I’m looking forward to reading Vron Ware’s forthcoming book Return of a Native: Learning from the Land, a literary, historical, and personal excavation of a seemingly unremarkable part of Hampshire. I also recommend Richard Saltoun Gallery’s online exhibition of works, mostly from the 1970s, by the great multidisciplinary feminist and another auditor of rural English life, the aptly named Rose English. “The Pioneers, Part Two: Rose English” is at Saltoun Online through August 14

Ladi’Sasha Jones
There are two survey exhibitions outside of New York I would like to see this summer. Chakaia Booker’s “The Observance” at the ICA Miami features a wide selection of Booker’s sculptures, photographs, and paintings. The second is “Aphrodite’s Beasts” by LA-based artist Martine Syms, currently on view at Fridericianum in Kassel. Elsewhere, The Momentary in Arkansas has four stellar presentations on view: Abigail Deville, Cauleen Smith, Garrett Bradley, and Kenny Rivero. Chakaia Booker’s “The Observance” is at ICA Miami through October 31; Martine Syms’s “Aphrodite’s Beasts” is at Fridericianum, Kassel through January 9, 2022

Patrick Langley
I’m excited to see Sedrick Chisom’s solo show of darkly imagined paintings at Pilar Corrias—not least for their evocative titles: A Blighted Calvaryman Patrolled the Valley of The Rocks on His Worn Out Horse Through Dead Mist at Miasmic Ass-crack Hours, reads one. Working in the Afrofuturist tradition, these canvases evoke an America of the mind, at once nightmarish and saturated with magic. Sedrick Chisom’s “Twenty Thousand Years of Fire and Snow” is at Pilar Corrias, London through August 21

Natasha Marie Llorens
Lydia Ourahmane’s solo exhibition at Triangle-Astérides in Marseille is composed of one gesture: the artist brought the entire contents of an apartment she rented in Algiers for two years to Europe. The heavy wooden furniture that the apartment’s owner bought half a century ago in Germany and imported to Algeria. The front door, which was cut from the apartment’s walls. I imagine it as a brutal, intimate exhibition. Lydia Ourahmane’s “Barzakh” is at Triangle-Astérides, Marseilles through October 24

R. H. Lossin
The brightly colored prints on display at Andrew Kreps are a record of Corita Kent’s unavoidably faith-driven engagement with the uprisings of the 1960s, but they are not what we would expect from a nun. From the Watts Riots to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Kent’s work invites us literally to look closely at media representations of violence and tragedy and consider alternatives that, the fluorescent colors imply, couldn’t be easier to see (even if they are, in truly divine fashion, a bit hard to decipher). Corita Kent’s “Heroes and Sheroes” is at Andrew Kreps, New York through August 13

Rosanna Mclaughlin
I’m looking forward to seeing Paul Pfeiffer’s show “Incarnator” at Thomas Dane, which takes on the subject of what rapture and devotion mean in the era of late capitalism, and how it’s produced and commodified on a global scale. The show also includes carved wooden effigies of Justin Bieber, complete with pompadour hair and messianic tattoos (including “Son of God” across his chest). What’s not to like? Paul Pfeiffer’s “Incarnator” is at Thomas Dane, London through August 7

Novuyo Moyo
If you’re in Lagos this summer, head to Affinity Art Gallery to see “A Vernacular Homage to Architecture and Design,” a joint presentation by Nigerian ceramist Adams Anne and South African painter Lulama “Wolf” Mlambo. Both artists distil, into abstracted forms in various earthy tones, research about design practices that have been made accessible through local knowledge systems retained over the years and across the continent. “A Vernacular Homage to Architecture and Design” is at Affinity Art Gallery, Lagos through August 28

Sean O’Toole
Stevenson is a standard-bearer for the ambitious group exhibition in South Africa. In 2012, for example, they staged a fascinating homage to Okwui Enwezor’s 1997 Johannesburg Biennale. Their latest multi-venue exhibition is similarly time-spanning—the works on view date from 1950 to the present day—but eschews 1990s conceptual frippery in favor of a contemporary thematic: the human figure. Curators Sisipho Ngodwana and Sinazo Chiya excerpted their exhibition’s title from a Sun Ra interview in which the bandleader spoke of a youthful out-of-body experience. I’m excited to see Neo Matloga, Frida Orupabo, and Moshekwa Langa’s collages. “my whole body changed into something else” is at Stevenson, Cape Town through September 3

Dina Ramadan
If I were able to spend some time in Berlin this summer, I’d take a train to Oldenburg to see “Infrahauntologies” curated by Bassam El Baroni at the Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art, an international group show which examines tendencies of “infrastructural speculation” and “infrastructural re-examination” in art practices that engage with questions of infrastructure. “Infrahauntologies” is at the Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art, Oldenberg through October 3

Filipa Ramos
“Bodies of Water,” the 13th Shanghai Biennale (on which I worked as a curator), investigated how fluids shape the Earth and how bodies—human, animal, vegetal, mineral, cosmic—are formed and traversed by them. In a bizarre twist of fate, its preparation and opening coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic, globally transmitted by bodily fluid exchanges. The project had to be led remotely, a true exercise of curatorial imagination, and was exclusively visited by local audiences: an unexpected turn towards a new ecology of exhibitions. The Shanghai Biennale ran from April 17 to July 25

Patrick J. Reed
I once wrote a haiku in a hot, sloppy season: “mesh basketball shorts / so informative in the wind / sweet May, June, July.” Those lines return to me when I look upon Le Petit Nice (2020) by Constantin Nitsche and anticipate the exhibition in which it appears, “Violette” at O-Town House. Constantin Nitsche’s “Violette” is at O-Town House, Los Angeles through September 28

Aoife Rosenmeyer
“Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo) – I’m Jade” opens the exhibition text. Steep mountains and the modest, if ever-ambitious, Kunsthaus Glarus provide extraordinary framing for this end-of-an-era showcase. The survey of some ten years’ work occupies and transforms the building into graveyard, cinema, and border zone—to mention a few—and spills out over its edges. “Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo)” is at Kunsthaus Glarus through August 22

Ulya Soley
I’m looking forward to seeing Volkan Aslan’s exhibition “Stay Safe” at SALT, opening on August 4. Centered around two films based on an imaginary correspondence between two friends, the exhibition will contemplate ideas of loss, holding on, and leaving behind. Volkan Aslan’s “Stay Safe” is at SALT, Istanbul, from August 4 through October 17

Francesco Tenaglia
In 1887, feminist activists Sophia Goudstikker and Anita Augspurg founded the art studio Hofatelier Elvira in Munich. Finding its ornate style an aberrant distraction for visitors to the infamous “Great German Art” and “Degenerate Art” exhibitions, held in the city in 1937, the Nazis demolished its ornate façade. Maximiliane Baumgartner re-imagines this exuberant structure inside Kunstverein München: this time-traveling institutional mise-en-abyme is a tempting Bavarian summer stop. Maximiliane Baumgartner’s “Auf Fassaden schauen oder Die vierte Wand der dritten Pädagogin” is at Kunstverein München through August 20

Francesca Wade
Since the world has contracted, I’ve been looking forward to immersing in some monumental work, and a 45-foot long triptych by Glenn Ligon—set to open later this fall—is an enticing prospect. A new work from his “Stranger in the Village” series, which incorporates excerpts from James Baldwin’s 1953 essay stenciled almost illegibly in black and white across a canvas, this instalment will—for the first time—feature the essay’s text in its entirety: an immensely powerful reflection on language, authorship, and belonging. Glenn Ligon opens at Hauser & Wirth, New York, on November 22

Frances Whorrall-Campbell
I missed the radio play version of Orion J. Facey’s The Virosexuals, streamed last November by London’s Banner Repeater, so I’m excited to catch up with this science-fantasy extravaganza. Sure to become a cult classic in years to come, The Virosexuals describes a futuristic counter-culture of algorithmically resistant, hormone-dependent kinksters whose community is beset by a deadly virus. With a psychedelic cover by Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, I can’t think of more apt reading for another pandemic summer. Orion J. Facey’s The Virosexuals was published by FSS on 30 June 2021

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July 29, 2021

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