The jam-packed so-called ‘super art year’ comes to an end, which gives some time and space for reflection. We at Exhibitionary had another terrific year with lots of growth, some new cities and amazing new features in our app, as well as a brand new website and a lot of new ideas for next year.
This is our last “Five Shows” post in 2017. In case you want to see those exhibitions, hurry up. Most of the galleries take a well-deserved break between Christmas and New Year.
Happy Holidays and have a great start into 2018!
1. Evgeny Antufiev at Emalin, London
Here’s an exhibition whose title “With a copper mask in one hand and a vase full of secrets in the other, my body will rest in a sarcophagus guarded by twelve specially trained monsters” manages to function as both an enticing teaser and the shortest press release ever. The Russian artist Evgeny Antufiev has indeed transformed Emalin’s gallery space into a DIY funeral chamber. It includes a smiling mummy puppet; paintings and sculptures of semi-mythological beings and primitive pottery; memorabilia such as photographs and leather boots; and a cardboard-covered alcove, where a Holy Grail of some sorts awaits visitors. Emalin had already shown Antufiev’s work at this year’s Frieze London, to considerable acclaim; his exhibition reads both as a continuation of that presentation and new variations of his artistic vocabulary. Drawing from shamanic, prehistorical and sacral iconographies, the artist seems committed to a specific universe and blends humor, spiritism and upcycling effortlessly.
Emalin, Unit 4 Huntingdon Estate, Bethnal Green Rd, Shoreditch, E1 6JU
2. Jemima Kirke at Sargent’s Daughters, New York
Artist and actress Jemima Kirke, of Girls fame, explores the role, inner lives and agency of brides in her show at New York’s Sargent’s Daughters. Her models posed in their wedding dresses, yet aim to avoid the typical poses and expressions one encounters on pictures of matrimonial bliss. The artist also painted herself in the role of the bride, looking rather moody. Marriage is an outmoded rite, yet it remains popular even amongst progressive and non-traditional couples. Kirke is interested in this contradiction, and her paintings try to lay it bare. Something one could call ‘pinterestification’ seems to have suffused the majority of wedding ceremonies one sees URL and IRL; the artist has chosen to thwart this very aspect, yet she doesn’t pass judgment on what still remains “the most beautiful day” of so many people’s lives.
Sargent's Daughters, 179 East Broadway, New York, NY 10002
3. Anna K.E. & Florian Meisenberg at WNTRP, Berlin
Anonymous places such as airport halls or business hotel rooms often come with an almost charming sterility. Temporarily, their anonymity is broken up by the people who inhabit them for certain stretches of time. With their show “Late Checkout (West Berlin),” Anna K.E. and Florian Meisenberg offer an artistic variation on these contemporary transhumances. Meisenberg films K.E. as she moves around a slick New York hotel room, dressed in tight athleisure wear; in a post-internet-ish take on “Inception,” K.E.’s gaze is fixed on a phone, on which the material filmed by Meisenberg is being streamed via WiFi. This impression of duplication is further expanded through the way the work is presented - 3 screens and one projection, place diagonally in the space, provide a feeling of both focus and blurring. Additionally, detail shots of the hotel room’s lux furniture – a sequence, for example, has the camera caress a surface covered in exquisite ostrich leather – enable the artists’ filmic vocabulary to expand into abstraction.
WNTRP, Potsdamer Strasse 91, 10785 Berlin
4. Publishing as an Artistic Toolbox: 1989–2017 at Kunsthalle Wien
For many artists, publishing represents more than just an accessory to their practice - it’s inherently part of it. Magazines, books, websites, and journals by artists abound - yet, the medium has only been sparsely explored in exhibitions. With “Publishing as an Artistic Toolbox: 1989–2017,” Kunsthalle Wien has decided to do just that, focusing on the wide variety of publications realized by artists after 1989. The date serves as a political and societal caesura, as 1989 marks both the fall of the Berlin Wall and the invention of the World Wide Web. The show aims to explore publishing's relevance as an artistic tool in an age saturated with images, events, news and too many distracting things altogether. Sounds initially like a tough cookie, but an inventive display and enticingly subtle content, often politically charged, make for a new type of museum experience.
Kunsthalle Wien, Museumsquartier, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna
5. Tschabalala Self at Thierry Goldberg, Miami
Tschabalala Self’s meteoric rise continues. The Harlem-born artist has been lauded and sought after by pretty much everyone who came across her work in the past couple of years; she has also been included in major shows such as “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon” at the New Museum and last year’s Gagosian-Deitch Miami venture, but she remains loyal to Thierry Goldberg Gallery, which showed her early on. In Miami, she inaugurates its new Floridian outpost with a series of works from her Bodega series. Self stays true to her signature style – bold colors, distortions, disdain for perspective, and the inclusion of textile; in the pieces on view, she illustrates the role of consumerism and business in the metropolitan lives of minorities, especially African Americans. By representing her characters in the commercial yet communal environment the bodega so often symbolizes, the artist aims to “define my figures from the inside out.”
Thierry Goldberg MIAMI, 151 NE 41st Street, PP133, Miami, FL 33137
– Karim Crippa