Futile vacuums, visually confusing sculptures, and fluffy bears have made it into our Top Five this month. Ever wondered what a room filled with thick black liquid looks like? We’ve got you covered. See below for our suggestions of five shows not to miss in November. And download our app for more tips! They will lighten up your S.A.D.-mood of the winterly hemisphere, and maybe you’ll discover something new!
1. Space Shifters at the Hayward Gallery, London
No need for perception altering supplements: the autumn exhibition of the Hayward Gallery will disrupt your sense of space and make you disorientated – but in a good way. Focusing on the act of (spacial) perception, “Shape Shifters” shows works of 20 artists. It features a range of historical works (think minimalist sculptures of the 60s ‘Light and Space’ movement with pioneers such as DeWain Valentine or Helen Pashgian) and links them to present day installations by artists such as Anish Kapoor or Alicja Kwade. In her large-scale installation WeltenLinie (2017), Kwade uses double-sided mirrors and intricately placed objects to create illusions of material transformations. A room flooded with engine oil – 20:50 (1987) by Richard Wilson – mirrors the architecture of the gallery itself. Yayoi Kusama creates a liquid landscape with hundreds of stainless steel orbs (Narcissus Garden, 1966) and Jeppe Hein’s kinetic sculpture 360° Illusion V (2018) generates a visual dialogue between the viewer and the artwork through mirrored panels. A logic-defying Handrail (2016–2018), by Monika Sosnowska, goes astray, subverts architectural logic principles, and introduces chaos into something that is usually functional. Definitely, an exhibition that will get your sense of space tingling.
Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
2. Klara Lidén at Reena Spaulings, New York
Integrating the specific architectural environment at Reena Spaulings, Klara Lidén has built a tilted plywood screen onto which her new video Grounding(2018) is projected. The screen starts on the ground and moves diagonally all the way to the ceiling of the exhibition space, suggesting an upward motion. The tilted floor functions like a wall divide of the exhibition space and exposes a kind of backstage of the gallery, that reminds of building-sites and the idea of constant improvement. The video itself was filmed in Lower Manhattan. It adapts the Steadicam choreography of the iconic music video Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack, and takes the viewer on a walk past Chase Manhattan Plaza and the New York Stock Exchange. Grounding documents a continuum of someone falling and getting back on their feet, in an almost slapstick-like manner. Contrary to ‘grounding exercises’ in popular psychology, the work displays overwhelming repetition of a constant motion of struggle.
Reena Spaulings, 165 East Broadyway, New York, NY 10002
3. Martin Boyce at Esther Schipper, Berlin
Martin Boyce transforms Esther Schipper’s elegant minimalist gallery space into something uncannily homely. He covers the walls with moldings in the tradition of domestic adornments that also function as frames for his sculptures, thus producing a non-space of familiarity. However, he diminishes this intimacy, by robbing the objects of their function: lamps don’t work or emit too little light to be practical, doors lie on the floor, room partitions are transparent. In “The Light Pours Out” Boyce seems to have drained the objects of their essence, leaving behind only hollow shells, creating a certain melancholy. This idea of empty space is also mirrored in his references to 12th-century Chinese art, especially artist Mǎ Yuǎn (who was known for his misty landscapes). In Perforated Steel Panel Small (2018) the influence of Mǎ Yuǎn becomes visible: The blue paint disappearing into a foggy white appears to be a direct reference to the Chinese artist. Boyce created this work through a process of applying coats of industrial paint and sanding it off. “The Light Pours Out” plays with surfaces and the idea of memory and time and how this can be interlinked or artificially be created.
Esther Schipper, Potsdamer Strasse 81E, 10785 Berlin
4. Paola Pivi at The Bass, Miami
Paola Pivi creates seemingly playful and carefree worlds that stimulate the imagination and create animistic and enigmatic wonder. The artist is celebrated for her amazing visuals. Pivi’s well-known sculptures of flashy and colorful bears are now on display in a solo show at The Bass. Her new work Lies is a small room, built out of 92 television screens, showering you with 40,000 images of reality. The screens show “recorded lies played through a sound system” as it reads in the work description. Pivi’s works often occupy the space between the real and the potential: Goldfish traveling on a plane, bears with feathers instead of fur, a donkey on a boat – none of this is realistic, but all of it is possible. World Record, an 80-piece mattress installation, invites the visitors to lie in somewhat of a padded cell that’s a mixture of comfy, cozy and claustrophobic. Placing animals and objects in unlikely situations and environments Pivi’s show tickles the power of imagination and has an enigmatic and symbolistic feel.
The Bass, 2100 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139
5. Cao Fei at K21, Düsseldorf
Moving through the smog of urban reality and contemporary fantasy, the first major solo exhibition of Cao Fei in Germany addresses themes of alienation, longing, and transformation in the realm of societal change in modern-day China. Fei explores the antagonism between tradition and modernity, observes (g)local phenomena and depicts questionable utopias. Hovering between personal and political, her work is informed by the media and fast-paced technological developments. Fei often incorporates elaborate performative aspects that thread the line of documentary aesthetics and fiction. Her show consists of complex multi-media installations, films, videos, photographs as well as sketches from her personal archive. The drawings reveal a very own artistic style and give a hint on how she approaches her video works, sometimes forecasting characters that later appear in her films as well as demonstrating her interest in the surreal. Emphasizing on isolation and loneliness is Fei's first feature film Haze and Fog (2013), also on view in the exhibition. Set in a block of flats in smoggy Beijing, everything becomes absurd in this dramatized version of everyday life that culminates in somewhat of a zombie apocalypse. The show gives an excellent overview of Fei’s oeuvre over the last 20 years.
K21 Ständehaus, Ständehausstrasse 1, 40217 Düsseldorf