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Alicia Kopf: ‘My idea is to appropriate polar history to a present-day story of survival’

Catalan artist Alicia Kopf has won acclaim for her novel Brother in Ice, which sits at the pinnacle of a cycle of artistic projects about the Arctic and the Antarctic. Here, she talks about her own epic story

Portrait of Alicia Kopf by Laia Guitierrez, 2015.
Teresa Lawton talking to Studio International at the opening of Tipping the Balance, 2018. Photograph: Martin Kennedy.
Lawton’s paintings are inspired by her love of Dorset, where she explore the shapes and colours of the landscape, always in awe, she says ‘of the silence and mystery of nature’.
Patrick Heron. Big Complex Diagonal with Emerald and Reds : March 1972 - September 1974, 1974. Oil paint on canvas. © Estate of Patrick Heron. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2018.
Patrick Heron’s postwar abstraction places figure and ground on an equal footing and exploits the all-important edge between forms and colours to create intense expressions of musicality and emotion.
Leonid Lamm. Beat the Flat Red Squares with Cylinders (Dynamics of Perspective), 1955-56.  Oil on canvas, 61 x 76.5 cm. Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University.
This retrospective of the artist, who died last year, shows the brilliance, courage and impeccable work ethic that made Lamm such an important figure in postwar Russian and American art.
John Powers with his grandmother in front of Terminal, 2004. Image courtesy John Powers.
Responding to the history of the city of Bruges, John Powers’ 15-metre-tall steel tower was constructed in situ for this year’s triennial and references long-neck swans and a medieval beheading.
Tacita Dean. A Bag of Air, 1995. Installation view, At Altitude, 2018, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne. Photograph: Rob Harris.
With its focus on the aerial image, At Altitude puts our terrestrial world into perspective with a broad range of works. It’s intriguing but, somehow, it misses the mark.
Theaster Gates. From the archives of the Johnson Publishing Company. Photograph: Moneta Sleet, courtesy of Theaster Gates.
Gates hopes to challenge and confront the prevailing European narratives of racial and religious authority by reclaiming the power of print as a medium for black emancipation.
Lizzie Siddal. The Haunted Wood, 1856. Gouache on paper.
Best known as Millais’ Ophelia, Lizzie Siddal was a Pre-Raphaelite artist and poet in her own right. She died young, with no particularly established reputation, and this small exhibition is only the second entirely in her honour.
Grayson Perry speaking to the press at the opening of the Royal Academy of Arts 250th Summer Exhibition. Photograph: Martin Kennedy.
Grayson Perry’s eclectic, irreverent approach in coordinating the 250th-anniversary exhibition plays to its strengths. With the works of hundreds of amateur artists alongside those of professionals and the Royal Academicians, it is a far more insightful and accurate reflection of the issues, opinions and talents operating under the banner of ‘art’ in contemporary Britain.
Boo Saville talking to Studio International at Newport Street Gallery, London, 12 June 2018. Photograph: Martin Kennedy.
Boo Saville’s fields of colour shimmer, each massive painting drawing you in and, once you are up close, their surfaces seem to conjure immersive spaces, as though the air has suddenly been coloured and there is space to fall in. Such a physical and emotional impact is reminiscent of Rothko’s Chapel in Houston, where his 14 black and coloured hue paintings cover the internal space.
Thomas Cole. The Course of Empire: The Pastoral or Arcadian State, c1834. Oil on canvas, 99.7 × 160.6 cm. Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society. © Collection of The New-York Historical Society, New York / Digital image created by Oppenheimer Editions.
A fresh look at the paintings of British émigré Thomas Cole reveals some eerily relevant messages for our current times.
Etel Adnan. Copyright Etel Adnan, courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris.
In a bold juxtaposition with works by Paul Klee, the oil paintings, poems, carpets and tapestries of Etel Adnan reflect the qualities she shares with the painter who inspired her – an intense, visceral response to colour and a preoccupation with war, loss and displacement.
Bodys Isek Kingelez outside his home in Kinshasa, 2014. Courtesy André Magnin, Paris. Photograph: Fredi Casco.
From individual buildings to large cityscapes, all the sculptures in this first US retrospective of Kingelez’s work exude his optimism and vibrancy. And, thanks to virtual reality, MoMA gives us the chance to walk the streets of one of his cities.
Jene Highstein: Space and Place, installation view, March 2018. Copyright 2018, JPNF. Photograph: Musthafa Aboobacker.
Deborah Najar’s carefully considered and sensitive choice of Highstein’s works is accompanied by short videos, photographs, archival material and correspondence between the artist and her father.
StudioKCA, Skyscraper (the Bruges Whale), 2018. © VisitBruges | Jan D’hondt.
For the duration of the summer, visitors to the liquid city of Bruges are invited to ponder a more metaphorical interpretation of this notion of fluidity, thinking about how the city – and they themselves – might adapt in the light of the growing conviction that change is the only permanence.
Paul S. Taylor. Dorothea Lange in Texas on the Plains, c1935. © The Dorothea Lange Collection, the Oakland Museum of California.
A photographer of fierce resolve and compassion, Dorothea Lange knew how to capture the very essence of struggle.
Lee Bul. Willing To Be Vulnerable - Metalized Balloon, 2015-2016. Installation view at Hayward Gallery, London 2018 © Lee Bul 2018. Photograph: Linda Nylind.
The Korean artist’s London retrospective shines brightest when it is clear and direct.
The Enforced Disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa Students 
Iguala, Mexico, 26-27 September 2014. At the Palacio de Justicia, between 12 and 14 students (red) were beaten up and loaded into the back of multiple police vehicles (turquoise). Image: Forensic Architecture, 2017.
Forensic Architecture has never designed a building. Instead, it acts as an architectural detective agency to expose human rights abuses. Samaneh Moafi, one of its project leaders, talks about art prizes, the innovative potential of multidisciplinary collaboration and the role of aesthetics in the organisation’s investigations.
Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg.
Having just installed 10, mostly blown-glass pieces around Canterbury Cathedral for their exhibition Under an Equal Sky, Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg talk about these new works and the resonance between their historic setting and their chosen issues of migration, diversity and community.
Sadie Laska talking to Studio International at Newport Street Gallery, London, 12 June 2018. Photograph: Martin Kennedy.
New York-based Sadie Laska, who is both a painter and a drummer, brings her improvisation skills into her wall-based works, using collage, small objects and brushed colour in flight. Each work embraces the tactility of materials and the motion of thoughts and actions in the process of making.
Phoebe Cunningham. I am One With the People, 2018. Video installation, approx 10 mins, loop.
Surreal, witty and at times unsettling, Whitstable Biennale 2018 is full of surprises.
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