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Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings. UK Gay Bar Directory, 2016, film still. © the artists. …on Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender and Identity by HATTY NESTOR Artistic duo Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings assembled footage of more than 100 gay bars across the UK for their 2016 video UK Gay Bar Directory. The five-and-a-half-hour film methodically documents these spaces – including gay bars that have now closed, such as the Hoist in London. The importance of their directory lies in its ability to function as a public resource, which is part of the artists’ intention for the work: to consider the future of how we archive and rematerialise LGBTQ+ histories. The film has now been acquired by the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, where it will serve as a tool to revisit the effects of the current government’s austerity cuts, as well as to examine queer histories, asking poignant questions of who is and isn’t given institutional space societally. I met Quinlan and Hastings in Liverpool, where the UK Gay Bar Directory is exhibited in the Walker Art Gallery’s current exhibiti…
You’re Surrounded By Me, 2017. Installation view at Turf Projects, Croydon. Image courtesy of Tim Bowditch. …hange, protest and the subversion of heraldry by HATTY NESTOR How do we undermine dominant political and cultural narratives? Or rather, what circumstances enable platforms to reimagine how we question our placement within society through artistic practice? The exploration of political and societal issues is apparent in curator and artist Chris Alton’s group show You’re Surrounded by Me, funded by Arts Council England, and currently at Turf Projects, an artist-led space in Croydon, south London. Since graduating from Middlesex University in 2014, Alton has undertaken a series of artistic projects, most notably English Disco Lovers (2013), a satirical protest group that he founded, which subverted the meaning of the English Defence League’s abbreviation, as well as the etymology of the word disco, which derives from “discotheque”, a French word meaning “record library”. [image2] I meet Alton at Turf Projects, where an assemblage of video, installation and sculpture wor…
Gregory Crewdson. Mother and Daughter, 2014. Digital pigment prints, 37 ½ × 50 in (95.25 × 127 cm). © Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. …that sprang from a difficult time in his life by HATTY NESTOR Photography has the capability to capture our most ephemeral experiences, especially those we encounter as strangers to the wilderness, resonating as material traces of hidden pasts and memories. Inexplicable and distant, the photographs in Gregory Crewdson’s exhibition Cathedral of the Pines, at the Photographers’ Gallery in London, transform mundane reality into something else – often captured in the majestic hours of twilight. We see figures occupying settings where they seem displaced; scenes where their gesture and expression reflect the atmosphere of an environment, rendering it uncanny, otherworldly. Crewdson’s practice is one of contrasting entanglements. He sets the psychological and emotional isolation of his subjects against the vast expanse of the natural world, resulting in opaque, uncanny photographs. He was born in Brooklyn in 1962 and, after graduating in 1988 from Yale University School of Art –…
Modigliani in his studio, photograph by Paul Guillaume, c1915. © RMN-Grand Palais (musée de l’Orangerie) I Archives Alain Bouret, image Dominique Couto. …ern, London 23 November 2017 – 2 April 2018 by HATTY NESTOR Amedeo Modigliani’s alluring, visceral figures are some of the most celebrated portraits of the 20th century, and this major retrospective at Tate Modern, curated by Nancy Ireson, includes the largest collection of his nude paintings ever shown together in the UK. The exhibition attempts to illustrate the breadth of his practice, with his less famous sculptures and drawings shown alongside the nudes. And, in a first for Tate Modern, it is using virtual reality to enable visitors to imagine themselves in the painter’s final studio at 8 Rue de la Grande-Chaumière in Montparnasse. It seeks to give viewers an intimate window into Modigliani’s environment in early 20th-century Paris. [image8] The exhibition is an elegant archive of Modigliani’s short career (he died in 1920 at the age of 35, from tubercular meningitis), displaying 100 works, nearly 40 of which have never been shown before in the UK, and most of which…
Bethlem Gallery, with cardboard sculpture by Mr X in the foreground, 1 September 2017. Photograph: Ed Watts, courtesy Bethlem Gallery. …al, Beckenham 2 September – 28 October 2017 by HATTY NESTOR In 1997, a remarkable gallery was opened at the Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham, Kent, as part of its occupational therapy department. The hospital, founded in 1247, was the first institution in the UK to care for people with mental illness and, nearly 800 years later, as part of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, it is still providing a range of mental health services. Two years ago, the Bethlem Gallery, along with the Bethlem Museum of the Mind, moved into a newly refurbished art deco building in the hospital grounds. Grayson Perry, who formally opened the space, said at the time: “Art is the greatest asset to mental health that I have.” [image10] The Bethlem Museum provides a resource for the history of mental health with a collection of archives, art and historic objects, and records the lives and achievements of people with mental health issues. The Bethlem Gallery, with which it collaborate…
Jenny Holzer. On War, 2017. Text: A Scream From Underground, from Building The Barricade by Anna Swirszczynska, translated by Piotr Florczyk. Translation copyright © 2016. Published by Tavern Books. Used by permission of Ludmila Adamska-Orłowska and the translator. © 2017 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Photograph: Samuel Keyte. …ace, Oxford 28 September – 31 December 2017 by HATTY NESTOR Jenny Holzer has artistically employed language for decades to question the origin of truth in society. Her famous public series Inflammatory Essays (1979-92), comprising more than 300 aphoristic texts, redefined the limits of language as a meditation on violence, vulnerability, political trends and the media. Aesthetically, these essays entangle larger societal issues with phrases such as “Fear is the most elegant weapon” and “Raise boys and girls the same way” with more ephemeral, emotive phrases such as “Protect me from what I want” and “You are a victim of the rules you live by.” Holzer’s work opens a trajectory that allows language to become embodied, visceral and lived. [image12] It is perhaps Holzer’s ability to use language to reflect the current political climate, aligned with the personal made political, that renders these pieces so temporal and infinitely relevant. The American artist’s c…
Doug Aitken. Migration (empire), 2008. Video installation with one channel of video (colour, sound), one projection, steel and PVC screen billboard sculpture, 24:28 minutes/loop, dimensions variable. Production still. Courtesy of the artist; 303 Gallery, New York; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Regen Projects, Los Angeles. … Fe, New Mexico 7 October 2017 – 1 May 2018 by HATTY NESTOR After a year of modernisation, Site Santa Fe has reopened its doors with a seven-month-long exhibition, Future Shock. The building, now renovated and expanded, is an old beer warehouse with concrete floors, high ceilings and startling light throughout. The exhibition imagines futures in which different geological, political and scientific terrains could be inhabited and poses complex questions about how our right to privacy is negotiated in wider society. It takes its title from Alvin Toffler’s prophetic 1970 book, an intricate study of individuals’ behavioural and psychological reactions to hyperfast technological and environmental changes. Future Shock is an appropriate name for the exhibition, which offers multiple artistic reflections on the past, present and future development of collective and individual experience. [image3] Future Shock is a group exhibition comprising work from 11 international artists, who p…

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