Tuesday, 18 April 2017

All The World's Females

With the 2017 Venice Biennale soon to kick off, Garageland's Kirsty Buchanan looks back on what we learned from the last one.

Martial Raysse, Makeup, 1962 at Palazzo Grassi

The theme of The 56th International Venice Art Exhibition, situated at the Giardini and Arsenale, curated by Okwui Enwezor was All the World’s Futures. In the expansive labyrinth of the Arsenale, one couldn’t help having an immense sense of misery. Heightened by the contrast between the high bright sun outside it felt prison-like almost apocalyptic. 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Imagining Emma Hamilton

Arlene Leis talks to Dr Amber Ludwig Otero about the self-made, seductive celebrity that was Lady Emma Hamilton

George Romney, Head Study of Emma Hamilton as Miranda,
@ The Jean Kislak Collection

During her lifetime, Emma Hamilton (1765-1815) was considered one of the world’s great beauties. Men were fascinated by her charm and good looks, and throughout her lifetime, she formed several important, romantic attachments with prominent men, including Sir Harry Featherstonhaugh, George Romney, Charles Francis Greville, Sir William Hamilton and Horatio Nelson. These alliances helped establish her position in various social circles, in London and on the Continent, but they also caused her downfall. While her life echoes the typical rags to aristocracy tale and the artist Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, once claimed that ‘The Life of Lady Hamilton reads like a romantic fiction,’ she was never fully accepted into London society. Emma’s own tragic end - debt, prison and death in Calais at 49 - reaffirms her reliance on the men in her life, and it also reveals the restrictions placed on women. Women could use their beauty to create new opportunities and careers, and in some cases even influence governance, but they were still chastised. 

I spoke with Emma Hamilton scholar Dr Amber Ludwig Otero about the exhibition Emma Hamilton: Seduction and Celebrity at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Elizabeth Price Curates: In A Dream You Saw A Way To Survive And You Were Full Of Joy

"I will have spent my life trying to understand the function of remembering, which is not the opposite of forgetting, but rather its lining. We do not remember. We rewrite memory much as history is rewritten. How can one remember thirst?" Chris Marker

Price says that in curating this exhibition she wanted to bring together objects that will give us a sense of the  social politics of today. The main gallery spaces of The Whitworth are divided into Sleeping, Working, Mourning and Dancing. I approached these rooms with a random wandering on my first walk around and then in a more ordered fashion on subsequent viewings but I don't think it really matters, few of the works are ambiguous in their category.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Requests and Antisongs: James Richards at the ICA

So what if Tessa Norton's crush on James Richards' artwork is just skin-deep, maybe that's part of the appeal.

Still from Radio at Night

In the 1995 TV series My So-Called Life, Angela Chase (Claire Danes) spends 19 episodes fixating on Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto). What depths could be concealed under his curtains and sheepskin coat? It soon emerges that she is projecting multitudes onto his studied blankness. He’s handsome but kind of boring. Her neighbour Brian Krakow, meanwhile, couldn’t hope to conceal his affection for Angela, and consequently could never hope to achieve Jordan’s mystery and allure.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Art In Unusual Spaces

In part two of Garageland Blog's coverage of Unlimited Festival, a disembodied voice leads Joe Turnbull to art outside the galleries and museums. (Here's part one if you missed it.)

When I first arrived at Southbank Centre for this year’s Unlimited Festival I was waiting outside the Royal Festival Hall as crowds surged past at the usual frenetic London pace. My ear was grabbed by a disembodied voice with a distinct Scottish accent. As I listened, a fascinating, if troubling, account of the daily experience of living life on the streets unfolded.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

An Afternoon at Frieze

From the Masters to the Toilet Roll, Mimei Thompson spends an afternoon at Frieze.

When Frieze Art Fair and Frieze Masters roll into town, those of us who attend are inevitably swept up in a sea of art, meeting people and being overwhelmed. Frieze Masters features more than 130 international galleries showcasing art made anywhere from late 20th century all the way back to ancient times. 

Max Ernst

A beautiful deep red Max Ernst decalcomania painting with a bark frame was mesmerising, spot lit on the tasteful grey walls, which along with grey carpets and a generally calm and reverend demeanour, set the tone of the fair. However, the museum-like atmosphere was occasionally disrupted by the realisation of the fact that we are still in a tent, after all, and the careful lighting did flicker, and a tiny, exquisite Henry Moore bronze did sway a bit on its plinth, as the tent flapped in the wind and the flooring betrayed its temporary nature.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Superbly Melancholic Clichés

Archie Franks is drawn in by the work of Ragnar Kjartansson at the Barbican, London.

After 40 minutes of watching band The National perform the same song over and over (Sorrow), I was engulfed in a strange mix of emotions. On the one hand the idea of the work is so direct as to be almost idiotic; a fashionable band perform the same song on repeat in front of an audience for six hours, but Kjartansson uncovers something else within this act, something quite strange and genuinely moving. 

A Lot of Sorrow, 2013-14

Feeling sad on my own I, along with many millions of others, have played the same song on repeat for hours on end, to wallow in sorrow as it were. So to turn this clichéd act of melancholy indulgence into an artwork is at once an obvious but also intriguing concept. I guess I was able to watch it for so long partially because I like the song, but the film of the performance and the way the band go about it are totally engrossing. One moment, in which the camera focuses on the drummer massaging his arms between his playing, brings home the difficult physical act of the performance, sorrow and melancholia enacted as a gruelling, relentless endurance test.