Judith Alder selects:
Alison Wilding, Right Here and Out There, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea
Little things stick in my mind: glints of light through slashed fabric, unexpected juxtapositions of hard metal and yielding rubber, a line of light under a hulking sculpture which seemed to make it float on air. Both magical and puzzling, Alison Wilding’s works play with perception through her manipulation of materials, structure and light. Made over more than 30 years, the works here were uniquely activated by light pouring in through the glass gallery wall, highlighting translucent panels, seeping through openings, illuminating barely visible interiors. Wilding’s art is full of contrast and detail: geometric uniformity paired with organic unruliness, solid yet weightless, gloss next to matt, black with white, rubber with rock. The artist’s unexpected combinations revealed new delights to all with time to invest in looking.
23 June – 16 September 2018. www.dlwp.com
The Machine Stops, Danielle Arnaud, London
‘No ideas here’ reads Adam Hogarth’s chrysanthemum sculpture hanging like a floral memorial in the entrance hall. Whether instruction or warning wasn’t clear, but readers of E. M. Forster’s dystopian sci-fi novel which gave this group show its name would recognise the phrase. In contradiction, this gallery champions ideas and in its empty domestic rooms quirky work takes on a heightened absurdity. Clare Mitten’s giant cardboard Pollen Factory sculptures and paintings inhabited those rooms perfectly, aptly contrasted with Gabriela Schutz’s mini clay figures with disconnected limbs clasping mobile technology. Upstairs, Schutz’s 10-metre long drawing, Blog 3, draped the length of the long gallery, seemed to offer a gesture of analogue defiance to the digital machine.
24 February – 24 March 2018. www.daniellearnaud.com
Sarah Sze, Afterimage, Victoria Miro Gallery, London
Sarah Sze doesn’t do social media; she says she has enough information in her head already and in ‘Afterimage’ her internal archive was revealed as if in a material walk-through version of Instagram. Comparisons ended there as the physicality of the work became apparent: images were drawn, printed, cut, torn, layered, painted and taped to the wall. The gallery became the artist’s studio, her processes laid bare. Upstairs, a mesmerising installation, Images in Debris, took the work into another dimension. Moving pools of light from nearly 40 video works flickered around and through fragments of studio debris piled high on the artist’s desk. Sze is interested in how some images remain ‘burned’ into our memory; this exhibition remains burned in mine.
2 June – 28 July 2018. www.victoria-miro.com
Adapt to Survive: Notes from the Future, Hayward Gallery, London
No-one can foretell the future, but the best science fiction is often an extension of reality. In an exhibition which mixed humour, wonder and authenticity, seven artists embraced 21st century ideas to explore possible futures for our changing world. H. G. Wells’s novel The Time Machine was at the centre of Ann Lislegaard’s clever comedic video installation, in which a crazed cartoon fox related passages from the book in a twitching, glitchy way that implied complete breakdown was imminent. Julian Charrière mixed molten rock with electronic waste to make a convincing sample of a future geology, while Bedwyr Williams produced an epic vision of a digitally created but flawed mega-city rising out of the Welsh mountains.
18 April – 11 June 2018 . www.southbankcentre.co.uk/venues/hayward-gallery
At Altitude and Omer Fast, 5000 Feet is the Best, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne
Even the familiarity of satellite imagery and accessible air travel doesn’t lessen our fascination with views of Earth from above. ‘At Altitude’ brought together works from collections including the Archive of Modern Conflict to present a spellbinding aerial survey of our planet, with artists as diverse as Peter Lanyon, Simon Faithfull, Tacita Dean and Charles and Ray Eames. The work ranged from the poetic to the prosaic, with a very literal alternative perspective provided courtesy of a custom-built viewing platform raised above the space. Omer Fast’s 2011 film in the adjoining gallery, 5000 Feet is Best, based on interviews with military drone operators, added a sharp reminder of the grim reality of drone warfare and the sinister threat of ‘the eye in the sky’. Read our Q&A from March with new Towner director Joe Hill
2 June – 30 September 2018. www.townereastbourne.org.uk/exhibition/at-altitude
Amelia Crouch selects:
Jasmina Cibic, This Machine Builds Nations, Baltic, Gateshead
2018 was a year in which use of moving image in exhibitions was increasingly pervasive, involving ever-more slick sound and projection, plus – more importantly – an understanding of the ambulatory or sporadic viewing experiences to be had in a gallery setting. Jasmina Cibic ambitiously combined her 2016-17 film trilogy Nada with sculpture and installation, using corridors, curtains and murals as theatrical devices to guide the viewer through the exhibition. The films take inspiration from European modernist architects, exploring the role their work played in representations of national identity. Each film approached its theme through a different formal or visual language, with music, dance, language, architecture and art each considered as a medium for reflecting on and shaping ideas of nationhood.
9 February – 28 May 2018. baltic.art/whats-on/exhibitions/jasmina-cibic
Steve McQueen, Ashes, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester
I first saw this work in the hubbub of Venice 2015 and it arrested me immediately. Now acquired by the Whitworth, a second encounter this year gave me time to see how careful use of editing, spatial structure and sound contribute to its effectiveness. Using back-to-back, double-screen projection, McQueen movingly tells the story of Ashes, a young man from Grenada. On one screen Super 8 footage (filmed when the artist visited the Caribbean in 2002) shows the man – happy and exuberant – on the prow of a boat. On its reverse a second projection (shot in 2013) shows a graveyard and the slow and methodical building of a tomb. An intermittent voiceover narrative mingles with the sound of rolling waves and it becomes devastatingly apparent that the tomb is for Ashes. The piece finds a balance between being a tribute to Ashes as an individual, an elegy to lives destroyed by Caribbean drug-trafficking, and a broader reflection on mortality.
Until March 2018. www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk
Wu Tsang, Under Cinema, FACT, Liverpool
Wu Tsang’s We hold where study was shown as part of her exhibition ‘Under Cinema’. Structured in five ‘chapters’, pairs of performers within two overlapping projections move, sometimes slowly, sometimes fast; sometimes together and at times apart. Their movements – variously lurching, staccato or sinuous – resemble wrestling, calisthenics or lovemaking. A saxophone soundtrack, colour-changing lighting and distinct camera movements give a different character to each of the five sections. These are introduced with elusive text intertitles such as ‘The Consult’ or ‘The Assembly Line’. The meaning is oblique but the piece took me through emotions from celebration to despair; it made me think about bodies as sensual objects and as mechanisms in wider social systems.
Until 18 February 2018. www.fact.co.uk/event/under-cinema
Mika Rottenberg, Goldsmiths CCA, London
Near the start of this exhibition installed throughout seven galleries of the new Goldsmith’s CCA, a short video work, Sneeze (2012), depicted men with engorged prosthetic noses that expelled meat, lightbulbs or rabbits each time they sneezed. This piece keyed me into strategies and themes that continue in Rottenberg’s subsequent, longer-form video works, including the use of absurd visual humour, variation within repetition, and a focus on bodily expulsions and automatic or reflex reactions. Rottenberg’s protagonists are vulnerable; sweating-snoozing-salivating bodies caught in faux-logical scenarios that often allude to capitalism and the globalised economy. NoNoseKnows (2015) depicts Chinese pearl cultivators and Cosmic Generator (2017) shows shop-owners almost engulfed by piles of merchandise, from plastic fruit to tinsel to inflatable toys. This is serious business, dealt with using humour – and with installations variously entered through a tunnel and a rotating bingo machine, what’s not to like? Read our article from September on the opening of CCA Goldsmiths
8 September – 4 November 2018. goldsmithscca.art
Simeon Barclay, Bus2move, The Tetley, Leeds
I could have picked several exhibitions from The Tetley this year: ‘These Silences Are All The Words‘ by Madiha Aijaz was beautiful and the group show ‘Material Environments‘ was great fun. The current exhibition – Simeon Barclay’s ‘Bus2move’ – was informed by a research residency the artist undertook at the Phoenix Dance Theatre in Leeds, a company set up in 1981 by three young black men. Barclay’s work effectively combines elements from the Phoenix archive with materials that evoke a more personal experience of and relationship to dance. Particularly impressive is his successful use of The Tetley’s somewhat tricky series of small gallery spaces. Entry to some of these is visually enabled but physically blocked by metal doorway grids, and combining this with configurations of sculpture, neon, projection and reflected-projections, he has created environments that are at turns immersive and exclusionary.
27 October 2018 – 3 February 2019. www.thetetley.org/whats-on/bus2move
Amelia Crouch is an artist and writer based in Leeds.
Stephen Palmer selects:
Damien Meade, Peter von Kant, London
Hung within the sometimes slick and other times intentionally ruinous 17th-century interior of Peter von Kant’s gallery in Deptford, Damien Meade’s paintings took on an eerie site specificity that I wasn’t expecting having previously seen his work in a number of group shows. There were two closely connected groups of paintings on display, both taking clay maquettes – also made by the artist – as their models. While these paintings of strangely morphic figures and more abstract free-formed slabs looked to be hewn from the same London clay used to construct the wattle and daub walls of the gallery, the otherworldliness of the portraits in particular gave a sense that these objects could have been hanging here for centuries, awaiting discovery by modern-day mudlarkers or gallery visitors.
2 March – 27 April 2018. www.petervonkant.com
Anni Albers, Tate Modern, London
I’d been looking forward to seeing Tate Modern’s Anni Albers retrospective all year and this wonderfully designed show didn’t disappoint. It was great to see how Albers took textiles beyond decorative functionality by fusing the ancient craft of weaving with contemporary materials and the language of modernism. Alongside these ‘pictorial weavings’, Albers also created large-scale projects for architectural settings and interiors, later drawing on influences from pre-Columbian and South American textiles that served both functional and communicative purposes. I don’t fully understand the weaving process, even after visiting the really informative final two rooms of the show, but for me a series of Albers’ gouache and pencil designs for wall hangings and tapestries from 1925-26, with their typed and hand-written notations used to calculate the numbers and colours of warp threads needed to set up the loom, were a particular highlight.
11 October 2018 – 27 January 2019. www.tate.org.uk
John Moores prize winners: Celebrating 60 years of the John Moores Painting Prize, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
I really enjoyed this year’s John Moores Painting Prize exhibition, but the ‘greatest hits’ show of works from Walker Art Gallery’s collection, timed to coincide with the open prize’s 60th anniversary, was a real bonus treat. From David Hockney to Rose Wylie via Peter Doig and Sarah Pickstone, it’s incredible how the prize has kept track of painters’ changing concerns over the years. Highlights for me included Tim Head’s merging of structuralism and supermarket milk carton design in his 1987 winning work, Cow Mutations; Dan Hays’s perspectively challenging modernist hamster cage Harmony in Green from 1997; and Lisa Milroy’s Handles, winner of the first John Moores prize exhibition I ever visited in 1989. Milroy’s survey show at Parasol Unit in London, which explored the idea of ‘still life’ across her career, was also a highlight of the year, just missing a place on my list of top shows. Read our Q&A from January with Rose Wylie
Patrick Heron, Tate St Ives
This Richard Heron retrospective was curated around compositional themes rather than chronological order, and the minimal, open and light filled spaces of Tate St Ives’s new extension made for a perfect setting to enjoy these often large-scale and richly coloured paintings. I’d always assumed that the works painted by Heron in the 1970s and 1980s, with their contrasting fields of high-key colour, borrowed their forms from the craggy Cornish landscape he saw around him. But experiencing these works alongside the large Matisse-like interiors from the 1950s and the more bleached out works in pastel shades from the later part of his career, it’s clear that it was visual experience and painting itself, and the idea that “the picture is not the vehicle of meaning, the picture is the meaning”, that was really his subject.
19 May – 30 September 2018. Currently on show at Turner Contemporary, Margate until 6 January 2019. www.turnercontemporary.org
Uptown / Downtown: The Early Paintings of Richard Smith 1959-63, Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, London
More fields of colour in Richard Smith’s works from the early 1960s but this time with a pop art edge. Smith made painting look effortless as he fused the gestural style of abstract expressionism with influences drawn from the popular culture of movies, advertising billboards and product packaging he witnessed as a British artist living in Manhattan. In the press bumph there’s a great photo of Smith by Lord Snowden in 1963 that looks like it could have been taken yesterday. The same could be said of works in this show – Smith’s paintings have a real freshness about them that no doubt reflects the excitement the artist must have felt on first moving to his adopted home.
1 November – 14 December 2018. hh-h.com
Stephen Palmer is an artist based in south London. He is a-n’s head of online content
Chris Sharratt selects:
Margaret Salmon, Circle, Tramway, Glasgow
Curated by Lux Scotland director Nicole Yip, ’Circle’ was a career-spanning retrospective of Margaret Salmon’s films presented as part of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival. With a cinema area cordoned off with a black curtain, each of the exhibition’s four weeks featured a different programme, arranged thematically under the titles ‘Here’; ‘There’; ‘Everywhere’; ‘Outside Over There’. What emerged most strongly was the dogged humanity of Salmon’s gently enquiring works, a feeling given added resonance by the inclusion of a sound work made up of research interviews and film outtakes which permeated the echoey Tramway space and provided a fascinating glimpse into the artist’s process. The run also included a special screening of Salmon’s 2017 film, Mm, with live accompaniment from Glasgow/London post-punk band Sacred Paws – a genuine art/indie event. Read our Q&A from November with Margaret Salmon
21 February – 18 March 2018. www.margaretsalmon.info
Salma Ashraf and Sarah Wood, Whitstable Biennale, Whitstable
I didn’t know the work of Salma Ashraf when I saw her two-screen film Chalta Hi Gaya at this year’s Whitstable Biennale – hardly surprising as the piece was part of her 2017 degree show. Yet the clear-headed, assured way it deals with the British Muslim experience made it a particularly engrossing watch. With headphones on and seated on embroidered cushions, the domestic and public spheres met as the viewer eavesdropped on the only partially-seen protagonists going about household chores as a subtitled narratived shared stories of everyday life: the girl whose hijab was pulled off on the bus; the school boy interrogated under the Prevent scheme; the female relative searched at the airport. With other biennial highlights including Sarah Wood’s two-monitor film, Memory of the Future (2018) at the Horsebridge Arts Centre, this small and brief festival was a low-key, high-quality hit.
2-10 June 2018. www.whitstablebiennale.com
Rabiya Choudhry, COCO!NUTS!, Transmission, Glasgow
It’s been an eventful 2018 for artist-run space Transmission following the shock news in January that it was being dropped from Creative Scotland’s portfolio of regularly funded organisations. Despite that set-back, the gallery has continued to put on shows in what is its 35th year, with project funding from Creative Scotland supporting exhibitions such as this lively painting show by Edinburgh-based Glasgow artist Rabiya Choudhry. The exhibition’s title, ‘COCO!NUTS!’, refers to the use of the word to describe a black person who is seen as acting white and reflects Choudhry’s own experience of having a Pakistani father and a white Glaswegian mother. The paintings lay bare Choudhry’s challenges and traumas with a mix of Max Ernst surrealism and an unsettling Robert Crumb/Philip Guston cartoon aesthetic. With additional textile works and a neon piece in the gallery’s front window, ‘COCO!NUTS!’ mixed angst, exuberance and Choudhry’s own personal narrative to create an exhibition that felt totally at home in the space: a clear case of right artist in the right gallery at the right time. Read our Q&A from September with Rabiya Choudhry
15 September – 20 October 2018. transmissiongallery.org
Stalking the Image: Margaret Tait and Her Legacy, GoMA, Glasgow
It’s 100 years since the Orcadian filmmaker Margaret Tait was born and this exhibition, which continues until May 2019, is part of the Margaret Tait 100 celebrations taking place across Scotland. Featuring a looped programme of nine films, chosen to ‘exemplify the poetry in her images’, the works span from 1951 to 1998 and include such gems as Portrait of Ga (1952), a moving four-minute portrait of her mother that establishes Tait’s almost forensic dedication to the act of looking. Also included is the black and white Where I Am is Here (1964), a study of Edinburgh and its people that really is a visual poem to the everyday life of the city. With a series of vitrines featuring archive material such as photographs, letters and Tait’s trusty 16mm Bolex camera, this is a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in Tait’s life and work.
8 November 2018 – 5 May 2019. luxscotland.org.uk/event/stalking-the-image
Wong Ping, Edouard Malingue gallery, Frieze London
There’s something deeply contemporary and disturbingly dark about Hong Kong artist Wong Ping’s sickly-coloured animations; they seem to feed on the social anxieties of our networked consumer culture. Featuring a cast of messed-up non-human characters – a physically impaired but stupidly brave chicken and a blind karoake-loving elephant being just two – in Wong Ping’s Fables 1 we see a range of increasingly bizarre scenarios that have a ring of skewed everyday reality about them. Earlier in the year Ping’s film was featured in ‘Songs For Sabotage’, the fourth New Museum triennial in New York, and at Frieze it was complemented by a series of equally strange sculptural works. The artist won the fair’s inaugural Camden Arts Centre Emerging Artist Prize, the prize for which is a solo exhibition at this north London gallery. One to look forward to.
4–7 October 2018. edouardmalingue.com/artists/wong-ping
Chris Sharratt is a writer and editor based in Glasgow. He is the editor of a-n News.
Richard Taylor selects:
Corin Sworn, WORK HOUSE, Koppe Astner, Glasgow
Spotting the buzzer for ‘Escape Rooms Glasgow’ as I buzzed up to Koppe Astner gallery, a thought popped into my head: I might have to solve something in Corin Sworn’s Glasgow International show before I can get out again. On entering the gallery space, dispensers of different coloured hand sanitising gels helped, somehow acting as way-markers for navigating a confusing space dressed perfectly with Sworn’s voice in surround sound; its tone both enticing and discombobulating. I’d already seen the show multiple times through posted images on Instagram, but it was a delight to experience in the flesh, with very clean hands. I got out, but not before watching what I thought to be CCTV footage through a gaping hole in the wall, the lip of which I enjoyed lunging over several times to find another part of Sworn’s narrative.
20 April – 2 June 2018. koppeastner.com
Ari Benjamin Meyers, Four Liverpool Musicians (Bette, Budgie, Ken, Louisa), The Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool Biennial 2018
I spent a plentiful and busy day rushing around Liverpool seeing many artist films and videos, but none grabbed my attention as much as Ari Benjamin Meyers’s three-screen film installation, Four Liverpool Musicians (Bette, Budgie, Ken, Louisa) at The Playhouse Theatre. Perhaps, in part, it was the setting, a darkened auditorium that revealed its emptiness as my eyes adjusted to the light drifting from the projected screens. Meyers’s studies of musicians, their technique and endurance tested, were nothing short of mesmerising as your gaze switched constantly from one screen to the other. The content, subject matter, setting; all in tune with brilliant, engrossing sound. Read Bob Dickinson’s review of Liverpool Biennial 2018
14 July – 28 October 2018. www.biennial.com
Luiz Zerbini, Intuitive Ratio, South London Gallery
I often think about how a rock gets where it is; over a long, deep amount of time, or was its arrival disastrously fast? This exhibition included rocks within a large-scale installation in South London Gallery’s ground floor space. I was wearing shorts, appropriate for Zerbini’s beach-like stage of flotsam and jetsam objects, which were duplicated in form and colour upon mesmerising canvases. One of the upstairs galleries presented a quick watercolour of a small boat upon a lake. Adjacent, a wall-mounted monitor showed a digitised 35mm film of the slow real-time movement of a fishing boat entering the landscape only to leave it again some time later on the other side. Time was crucial in this exhibition – and Zerbini played a good game at slowing everything down.
8 June – 19 August 2018. www.southlondongallery.org
Pia Camil, Split Wall, Nottingham Contemporary
A gallery disjointed in a deliberate way by the art that occupies it is a good start for an immersive experience. In this show, curtained corridors, fabricated from t-shirts made in Mexico and sold back to Mexicans at increased cost, pushed you to the corners of each room before you could reach any kind of centre. Throughout, soft and hard-edged sculptures along with projected, breathing bodies created a labyrinth of trickery and formal repetition. Best in show were Camil’s sculptural masks; they solidified an inward-looking narrative for the artist’s carefully crafted, fragmented journey. This exhibition offered an experience of what it could be like to walk into a body, only to be consumed by a character showing itself in many forms.
14 July – 7 October 2018. www.nottinghamcontemporary.org
Tacita Dean, Fruitmarket, Edinburgh
Prior knowledge of how Tacita Dean makes her dual-image films gave me insight for this exhibition, which was conceived as a complement to her three London shows in 2018. Featuring a selection of works including four films, a large blackboard drawing, and photogravures, it was a strange experience walking along a line of postcard images to then be confronted by a similarly scaled ‘thing’ at the end – A Muse, a piece of moving image seamlessly set into the wall of Fruitmarket’s lower gallery. Its making required masking off part of the film during one shoot, for a second shoot to be executed in a geographically distant location, with the previously exposed part of the reel then being masked instead. Scale played an important role in this impressive show, and it was the smaller works that provided the right sort of hook to really appreciate Dean’s complex knowledge of filmmaking.
7 July – 30 September 2018. www.fruitmarket.co.uk
Richard Taylor is an artist based in Glasgow. He is part of a-n’s online content team.
1. ‘Alison Wilding, ‘Right Here and Out There’, Installation view, De La Warr Pavilion, 23 June – 16 September 2018. Photo: © Rob Harris; Courtesy: the artist and Karsten Schubert
2. Sarah Sze, Images in Debris, 2018, Installation view, Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW © Sarah Sze; Courtesy: the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice2.
3. Simeon Barclay, Look No-Hands, detail, 2018. Photo: Jules Lister; Courtesy: the artist and The Tetley
4. Mika Rottenberg, installation view, Goldsmiths CCA. Photo: Jack Hutchinson
5. Corin Sworn, ‘WORK HOUSE’, 2018, installation view. Courtesty: the artist and Koppe Astner, Glasgow
6. Luiz Zerbini, ‘Intuitive Ratio’, installation view at the South London Gallery, 2018. Photo: Andy Stagg
7. Damien Meade, Untitled, 65×49.5cm, oil on wood, 2018. Courtesy: Peter von Kant
8. Patrick Heron, (left) 27 August: 1991, (right) Big Complex Diagonal with Emerald and Reds: March 1972 – September 1974, installation view at Tate St Ives. Photo: Stephen Palmer
9. Salma Ashraf, Chalta Hi Gaya, 2018, installation view, Whitstable Museum. Photo: Lou Lou Sainsbury; Courtesy: Whitestable Biennial
10. Rabiya Choudry, ‘COCO!NUTS!’, installation view, 2018, Transmission, Glasgow. Photo: Matthew Arthur Williams for Transmission