What We Learned This Week
The release of a Beyoncé album (ok, ok, Jay-Z is kind of involved too), has caused mad hype once again, and this time she’s (ok, they’ve) taken to the Louvre to showcase their love of high art—and to make a political statement. The video for Apes**t dropped early this week, in line with the Saturday-night announcement of their until-then secret joint album. The video shows them returning to the Louvre (they previously attended in 2014, on a Tuesday, when the gallery was closed to the riff-raff, promoting the TMZ line “Louvre Us Alone!”, as reported this week in the New Yorker) and standing in front of the Mona Lisa and a host of other works from the collection. “Beyoncé and Jay-Z seem to suggest that their own footprint will be as indelible as that of the entire canon of Western art,” says Doreen St. Félix in the New Yorker, “[…] they are radicals who have smuggled blackness into a space where it has traditionally been overlooked or exploited.”
Another artist who knows how to make an impact, Christo opened a new show at the Serpentine gallery on Tuesday, with The London Mastaba, sitting on the Serpentine Lake like the big red cherry on top of the art pie. Made from 7,506 horizontally stacked blue and red barrels, the work is prime Instagram fodder, and has made a lot of headlines this week. “I love the heat and air, wet and cold. I’m not very interested in the clinical space of the gallery,” the artist told Sue Hubbard for Elephant.
In Scotland, a British art intuition was once again the victim of a horrific blaze. “Last Friday night staff and students looked on in disbelief as a fire gutted the Glasgow School of Art’s treasured Macintosh building,” writes Martha Horn, Elephant’s intern and a second year Glasgow School of Art student. “Only days earlier scaffolding was being removed from The Mack as it began to recover from an initial blaze four years ago. While it remains uncertain as to whether the grade-A listed building can be rescued a second time, the fire has only highlighted the unwavering sense of community around the Glasgow School of Art.”
Anish Kapoor has filed a complaint in the US District Court against the NRA (National Rifle Association) after the gun-loving group included his famous Chicago-situated Cloud Gate sculpture in one of their online ads last year. He’s looking for $150,000 per infringement and the coverage of his associated legal fees. The video, hideously named The Clenched Fist of Truth, includes black and white images of protests and monuments—of which the “cloud” is one. Earlier in the year the artist released an open letter, which claimed the intention of the video was “to whip up fear and hate”, claiming it “plays to the basest and most primal impulses of paranoia, conflict and violence, and uses them in an effort to create a schism to justify its most regressive attitudes”.
Another week, another art event. This time the crowds flocked to Palermo to enjoy Manifesta 12, which kicked off on Saturday and will run until November. There are fifty participants showing across twenty different venues, including Trevor Paglen, Melanie Bonajo and Lydia Ourahmane. The Botanical Gardens have been used to full effect here, the imagery of the garden “weaponized”, as reported in the Art Newspaper, “with audiences forced to examine uncomfortable themes such as climate change, toxicity and migration”.
Quote of the Week
“It’s an adventure, a drama of ideas but also very physical. I used to have huge arguments with Jeanne-Claude. We’d argue all the time. That’s how we developed our ideas”
—Christo speaks with Sue Hubbard for Elephant at the opening of Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba 1958–2018
Exhibition of the Week
Another London show has drawn huge attention this week, as Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up opened at the Victoria & Albert Museum on Saturday. Responses have been varied and engagement has been massive, as writers have swayed between finding the number of medical items on show to be inappropriate, to cooing over the late Mexican artist’s fashion sense. Elephant writer Alice Bucknell finds a very welcome thoroughness in the exhibition, bringing us back to the true complexity of an artist who is often boiled down to a single image.
Instagram account of the week
The oft pajama-clad, zine-loving artist AA Bronson is a big fan of Instagram—regularly posting photos of his bare feet, as well as himself in an array of spectacularly patterned nightwear. This week was the artist’s birthday (Happy Birthday AA) and followers were treated to a line-up of different images of him holding some rather magnificent bouquets of flowers sent to him by his various galleries—and his partner, the designer Mark Jan Krayenhoff van de Leur. This time he was mostly wearing red and purple PJs, with one cheeky final image in his birthday suit, peering out from behind a large bouquet from the London gallerist Maureen Paley. Look out for our interview with Bronson in the current issue of Elephant magazine.