What We Learned This Week
A protest took place at the opening of the annual Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain on Tuesday against the inclusion of nominee Luke Willis Thompson. It was organized by a London-based collective named BBZ and focused on Thompson’s video work Autoportrait (2017), which features a close-up portrait of Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, who was killed by a police officer in Minnesota in 2016. The group argue that, as a “non-black artist”, his work focused on police brutality against black people is inappropriate.
Meanwhile, controversy at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art has escalated this week, culminating in the director João Ribas handing in his resignation over the censorship of a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition at the institution. Although the exhibition was initially planned without any separation between explicit and non-explicit images, two rooms have in fact been designated as off-limits for under-eighteens. An open letter in support of Ribas has now been signed by more than 150 artists and other art-world figures, including Wolfgang Tillmans and Tania Bruguera.
Another exhibition that could cause controversy, albeit with a series of playful political caricatures penned by none other than the actor-turned-cartoonist Jim Carrey, is set to open next month at Maccarone in Los Angeles. Best-known for his early comedy film roles in the late eighties and early nineties, over the last two years Carrey has published via Twitter his cartoons attacking the Trump presidency. The solo exhibition will feature roughly eighty sketches and a single painting, and follows such previous prestigious solo shows at the gallery as Paul McCarthy and Christoph Büchel.
Over at PhotoFairs Shanghai, China’s first dedicated photography fair brought together works from fifty galleries, including a re-imagining of a 1999 show that was closed down by the authorities. Another section included a spotlight on Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto (who we speak to in issue 36 of Elephant), while at Thaddaeus Ropac’s booth works by Valie Export (also interviewed in the latest issue in Elephant) featured prominently.
Isa Genzken has won the annual Nasher Prize, awarded by the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, worth $100,000. It was “established to honor a living artist who elevates the understanding of sculpture and its possibilities”, and Genzken, with her roving, enquiring practice that has seen her move from architectural models to mannequins and even giant flower sculptures, embodies these ideals. She follows former recipients of the prize Theaster Gates, Pierre Huyghe, and Doris Salcedo.
Exhibition of the Week
Science and pop culture have proved to be an increasingly powerful formula over the past decade or so. In the UK, we’ve seen increasingly innovative (and packed-out after-hours) arts programming at central London institutions such as the Science Museum and the Wellcome Collection, and now King’s College London (KCL) has launched the city’s Science Gallery: a new free cultural space “where art and science collide”. Their inaugural exhibition is Hooked: When Want Becomes Need, which explores the complex, compelling social and scientific issues of addiction and recovery. As our music editor Arwa Haider discovers, it is a show that draws us in because it is such an innately relatable topic. Read her full response to the exhibition here.
Quote of the Week
“Most people’s jobs are pointless, they only do them so they can earn money to do their real job, which is to go shopping”
Instagram of the Week
Why are female artists still so under-represented in the art world? Katy Hessel is out to redress the balance with her Instagram account that spotlights the women you need to pay attention to with snappy stories and daily posts on the best exhibitions, talks and openings. Next, she is set to open an exhibition at TJ Boulting gallery in London, which features sculptor Barbara Hepworth, photographer Lee Miller and painter Alice Neel, placing these icons of the twentieth century alongside the work of twelve contemporary artists, including Juno Calypso and Charlotte Edey. The show, named In the Company Of, opens on 4 October.