Light From the Middle East
V&A, 13 Nov - 7 April 2013
Nermine Hammam, 'The break', from the series 'Upekkha', 2011. Archival inkjet print, 60 x 90 cm. Copyright V&A. Art Fund Collection of Middle Eastern Photography at the V&A and the British Museum.
The photographs of the Middle East that we’re most familiar with come in the form of newspaper images. But photojournalism is not the only way the medium can represent the lives of the region’s individuals and the complexities of its societies, as a rich and diverse display of recent Middle Eastern photography at the V&A
Highlights include Cairo-based artist Nermine Hammam's series ‘Upekkha’ (2011), in which informal images of Egyptian soldiers taken in Tahrir Square are superimposed on brightly coloured idyllic landscapes; Tehran-born Amirali Ghasemi’s self-censored snapshots of private parties and Lebanese duo Joana Hadjithomas
& Khalil Joreige’s presentation of tourist postcards from pre-civil war Beirut. It is notable that the Art Fund has acquired these works on view for both the British Museum and V&A: there is more to the charity than saving old masters for the nation.
A Bigger Splash
Tate Modern, 14 Nov-1 April 2013
David Hockney RA, 'A Bigger Splash', 1967. Tate. Purchased 1981/© David Hockney. Dive into ‘A Bigger Splash’ from Thursday, Tate Modern’s exhibition
exploring the dynamic between the arts of painting and performance since 1950. It takes its name from David Hockney’s famous 1967 swimming pool painting, and it will be interesting to see how the Academician’s work fits in with more obviously ‘performative’ painters on view, like Yves Klein – who wielded nudes covered in blue paint as his brushes, in front of an audience – or Jackson Pollock, whose ‘action painting’ defined Abstract Expressionism. Performance pieces featured include the blood-and-paint frenzies of the Vienna Actionists and Bruce Nauman’s Art Make-Up (1971), in which the American artist transforms his body with paint into different artworks.
Josiah McElheny, 'Interactions of the abstract body' White Cube Mason's Yard, 16 November - 12 January 2012. © Josiah McElheny. Courtesy White Cube.
White Cube Mason’s yard, 16 Nov – 12 Jan 2013
Exquisite craftsmanship and high conceptualism come together in the works of American glass blower Josiah McElheny. While Dale Chihuly has gained popular acclaim for his works that represent the glass organic forms of the natural world, McElheny has plundered and played with the world of ideas. At the Whitechapel last year he installed a kaleidoscopic hall of mirrors in a space that was previously a library reading room, which had been home from home for some of London’s early-twentieth-century artists and writers; across the Atlantic at New York’s Andrea Rosen gallery he showed glass sculptures in vitrines that responded to the ideas of modernist artists like Italian Lucio Fontana. His show at the St James’s branch of White Cube,
on view from next Friday, develops his interests about the human body and how its appearance has been made increasingly abstract due to clothing design.
Tate Tanks, 11 Nov-20 Jan 2013
William Kentridge, 'I am not me, the horse is not mine' ( Commissariat of Enlightenment), video stills from installation, 2008. Also on view at Tate Modern, in the subterranean Tanks, is an eight-channel installation
by the celebrated South African William Kentridge. The Johannesburg-based artist has pioneered animation in contemporary art. Drawings in pastel and charcoal form the basis of stop-motion films on social and political themes. His work Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City after Paris (1989) (a clip of which can be seen here,
taken from a recent documentary on his practice) examines the city’s power structures during apartheid. His animations at the Tanks, I am not me, the horse is not mine (2008), take on the history of Russian modernism. If you do visit this Sunday, there is a talk by the artist at 2pm.
Hauser & Wirth, 15 Nov – 12 Jan 2013
German born artist Isa Genzken has gained acclaim since the 1980s for highly inventive sculptural assemblages in three dimensions and witty works of collage in two. A solo exhibition at Hauser & Wirth’s Savile Row gallery shows her continued interest in architectural and interior design elements.
Isa Genzken, Installation view, 'Isa Genzken. Hallelujah', Hauser & Wirth Zürich, Switzerland, 2012. © Isa Genzken. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Stefan Altenburger Photography Zürich.
One untitled work (2012) uses a mirror-lined orange cabinet as a pedestal for Perspex and glass chairs, as well as a wig of artificial hair, while another (2010–12) merges together on a wall geometric-patterned wallpaper and images magpied from art and architecture history. Other works will reference the history of antique sculpture, focusing in particular the Berlin Neues Museum’s famous bust of Nefertiti.
Sam Phillips is a London-based arts journalist and contributor to RA Magazine