Five art shows to see this week: British Museum, Walker and more

28 October – 3 November

Published 28 October 2016

A golden rhinoceros from South Africa, decorated drones from Pakistan and digital creatures from behind the computer screen – here’s some of the best art to see this week.

  • South Africa: Art of a Nation

    British Museum, London, until 26 February 2017
    Of over 200 objects in this expansive show, the Mapungubwe treasures are among the most exciting: gold foil figures of high-status animals including a cow, wildcat and rhinoceros, discovered in the royal graves of the capital of southern Africa’s first kingdom. The figures date to somewhere between 1220 and 1290 – proof of a sophisticated society long before Europeans arrived and perpetuated tales of a terra nullius (so much so that the figures had to be hidden by the apartheid government when they were found in the 1930s). In 2002, the golden rhinoceros – a symbol of South Africa’s highest honour – was presented to Nelson Mandela; it now leaves the country for the first time in history. The chance to hear more than 200 stories of art objects covering over 100,000 years, from a country whose people’s history has been systematically marginalised and erased, is a treasure indeed.

  • Gold rhino. From Mapungubwe, capital of the first kingdom in southern Africa, c. AD 1220–1290

    Gold rhino. From Mapungubwe, capital of the first kingdom in southern Africa, c. AD 1220–1290

    Department of Arts © University of Pretoria

  • Benedict Drew: KAPUT

    Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, until 29 February 2017
    You might recognise Benedict Drew’s work from a journey down a London Underground escalator earlier this year, when his art project interrupted the stream of advert screens with a visual belch of bodily close-ups. With KAPUT, Drew turns his attention from tube travel to space travel, presenting an installation centred on Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic’s exploits in the solar system. Confronting the strange relationships between society and new technologies, including the colossal corporations that act as mediators between the two, the installation lingers uneasily between fluorescent shrine, rock concert stage and press conference.

  • Benedict Drew, KAPUT

    Benedict Drew, KAPUT, 2015.

    Photo by Charlotte Jopling.

  • Mahwish Chishty

    Imperial War Museum, London, until 19 March 2017
    Mahwish Chishty trained in traditional miniature painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan (the country where she was born), but grew up in Saudi Arabia and now lives in the United States. Combining Pakistani folk art with recent warfare technology, the artist decorates drawings and models of drones with alluring patterns, making the weapons hypervisible: no longer poised anonymously in the ether, but assimilated into the landscape and culture of the country. The exhibition is the first time the IWM has shown work by a non-British artist, who has direct links with the regions where drones hover in the skies and minds of its people.

  • Mahwish Chishty, Reaper

    Mahwish Chishty, Reaper, 2015.

    © Mahwish Chishty.

  • Lucy + Jorge Orta: Food

    City Gallery and Museum, Peterborough, until 4 December
    In 2015, the artist duo Lucy + Jorge Orta laid on a lunch for 500 of Peterborough’s residents: locally produced dishes piled on long banquet tables, filling the city’s public square and the public’s stomachs. Having spent 18 months as resident artists in the town, this exhibition is the culmination of their projects, where they have been exploring the ecologies of food; from consumer food waste and global food distribution, to food seasonality and bio- and plant diversity. Their practice has a carefully balanced palette, with notes of archival, creative, and technological innovation. A varied events programme runs alongside the exhibition, including pickling and bread-making workshops.

  • Lucy + Jorge Orta, Bread (Food)

    Lucy + Jorge Orta, Bread (Food), 2016.

    Courtesy of City Gallery and Museum, Peterborough.

  • Rachel Maclean: Wot u :-) about?

    HOME, Manchester, until 8 January 2017
    Rachel Maclean’s digitally constructed worlds are saccharine, saturated and bewildering: a feast of morsels from internet cultures, fairy tales, video games and talent shows, brought to life with a green screen and meticulous post-production techniques. In this major solo show, the artist is showing new film works, whose digital inhabitants have crawled beyond the screen and into the gallery, with a series of larger-than-life figurative sculptures. Co-curator Bren O’Callaghan describes Maclean’s output as “horrifying, beautiful, a tongue-lolling double scream-and-gulp” and “a burst sewer pipe in a rainbow factory”.

  • Rachel Maclean, We Want Data!

    Rachel Maclean, We Want Data!, 2016.

    Dye sublimation fabric print series. 2.1 x 3 m. Commissioned by Artpace San Antonio and HOME.

  • Alice Primrose is an editorial intern at RA Magazine.