Above: Tripoli Cancelled, 2017 by Naeem Mohaiemen. Photograph: Dimitris Parthimos
Welcome to HERO Art Month, our cross-sectional study of the international contemporary art scene during which we look at the key gatekeepers, from artists to gallerists, architects and curators, the established and emerging feature side by side as part of our month-long investigation into some of the most influential figures in the scene.
London Frieze arrives this week as an urgent detox from fashion week fatigue and a typically poignant examination of contemporary issues from the finest international talent. This year will see a particular emphasis on topics at the forefront of public discourse and concern, from the lack of visibility of women in the workplace to issues concerning European migration and hidden systems of control. Throw in the plethora of major exhibitions that will run alongside, including this year’s all-video Turner Prize contestants and the latest Turbine Hall unveiling, and this year’s programme guarantees stimulation and discovery for all.
With more than 160 galleries and a wealth of talks, performances, films and exhibitions, here’s a brief run through of what we’ve got circled in permanent marker.
Few people have had the the kind of lasting impact on their industry as Nan Goldin, the iconic photographer whose work The Ballad of Sexual Dependency remains a zeitgeist of its time, a window into a world of drag, rampant self-expression and HIV that dominated the subcultural landscape of New York in the 1980s. Frieze Week sees her in conversation with New York-based author Linda Yablonsky, writer of The Story of Junk (1997) which follows Yablonsky’s own recollections of the heroin-riddled underground scene of New York in the 1980s and 90s.
Goldin is expected to discuss the intensely personal aspect of her celebrated practice – including the series The Ballad of Sexual Dependency and Thanksgiving, with a particular emphasis on her activist work. Goldin, who was once an opioid addict herself and recently demanded a new opioid addiction drug be made free, founded P.A.I.N (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) to ensure that America’s giant pharmaceuticals commit to helping find the solution to ending the country’s opioid epidemic. She claims that the Sackler family, which owns Purdue and has strong art world ties as patrons to museums and galleries, is “profiting off the crisis that they subsidised”. For a taste of Goldin in action see the below video of her talking at Tate in 2014.
Following on from her 2008 commission for the Turbine Hall, in which Tania Brugera invited mounted police into the museum to perform a series of crowd control manoeuvres on audience members, the Cuban artist has set herself a tough act to follow. For her latest project, Brugera has covered the Hall in a glimmering mosaic of patent black tiles hiding an image beneath which can only be revealed using body heat.
If enough people (the artist reckons around 200/300) lay down on the thermochromic floor, heat trails will reveal a portrait of a young Syrian migrant, Yussuf, who escaped the war-torn country and made a new life for himself in the UK. The installation is paired with sonic vibrations courtesy of Steve Goodman (Kode9), creating a hostile soundscape that replicates the low-level, disturbing frequencies used by riot police.
Meanwhile another room contains nothing but a smell designed to make you tear up. Described as “forced empathy”, it’s an unsettling experience that’s meant to break through society’s apathy. Deftly poignant, the installation is well worth a visit – we recommend taking a pack of tissues.
Tania Brugera’s Turbine Hall installation is on now.
Scher is an American artist whose primary interest lies in surveillance, control and seduction. This extends beyond mere artistic musings however, she even founded her own company, Safe and Secure Productions, which specialises in installing security and surveillance equipment. Inspired by the writings of Foucault and his Panopticon theory of observation, Scher’s work aims to expose the dangers and ideologies of monitoring systems through an investigation into private vs public space. Since 1988, Scher has produced a series of installations called Security by Julia, in which women dressed in bright pink overalls interact with audience members.
For her Frieze week live performance, Guards, Hidden Camera, two elderly security guards clad in custom pink suits will patrol the fair, mingle with unsuspecting guests and dish out a critique on the invisibility of older women in the work place. Set up throughout the fair will be a number of vintage security cameras set to prompt our collective suspicion of a world characterised by ubiquitous surveillance cameras – so make sure you’re on best behaviour, Big Brother is watching you.
Julia Scher’s Guards, Hidden Camera takes place between 4th – 7th October at L6 (Between H13 and H16), Frieze London, NW1 4LL.
More info here.
For the first time in its history, the Turner Prize has come down to four pieces of film. No sculpture, painting or live performance in sight, with the only inconvenience being that seeing all four will demand a little over five hours of your day. But that shouldn’t put you off – this year’s roster has already been hailed as a best ever, one that follows in the tradition of the Prize through its radical departure from conventional media, with London-based Forensic Architecture leading this year’s unprecedented line-up.
The multidisciplinary human rights practice based in Goldsmiths, made up of architects, filmmakers, lawyers and scientists, will show The Long Duration of a Split Second, the killing of a villager and policeman by the Israeli army in Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin community in the Negev desert. Meanwhile, London-born Bangladeshi director Naeem Mohaiemen will show two films, Tripoli Cancelled and Two Meetings and a Funeral, both of which centre on the lasting social implications of colonial occupation in Bangladesh, where Mohaiemen grew up. Charlotte Prodger and Luke Willis Thompson make up the other nominations.
The Turner Prize is on at Tate Britain until 6th January 2019.
If Andreas Gursky’s solo exhibition last year was the inauguration of Hayward Gallery’s newly renovated space, then this latest group show of twenty international artists provides its un-official baptism, amplifying the most successful elements of Feilden Clegg Bradley’s light filled re-design for a show that riffs on artifice and illusion. From Larry Bell and Anish Kapoor, Yayoi Kusama to Richard Wilson, the works included span a period of almost fifty years and include a number of specially commissioned works that respond directly to the architecture of the gallery.
Reflection and translucency run throughout, from glass, acrylic and polyester to stainless steel, polished bronze and, in one case, engine oil, the works function as optical devices that warp, mirror and manipulate what we see. It’s a fitting way to see out the gallery’s 50th anniversary.
Space Shifters is on at Hayward Gallery from 26th September to 6th Jan 2019.
Frieze London is on at Regent’s Park 4th – 7th October 2018.
See the full programme here.