ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands — Nothing says mystery like an invite-only launch featuring a performance piece scheduled for one minute past midnight.
LONDON — A box of thin elastic bands, resting on a circular plinth, pose a challenge. Can you, the wall text asks, pass the length of your body through one of these rubbery rings? The answer in my case was sadly no, but taking part is what counts. “Going to a show is not enough sometimes,” says Shimabuku. “I think it’s nice to use the body a bit.”
LONDON — Land art is having a moment in the UK. It was building last year with two shows, in Margate and Birmingham, by perambulatory artist Hamish Fulton. More ‘walking art’ is afoot in Sunderland. April found Nancy Holt on show in Manchester. And in maritime city Southampton, we have not one but two land art exhibitions, one of which will take a three stop tour of the region. The genre has nothing if not geographical spread.
LONDON — News from Syria suggests the pen, the paintbrush, the camera, and even needle and thread may be mightier than the sword after all. For what other reason would the government have broken the hands of a political cartoonist. But the fully recovered cartoonist, Ali Ferzat, is back at his desk, ridiculing the follies of man, and his nemesis President al-Assad may soon be looking for ways to avoid trial as a war criminal.
LONDON — Karaoke sessions, which might usually take place in a black box, are now underway in a white cube. Mic, amp, and monitor are all visible through the glass frontage of tech-loving gallery Carroll/Fletcher. It doesn’t take long to work out that all lyrics are culled from those emails we browse from time to time in our spam folders. They are difficult to sing, but at least two passersby have already loosened their tonsils and performed for the London space.
BRIGHTON, U.K. — It was 1624 when the poet John Donne wrote: “No man is an island, entire of itself.” Nearly 400 years later he would have blown a gasket to see the way we use mobile phones and social networks. And were he to have seen a new show at Nottingham Contemporary, he might have been moved to add, “And no object either.” Artist-curator Mark Leckey has put together a range of art and artifacts with a wealth of connections to ourselves and each other. If Donne wrote his most famous line at a time of sickness, these days he might have jotted it down in a blog and been led to reflect that the web looks set to outlast us all.
MILTON KEYNES, UK — Art, which has been called a religion, has a serious problem with faith. Genocides may come and go leaving the beliefs of many intact, but contemporary art is a sensitive flower — in many ways it is still getting over World War One.
BRIGHTON, UK — Warhol’s old mantra, “I think everybody should like everybody,” has been endowed with fresh significance in Belfast, where his first show ever to take place North of Ireland’s contentious border is now underway at the Metropolitan Arts Centre.
BRIGHTON, UK — While laid up in Freud’s final consulting room, artist David Blandy was moved to recall a childhood trauma: “I grew up on the crime side, the New York Times side.” A hypnotherapist encouraged him to continue: “Yo, dwelling in the past, flashbacks when I was young. Who ever thought that I would have a baby girl and three sons?” Astute observers will recognise those experiences as rap lyrics, so why was a floppy-haired English artist channelling Raekwon and Ghostface Killah? And, although beside the point, just what would the grandfather of psychoanalysis have made of life on the mean streets of Staten Island?
BRIGHTON, UK — Swapping out pieces in a game of chess is only a smart move provided you hold the most on the board, or at least the strongest position. But a new show at the Barbican in London suggests chess could be a “metaphor of exchange” between the artists it lines up. According to the theory, Duchamp swaps ideas with acolytes: John Cage, Jasper Johns, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg. And yet the Frenchman, superb chess player that he was, came out conceptually on top by the time of his death in 1968.
BRIGHTON, UK — “No one I know is selling any work,” says artist Scott Mason, who bolsters his income with teaching and the occasional performance, such as the one he is about to give tonight. And none of the dozen people in attendance at the space, Meter Room in Coventry, is waving a checkbook. But then again this is an artist-run space. Mason’s gig and the surrounding exhibition is an exploration of this very type of institution. Collectors, although no doubt welcome, are not really expected.
BRIGHTON, UK — For several decades now we have been laboring under the impression David Bowie is a pop star. But a new show at Tate Liverpool puts Bowie where he firmly belongs, as a central figure in art. It proves the pioneering musician is also a muse, a performance artist, and a conceptualist all rolled into one.