Wiiliam Cuffay And The London Chartists 1842 (2009), by Red Saunders
This article titled “This week’s new exhibitions” was written by Robert Clark & Skye Sherwin, for The Guardian on Friday 30th September 2011 23.06 UTC
Ways Of Looking, Bradford
This first Ways Of Looking photographic festival approaches its apparently general theme of Evidence with a rare curatorial intelligence, using a variety of perspectives by renowned names such as Jeremy Deller. Donovan Wylie returns from Afghanistan with haunting images of military outposts. In total contrast Red Saunders constructs photographic tableaux that depict the heroism of subversive political figures.
Various venues, to 30 Oct
Miriam Cahn, London
The people Miriam Cahn depicts in her paintings are almost always lying down. Are they sick, dead or dreaming? The textures are soft, the colours hazy, with the smudgy silhouettes of bodies suggesting a surreal, ghostly aura. Shown en masse they could be fallen soldiers strewn on a battlefield. Yet while this German artist has referenced Sarajevo and the Iraq war for previous series, her paintings are too eerie for explicit political readings. Cahn, an old-school feminist who came of age during the birth of performance art in the 1970s, mines her experience as a woman and her work can be vibrantly, directly physical. You can see, for instance, the footprints and knee marks where she’s knelt or stood while making charcoal drawings.
David Roberts Art Foundation, W1, to 17 Dec
Rashid Rana, Manchester
Rashid Rana constructs mosaic-like amazements out of intricate grids of photo fragments. While most photography might be said to make sense of the world in recognisable images, Rana uses photography to dissolve recognition into a spaced-out wonderment. With his eye for the aesthetic charm of images, it comes as no surprise to learn that Rana first trained as a painter. Close up, you can sometimes make out urban vistas or organic intimacies, yet at a distance you’re confronted with a visual spectacle reminiscent of Indian mandalas or pixelated TV screens. This is Rana’s achievement: to translate an almost transcendent worldview into a language familiar to a culture fixated on categorisation and commercial evaluation.
Cornerhouse, Sat to 18 Dec
Firstsite finally reopened last week in its new home. The premiere show, Camulodunum, has an archaeological theme (the title is Colchester’s Roman name). Ancient coins and pottery join work by the likes of Chinese art megastar Ai Weiwei and land art legend Robert Smithson, as well as four major new commissions. Aleksandra Mir mines Colchester’s history as a garrison town; surreal resin creations by Michaela Eichwald suggest fossils; Karin Ruggaber’s concrete relief is an abstract take on the mouldings that adorn old buildings; and Danh Vo is trying to make a full-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty in fragments, beginning with the iconic torch-wielding hand.
Firstsite, to 22 Jan
Jamie Shovlin, Carlisle
Central to this beguiling show is Jamie Shovlin’s breakthrough installation, The Naomi V Jelish Archive, a complex display of accumulated evidence from an investigation into the mysterious and unsolved disappearance in 1991 of a 13-year-old child with unusual artistic talents. Shovlin builds up the touching story through scraps of school reports, sentimental mementos and newspaper cuttings. Shovlin has such a sensitive eye for pathetic detail, one is utterly taken in, yet, of course, one secretly suspects all along that the whole thing is an elaborate set-up. In addition here, Shovlin samples the Tullie House museum archives to conjure further creative fictions, like mourning cards.
Tullie House Museum And Art Gallery, Sat to 27 Nov
1395 Days Without Red, London
These two films bearing the same title by Albanian artist Anri Sala and Sarajevo native Sejla Kameric recreate the imperiled journeys through Sarajevo’s bullet-pocked streets between 1992 and 1996 with the citizens who lived there. Their deadly sprints are paired with footage of an orchestra rehearsing Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony, as they once did during the siege. 1395 Days … was meant to be a single collaborative work but, despite being split into two films by creative differences, the non-identical works are like haunting memories, giving different views of recurring images and sounds.
10-12 Francis Street, SW1, to 23 Oct
Structure & Material, Walsall
Claire Barclay, Becky Beasley and Karla Black undermine sculpture’s love of the monumental by making theirs out of throwaway materials such as sugar paper, chalk dust and cosmetic cast-offs. Black’s works seem just about to drift and levitate. Beasley’s DIY woodwork framings of photographs of banal objects are crafted but mysterious. In Barclay’s work, sensuous soft leather contrasts with machined steel spikes to hint at vulnerable scenarios. Here their Arts Council touring show is set in further enigmatic narrative motion by Edgar Martin’s This Is Not A House, an on-the-road photographic trip through the ruins of the US housing market.
The New Art Gallery Walsall, to 24 Dec
Gerhard Richter: Panorama, London
Gerhard Richter is perhaps the most influential contemporary painter in the world, yet he plays his cards very close to his chest. This survey, marking his 80th birthday, runs the full gamut of his genre-swapping output over the past 50 years. Moving from the personal to the political, there are the slightly out-of-focus photorealist portraits of his family and those famous works based on newspaper images of the dead members of the Baader Meinhof group. There’s his interest in German romanticism, seen in his Skull & Candle paintings and misty landscapes, epic clouds, and eerily impersonal squeegee abstractions, where vivid drips of paint parody abstract expressionism’s hot emotion. Richter’s talent is prodigious but does his cool-handed way with his medium make him painting’s champion or the ultimate sceptic? His paintings are brilliantly shifty, not revelatory, deliberately keeping meaning on the move.
Tate Modern, SE1, Thu to 8 Jan
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