Five to see at Various Others 2023 - FAD Magazine

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Five to see at Various Others 2023

September is here. And as the art world blooms into a gold-tipped vibrancy evocative of the autumn season, a swathe of art festivals, exhibitionary events and annual arty abundances are transforming European cities into post-summer getaways. Personally, I’m off to Munich for Various Others; an ‘international format,’ where art spaces across the city invite galleries, curators, artists and various other art entities from elsewhere to realise a project together as part of the 17-day celebration. With a focus on collaboration and international exchanges, Various Others is a platform where artistic dialogues colour the city surround. In anticipation of this autumnal radiance, here are just five of the abundances I’m tipped to see in Munich. 

Inside Other Spaces. Environments by Women Artists 1956 – 1976
Haus der Kunst, 8.9.23 – 10.3.24

Aleksandra Kasuba, Spectral Passage (1975). Installation view, M. H. DeYoung Memorial Museum, San Francisco © Digital Archive of Aleksandra Kasuba, the Lithuanian National Museum of Art, Estate of Aleksandra Kasub

To start with a sketch of the term, ‘environments’ are immersive spaces with an often playful character. Coined by the Italian-Argentinian artist Lucio Fontana to describe his experimental artworks that sat at the threshold of art, architecture and design, the history of this medium, as with most of art history, has been a male-led affair…

With this in mind, Inside Other Spaces is a group exhibition that restages historical environments created by eleven female artists between 1956 and 1976. From Judy Chicago to Tsuruko Yamazaki, Lygia Clark to Aleksandra Kasuba, the exhibition spans three generations of artists, bringing together practices from Asia, Europe as well as North- and South America. 

As alluded to above, environments often have an interactive or at least affective quality. At Haus der Kunst I am looking forward to getting a better, expanded, historical understanding of a medium that has become almost a ubiquitous part of mass art consumption.

Charlotte Salomon. Leben? Oder Theater? Lenbachhaus, until 10.09.2023! 

“Charlotte Salomon. Leben? Oder Theater?” Installation view Municipal Gallery in the Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau Munich, 2023. Photo: Ernst Jank

Born in Berlin in 1917, Charlotte Salomon died young, aged 26, whilst interned in Auschwitz. I do not like to foreground a corporeal biography, especially one that ends so soon and in such a horrific fashion. In Charlotte Salomon. Leben? Oder Theater? [Charlotte Salomon. Life? or Theater?] however, these details are perhaps useful to hold in the back of one’s mind.

Titled after the sum 769 gouache drawings created by Salomon in a two-year period following her fleeing of Berlin in 1939, Leben? Oder Theater? can be seen as an optimistic gesture of escape. That is, as a “Singespiel” as the artist called it (or a ‘sing-play’ to use a loose Google translation), the whimsical drawings offer viewers a painterly rendition of life, one free from the bounds of autobiography. from the boundaries of reality. Indeed, divided into three acts, the series that this exhibition spotlights provides a glimpse into the fictional narratives at the heart of Salomon’s practice. 

Notebook size Salomon’s drawings are rich, theatrical but in a wholly tender way; think poetic illustrations, think post-impressionist fluidity. There is no sense of bombastic spectacle here. With brassy mustard and sludge blue tones writhing off one another, a lyricism is created both within each drawing and across the narrative shown. Displayed quite minimally, behind sheets of well-lit glass, the exhibition is a wholly inviting affair, with an intimacy in scale that draws you in so as to feel the sound of freedom reverberating in this theatre made with life. 

failed transcendence max goelitz, 08.09.2023 – 21.10.2023

Niko Abramidis &NE, GEN PNL (DYOR U 1), 2023. Pigment print and spray paint on dibond and wood. Courtesy of max goelitzCopyright of the artist. Photo: Dirk Tacke

Embracing the dialogical feel of Various Others, failed transcendence is a collaborative project between max goelitz, the artists Nicolás Lamas (with his gallery Meessen De Clercq, Brussels) and Jeremy Shaw.

Taking its name from a term co-opted by Tom McCarthy (one originally used to describe his novels), in failed transcendence artworks by Lamas and Shaw are presented alongside works by Haroon Mirza, Helga Dóróthea Fannon and Niko Abramidis &NE. Reminding me of the quizzical character of McCarthy’s prose, the press release for failed transcendence states the exhibition “focuses on the notion of failure and the questioning of traditional ideas of authenticity while exploring the limits and shortcomings of achieving higher states of consciousness across different time axes.” … there is a lot in that. 
From my understanding of McCarthy’s co-option, ‘failed transcendence’ is about the way we imagine the world and about the way we try to live by, or indeed make for ourselves, this ideal. Ultimately, however, the promises we imagine the world holds out for us disappoint. Rather than a defeatist attitude, to me, McCarthy’s novels exploit this disappointment to force us (the reader) into a mental conversation about BIG concepts and what they can mean materially. As an exhibition, failed transcendence appears to lean into this quality. With artworks spanning print, sculpture and video, this dialogue is set to be a wholly intertextual affair.

En plein air Art space Munich

Walther and Sierra demonstrating work No. 46 from Walthers’ First Work Set “Sehkanal”, 1968, C-Print, Diasec 140 x 250 cm, 2011 © Franz Erhard Walther/Santiago Sierra, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023.

A collaboration with the Kunstraum München, En plein air is a series of performances that unfold in public space. In celebration of Kunstraum München’s 50th anniversary, this year’s  En plein air brings together two artists from different generations: Franz Erhard Walther and Santiago Sierra.

I know Walther’s work from its installation at Tate Modern. Considered a pioneer of conceptual and minimal art, the fabric-based works I have seen blur the line between performance prop and a role in need of performing. That is, often activated by a body, these works sit restively, at once defining how they are performed and at the same time affording a level of performative freedom. His works, therefore, have a soft ambiguity, a quality that lends itself to engagement and dialogue. 

Santiago Sierra is known for his provocative and politically minded works. From what I understand, for En plein air Sierra will coordinate a number of collective moments in which a large number of refugees, who are currently residing in different areas around Munich, will be photographed. In this way, these gestures will foreground the inequalities innate to notions of public space and the rights to access such places of freedom. 

To me, it is interesting to weave these practices together. Both artists challenge ideas of media fixity, specifically the place of the body in enacting an ‘artwork.’ In this way, both artists co-opt the innate potentials of live art, twisting art historical questions into questions about the place of the body in the play of social life. 

See the performance schedule here – kunstraum-muenchen.de/santiago-sierra-franz-erhard-walther/

On listening Lothringer 13 Halle, 07.09.2023. – 12.11.2023

Video still from the music video “Travel Afar” (???, sung by Han Lei), 1992. Internet source in the context of the installation and research project “Linger in Sounds” by Hui Ye and Qu Chang, graphic design: Gundi Schillinger.

We are living in an age of noise. For someone who lives in a city, I do not just mean the constant barrage of noises associated with the 24-hour flows of life. Just the act of turning on a phone can overwhelm one’s perspective senses; the pinging of notifications, the flashing boxes bearing ‘breaking news,’ the messages from friends, lovers, let alone work commitments… 

In this age, it can be hard to listen. To truly pay attention and to be with what another is relaying. Listening in this regard is haptic, a moment of shared touch and even empathy. 

A project that brings together an international group of artists, theorists, writers, activists, archives and community radio stations, On listening is conceived as a moment to sit with and become cognisant to the complexities of listening. Thinking about how listening, alone and together, has the potential to reorientate perspectives, to open spaces, and indeed to co-opt closed loops in order to foreground what have been called non-linear and fragmentary narratives.

With contributions by Ashley Holmes, Forum Queeres Archiv München eV & Philipp Gufler, Helen Cammock, Hui Ye & Qu Chang, Jovana Reisinger, Kay Yoon, Maria Margolina, Positions – Texts on Contemporary Music, Radio 80000, Sapir von Abel et al. I cannot wait to feel how the project resonates in me.

Various Others, September 7th – 24th, 2023
Opening weekend, September 7th – 10th, 2023



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Various Others- three encounters

Various Others is an initiative based on collaboration. Its format is simple: museums, galleries, artist-run-spaces, collectors, curators (etc. etc.) based in Munich (Germany) invite museums, galleries, artist-run-spaces, collectors, curators (etc. etc.)

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