ZANELE MUHOLI AT THE STEDELIJK

JULILE I - ZANELE MUHOLI, 2016

Zanele Muholi’s works at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam belong to three different ongoing series: ‘Faces and Phases’, ‘Brave Beauties’ and ‘Hail the Dark Lioness – Somnyama Ngonyama’. Dedicated to a friend who died of HIV related complications, “Faces and Phases’ is a visual record of black lesbians and transgender people in her home country of South Africa, a project she started in 2006. Though South Africa legalised same sex marriage in the same year, it remains a country plagued by discrimination and extreme violence against sexual minorities. A place where…

NOBUYOSHI ARAKI: ARAKI AMORE

In the wake of the tradition of ‘shunga’, a 1600s sexually explicit version of ukiyo-e, the 76 year old photographer has long been recognised for his works exploring the underbelly of Japanese society. His focus is firmly centred on the great fault line between public and private, proper and inappropriate, sleazy and respectable. The blurred distinction between art and porn has caused more than a headache to the artist and various curators and museums whenever his pieces have been exhibited in the West. Whilst in the past he has found himself criticised broadly for…

TELLER ON MAPPLETHORPE

ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE - SELF PORTRAIT, 1973

On my way to this exhibition, I was reading that a new book – “Somebody to Love: The Life, Death and Legacy of Freddie Mercury” – is about to be published. It will contain never seen before images of the singer, shared by those closest to him. Had he not died of AIDS related complications, Freddie Mercury would have been seventy years old this year. Robert Mapplethorpe too. Despite them frequenting the same clubs – The Saint in the East Village and Mineshaft in the Meatpacking district to name a…

A THREATENING NEW DIMENSION IN NUMBERS

CULTURE, ANOTHER NATURE REPAIRED - KADER ATTIA, 2015

The unconscious attribution of human traits or characteristics to inanimate forms is a built-in mechanism which enables humankind to cope with, and somehow relate to, anything new and unknown. To some extent this applies to the art world too. The projection of such human features onto drawn, painted or sculpted objects brings meaning to, and builds a connection with, a reality which may in fact not have rules or significance. The infinite number of possibilities of expression available to an artist is left barely explored as people cannot regain absolute artistic freedom once the…

PUNK IN BRITAIN

TIME FOR MAGIC, LOOK TO THE FUTURE, LESSONS FROM THE PAST - JAMIE REID

’Punk: From Chaos to Couture’ at the Metropolitan Art Museum in 2013 had already driven the message home: punk is dead. I should have kept that in mind before visiting ‘Punk in Britain’ at the Galleria Carla Sozzani in Milan. Born as a parallel movement in the USA and Britain around 1976, the punk movement was not just a reaction to the mainstream rock scene which had become tame and unassertive. It also represented a rejection of the nostalgia of the 1970s. The aggressive pursuit of a liberating new identity…

DAVID BECKHAM: THE MAN

David Beckham Damien Hirst

Despite eliciting only raised eyebrows every time I suggested visiting ’David Beckham: The Man’ at Phillips in Mayfair, I found myself hopelessly lured to it like a moth to a flame. Managing to sneak in on my own just before the gala party for the auction, I was so caught up in the mediatic whirlwind generated by the evening that I found it very hard to focus and judge the photographs purely on their artistic merit. Since the brand Beckham relies almost entirely on being seen to maintain an iconic status,…