It’s Black Friday, and that means hunting for deals! But if you (or your debit card) need a break from spending, here are some of my top picks for exhibitions and shows to check out this weekend, both online and in person. From biennials to blockbusters and everything in between, this short list will guarantee your weekends are never boring. Enjoy!
1. Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, ‘Fly In League With The Night’ at Tate Britain, London
Image source: https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/lynette-yiadom-boakye
Cut infuriatingly short by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, British artist and writer Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s show of enigmatic, emotional portraits is back at Tate Britain. Bringing together over seventy works from the span of the artist’s career, numbering almost twenty years, the exhibition navigates the artist’s imagination, the characters she invents for her works. All the portraits are of fictitious people whom the artist invents, and rather than conveying a specific identity or subject-position, they create a mood which is at once sober and familiar, inviting and alienating. The subjects give away little about their history, their thoughts, their position in history or society, and Yiadom-Boakye’s elusive titles are equally opaque. Writing is central to Yiadom-Boakye’s artistic practice, as she has explained: ‘I write about the things I can’t paint and paint the things I can’t write about.’ Finally being given its time in the spotlight, this lush exhibition will now run until February 2023.
2. Group Show, ‘CONNECTOME’ on objkt.com
Image source: https://objkt.com/collection/KT1QUPot4FTeMLq2DDMks6M35w2VUPUKepet
Curated by Chanel Verdult as part of the Museum of Contemporary Digital Art’s curatorial residency, The Foundry, ‘CONNECTOME’ is a digital exhibition of nine artists whose work explores AI, poetry & alchemy. Drawing its primary inspiration from AI artist and thought leader Sasha Stiles’ book Technelegy, CONNECTOME aims to explore, in the curator’s words, “intimate territories of physical and digital interconnectedness.” The works chosen – including one by Stiles herself – are varied, ranging from still images to video, reflections on the pandemic to our inner fantasies and dreams. All available to view (and purchase!) online, wherever you are in the world, the exhibition encompasses the power and reach of digital art and NFTs, and apprehends some of the most pressing and evolving issues presented in digital and blockchain art at the current moment.
3. TextaQueen, ‘Bollywouldn’t’ at 4A Centre for Contemporary Art, Sydney
Image source: https://4a.com.au/exhibitions/textaqueen-bollywouldnt
The work of non-binary artist TextaQueen confronts colonialism and the experience of the global South Asian diaspora, all through the means of the unassuming fabric tip pen. Through portraiture, photography, mural painting and projection, Bollywouldn’t challenges the stereotypes and “-isms” of the Bollywood genre, reclaiming agency for South Asians in the community, particularly those marginalised through their sexuality and gender identities. Having been digitally mapped onto buildings in and around London, TextaQueen’s portraits of queer South Asian community are now transposed into the gallery space, leaving their mark on these bare, socially constructed walls. Just as their appearance on public buildings in the British capital possess an intervention against colonial structures, their intrusion into the gallery itself as a space, traditionally, of whiteness, straightness, and maleness, is powerful and moving.
4. Rewind Collective at The NFT Gallery, London
Image source: https://www.the-nft-gallery.io/rewind-collective
The Rewind Collective is a digital art collective addressing inequalities and under-representation of minorities in their work. In a new show opening today at the NFT Gallery, London, the group showcases a re-imaginging of history, venerating and celebrating female heroines who have previously been overlooked. From Frida Kahlo to Angela Davis and Ida B. Wells, audiences are presented with brand new conceptions of these women’s roles in history, through a medium that is very much of this moment. Collapsing the chronological historical narrative, as well as disrupting the gender bias of history, the artists use a variety of media and visual lexicons to right the balance of power and representation that has been skewed for so long. Especially in Web3, which claims to be a more open and accessible space for minorities, but often ends up replicating the hierarchical structures it claims to resist, shows like this one are vital to maintaining a voice and presence for under-represented groups.
5. Hye Rim Lee, ‘White Rose’ at Scott Lawrie Gallery, Auckland
Image source: https://www.scottlawrie.com
A vibrant, exuberant new show of work by Korean-New Zealand artist Hye Rim Lee is open now, showcasing some of the artist’s most experimental, joyous and technologically advanced work. Lee uses cutting-edge rendering software and intensive algorithmic sequences to produce her borderline-kitsch, bubblegum images that question our perceptions of certain motifs, symbols, and even colour. The works are created with a team of developers and specialists, with drafting concepts, drawing ideas, creating algorithmic sequences, and uniting all the various elements to create her finished digital masterpieces. Of her previous work, Lee has said, “My work deals specifically with cyber feminism and female identity, and it makes sense that my work is seen as part these evolving contemporary ideas, rather than traditional terms like Feminism.” It is interesting to consider these new works in the context of feminism, as at first glance they could seem to be vapid, frivolous depictions of ‘feminine’ imagery, like the rose and unicorn. But this is exactly what Lee calls into question – the gendering of symbols, and the potential for a digital existence and the use of technology to break down barriers between our gendered bodies. It’s just an added bonus that her work is just sumptuous to look at.
I’ll be back next week for a SPECIAL EDITION of Weekend Viewing: ART BASEL MIAMI. In the meantime, you can keep up to date with me via Instagram and Twitter, and check out my writing and editing services here.
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