Friday, 28 February 2014

Review of Germany divided: Baselitz and his generation at the British Museum

Germany divided: Baselitz and his generation
From the Duerckheim Collection
The British Museum, London
6 February – 31 August 2014

After the war, both in England, but also in Germany, people struggled to re-establish their identities. Many men felt emasculated, and many women wanted to maintain the responsibilities and “freedom” they had acquired during their husbands’ absence at war. In Germany, this adjustment to a changed situation was coupled with a complex and long drawn out coming to terms with the guilt of the past, or Kriegsbewältigung. In addition, for many, any sense of national identity was lost because of the division of the country into East and West.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Review of Chiharu Shiota: Dialogues at the New Art Gallery, Walsall

Chiharu Shiota: Dialogues
New Art Gallery, Walsall
17 January – 30 March 2014

Anyone who hasn’t yet heard of Chiharu Shiota soon will have done. Taught by Marina Abramović and influenced to such an extent by Ana Mendieta that she believed herself to be an incarnation of the tragic Cuban, her ethereal installations blend Lygia Clark with Christian Boltanski, innocence with experiences of trauma, unbearable weight with the lightness of being. Born in Japan in 1972, Shiota has been based in Germany since crossing the globe in 1996 to study under Abramović, initially at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Braunschweig, and latterly at the Universität der Künste, Berlin, where she has been based ever since. “It’s a funny story,” Shiota explains. “I wanted to study with the Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz. I got their names mixed up, but Marina accepted me anyway, and I began my life in Germany.” A fortunate mistake, it would seem, for Abramović clearly taught Shiota a lot about the power of the body in art, the value of duration in performance and the suggestive possibility of absent presence.

To read the rest of this review, please go to:

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Review of Salon Hystérique: La Petit Mort et La Grande Hystérie at Blacks

Salon Hystérique: La Petit Mort et La Grande Hystérie
A group art exhibition of hysteric feminisms
Curated by Gabriella Daris
Blacks Members Club, 67 Dean Street
21 January – 19 April 2014

In what seems to be a season of feminist art shows in private members’ clubs around London (this comes hot on the heels of 2Q13: Women Artists, Women Collectors, curated by Marcelle Joseph and Lydia Cowpertwait, at Lloyd’s Club last autumn), curator Gabriella Daris has brought together, in the sumptuous Georgian townhouse surroundings of Blacks on Dean Street, some high quality and enjoyable works exploring what it means to be a woman, to have a vagina and a womb, and to use these bodily parts both for the furthering of life as well as for personal pleasure. Of course, as the title suggests, the exhibition also explores the association of the womb with hysteria, from its origins, at the time of continental mind doctors such as Charcot and Freud, to its current day incarnation, perhaps more commonly associated with feminist emancipation and desire.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Review of Bird la Bird’s LGBT History Month Swoosh Around the V&A

Bird la Bird’s Swoosh Around the V&A
Victoria and Albert Museum
22 February 2014

On Saturday, 22 February 2014, the 162-year-old institution, formerly known as the Victoria and Albert Museum, was rechristened the “People’s Queer Knick-knack Emporium”, or, affectionately, “Millionpoundland”. Am I joking? Well, not according to our lovely, lively (and only somewhat unlikely) tour guide, queer femme performer Bird la Bird, who, towards the end of her 90 minute “swoosh” around the museum, was keen to remind her flock of followers: “Everything you’ve heard here is true!”

To read the rest of this review, please go to:

Artist Profile: Anka Dabrowska

Artist Profile: Anka Dabrowska

Anka Dabrowska’s work is rooted in cities, architecture and urbanism, the Warsaw environment in which she grew up. Working on large-scale projects, she creates surprisingly minute installations from a mixture of cardboard, wood, plastic and concrete, toy town installations which require the visitor to kneel down and peer more closely.  Walls, towers and kiosks – a ubiquitous presence on the streets of her youth – and across them all, words scrawled in graffiti, sprayed on in lurid pinks and greens. 

To read the rest of this profile, please see the March 2014 issue of DIVA