Author: Nisha Desai

Andy & Peter Holden’s ‘Natural Selection’: The Birdmen of Bedford

Housed in the former Cuming Museum – an institution founded by a father and son collectors Richard and Henry Syer Cuming – it feels particularly apt that for this project Andy Holden has chosen to collaborate with his naturalist father Peter Holden. Titled Natural Selection, the pair’s Artangel commission marks the culmination of a seven-year venture in which father, a leading ornithologist, and son, an artist whose work spans many mediums, have come together to examine the connections between the seemingly disparate fields of ornithology and art. Andy views the building of nests as an artistic process and contemplates on...

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Gender, Shakespeare, and Dance: ‘Rosalind’ at the Edinburgh Fringe

The James Cousins Company presents a retelling of Shakespeare’s As You Like it for The Place’s dance showcase at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Taking its origins from the play’s female protagonist, Rosalind was produced in collaboration with South Korean artists in Seoul, where the play premiered in 2016. The dance traces Shakespeare’s story of Rosalind who, after falling for the aristocrat Orlando, is exiled with her love to the Forest of Arden where she resides disguised as a shepherd named Ganymede. Originally commissioned as part of the British Council’s Shakespeare Reworked series, the dance seeks to explore Shakespeare’s...

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‘You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred’ at the Zabludowicz Collection

  “Life is not about significant details, illuminated by a flash, fixed forever. Photographs are.” – Susan Sontag.[1]   The current exhibition at the Zabludowicz Collection in London brings together the work of photographic artists spanning the last 40 years to trace “how artists have used the camera to blur boundaries between past and present, fact and fiction”.[2] Housed in a striking Grade II listed former Methodist chapel, Paul Luckraft has carefully curated the work of 14 international artists, drawn exclusively from the personal archives of the Zabludowicz Collection. Photography is now a vital component of contemporary art, but as...

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The Performance of Culture: Ebony G Patterson, Thomas J Price and Zadie Xa at the Hales Gallery

The current group exhibition at Hales Gallery explores questions of cultural identity: a topic which feels particularly pertinent when considering that the show opened the day following Theresa May’s triggering of Article 50 and the start of the UK’s exit process from the EU. The three artists included – Ebony G Patterson, Thomas J Price and Zadie Xa – meditate on the notion of cultural identity, posing questions that centre around how we form our perceptions of identity in the modern world. Working with a diverse range of visual and material forms they interrogate the various stereotypes which inform...

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Women in the Art World: Signs of Progress

The Venice Biennale is one of the longest running cultural festivals in the world. Founded in 1895, this year will see the 57th International Art Exhibition here (the seeming miscalculation of years resulting from cancellations during the First and Second World War). Both the representatives of Britain and Scotland[1] are female, but there is a noticeable generational discrepancy between them. The British Pavilion will play host to seventy-two year old Phyllida Barlow, the Scottish representative Rachael Maclean, aged thirty, comes from a much younger generation of artists. Barlow found fame late, and as recently as ten years ago wasn’t...

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An Oasis in the Heart of London: ‘Tropical Hangover’ at Tenderpixel

Curated by Borbála Soós and Stella Sideli, Tenderpixel’s current group exhibition is the sensual delight I had hoped for from a show entitled Tropical Hangover, but it is also intellectually provocative. Swallow, a short film by Turner Prize winning artist Laure Prouvost greets you upon entering the gallery. In an interview with Whitechapel Gallery, Prouvost rather ethereally explained that Swallow “aims to show the taste of the sun”; in it, shots of nymphs submerged in idyllic pools are punctuated with short, sharp intakes of breath. Prouvost’s meditation on pleasure – the film is dripping with erotic imagery – also...

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! Blessed Be :)) Merry Part :(( But Again ! : Ben Jeans Houghton

The rather lengthy and somewhat obscure title of Ben Jeans Houghton’s first solo UK exhibition, ! Blessed Be :)) Merry Part :(( But Again ! left me unsure what to expect when I went to see it. The exhibition, showing at Space In Between until the 25th of February, functions as an investigation of the occult: exploring correspondences between Alchemy, Magick and Contemporary Art. The word occult, from the Latin occultus, literally translates to “hidden” or “secret”, and in common English usage it denotes something that is not usually seen as part of “normal” or expected human practice; given...

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