The Best Things to Do with the Rest of Your Summer

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01 Boy In Yellow Shirt Smoking, 1976
Mark Cohen, Boy in Yellow Shirt Smoking, 1976© Mark Cohen

Make the most of the rest of summer with our list of great things to do this August – from exhibitions and festivals to restaurant openings and films to see

Exhibitions and Events

Mark Cohen: Just Outside at Leica Gallery, London: until September 1, 2019
In the middle of a group of rebellious children, honing in on the detail of a leopard print coat, or framing a woman’s face as she smokes a cigarette: Mark Cohen’s signature is making sure his camera is close to whatever he’s photographing. At Leica’s London gallery this month, see Cohen’s captivating prints, which were taken in his home state of Pennsylvania, up close in an exhibition entitled Just Outside. Having started photography at the age of 12, Cohen has long found that suburban home towns and their inhabitants prove fascinating subjects for his photos. “A lot of times I had trouble with the cops, because if you walk into somebody’s yard and start taking pictures of a rope that’s sitting there, they’ll call the police,” he says.

Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now at the Guggenheim, New York: until January 5, 2020
The second half of the Guggenheim’s mammoth exploration of Robert Mapplethorpe’s life and career has now opened in the New York museum. Continuing for the rest of this year, Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now presents the artist’s iconic photography alongside work by six American LGBTQ image-makers working today – Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Catherine Opie, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Lyle Ashton Harris, Glenn Ligon, and Zanele Muholi – and reframing his complex legacy.

Yola Día at Los Angeles Historic Park: August 18, 2019
Yola Mezcal, the Mexican spirit distillery run by Yola Jimenez, presents Yola Día this summer in Los Angeles. For one Sunday in August in Los Angeles’ Historic Park, the festival promises “strong women and strong drink together in the park”. The line-up includes Lykke Li (who helms Yola Mezcal with Jimenez), Kelsey Lu, Courtney Love and the Chateau Band, and Cat Power, with a portion of the event’s proceeds going to LA’s Downtown Women’s Center.

Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, London: August 8 – 21, 2019
Head to Somerset House for the return of its annual Film4 Summer Screen, with a brilliant programme of both new releases and cult classics to enjoy in the storied London courtyard. To kick the season off on August 8 is the UK premiere of Pedro Almodóvar’s newest, Pain and Glory – starring Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz – while later in the month catch The Matrix, Clueless, Wild at Heart and 2017’s runaway horror success Get Out.

Hervé Guibert at Loewe Gran Vía, Madrid: until August 30, 2019
Presented to coincide with Photo España, an exhibition at Loewe’s Madrid flagship store highlights beautiful photography by the pioneering LGBTQ writer and artist Hervé Guibert. Living in Paris in the later decades of the 20th century, Guibert’s openness about his sexuality and eventual diagnosis with Aids was unprecedented and struck a chord with the queer community at that time in Europe. Over 50 of Guibert’s black and white photographs are on show at Loewe’s Gran Vía store, depicting himself and his peers with poignant candour.

We Sing the Body Electric at Gallery 46, London: August 2 – 28, 2019
A new all-female group exhibition opens tomorrow at Gallery 46 in East London, entitled We Sing the Body Electric, curated by Camilla Cole. The work featured in the exhibition forms a subversive look at how artists address the female body in their work, from twisting the traditional nude to sculptures featuring fragmented body parts. Juliette Mahieux Bartoli, Stacie McCormick, Alix Marie, Marie Munk and Katarzyna Perlak are some of the featured artists, whose powerful works offer an alternative look at women and the body. The exhibition’s title is adapted from that of an 1855 poem by Walt Whitman, who championed the notion that the body can be understood separately from gender, masculinity and femininity.

Vivian Maier: Colour Photographs at Huxley-Parlour, London: until September 14, 2019
Vivian Maier, the 20th-century photographer whose extensive archive was only discovered in 2007, was one of the USA’s most prolific street photographers. A large selection of her vivid colour photography is arriving in London this month, many of the lesser-known prints having never been exhibited in the UK before. Maier was concerned with the minutiae of everyday life, capturing amusing scenes on the streets of New York and Chicago or often her own reflection in a salon mirror or shop window. 

Aperture Summer Open 2019: Delirious Cities at Aperture Gallery, New York: until August 29, 2019
The title of Aperture’s sixth Summer Open exhibition takes inspiration from a manifesto by Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York, an architectural, societal and cultural history of the city written in 1978. Aperture’s show, Delirious Cities, brings together 23 global artists whose work is concerned with contemporary urban living. Selected by a jury of photo editors from publications like Aperture magazine and Vogue Italia, the featured photographs, videos and installations offer a varied and captivating look at how we relate and respond to living in cities today.

Kim Gordon: She bites her tender mind at Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin: until November 10, 2019
Sonic Youth musician Kim Gordon presents new work with She bites her tender mind, an exhibition at Dublin’s Irish Museum of Modern Art. Spanning paintings, ceramics, drawings, an immersive video and even a ‘glitter installation’, Gordon’s new work offers a look at her extensive creative practice. For the show, Gordon’s references range from the poems of Ancient Greek writer Sappho (the title She bites her tender mind is a quote from the poet) to the ‘home away from home’ culture perpetuated by the likes of Airbnb.

Arthur Jafa: A Series of Utterly Improbable, Yet Extraordinary Renditions at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, until September 8, 2019
For a new exhibition at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet, video artist Arthur Jafa has collaborated with three other contemporary artists: photographer Ming Smith, visual artist Frida Orupabo, and Missylanyus, whose YouTube channel Jafa draws work from for the show. Jafa’s work is rooted in the history and politics of being African American, and in A Series of Utterly Improbable, Yet Extraordinary Renderings, he uses found material, photography and film to examine the USA through that lens. Having worked as a cinematographer with the likes of Stanley Kubrick (Eyes Wide Shut) and Spike Lee (Crooklyn) and on music videos with Beyoncé, Solange and Jay-Z, Jafa’s video artworks form a striking look at being black in America today. 

Sarah Schneider: No Fish at Weserhalle, Berlin: August 2 – 18, 2019
Paintings by Sarah Schneider are being exhibited this month in Berlin, organised by independent publishing house Galerie 5b. No Fish – which is also the name of a publication featuring these works – forms a playful look at travel and holidays, Schneider having travelled between Italy, Switzerland and Greece for a summer in 2016. The American artist’s surreal scenes are crafted using found imagery yet anchored in her own memories of the places she visited: abandoned sculptures, satisfying tiled rooms, lush landscapes and citrus fruit trees all feature, conjuring a feeling of dreamy escapism. 

Berlin Atonal, Kraftwerk, Berlin: August 28 – September 1, 2019
Berlin Atonal, the anticipated annual sonic and visual art festival, arrives in the German capital this month for five days of specially commissioned audio-visual shows and world premieres in sound, video and performance. This year's highlights include shows from the likes of Stockholm-based artist and organ tuner Kali Malone, ambient music maestro Huerco S. and Australian art noise duo HTRK. French video artist Cyprien Gaillard will debut an adaptation of his acclaimed Venice Biennale work Ocean II Ocean for a special one-off live performance, while British artist Roger Hiorns will present a site-specific kinetic artwork comprising "four disassembled life-size figures" engaged in an endless cycle.

The Best Films

August is positively brimming with tantalising new film releases. In Holiday, by Danish director Isabella Eklöf, the trophy girlfriend of a Danish drug lord falls under the spell of a Dutch yacht owner while holidaying with her manipulative partner on the Turkish Riviera. Twists and sinister thrills ensue. Quentin Tarantino returns with his mad modern fairytale, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood – a multi-story ode to the twilight years of Hollywood’s Golden Age. For the romantics, there’s Photograph from Indian director Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox), which sees a struggling street photographer convince a shy stranger to pose as his fiance to appease his nagging grandmother. While German drama Transit follows Georg, a young man attempting to escape Nazi-occupied France under the guise of a dead author. Upon finding himself stuck in Marseille, however, he finds himself falling for the beautiful Maria, a woman trying to locate her missing husband.

Poetic and meandering, Daniel Graham’s debut feature, Opus Zero, sees the ever-brilliant Willem Dafoe star as an American composer, newly arrived in the remote Mexican village where his father has just died, in search of inspiration. Pain and Glory is the latest offering from Pedro Almodóvar, and is one of the Spanish auteur’s most powerful works yet, while Antonio Banderas mesmerises as an aging film director forced to reflect upon his life and relationships as one of his films is reissued 30 years after its release. British director Joanna Hogg makes a similarly impressive return with The Souvenir, a sublimely realised drama about a quiet but determined film student who enters into a turbulent relationship with a magnetic older man. Documentary fans be sure to see Penny Lane’s Hail Satan?, a funny and at times disconcerting investigation into a group of self-proclaimed Satan-worshippers and their beliefs and rituals. Stones Have Laws, meanwhile, offers poignant insight into the life of a Maroon community in the former Dutch colony of Suriname, exploring the ways in which its age-old connection to the land is being endangered.

Food and Drink

Allpress Lates at Allpress Espresso, Dalston: August 2 – September 27, 2019
To celebrate 30 years of Allpress Espresso, the Dalston café is teaming up with some of the most exciting names in the London restaurant scene for a series of evening events. Beginning on Friday August 2 and continuing every Friday until the end of September, Allpress Espresso will welcome culinary guests to host food- and drink-filled evenings in the garden, with the likes of Margot Henderson of Rochelle Canteen, Claire Ptak of Violet, Alex Hely-Hutchinson of 26 Grains taking part.

Nutshell, London: open now
With pastel pink and green interiors reminiscent of pistachios and sherbert sweets, Nutshell is a new opening in Covent Garden serving Iranian food. Homely recipes hailing from Tehran have been transported to London with the help of chef Jeremy Borrow, and traditional Iranian ingredients take centre stage: rose, cardamom, pistachio, saffron, and cherries feature on the menu.

Arcade Food Theatre, London: open now
In London’s Centre Point building, Arcade Food Theatre brings together a number of the city’s favourite restaurants and bars under one roof. Lina Stores, Flat Iron Workshop, Popham’s and Oklava all have outposts in Arcade Food Theatre, and the space will also play host to a series of specially commissioned art installations.

Great Performances

When it comes to excellent productions in August, the Edinburgh Festival is of course an annual, month-long must – both for catching old favourites and discovering fresh new talent in the realms of theatre, comedy and dance. This year’s highlights include Anguis from actor/writer Sheila Atim: an imagined podcast conversation between Cleopatra and a contemporary immunologist to discuss the contested facts of the Egyptian ruler’s death. Then there’s Dots, the new show from comedian and Fringe favourite Ahir Shah, said to span everything from dead German sociologists to cigarettes and sadness. While Hard to Be Soft: A Belfast Prayer from pioneering Northern Irish choreographer Oona Doherty will use dance to peer “behind the masks of violence and machismo to the inner lives of Belfast hard men and strong women”.

Elsewhere this month, Phoebe Waller-Bridge brings Fleabag backs to its theatrical routes, performing her one-woman Edinburgh Fringe hit in the West End for a limited four-week run at Wyndham’s Theatre. Best start queuing for returns now. For an outdoor musical bonanza, don’t miss the forthcoming revival of Evita, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s seminal reimagining of the life of Eva Perón, the world’s first major political celebrity, which opens at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre from tomorrow. Last but not least, don’t miss celebrated choreographer Matthew Bourne’s electric take on Romeo and Juliet, arriving at Sadler’s Wells on August 7.