Autumn Has Arrived: Great Things to Do This September

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AP Play the Wind Film Still #2 hr
Alex Prager, Play the Wind, Film Still #2, 2019Courtesy Alex Prager Studio and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul

The best films to see, food to eat, exhibitions to visit and performances to catch this month

Alex Prager: Play the Wind at Lehmann Maupin, New York: September 5 – October 26, 2019
Not many photographers depict the dramatisation of the ordinary like Alex Prager. The Emmy award-winning image-maker creates inimitable, cinematic work, broadening the intersections between personal, cultural, and the fantastical in photography and film. In her latest exhibition, which will debut her intimate new film Play the Wind, Prager pays homage to her birthplace and home Los Angeles. Following two main protagonists, the film is a moving journey through fleeting memories and classic LA locations. However, like any art by Prager, it is inevitably twisted – this time with unearthly props, which will feature in the exhibition, offering a dose of dystopian escapism.

Tim Walker: Wonderful Things at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: September 21, 2019 – March 8, 2020
Wonderful Things, the long-awaited exhibition celebrating the work of visionary photographer Tim Walker, arrives at the V&A this month. The show will be the biggest survey of Walker’s career to date, and the photographer has created ten new series of photographs based on objects from the museum’s collections. Walker’s longtime collaborator, the set designer Shona Heath, has designed the exhibition, which promises an immersive look at one of the fashion world’s most exciting image-makers. 

WUTI goes IdyllWILD Film Festival at Idyllwild, California: September 20 – 22, 2019
WUTI – Women Under the Influence, an organisation which celebrates women’s storytelling in the worlds of film, music and fashion – hosts its inaugural film festival in the mountain town of Idyllwild, California this month. The festival, which is the brainchild of director Tabitha Denholm, creative director Laura Rule and VP of cultural programming at NeueHouse Meredith Rogers, is a celebration of cinema directed by women past and present, and welcomes all ages and genders to a weekend of film and conversation. Screenings include Sally Potter’s Orlando starring Tilda SwintonAgnès Varda’s Lions Love (...And Lies), Losing Ground, the first film made in America by a woman of colour, as well as the west coast premiere of artist Alex Prager’s new film Play the Wind. Plus, the festival boasts an exciting talks programme, featuring conversations with the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O, and songwriter Diane Warren.

North: Fashioning Identity at the Civic, Barnsley: September 14 – December 21, 2019
The Civic’s upcoming exhibition, North: Fashioning Identity provides a rare opportunity to uncover the cultural impact of the north of England in style, art and photography. With over 100 photographs being displayed alongside fashion pieces and artwork, the show offers a historical celebration of northern themes which have been reanimated in style and design across the globe. With art featured by the likes of Mark Leckey, Stephen Jones, Alasdair McLellen, Glen Luchford, Matty Bovan and Shirley Baker, this exhibition offers more than just an insight into photography and fashion, but the northern people and communities behind them.

Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts, London: September 21 – December 3, 2019
Arriving into the main galleries of the Royal Academy of Arts are the works of British sculpture icon Antony Gormley. Until the beginning of December, Gormley is providing the unique opportunity to confront the work he has produced over 45 years; including unseen early works produced between the 1970s and 1980s to his newest, immersive installations created specifically for the exhibition. Described as an experience which will make visitors “aware of their own bodies”, pieces such as Clearing VII, which is coiled from flexible metal, invites visitors to move through the installation and slow down to gain a sense of the elemental matter around them.

Atsuko Tanaka at Moderna Museet, Stockholm: September 14, 2019 – February 16, 2020
Electric, multicoloured and fantastical, Atsuko Tanaka’s lucid artwork is being displayed in a forthcoming solo exhibition at Moderna Museet. A pioneer in the Gutai movement’s exuberant, avant-garde artistry, Tanaka’s oeuvre from the 1950s and 1960s is known for rejecting the then conventions of art presentation while also developing a radical social narrative on the post-war culture of Japan. The new exhibition in Stockholm will feature her famed paintings which display networks of shapes and contours in vivid, stimulating colours, concurrent to continuing the theatrical, multimedia nature of Gutai art through an immersive film documentation of performance her piece, Round on Sand (1968).

Take Me to the Water at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Chicago: September 20 – October 26, 2019
Ayana V. Jackson is a powerful presence to be entering Mariane Ibrahim Gallery’s new Chicago space later this month. The American artist’s portrait and movement studies deconstruct colonial ideas about the body and photography through her embodiment of lived histories, her characterisation of various identities and the consistent interweaving historic references in the process. Jackson’s captivating art speaks to not only an untold past but a reminder of a sombre history is too often forgotten, making for a powerful inaugural exhibition at the gallery’s new home in Chicago.

Grayson Perry: Super Rich Interior Decoration at Victoria Miro, London: September 25 – December 20, 2019
Grayson Perry returns to the spotlight this month for his first UK solo exhibition since 2012. With his ever-impressive anthropological eye, Perry is once again looking at our collective identities, this time with a focus on consumer choices and concepts of wealth. For his first exhibition at Victoria Miro, the artist is offering a plethora of irreverent, confronting pieces – including his notable ceramics (this time made in conjunction with photographers Richard Young, Martin Parr and Eleni Parousi) in addition to a tapestry, sculptures, a carpet and large-scale prints.

Training Humans at Fondazione Prada, Milan: September 12, 2019 – February 24, 2020
The latest exhibition at Fondazione Prada conceptualises the history and future of everyday visual portrayals using an unconventional approach to AI. Moving away from the topic of automation and delving into the challenges of artificial intelligence in ever-changing visual cultures, researchers Kate Crawford and Trevor Paglen provide a tale of how computer systems have assessed humans from the 1960s until the present day. The work on show will tackle the politics of representation and the complications behind codifying humans, compelling visitors to engage with the systems on a personal level through displaying simple yet revolutionary training images which have altered research itself. An unmissable look into our future and an urgent space to raise questions about the ethics of AI in our everyday lives.

Maurizio Cattelan at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock: September 12 – October 27, 2019
New work by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan arrives at Blenheim Palace this month, in a continuation of the 18th-century ancestral palace’s annual art exhibitions (previous years have showcased Jenny HolzerAi Weiwei and Yves Klein). Cattelan’s much-publicised piece America, a working 18-carat gold loo, will feature in the exhibition, as well as artworks created especially for the show.

The Bauhaus in Bristol at the Ken Stradling Collection, Bristol: September 14, 2019 – January 25, 2020
As 2019 marks 100 years of Bauhaus, an exhibition in Bristol looks at how one of the city’s influential furniture manufacturers, Crofton Gane, and Bauhaus founding member Marcel Breuer enjoyed a decades long collaborative friendship. The exhibition, entitled The Bauhaus in Bristol, features pieces designed by Breuer in Berlin and then created by Gane in Bristol. Looking at how the Modernist influence of the Bauhaus spread far beyond its native country of Germany, The Bauhaus in Bristol is a fascinating insight into how the British city embraced such design and architectural traits.

Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London: September 27, 2019 – January 26, 2020
Celebrating 50 years in the fashion industry, Dame Zandra Rhodes is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at the Fashion & Textile Museum in London. 100 key looks and 50 original textiles will be on show for the exhibition, demonstrating the designer’s her innovative approach to pattern and form led to her becoming one of the most important names in British fashion. Ahead of the exhibition opening, revisit Rhodes answering 50 questions for here.

The Best in Film

September has plenty of new films to keep you occupied. There are the big releases like It: Chapter Two from Andrés Muschietti, which sees the evil clown Pennywise venture back to the town of Derry to terrorise the now-adult members of the Losers Club, and James Gray’s acclaimed Ad Astra, which follows Brad Pitt on a mission through space in search of his missing father, a renegade scientist who poses a potential threat to humanity. Then there’s John Crowley’s adaptation of Donna Tartt’s beloved novel, The Goldfinch – the epic tale of Theo Decker, a young American boy who loses his mother and gains a famous painting in one afternoon, unfathomably altering the course of his life.

For the adventurous and time-rich viewer, there’s La Flor by Argentine director Mariano Llinás, a 14-hour endeavour, comprised of six sections brilliantly performed by the same four actresses. Phoenix, meanwhile, is the poignant debut from Norwegian director Camilla Strom Henriksen. When two children, growing up with a mentally ill mother, hear that their estranged father is coming to visit, Jill, the eldest, opts to cover up a recent family tragedy – with compelling, sometimes surreal results. The Farewell is the wonderfully funny and heartfelt Sundance hit from Lulu Wang, and sees a young New Yorker (Awkwafina) return to her native China to say goodbye to her dying grandmother – whom, it transpires, doesn’t know she’s dying. Lastly, there’s Shola Amoo’s spellbinding film The Last Tree, the story of a British boy of Nigerian heritage who is forced to contend with cultural differences and strange surroundings when he leaves his childhood home in rural Lincolnshire to join his mother in London. Must-see documentaries, meanwhile, include For Sama, Waad al-Kateab’s amazing portrayal of five transformative years in her own life during the Aleppo uprising; and Honeyland, the remarkable story of a woman cultivating honey in the Macedonian mountains using ancient beekeeping techniques.

The Best in Food and Drink

Bubala, London: opening September 12, 2019
Known for its vegetarian pop-up supper clubs focusing on Middle Eastern flavours, Bubala will open its first permanent site in London this month. The restaurant will be on Commercial Street, Spitalfields, and its vegetarian menu will centre on flame-grilled vegetables and unexpected flavour combinations. Following a series of sell-out supper clubs, expect Bubala to be an instant east London hit.

Sons + Daughters at Coal Drops Yard, London: September 9, 2019
Opening at Coal Drops Yard, the Kings Cross retail complex opened last year, Sons + Daughters is an all day eatery focusing on sandwiches from the team behind Hackney favourite Pidgin. The sandwich shop itself boasts a terrace on Granary Square in addition to its indoor space, and six hero sandwiches will feature on the menu alongside soft-serve ice cream and a selection of cocktails and snacks to enjoy later in the day. 

Haya, Notting Hill: opening September 10, 2019
Mediterranean sharing plates and seasonal ingredients will take centre stage at new Notting Hill opening Haya. The restaurant will be open all day, and its menu is influenced by the flavours and food culture of Tel Aviv, with a wine list also focusing on Israeli producers and a number of organic wines. The name Haya translates to ‘life’ in Hebrew, and the eaterie promises a lively yet laid-back approach to dining.

Great Performances

This month is awash with excellent new productions, and we’ve cherry-picked our favourites just for you. Don’t miss The Doctor, Robert Icke’s final play as associate director of the Almeida, which stars a breathtaking Juliet Stevenson in a gripping tale of medical ethics, identity politics, nature versus nurture, and more. At the Young Vic, meanwhile award-winning Irish playwright Marina Carr and visionary director Yaël Farber bring us their adaptation of Blood Wedding, Federico García Lorca’s most famous tragedy about a bride who flees her own wedding reception with her former lover. Then there’s a new production of Chiaroscuro by Scottish National Poet Jackie Kay, currently showing at the Bush Theatre. Directed by Lynette Linton, this electric combination of live music and spoken word is a glorious “celebration of queer women of colour across generations”. 

For the immersively minded, be sure to catch the new production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, staged by experiential theatre collective RIFT in the cavernous basements of Alexandra Palace. Dance fans, book your tickets for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at Sadlers Wells, where pioneering choreographer Rennie Harris will use his hip hop language to explore the life of the troupe’s famous African-American founder, set to an electronic soundtrack featuring Nina Simone and Alvin Ailey himself. While Cross Currents / Monotones II / New Tanowitz at The Royal Opera House sees the Royal Ballet pay tribute to legendary American dancer Merce Cunningham.