The best things to watch, eat and at the very least dream of doing this month
A new month is upon us, and with it new lockdown restrictions for a number of countries. Nevertheless, we’ve compiled our monthly list of recommendations (some of which have now been postponed) with suggestions of great things to see and do once lockdown lifts, excellent new films to watch, and cheer-inducing food to feast upon.
Francesca Woodman: New York Works at Victoria Miro, Venice: Until December 12, 2020
In 2018, Victoria Miro Venice held a wonderful exhibition of works made by the late American photographer Francesa Woodman, taken in Italy between 1977 and 1978. Its latest show is a follow-up of sorts, focusing on the work Woodman made a year later, in 1979 – this time in her New York apartment, although the influence of Italian classicism remains strong. It’s a rare opportunity to see a selection of Woodman’s pastel-hued work in colour, alongside a number of typically striking black-and-white compositions. As you would expect, the photographs are largely centred on Woodman herself – balancing precariously on a chair; climbing a door frame; posing, partially draped, her head out of shot, to resemble a caryatid – culminating in a poetic exploration of identity and self-representation.
Zanele Muholi at Tate Modern, London: TBC until March 7, 2021
Tate Modern’s latest (now sadly postponed) retrospective will centre on the esteemed South African photographer and self-described visual activist Zanele Muholi, who, since the early 00s, has devoted themself to documenting and celebrating the lives of South Africa’s Black lesbian, gay, trans, queer and intersex communities. The show will revisit key series from Muholi’s career, from Faces and Phases – a set of spellbinding portraits and accompaniying testimonies from “a community of people who are risking their lives by living authentically in the face of oppression and discrimination” – to Being, a tender, stereotype-shunning study of couples in love. It will also feature Muholi’s ongoing project Somnyama Ngonyama (meaning “Hail the Dark Lioness”), where, dressed in various guises, they turn the camera on themself to explore themes spanning labour, racism, Eurocentrism and sexual politics.
Flavie Audi, Terra (In)Firma at Nilufar Depot, Milan: Until December, 2020
In Milan, Nilufar Depot is currently hosting Italy’s first solo exhibition of the talented French-Lebanese artist Flavie Audi. The display features a new series of otherworldly tables alongside eye-catching sculptural artworks. At first glance, Audi’s iridescent pieces appear to have fallen from the sky or been mined from a crystal cave, but Audi is as much an alchemist as she is an artist, her awe-inspiring designs the result of endless material investigation (plus a total command of 3D printers and CNC machines).
Bags: Inside Out at The V&A, London: TBC
Accessory aficionados, rejoice: the V&A has conjured up what promises to be the most comprehensive UK exhibition ever dedicated to the bag, set to open its doors as soon as the lockdown restrictions are lifted. Expect to peep countless seminal designs, including the first ever Birkin bag, dreamed up by the former executive chairman of Hermès Jean-Louis Dumas when he encountered a flustered Jane Birkin on an aeroplane (he sketched it on a sickness bag, no less); to enjoy an exclusive look inside the world of the factory and atelier; and to acquire an all-round immaculate schooling on all things baggage related, “from designer handbags to despatch boxes, vanity cases to military rucksacks”.
Gideon Appah: Blue Boys Blues at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York: November 5 – December 5
Rising Ghanaian artist Gideon Appah creates ethereal paintings that evoke life in Ghana’s capital city of Accra through “mystical landscapes and dreamlike narratives”. This month, he will present his debut solo show with Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York, where he will unveil a new series of work that incorporates “fictional and unknown places and people” for the first time. Whether turning his hand to domestic scenes of figures relaxing, or protagonists performing rituals in the wild outdoors, Appah’s “abstracted and fragmented worlds” serve as an extraordinarily evocative reflection on both personal experience and his country’s national history.
Thomas Jorion, Veduta at Galerie Esther Woerdehoff, Paris: November 4 – 28, 2020
Restrictions permitting, in Paris, the French photographer Thomas Jorion will soon present a series of images from his hypnotic photo book Verduta, expanding upon his enduring interest in abandoned spaces and places. For the past ten years, Jorion has travelled all over Italy, from Lago di Maggiore to Sicily, in search of the country’s deserted palaces – incredible monuments of bygone splendour. Verduta is the result, its pages filled with haunting depictions of these elegant ruins, replete with wall-to-ceiling frescoes and magnificent architectural details. A powerful meditation on the passing of time.
M/M (Paris): From One M/Museum to Another at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris: Until January 10, 2021
Together, Mathias Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag, the two Ms behind the inimitable art and design agency M/M (Paris), have designed over 100 typefaces. This autumn, a joint exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, offers visitors an introspective look into the duo’s typographic archives, with a central focus on their series of anthropomorphic alphabets. These excellent amalgamations of people and letters started as a project for V Magazine in 2001, whereby the designers graphically transformed images of intricately posed models, taken by their frequent co-collaborators Inez and Vinoodh, into alphabetical letters. They’ve since gone on to produce four more alphabets, all of which will be on display, presented using a (rather intriguing sounding) “original modular device”. Be sure to check the website for opening restrictions.
Frank Auerbach: Selected Works, 1978-2016 at Luhring Augustine, New York: Until February 20, 2021
This weekend marked the opening of an extensive exhibition of Frank Auerbach’s brilliantly expressive paintings and drawings at Luhring Augustine, New York. The selection aims to “underscore Auerbach’s great achievements in painting in the post-war era” and spans the prolific artist’s output from the 1970s up to 2016. It ranges from Auerbach's various impressions of the landscapes surrounding his London studio near Mornington Crescent, captured in his distinct heavily impastoed style, through vivid portraits of his devoted sitters, some of whom have been modelling for the painter for over 40 years.
Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch: The Loneliness of the Soul at the Royal Academy, London: TBC – February 28, 2021
It is well known that Edvard Munch plumbed the depths of his own experiences and emotional states in the creation of his painfully poignant paintings, prints and drawings. So it is of little surprise to discover that Tracey Emin, Britain’s own purveyor of unflinchingly intimate and emotive art, has long been influenced by the Norwegian expressionist (she says she’s been in love with him since the age of 18). Soon, London’s Royal Academy will bring together a selection of 25 of Emin’s works, which explore “the loneliness of the soul” and were chosen by the artist herself, with 19 similarly searing paintings by Munch. Keep the tissues handy, this one’s sure to be a heart-wrencher.
Bon Voyage! Travelling in Contemporary Art at the Ludwig Forum, Aachen: TBC – April 11, 2020
This year, the idea of travel has, for the majority of us, felt like a far-flung dream. And it was the ensuing sense of wanderlust that inspired the Ludwig Forum in Aachen, Germany’s forthcoming exhibition Bon Voyage!: a chance to tour the globe through the lens (or paintings, installations, videos, objects, photographs and prints, to be more precise) of some 60 artists, spanning the 1970s through today. From Marina Abramović and Ulay’s record-breaking walk along the Great Wall of China, to the emotionally infused observations of artists such as Hiroyuki Masuyama and Duane Michals, to more politically motivated journeys by the likes of Julian Charrière and Francis Alÿs, the exhibition promises to shed light on the many ways in which travel has inspired some of contemporary art’s key pioneers.
Thankfully, there’s a plethora of new film releases across every genre to keep us occupied this month, and we’ve picked some of our favourites for your viewing pleasure. There are some brilliant documentaries in the pipeline, from Il Mio Corpo, Michele Pennetta’s stirring, semi-fictional portrait of a young working-class Italian boy and a Nigerian refugee as they navigate separate yet similar lives on the fringes of Sicilian society, to Idiot Prayer – Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace, a moving opportunity to watch the singular musician in action, filmed by American Honey cinematographer, Robbie Ryan in an aptly empty concert hall. Not to mention Billie, the fascinating story of journalist Linda Lipnack Kueh’s unfinished 1970s Billie Holiday biography, replete with never-before-heard interviews with the unparallelled songstress.
Luxor, Zeina Durra’s elegiac second feature, stars Andrea Riseborough as a British aid worker seeking solace on a trip to the ancient city of Luxor, where her past awaits her. Meanwhile, German director Faraz Shariat’s powerful drama No Hard Feelings tells the story of a young, hard-partying, gay man of Iranian descent, who finds himself sentenced to community service at a refugee detention centre. An unexpected romance ensues, followed by the painful realisation that Germany’s immigration laws look likely to threaten his hopes for the future.
Cinephiles, don’t miss About Endlessness, the newest offering from Roy Andersson. Once again, the Swedish master of off-beat minimalism muses “on human life in all its beauty and cruelty, its splendour and banality” to unforgettable effect. A true tear-jerker, Harry Macqueen’s Supernova sees Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth star as a novelist and musician couple, who decide to embark on an emotional road trip when one of them is diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Meanwhile, Henry Blake’s County Lines is a striking coming-of-age drama about a young teen groomed into joining a nation-wide drug-selling enterprise that exploits vulnerable youth. For lighter viewing, don’t miss Clea DuVall’s festive rom-com Happiest Season, which sees Mackenzie Davis and Kristen Stewart take centre stage in the tale of a young woman whose plan to propose to her girlfriend at a family party is scuppered by her discovery that her partner is yet to come out to her conservative parents.
Food and Drink
Just because restaurants are shuttered for the time being, there’s still a lot of delicious food to be eaten. ASAP Pizza has just returned to Flor in Borough Market, and will be offering takeaways and deliveries from next weekend. Toppings will range from firm favourites to new seasonal combinations, delivered on delectable handmade doughs that reflect head chef Pamela Yung’s passion for heritage British wheats. Barbecue fans can still get their fill as the evenings grow ever colder and shorter, courtesy of famously tasty London grill Smokestak, whose new delivery and takeaway service, and special at-home DIY boxes have arrived just in time for lockdown. Lastly, if you’re looking for mind-blowingly good comfort food, family-run pasta business Nonna Tonda delivers weekly boxes of freshly handmade pasta of all varieties and an accompanying sauce, which can be cooked (and consumed) in five minutes flat. Enjoy!