Brilliant Ways to Pass Time This February

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In the Mood for Love, 2000
In the Mood for Love, 2000(Film still)

Let our monthly round-up of exhibitions, events, food and films transport you to far-flung destinations from the comfort of your home


Mars: The Red Mirror at Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona: February 25 – July 11, 2021
Mars has long been a point of fascination for human beings, whether capturing the imaginations of sci-fi writers or garnering interest among scientists as a hypothetical planet B for mankind. Now, a new exhibition in Barcelona contemplates the Red Planet in all its glory, traversing the realms of science, art and literature for the purpose, from antiquity to the present day. The display will unite some 400 objects – spanning incunabula, sculptures, drawings, comics, films and a Martian meteorite – and is aptly timed to coincide with the arrival of three space missions on the planet.

Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America at The New Museum, New York: February 17 – June 6, 2021
At New York’s New Museum, a forthcoming show, originally conceived by the late curator Okwui Enwezor, brings together 37 intergenerational artists “who have addressed the concept of mourning, commemoration, and loss as a direct response to the national emergency of racist violence experienced by Black communities across America”. The works on display span a diverse range of media, with featured artists including photographer Deana Lawson, painter Kerry James Marshall, video artist Arthur Jafa, and performance artist Okwui Okpokwasili. In line with Enwezor’s vision, each piece serves to “illustrate the idea that mourning is a practice that permeates the social, economic, and emotional realities of Black life in America”.

Hyper Functional, Ultra Healthy by Somerset House Studios, Online: February 2 – March 2, 2021
For those of us still grounded at home, glued to our screens for work and play, a new digital series from Somerset House Studios asks a pertinent question: “How might we collectively (re)engage with ourselves, one another, and an ailing planet’s health in this time of crisis?” It includes online workshops – from a guided introduction to Kemetic yoga by artist Tabita Rezaire to an embroidery masterclass by artist Rebecca Jagoe – as well as lectures, film screenings and podcasts reflecting on everything from the climate crisis to the effects of technology on our mental health.

Orita Meta – Crossroads at Rele Gallery, LA: From February 1, 2021
This month, Nigeria’s renowned art space Rele Gallery in Lagos will open its first international venue in Los Angeles. The gallery’s inaugural group exhibition, Orita Meta – Crossroads, centres on the work of three contemporary Nigerian artists, Marcellina Akpojotor, Tonia Nneji and Chidinma Nnoli, who “collectively explore the intersecting dialogues between gender, femininity and a desire for self-authorship against the hegemonic forces at play in both Nigerian and international society” in their paintings.

Hito Steyerl. I Will Survive at Centre Pompidou, Paris: February 3 – June 7, 2021
In Paris, Hito Steyerl. I Will Survive shines a light on the celebrated German artist, whose work – spanning writing, films, and performative lectures – considers the role of the image within our global, digital, networked life. First presented at the K21 Düsseldorf last year, the exhibition presents a cross-section of Steyerl’s major works, from her searing breakout piece How not to be seen (2013), examining “the politics of visibility... in the digital age”, through Factory of the Sun, which premiered at the Venice Biennale in 2015, and investigates the pleasures and perils of contemporary image circulation.

Gilbert & George: The Great Exhibition, The Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt: February 12 – May 16, 2021
Meanwhile, Gilbert & George: The Great Exhibition will arrive (pandemic restrictions permitting) at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt on February 12, fresh from its debut at the Reykjavík Art Museum. The extensive exhibition, curated by Daniel Birnbaum and Hans Ulrich Obrist, is an out-and-out celebration of the seminal duo, and the many boundaries they’ve busted in their five-decade career. “[It] is packed from floor to ceiling with pictures that are grotesque and terse, surrealistic and symbolic, but consistently within the strict grid that is emblematic of the duo,“ read the press notes. “Sex, money, race, and religion are among the subjects of their art, which succeeds in combining happiness and sadness, beauty and meaning.“

A Fire in My Belly at Julia Stoschek, Berlin: February 6 – December 12, 2021
At Berlin’s Julia Stoschek Collection, an upcoming exhibit will examine “the ways in which experiences of violence and loss are enacted, witnessed, and transformed“ through the work of more than 30 artists, across various generations and backgrounds. The show takes its title from the unfinished film by American artist and activist David Wojnarowicz, documenting acts of aggression on the streets of Mexico City. The film will feature alongside pieces by the likes of Bernadette Corporation, Tracey Emin, Anne Imhof, Ana Mendieta, Adrian Piper and Laure Prouvost, mindfully curated so as to “alternate between moments of tension, poetry, and release.“

Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America, MoMA, New York: February 20 – May 31, 2021
A vital new exhibition at MoMA investigates how the legacy of racism has manifested itself in US cities and their architecture. “These injustices are embedded in nearly every aspect of America’s design,“ explains the accompanying text, “an inheritance of segregated neighbourhoods, compromised infrastructures, environmental toxins, and unequal access to financial and educational institutions.“ The display also tackles how these issues could be addressed, via ten newly commissioned pieces by architects, designers and artists. Including offerings from Emanuel Admassu, Germane Barnes, Felecia Davis and Olalekan Jeyifous, these multifarious works “explore ways in which histories can be made visible and equity can be built“, offering hope for a new chapter in America’s history.

Chuck Kelton, The Alchemy of Landscape at Galerie Miranda, Paris: February 11 – April 10, 2021
American image-maker Chuck Kelton transforms light into mesmerising, abstract landscapes using darkroom processes he mastered during his career as a printer for photography icons such as Ansel Adams, Saul Leiter and Mary Ellen Mark. The resulting chemograms and photograms are poetic and mystifying in equal measure, evoking clouds, mountainscapes and moonlit skies. Now, readers in Paris can view a selection of Kelton’s works, courtesy of a new solo show at Galerie Miranda in the tenth arrondissement.

Anemoia: A Nostalgia for a Time I Never Knew by Hundred + Heroines, Online: February 1 – 28, 2021
A transportative new exhibition arrives online today, spotlighting the work of seven pioneering women photographers – and offering an incredible record of 20th-century Asia, Europe, and North America in the process. Organised by Hundred + Heroines, a charitable organisation that “promotes women photographers in all its diversity across the world“, the digital display features the awe-inspiring architectural photographs of Berenice Abbott; wonderfully evocative street photographs from Esther Bubley, Fanny Foster, Gerti Deutsch and Edith Tudor Hart; the beautiful portraiture of Nancy Sheung, and striking imagery by India’s first woman photojournalist, Homai Vyarawalla.

Nazgol Ansarinia, Pools and Voids at Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan: February 4 – April 24, 2021
“I am fascinated with the ordinary and its relationship to its larger context and hope to draw attention to the unobserved aspects of our daily lives so that they may not be taken for granted,” explained Iranian artist Nazgol Ansarinia of her unique, multidisciplinary practice. In her latest solo exhibition, at Galleria Raffaella Cortese in Milan, she centres on the many empty private swimming pools that punctuate her native Tehran. These were the result of a 1960s urbanisation plan for the capital – based on that of North American cities – and were left empty when the Iranian Revolution occured in 1979. Works on display include a series of miniature sculptural replicas of some of these haunting blue voids, and a film documenting the deterioration of one pool’s surface.


This month, ICA’s online platform Cinema 3 and BFI Player will present a complete retrospective of the great Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai (to be followed by an IRL season at both London venues once lockdown restrictions ease). Lose yourself in the auteur’s singular, beautifully rendered world, courtesy of his powerful debut As Tears Go By (1988), his offbeat love story Chungking Express (1994) or his seminal romantic drama In the Mood For Love (2000) – plus many more. Meanwhile, for American fans of Japanese cinema, 21st Century Japan: Films from 2001-2020 arrives on Japan Society’s virtual cinema this February, in an event co-organised by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, spotlighting some of the most remarkable Japanese features and filmmakers of the last 20 years. This will include offerings by acclaimed favourites Hirokazu Kore-eda, Naomi Kawase and Takashi Miike; the US premieres of Red Post on Escher Street by cult director Sion Sono and female-driven romantic drama Shape of Red by Yukiko Mishima, and a selection of brilliant breakouts by up-and-coming filmmakers.

In terms of February’s new releases, don’t miss Judas And The Black Messiah from Shaka King, the gripping true story of William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), an FBI informant who infiltrated the Illinois Black Panther Party in the late 60s to report back on the undertakings of its charismatic leader, Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). Then there’s Simple Passion, a compelling new movie from French director Danielle Arbid, starring Laetitia Dosch as a mother who begins an obsessive romance with a Russian diplomat. SLALOM is another great French drama from writer-director Charlène Favier, following a 15-year-old girl on her gruelling quest to become a professional skiing star.

On Netflix, John David Washington stars opposite Zendaya in Malcolm & Marie, the latest offering from Euphoria’s Sam Levinson. Shot in black and white, it follows a filmmaker and his girlfriend as they engage in an eventful discussion about past relationships while making their way home from a movie premiere. Documentary aficionados, head over to Mubi to watch Cenote by Japanese filmmaker Kaori Oda, exploring the history of cenotes (underwater caves) and their role in ancient Mayan rituals. And be sure to catch IWOW: I walk on Water, the monumental film diary from New York artist and photographer Khalik Allah, shot in the streets of Harlem after dark.

Food and Drink

Whether you’re looking to rustle up something special for yourself and your loved ones for Valentine’s Day or simply wish to broaden your culinary horizons while in lockdown, a whole host of new home-delivery offerings from some of the UK’s best restaurants are here to help. 

Renowned fresh pasta restaurant, Padella will be offering a special three-course menu for two this Valentine’s Day. So if burrata with crispy rosemary and caper dressing, taglliarini with Dorset crab, chilli and Amalfi lemon, and a salted chocolate pot tantalises your tastebuds, then get ordering. If delicious Sri Lankan fare is more your thing, why not try the new Valentine’s Day box from Kolamba? The box includes Banana blossom pattis followed by a Chicken string hopper biriyani, with side offerings of cashew and pea curry, pineapple curry, Malay pickle and cucumber and yoghurt raita. While chocolate biscuit pudding and pink prosecco round off the feast. If you’d like to kickstart the romance with a little help from Yotam Ottolenghi, meanwhile, then the Valentine’s Shakshuka brunch kit is just what you need. It comes with everything required to make the chef’s beloved dish, along with chocolate heart tea cakes and optional champagne.

For non-Valentine’s related dining, Japanese udon specialists Koya are set to launch their Omiyage Box on February 15, delivering their fresh noodles and dashi to homes across the UK. Each box comes with an exclusive recipe card from Koya’s head chef and co-owner Shuko Oda, and provides two generous servings for a speedy and scrumptious dinner.

On February 5, Petersham Nurseries Café in Richmond will launch its seasonal dinner boxes, delighting food fanatics nationwide. The four-course February box begins with a starter of fresh tagliatelle with tema artichoke sauce, anchovy, chilli and garlic pangrattato before the main event – a choice of Haye Farm porchetta, rolled with winter garden herbs, or delica pumpkin, chard and goat’s cheese pithivier. A delectable array of sides, steamed date pudding and Winslade cheese course finish off the proceedings in style.

Beloved steak restaurant Gaucho is now delivering Gaucho at Home boxes across the UK, featuring an exciting selection of “finish at home“ experiences. This includes the Gaucho Pie Box, with a choice of three pies – beef and Malbec, chicken and chorizo or burrata and spinach – and the Beef Wellington Box. Both of these come with starters of cured salmon, beetroot tartare, pickled cucumber and horseradish cream or spiced butternut squash soup, and an Argentinian chocolate torte for dessert.

Last but not least, this month marks the opening of The Old Pharmacy, a new wine bar and épicerie in the heart of Bruton, Somerset. It is the braincild of Merlin Labron-Johnson, the man behind farm-to-table, Michelin starred restaurant Osip. “Named after the 16th-century building in which it’s housed and inspired by the épiceries of rural France, the Old Pharmacy will be open all day, whether you’re stopping in for a coffee in the morning, picking up provisions to take away, or staying into the evening for wine, cider and small plates,“ the press release reads. Bring on the end of lockdown – and, in the meantime, bon appetit.