Brilliant Things to Do This October

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Judy Chicago, Immolation, 1972© Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, courtesy of the artist

From remarkable retrospectives to galvanising group shows, here’s our roundup of this month’s most enticing cultural, cinematic and culinary offerings


Judy Chicago: Herstory, at the New Museum, New York: October 12, 2023 – January 14, 2024
Fans of Judy Chicago will be thrilled by the New Museum’s major new retrospective of the artist’s work, which spans painting, sculpture, installation, drawing, textiles, photography, stained glass, needlework, and printmaking. The exhibition will track Chicago’s 60-year career, beginning with her early minimalist experiments, through her iconic feminist works of the 1970s, and her later narrative investigations into “environmental disaster, birth and creation, masculinity, and mortality”. While another section will place Chicago’s work in dialogue with that of more than 80 other women artists, writers and thinkers, including Frida Kahlo, Hilma af Klint and Virginia Woolf. Aptly titled Herstory, the survey aims to “showcase Chicago’s tremendous impact on American art [and] her critical role as a cultural historian claiming space for women artists previously omitted from the canon”.

Real Families: Stories of Change at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge: October 6, 2023 – January 7, 2024
Grouping more than 120 artworks in a wide range of media, an upcoming show at Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum will soon place the notion of family under the spotlight. Pieces by contemporary artists including Chantal Joffe, Tracey Emin and Sunil Gupta will sit alongside those of 20th-century pioneers such as Donald Rodney, Alice Neel and Paula Rego, while the likes of Nicolas Poussin and Albrecht Dürer represent the old vanguard who turned to familial matters in their work. The exhibition’s hope is to challenge traditional notions of family and family dynamics, with the aim of revealing “that what matters most is not the make-up of the family but the quality of family relationships and the social world in which the family exists”.

RE/SISTERS: A Lens on Gender and Ecology at the Barbican, London: October 5, 2023 – January 14, 2024
At the Barbican, a soon-to-open exhibition will explore the link between the oppression of women and the degradation of the planet, using the work of around 50 international women and gender non-conforming artists across the fields of photography and film. The display’s chosen pieces, by artists including Ana Mendieta, Francesca Woodman, Laura Aguilar, Poulomi Basu and LaToya Ruby Frazier, will illuminate “how women’s understanding of our environment has often resisted the logic of capitalist economies which places the exploitation of the planet at its centre”. And, equally, “how women are regularly at the forefront of advocating and caring for the planet” through activism enacted through, and outside of, their artistic practice.

Nam June Paik: The Miami Years at The Bass, Miami: October 4, 2023 – August 16, 2024
The late father of video art, Nam June Paik, is the focus of a new show soon arriving at The Bass in Miami, Florida, which will zoom in on the Korean-American artist’s connection to Miami Beach and the surrounding South Florida community. Among other notable works, the exhibition will platform two sculptural installations, Wing and Miami, commissioned in the 1980s for display at Miami International Airport. In both works, viewers are “presented [with] a mesmerising flow of iconic images of South Florida interspersed with recognisable glimpses from around the world” – a complete immersion in Paik’s “unique form of ‘electronic painting’”, as well as his perception of the place he called home prior to his death in 2006.

Spike Lee: Creative Sources at the Brooklyn Museum, New York: October 7, 2023–February 4, 2024
Spike Lee was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, making the borough’s eponymous art museum the perfect spot for a survey of the revered US filmmaker’s key inspirations. Opening October 7, the immersive show will feature objects drawn from Lee’s personal collection, elucidating the many references that have influenced his beloved movies, from Do The Right Thing and Clockers to Malcolm X and BlacKkKlansman. Encompassing Black history and culture, Brooklyn, sports, music, cinema history, and family, the curation will investigate the throughlines of Lee’s life and oeuvre (think: artworks by prominent Black American artists, instruments once owned by legendary musicians, sports and movie memorabilia, and more).

Radical Landscapes: Art Inspired by the Land at William Morris Gallery, London: October 21, 2023 – February 18, 2024
For those who missed Tate Liverpool’s brilliant 2022 exhibition Radical Landscapes – a contemplation of the natural world as a space for artistic inspiration, social connection [and] protest” – now’s your chance to see it in London. Arriving at the William Morris Gallery on October 21 (Morris was one of Britain’s most important early environmental thinkers), it will bring together works by more than 60 land-loving artists, spanning two centuries: from JMW Turner and Claude Cahun to Derek Jarman and Jeremy Deller. By tapping into ideas of “freedom, exploitation and trespass”, the featured pieces will allow viewers to discover “how British landscapes have been read, accessed and used across social, class and racial lines” over time while reflecting today’s global climate emergency.

Marisol: A Retrospective at Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Montreal: October 7, 2023 – January 1, 2024
In Montreal, an upcoming retrospective will pay tribute to Marisol, the Venezuelan-American sculptor best known for her life-sized totemic figures, made from wood plus drawing, painting and found objects. Marisol rose to fame in 1960s New York, where she was a prominent figure on the city’s art scene, befriending Andy Warhol and featuring in a number of his films. Alongside her canonical sculptures from the 60s and 70s, this survey will include examples of the artist’s source materials, sketches, studies, and personal photographs. A decidedly important creator – she represented Venezuela at the 1968 Venice Biennale and was one of only four women among the 149 artists selected to show at Documenta that same year – Marisol’s groundbreaking output is not as well-known as it should be, something this touring exhibit looks set to rectify.

Meeting at the Volta (Sanlé Sory and Kyle Weeks) at David Hill Gallery, London: September 29 – November 25, 2023
Sanlé Sory and Kyle Weeks, two brilliant African photographers born 50 years apart, are being brought together in a celebratory new show at London’s David Hill Gallery. Titled Meeting at the Volta – a reference to the river that flows through both Burkina Faso (Sory’s stomping ground) and Ghana (where Weeks lives and works) – the exhibition will demonstrate that it’s not just this water source that connects the two image-makers, but also their shared talent in capturing “the energy and urgency of West African youth” in the 20th and 21st centuries respectively.

Mood of the Moment: Gaby Aghion and the House of Chloé at the Jewish Museum, New York: October 13, 2023 – February 18, 2024
Launched in Paris in 1952 by Gabrielle Aghion, Chloé became the go-to fashion house for women seeking free-flowing yet breathtakingly refined garments that liberated them from the “restrictive attitudes and styles” of the time. Over the decades, it has upheld its reputation for easy elegance, with designers from Stella McCartney to Phoebe Philo to Clare Waight Keller taking up Aghion’s mantle. Now, an extensive exhibition at New York’s Jewish Museum will frame Aghion as a pioneer of effortlessly chic fashion and luxury ready-to-wear, while examining the ways in which the work of her successors paid homage to her original vision in unique ways. Expect to see nearly 150 garments up close as well as never-before-exhibited sketches and documents from the Chloé archive.

Thomas Hoepker: All Around the World at Galerie Buchkunst, Berlin: Until January 13, 2024
Those in Berlin, don’t miss Galerie Buchkunst’s new display of hitherto unpublished early works by the celebrated photojournalist and Magnum photographer Thomas Hoepker. Taken in Rio, Hong Kong, New York, Naples and Paris from 1959 onwards, and captured on Kodachrome and Ektachrome slide film as well as in black-and-white, the works demonstrate Hoepker’s mastery of multi-layered composition, his empathetic gaze, and the ways in which – right from the start of his career and long before colour photography was accepted as a serious discipline – he used colour to further the narrative potential of his subtle yet powerful works.

General Idea at Gropius Bau, Berlin: Until January 14, 2023
Also in Berlin, at Gropius Bau, a recently opened survey pays homage to the radical artist collective General Idea. The group was founded in Toronto in 1969 by Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal, and AA Bronson, the latter of whom worked in close collaboration with the show’s curators to bring it to life. General Idea devoted themselves to interrogating “the production, circulation and consumption of images through a broad variety of media,” addressing subjects such as consumer culture, mass media, social inequalities, queer identity, the art economy and the Aids crisis – often with a tongue-in-cheek satirical bent. The show collates installations, publications, videos, drawings, paintings, sculptures and archival material to offer a stirring overview of the trio’s artistic evolution.

Meredith Monk: Calling at Oude Kerk, Amsterdam: October 21, 2023 – March 17, 2024
“In a world that is so fragmented and full of sorrow, I want to create work that affirms life and our sense of connection to each other and all living beings.” So said the inimitable American artist Meredith Monk, who, for more than six decades, has explored the potential of the human voice through extraordinary music, stage productions and film. Now, an upcoming show in Amsterdam, co-presented by Hartwig Art Foundation and Oude Kerk, marks the first major European exhibition dedicated to Monk and her ongoing creative accomplishments. Dubbed Calling, the show will present a plethora of key works from across Monk’s career, displayed as “multi-sensorial installations” that echo the cross-disciplinary way in which the artist has always worked, pushing at the frontiers of music, performance and visual art along the way.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, at the Hayward Gallery, London: October 11, 2023 – January 7, 2024

This October, London’s Hayward Gallery will present the largest survey of Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto’s work to date. From his uncanny black-and-white portraits of well-known figures like Princess Diana and Salvador Dalí – albeit, their wax models from Madame Tussauds – to his awe-inspiring photographs of natural history dioramas, the new exhibition proves Sugimoto’s status as a “brilliant visual poet of paradox, a polymath postmodern who embraces meticulous old school craftsmanship to produce exquisite, uncanny pictures that reference science and maths as well as abstract art and Renaissance portraits,” says the Hayward’s director Ralph Rugoff. 

Performances & Events

Roll up for this month’s live performance recommendations, starting with the Marina Abramović Institute Takeover at London’s Southbank Centre. From October 4-8, the entirety of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, including its backstage areas, will become the stage for a series of enthralling durational performances from artists including Collective Absentia, Miles Greenberg, Carlos Martiel, Yiannis Pappas and the ever-engaging Serbian artist herself.

In 2022, a stage adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting sequel Porno took Edinburgh Fringe by storm. Now, it’s arriving for a West End run at the Arts Theatre from October 29 to December 10. Join Renton, Sickboy, Begbie and Spud 15 years after their initial misadventures in a play that promises to shock, disturb and amuse in equal measure. Meanwhile another legend makes a return to the stage this month: Kenneth Branagh in a new West End production of King Lear at Wyndham’s Theatre from October 21. Branagh will, of course, take on the role of Shakespeare’s tragic monarch, whose decision to divide his kingdom between his daughters proves fateful.

Two great festivals land in the UK this month. Doc’n Roll, the country’s only music film festival, is back with a fantastic lineup, from Mutiny in Heaven, the first authorised film about Nick Cave’s seminal band, The Birthday Party to insightful explorations of the work of TLC (TLC Forever) Cyndi Lauper (Let the Canary Sing), Pavement (Louder Than You Think), The Zombies (Hung Up on a Dream) and more. Then there’s the Cheltenham Literature Festival, taking place from October 6-15 and featuring an inspiring array of guests including Zadie Smith, Brian Cox, Richard E Grant and Yomi Adegoke.

At Berlin’s Gropius Bau, British-born Nigerian writer and artist Michael Salu will offer up a response to the work of artist and film scholar Pallavi Paul, the museum’s current artist in residence, on October 14. The Love of Djinns will see Salu draw from his latest book, Red Earth, in a one-off performance set to “coalesce sound, words, image and space into a multi-sensual choreography on selfhood, grief and loss meshing towards nonhuman perspectives”. Last but not least, be sure to catch Aditi Mangaldas: Forbidden at Sadler’s Wells from October 13-14, a blistering solo work by the Kathak dancer and choreographer that asks the eternal, urgent question: why is the world so scared of female desire?


There are cinematic offerings to satisfy everyone this October, beginning with BlackBerry, Canadian director Matt Johnson’s darkly comic take on the meteoric rise and spectacular fall of the Canadian tech company “that revolutionised the way we communicate”.  British director Adam Deacon (of Kidulthood, Adulthood et al) is back with Sumotherhood, an “urban action-comedy” in which two friends decide to rob a megastar in a nightclub toilet, before holding up a local bank. Needless to say, trouble ensues. Martin Scorsese also makes a much-anticipated return with Killers Of The Flower Moon, based on the best-selling book by journalist David Grann, chronicling the serial murders of members of the Osage Native American tribe in Oklahoma and the subsequent FBI investigation. Scorsese’s retelling offers a masterful, slow-burning look at a chilling and brutal chapter in US history.

Our River … Our Sky, the striking new film from Iraq-born director Maysoon Pachachi, is set in Baghdad in 2006, against the backdrop of extreme sectarian violence. It explores a small community’s search for hope and some semblance of normality, as seen through the lens of a single mother and novelist. While Basque filmmaker Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren’s debut feature 20,000 Species Of Bees finds a mother and her eight-year-old child undergoing individual crises of identity in a sensitive and moving family drama set over the course of a Spanish summer. British director Carol Morley is back with Typist Artist Pirate King, a warm and poignant biopic homing in on the life and art of Audrey Amiss, a UK artist and Royal Academy student whose career was severely hampered by a mental breakdown.

For this month’s most arresting documentaries, meanwhile, be sure to see Ghosts Of The Chelsea Hotel (and Other Rock & Roll Stories), Danny Garcia’s investigation into the “rich history, cultural significance and otherworldly occurrences” of the iconic Chelsea Hotel in New York City. 20 Days in Mariupol by Mstyslav Chernov follows a team of determined Ukrainian journalists trapped in Mariupol at the start of the Russian invasion, offering up an urgent portrait of a city under siege, while spotlighting the extraordinary courage of the Ukrainian people. Finally, there’s Madeleine Gavin’s astonishing and suspenseful Beyond Utopia, which uses hidden footage to follow the last-known defectors from North Korea in their attempt to flee the country’s stiflingly oppressive regime.

Food & Drink

If you’re looking for destinations to dine exquisitely in style this month, look no further. First up, for those attending this year’s Frieze and Frieze Masters, head straight for Ham Yard, which returns to Regent’s Park for a special pop-up at Masters to coincide with the art fair’s 20th anniversary. The menu will celebrate the flavours of autumn, with dishes set to include celeriac tartare with hazelnut and black truffle, and burrata with pomegranate, delica pumpkin and bitter leaves, while the interior will mirror that of the restaurant’s chic West End OG.

Benares, the renowned Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in Mayfair, is currently offering guests the chance to enjoy a special tasting menu in honour of its 20th anniversary. Running until November 12, the eight-course feast pays homage to the restaurant’s ongoing innovation, revisiting a number of its signature dishes from across the years. Highlights include king crab and egg masala, Tawa halibut and clam moilee, chicken tikka pie, and lamb chop biryani with Indian staples, while green chilli sorbet rounds things off. An equally tasty-sounding vegetarian option is also available.

Also in Mayfair, Sri Lankan-born chef Larry Jayasekara and Hamiltons Gallery owner Tim Jefferies will soon open The Cocochine in a former mews house at 27 Bruton Place. The Cocochine kitchen will be stocked with fresh fruit, vegetables, seasonal flowers, fish and livestock, sourced from the finest fishermen and artisan producers, while the menu will draw on Jayasekara’s classical training and abundant travels. From a carrot and reindeer heart canapé and quince-vinegar tart, to marinated miso cauliflower and a deconstructed Snickers dessert, expect a menu brimming with imagination and flavour.

Fans of French fare, rejoice. Café Lapérouse, the beloved Parisian eatery, will open a London outpost this month at The OWO in Whitehall. Sample such delights as creme brulée from the great Augustins, scones with cream and homemade jams, and the Croque Monsieur Lapérouse, if attending for a daytime refresher. For those indulging in lunch or dinner, meanwhile, plates will range from Burgundy snails in the shell with parsley butter to “Lapérouse” beef tartare with fries, and sole with meunière butter and capers, and mashed potatoes.

If you’re looking for sumptuous seafood, then Azzurra, the newly opened Italian restaurant on Sloane Street might just be the place. Inspired by restaurateur David Yeo’s forays in Sicily and along the Amalfi Coast, Azzurra promises to “champion the best of British seafood sourced sustainably from the British Isles, prepared with Italian elegance and simplicity.” A dedicated “raw bar” will serve the likes of Scottish langoustine tartare with Amalfi lemon oil and smoked Anglesey salt, while main dishes include salt-baked sea bass with salmoriglio sauce and Milanese-style skate served with wild rocket, rosemary and lemon.

Finally, if you find yourself in east London, go check out chef Abby Lee’s new Lower Clapton location for her much-loved Malaysian concept restaurant Mambow. Centred around an open kitchen, the new, larger space will provide Lee the freedom to showcase a wider menu of her playful, modern takes on her family’s own recipes. These span black pepper curry, with chicken thigh and Sarawak peppercorns through her delicious lor bak (five-spice pork rolls), all of which have won over countless diners in search of exciting and abundantly flavourful south-east Asian cuisine. Enjoy!