Brilliant Things To Do in May

Pin It
© Polly Penrose

Presenting the AnOther-curated round-up of the very best that May's cultural calendar has to offer

Polly Penrose: 10 Seconds at Hoxton Gallery, London, May 5-8
How elaborate a pose can you construct in the ten seconds between pressing a camera’s shutter and the split-second when the photograph takes? This is the operative question in 10 Seconds, an exhibition comprising four series of work by Tim Walker protégé Polly Penrose, whose oeuvre is on display in a slew of London exhibitions this spring, including in this pop-up one at London’s Hoxton Gallery. Responding to space she finds herself in, Penrose’s nude self-portraits are as striking as they are atypical, portraying the photographer suspended from a TV stand in an empty bedroom, or perched awkwardly in an archway.

Wolfgang Suschitzky, at Ingrid Deuss Gallery, Antwerp: May 12 - June 25
This month, Ingrid Deuss Gallery in Antwerp will celebrate the extraordinary life and work of 103-year-old Austrian photographer Wolfgang Suschitzky. Best known for his documentary photographs of London’s West End in the 30s and 40s – as a Jew, he was forced to flee his homeland to escape the Nazis, and relocated to the capital in 1935 – his 70-year career has spawned hundreds of images of myriad subjects from across the globe, all linked by a distinct integrity and compassion.

Yayoi Kusama, Victoria Miro in London: May 25 – July 30
A welcome chance to re-immerse yourself in the colourful world of Yayoi Kusama, a new exhibition of the iconic Japanese artist's work opens at Victoria Miro Mayfair later this month. Featuring new takes on Kusama’s signature pumpkin sculptures and mirror rooms (each created specially for the show), the display will also spotlight fresh paintings from the artist’s important ongoing series My Eternal Soul, extremely vibrant works that brim with eyes, faces and other less distinguishable forms, and emit joyful abandon.

Frieze New York: New York City: From May 5-8
In NYC this week? Don’t miss the city’s annual instalment of Frieze New York, which takes place at Randall’s Island Park from May 5-8. In addition to 160 of the world’s leading art galleries, all of whom will be showcasing their wares for the fair’s duration, a diverse program of talks, events and special projects, including exchanges between the likes of Dan Fox and Mark Leckey, and Paola Antonelli and Stephanie Hankey, among others.

Photo London at Somerset House, London: May 19-22
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Photo London returns after its remarkably successful debut last year to an even greater schedule of talks, events and an incredibly broad range of exhibiting galleries. Not only will this year’s instalment of the photography fair take place largely in a new temporary structure in Somerset House, but it will also be accompanied by a number of independent events springing up all over the city – from Amsterdam gallery Foam’s Talent exhibition, championing new and emerging photographers at Beaconsfield in Oval, to Offprint publishing fair in Tate Modern’s sprawling Turbine Hall. Miss it at your peril.

Bernard Frize: Dawn Comes Up So Young at Galerie Perrotin, New York: May 3 until June 18
Galerie Perrotin’s new exhibition Dawn Comes Up So Young offers an unmissable experience to admire French painter Bernard Frize’s vivid, colourful works in real life this month – his huge canvases, dripping with colour, demanding much more attention than five minutes in front of a screen allow.

A Few Good Things: New Designs from Norway at WantedDesign, New York: May 13-16
“We all have too much stuff!” the curator behind A Few Good Things, an exhibition showcasing the very best in Norwegian design, cries, in a well-intentioned plea to buy less, and to buy it wisely. A selection of work by ten emerging and established product designers from Norway proves this a wise piece of advice: a few timeless, necessary pieces are far preferable to many quick-to-date ones. The collection will be on display as part of WantedDesign, a New York-based platform dedicated to fostering young design talent, and makes for an aesthetically pleasing and distinctly Scandinavian call for restraint.

Simon Mullan, Die Fläche at PM/AM, London: From April 29 until May 30
With outerwear the subject of much speculation on the A/W16 catwalks – Demna Gvasalia's puffer jackets sparked many a conversation at both Vetements and Balenciaga, for starters – emerging artist Simon Mullan’s new exhibition considering the political and socio-cultural resonance of the flight jacket is particularly timely. Entitled Die Fläche, or ‘the Surface’, the show places the ongoing Alpha Series alongside a collection of ceramic, textile, sculpture and video works, asking poignant questions on subculture.

The Very Best in Food and Drink
For those Aesop aficionados so taken with the brand that simply buying its hair, skin and beauty goods won’t suffice, its Richmond store is now hosting a monthly pop-up restaurant in collaboration with Soho restaurant Ducksoup, the next of which will take place on May 19 – a fabulous opportunity to stock up while tasting some of the establishment’s characteristic seasonal dishes. Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, husband and wife duo Sam and Sam Clark open their third London restaurant this May, in the form of Morito on Hackney Road – a new branch of its older sister establishment Moro, and neighbouring Morito, in Clerkenwell – serving Spanish, Moroccan, Turkish and Greek-influenced dishes.

Cally Spooner: On False Tears and Outsourcing, at the New Museum, New York: April 27 – June 19
DKNY partners with the New Museum this spring to present an installation of work by performance artist Cally Spooner. On False Tears and Outsourcing takes inspiration from contact sports, management strategies and on-screen romance, resulting in a piece of choreography which is utterly beguiling.

The Best of Film
Acclaimed Spanish-Argentine comedy-drama Truman hits UK cinemas this month telling the tale of childhood friends Julián and Tomás who find themselves reunited in Madrid, after years spent apart. Confronted by an impending tragedy, they spend a magical four days in each other’s company (and that of Truman, Julián’s dog) in what is a truly life-affirming study of friendship. Philomena director Stephen Frears returns with another brilliant biopic, Florence Foster Jenkins, which sees Meryl Streep assume the title role of an ageing New York heiress hell-bent on pursuing a career as an opera singer in spite of her less-than-impressive voice. Then there’s Mustang, the extraordinarily accomplished offering from Turkish director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, which follows five young sisters as they struggle to forge their own identities in the face of their orthodox family’s increasingly oppressive bid to render them “marriage material”. Beautifully shot, and impeccably acted and directed, this sun-drenched drama is a cult classic in the making.

For those in search of exhilarating, and extremely original thrills, the terrifying and twist-filled Green Room presents a captivating Patrick Stewart as diabolical club owner, Darcy, who takes on an unsuspecting but surprisingly resilient young punk band. Meanwhile, Richard Linklater is back with Everybody Wants Some!!, the story of ambitious college baseball team in 1980s America, which proves just as funny and thought-provoking as we’ve come to expect from the man who brought us Before Sunrise and Boyhood. For fans of the classics, this month also marks the re-release of two much-loved favourites – Ivan's Childhood (Andrei Tarkovsky’s remarkable debut, telling the tale of a Russian boy placed in a Nazi camp) and Franco Zeffirelli’s seminal British-Italian rendition of Romeo and Juliet.

Massimo Vitali at the Ronchini Gallery, London: May 20 – June 18
Contemporary photographer Massimo Vitali’s sun-drenched beach shots are an escapist’s dream, transforming London’s Ronchini Gallery into a tropical paradise within four walls this May. The colourful, large-scale works transform even the most withdrawn of viewers into an enthusiastic voyeur, and will have you anxiously plotting an escape from the city in no time at all.

Great Performances
One for the lovers, May sees the English National Opera take on Anthony Minghella’s award-winning production of Puccini masterpiece Madam Butterfly, boasting a dreamy combination of cinematic images, traditional Japanese theatre, and suitably sumptuous costumes, which serve as the perfect backdrop to the famous tale of unrequited love. Don’t miss People, Places, Things in its West End transfer from the National theatre. Written by Duncan MacMillan, directed by Jeremy Herrin and starring an impeccable Denise Gough, it is a stirring tale of addiction and the struggles of recovery. It's your last chance to catch The Maids, which sees acclaimed British director Jamie Lloyd take on French dramatist Jean Genet's tense psychological thriller about two maids and their dark fantasies of killing their mistress. While for dance fans, there’s the world premiere of Liam Scarlett’s anticipated full-length ballet Frankenstein, inspired by Mary Shelley’s Gothic classic and promising to be just as dark and enticing.

Inspirational Talks
Searching for a way into the art industry? Frieze Academy’s talks series returns this May with a number of brilliantly insightful one-day courses and evening sessions, ranging from topics like ‘How to Promote Art’ and ‘Instagram for Art and Fashion’, to How to Look at Art’ and ‘Independent Publishing’ – a seldom-seen opportunity to glean wisdom from the very best creative minds working today. Then, of course, there's Hay-on-Wye literary festival which kicks off on May 26th this year with typically fascinating talks from a diverse array of speakers including Tippi Hedren, Edna O'Brien, Roberto Saviano and Yanis Varoufakis.