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Thursday 5 April 2012

Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski | Danse-moi vers la fin de l'amour | French Riviera | London

Text by Bethany Rex

Danse-moi vers la fin de l'amour is the culmination of a two year project by the artists Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski. The project explores the freedoms that result from the hedonistic ritual of dance, paying particular focus to the aesthetic phenomenon of a dancer isolated from the crowd.

The project was launched with a series of private performances of people dancing, which were filmed by the artists and processed via a combination of material and digital techniques. These films are now on show as part of the immersive installation in which visitors encounter a sculptural assemblage of stage lights, mirrors and found materials, digital video, photographs and music by Das Hund, the experimental band formed by Levack and Lewandowski in 2010. Sound interesting? We thought so.

Jennifer Lewandowski took some time out to tell us more.

BR: Could you start off by telling me a bit more about the project?

JL: We’ve been playing around with themes of dancing for a while, especially with out of gallery public performances, but this project really commenced when we invited friends to our studio for a series of private performances. We shot several takes of them dancing to their chosen music and reworked this footage striping it of the sound and breaking down the image with fast cuts and slowing the speed in the aim of creating something that felt continuous, like a looped dance move, repetitive and rhythmic. It’s grown a lot since into something altogether fuller, along the journey we began to create a soundtrack for the film and that’s when we formed Das Hund, our music project, which is very much a work in progress but pulls together other thoughts we have of rock music and performance and allows us the freedom to experiment with noise.

BR: Why did you decide to work in film for this project?

JL: We had been watching experiemental works by Jack Smith and the early super 8 films by Derek Jarman and were captivated by their essence, colour and mysticism, their timelessness. We wanted to present the dancer as a psychedelic form that swirled around in a headiness of colour and exuberance, as a metaphysical being. We found the use of projections helped break down the picture to produce this sensation. But actually this show does not only use moving image, we’re also revisiting installation, a medium we haven’t worked in for a while but are very happy to return to. We have layered sound and moving image with photographs and screen prints to create a loose installation; more of a room to enter or a space to be in, a feeling or emotion. 

BR: The image of a dancer isolated from the crowd is a powerful one. When did you first become interested in dance as a subject?

JL: Dance is such an integral part of being alive, it’s an amazing feeling to dance. So primal, so traditional and yet so of the moment. The image of a lone dancer is strong and independent in a blissful state of freedom and expression. Each person who came to dance had such a different style, the dancer’s personality really came through and that was quite beautiful. I believe the desire to dance to the rhythm of music is an innate reaction, every culture has dance as a prominent part of their existence. I don’t recall a time when dance wasn’t an inspiration.

BR: What are the challenges in putting on an exhibition of your own work, in your own gallery, that opens with music from your own band? Aren’t you a bit tired of yourselves at the end of the day?

JL: Haha, NO! We’re brilliant, ha! Of course it’s hard work running a gallery and putting on your own exhibition, you have to do everything yourself but it’s hard work putting on any exhibition and there are two of us so that helps. We enjoy it or else we wouldn’t be doing it. The music side of things doesn’t particularly complicate it any further, sound and performance are just other mediums we use to explore our ideas. We’re going to do a gig in May as a closing event rather than at the opening though, just to take off the pressure a little. The sound in the installation will be a live studio recording.

BR: What are your hopes for the exhibition and what reaction do you expect from the viewer?

JL: We want the whole room to feel uplifting, dreamy and a little spacey, an immersive environment that people can hang out in and get a little lost in the projections and the music.

BR: What have you got planned next for French Riviera?

JL: We’ve just launched a new series of sound art commissions for the gallery answerphone, Please wait while we contact your bank, first up is a piece by Nicholas Pankhurst. He’s patched together stolen recordings of disembodied voices by calling office blocks late at night when empty and used them to create a new dialogue.

The next gallery show will be Leslie Kulesh, a wonderful and vibrant artist from San Fransico. Check her at lesliekulesh.com

After that who knows, we tend not to work too far in advance, plus we have to fit ourselves into the plans. We have a group show opening at 319 Scholes in NYC this May and are also in discussions about an extended collaboration at another gallery in London so things are looking pretty busy for the year already!

Danse-moi vers la fin de l'amour, 06/04/2012 - 13/05/2012, French Riviera 309 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 6AH. www.frenchriviera1988.com

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you are missing out. The April/May issue of Aesthetica is out now and includes a diverse range of features from Bauhaus: Art as Life, a comprehensive survey of one of the most influential schools of thought from the 20th century, Growing Up: The Young British Artists at 50, which centres on Jeremy Cooper's examination of the illustrious career, and the phenomenon that was the YBAs and Behind Closed Doors, an intimate portrait of family life in Cuba from photographer David Creedon.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can find your nearest stockist here. Better yet, subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine. To subscribe visit the website or call us on +44 (0) 1904 629 137.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

A New Space for the Creative Community in the North-East | BALTIC 39 Opening | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Text by Rachel Van Greuning

BALTIC 39 a new hub for Contemporary Art in Newcastle upon Tyne opens to the public on Friday 6 April. Aesthetica spoke to BALTIC Director Godfrey Worsdale on the gallery's recent success.

RVG: Firstly, congratulations on the success of the Turner Prize re-locating to the BALTIC. What Impact has the prize had on BALTIC?

GW: Turner Prize 2011 was good for BALTIC, but it was also a success for the prize itself. BALTIC attracted a large and to some extent a new audience for the exhibition and I now sense that London is more enthusiastic about the Prize in 2012.

RVG: BALTIC is expanding with the opening of BALTIC 39; it has been described as a cultural hub for contemporary art - how will it engage with the public?

GW: BALTIC 39 will provide a new and additional offer to that which is to be found at the principal BALTIC site. Visitors will be able to see artists and curators re-evaluating the norms of their practice. Outcomes will be less predetermined. We continue to see a growth in the levels of interest in contemporary art and the programme at BALTIC 39 will offer another layer for engagement.

RVG: The opening of BALTIC 39 broadens the nature of the BALTIC’s engagement with contemporary art, as it is not only being displayed and responded to, but emerging from the centre itself. How do you feel the studios and practitioners-in-residence will change the BALTIC?

GW: BALTIC has always centred it's programming on a close and careful relationship with artists. Being in the same building as so many resident artists, practice-based professors and post-graduate students will inevitably impact on the way the dialogue around the programme evolves.

RVG: BALTIC 39 will include the presence of Northumbria University; in the BxNU Institute of Contemporary Art and the recent appointment of a BALTIC Professor. How important is research to the BALTIC and what will BALTIC 39 contribute to Art Education?

GW: Learning and engagement at all levels will always be critical to BALTIC's work, but BALTIC 39 will enable a significant enhancement of the academic research that underpins our work. The partnership with Northumbria University and the establishment of the BxNU institute will create a unique offer.

RVG: BALTIC 39 is a collaboration between BALTIC and Newcastle City Council; how important is the local community and the region to the new space? Is BALTIC 39 going to inform a north-east vernacular of contemporary art in the UK?

GW: Newcastle City Council has been bold in creating a site where the various components within BALTIC 39 can come together. All the signs are that this will greatly enhance what the city and the region has to offer it's residents and it's visitors. As with all centres of serious contemporary practice, there is no sense of the vernacular. Artists based in the North East are engaged with and concerned by issues that preoccupy artists across the globe, but I expect our work at BALTIC 39 will enable international links to flourish further.

RVG: How will the architecture and design of the space impact BALTIC 39’s functions and practices?

GW: The exhibition space is situated on the top floor of the building. The large north facing sky-lights provide clean light for the large, square space which is sliced into two rectangular spaces by the double stair-case that takes visitors down through the studios and university spaces. Being on the top of a tall building right in the centre of a city will be an interesting and quite unusual proposition for artists and a large picture window and viewing terrace give clarity to that context. The gallery feels quite formal so it will be interesting to see how different artists address that.

RVG: The first show SWITCH seems to explore and encapsulate BALTIC 39’s intentions with an exploration of the nature of contemporary art practice in the UK. What role will curation and exhibition play in the work of BALTIC 39? What makes this space different as a gallery?

GW: For the opening show, we've been incredibly fortunate to have had the collaboration of Phyllida Barlow, who has really embraced the notion of questioning the normal processes and practices of exhibition making. SWITCH will be an exhibition in flux - not resolved at the start - its participants encouraged to revisit it's component parts and make changes right through to the show's end. Not everything that happens at BALTIC 39 will work and that is the experimental nature that will characterise it's programme.

RVG: What are the plans for the rest of 2012?

GW: The rest of the 2012 programme will pursue a similar and tantalisingly uncertain agenda. That agenda will largely be informed by what artists will determine to be fertile ground for consideration. Alongside the main exhibitions, the programme will be interspersed with informal activity, performances and opportunities for salon-style dialogue. Plans are in development to engage individuals or groups of artists or curators from New York to Palestine.

SWITCH: Selected by Phyllida Barlow, 06/04/2012 - 24/06/2012, BALTIC 39, 31-39 High Bridge, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 1EW. www.balticmill.com/39

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you are missing out. The April/May issue of Aesthetica is out now and includes a diverse range of features from Bauhaus: Art as Life, a comprehensive survey of one of the most influential schools of thought from the 20th century, Growing Up: The Young British Artists at 50, which centres on Jeremy Cooper's examination of the illustrious career, and the phenomenon that was the YBAs and Behind Closed Doors, an intimate portrait of family life in Cuba from photographer David Creedon.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can find your nearest stockist here. Better yet, subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine. To subscribe visit the website or call us on +44 (0) 1904 629 137.

The Art Collective | Gallery 40 | Brighton | Interview with Finn Dean

There is a lot of bitter chatter about public funded arts organisations at the moment. There's the much contested ACE capital-funding programme, rumours of the creator of Big Brother, Peter Bazalgette, being made the new Chief Executive of the organisation, and the standard noise about London organisations being over-represented. Away from the anger, organisations such as the Art Collective, a not-for-profit philanthropic art movement which supports emerging artists, champions the benefits of art, and works to make art accessible to all, struggle to be heard above the noise. That is not to say that they don't make a valuable contribution. From May 2012, The Art Collective will be offering free lunch time and after work Art Clubs to encourage offices to unplug for an hour to promote thought, unwind and boost creativity. If your office is based in the London area you can book an Art Club by calling the founders Lyn Thomas or Pauline Richards on 020 7263 5644 or via info@theartcollective.com.

As well as organising the Art Club, the Art Collective work with a group of talented artists, staging their exhibitions in the heart of London, enabling them to engage directly with the public, talk about and sell their work. Over the next 12 months the Art Collective will be bringing their artists and their work to cities across the UK. Their next exhibition will bring to Brighton a mix of oil paintings, illustrations and photography. Ben Gold, a successful portrait photographer with subjects including Charles Dance and Miranda Hart, will showcase his Festival Nights, a series of evocative night time scenes from festivals including Glastonbury and Bestival. Finn Dean, a multi-talented award winning artist whose work has recently been selected to appear in a movie by an Oscar winning Director (we can't say who yet!) will show his illustrations and photography inspired by his travels across American, Cuba and Asia. San Francisco based, Lance Hewison, will show a collection of eagerly anticipated original oil paintings and drawings and Celine Marchbank, who was recently shortlisted for the European publisher's book award for her photographic work TULIP will showcase her award winning portfolio swimmers from the "Open Here" Hereford Photography Festival.

Aesthetica spoke with Finn Dean to find out more.

A: What themes are you exploring in the work on show at Gallery 40?

FD: It's a good question because I'm not sure I ask myself this enough. I tend to create work that feels natural to me and from that themes emerge, but I've never set out to create work along a strident path. Half of the process is finding intriguing places that have potential for becoming an interesting image which is why travel is a major theme in the work. I love travel posters from the 1930s to 1950s especially Norman Wilkinson's posters and traditional Japanese woodblock prints in particular the work of Kawase Hasui. I always try to create a sense of place and inject as much atmosphere as I can.

A: There’s something incredibly cinematic about some of your work (House at Night) – has film been a heavy influence on these works?

FD: Ever since my Dad took my Mum (who was pregnant with me at the time) to see Apocalypse Now, The Shining and Eraserhead I think I've been influenced by cinema, particularly by Hitchcock and Lynch and actually I should also mention Edward Hopper who in turn has inspired lots of film makers. In some ways my working process is very much like a film; you scout for locations, you light and dress the scene and change it to your own aesthetic preferences. In another life I would have liked to have been a cinematographer.

A: What’s surprising about your Giclee prints is that most of them are populated; from afar they look like desolate scenes. Is there any significance behind whether or not to choose to include figures in these pieces?

FD: I like to use figures sparingly, often as a focal point but only as far as the composition is concerned, they never become the subject, they are only a piece of the landscape and for that they can be very important for the overall balance in a scene, and can be a great entry point for the viewer. Something I have been very interested in for a long time is the power of absence. You can often say more by excluding rather than including elements. And by being more suggestive rather than explicit with information you can engage the viewer and invite them to bring their own take on the work but you have to strike a balance so it doesn't become too abstract. Alfred Hitchcock was a master at this, such as his use of a soundtrack in The Birds where he chose to eschew one altogether in order to highlight the sound of the birds themselves. It's also important to realise that not every piece of work requires a figurative element; it can often harm an image rather than enhance it.

A: How did you first start working with Art Collective?

FD: I was trying to find someone interested in using my work and came across them at an image fair in Islington. I found out more about them and had a meeting, spoke about the plans for the future and was very impressed. They have a genuine drive to help and promote artists and they have a good sense of community spirit. On top of that, they're just really nice people.

A: You work in a variety of media. What is it that attracts you to both mixed media illustration and photography?

FD: They both have their obvious differences but for me my illustration work is about seeing the potential in a place and transforming it to my own vision. You get to play and manipulate the material more and choose what to omit and include. With photography there is a lot more luck involved; often you have to be in the right place at the right time sometimes with perfect weather conditions and a whole host of other variables in order to get the “money shot”. Of course you could digitally manipulate the photograph but that doesn't interest me, it also seems a bit dishonest.

A: What else are you working on at the moment?

FD: I've been exploring the lighter side to my work, injecting a bit of humour into the process and having some fun with it. As you mentioned earlier, I don’t include many figures or people in my “normal” work so this is a reaction to this. It's been quite liberating to experiment and to create work without being precious over it, which is a problem I normally have; I tend to agonise over small differences in colour and tone, often for days. For instance there is one image of an ice cream bar at night from Guatemala that I have been working on and I have perhaps five or six versions which I have whittled down to two but I can't decide over which version to go for. I've tried the classic technique of forgetting about the image and coming back to it in order to see it 'fresh' but I still can't decide. I feel the immediate future for me is to become freer in my work and to enjoy the process more.

The Art Collective, 05/04/2012 - 22/04/2012, Gallery 40, 40 Gloucester Road, Brighton, BN1 4AQ. www.gallery40.co.uk 

House at Night. Courtesy the artist

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Interview with Edinburgh Art Festival Director, Sorcha Carey

Text by Bethany Rex

Edinburgh Art Festival announced its programme for its 9th edition last week. Taking place in more than 30 of the city's museums, not-for-profit and commercial galleries, EAF will feature over 45 exhibitions, with further pop-up shows taking place in artist-run spaces and outdoor venues across the city. The festival runs from 2 August - 2 September so there's plenty of time to get your head around the programme which is packed by any standards. If that's too much of a stretch, we spoke to the Director of EAF, Sorcha Carey to find out more.

BR: First of all, congratulations on the 9th edition of the festival! I’d like to go back to the beginning. How did it all begin?

SC: We're the youngest of the summer festivals, founded in 2004 and now in our ninth year. Visual art has always had an important presence in the festival programme since the foundation of the International Festival in 1947, and the Art Festival came out of a recognition of the richness of work on display, and desire to ensure that viusal art was at the heart of the Edinburgh summer festival experience.

BR: How did you get involved with the festival? Do you come from a festival background?

SC: I was appointed as Director last year. I was working as Senior Arts Adviser at British Council Scotland at the time, but having worked on 3 editions of the Liverpool Biennial, festivals were/are in my blood, so when the job was advertised, I leapt at the chance to rejoin that world.

BR: Could you talk us through the highlights of this year’s programme?

SC: Where to begin? We have an amazing array of new or previously unseen work by leading international artists in galleries across the city, along with our most ambitious programme to date of commissions by established and early career Scottish artists. Dieter Roth's diaries - never seen before - will be exhibited at The Fruitmarket Gallery as part of a major solo retrospective of the Swiss/German/Icelandic artist.

The American presentation this year is particularly strong, with Inverleith House bringing Philip Guston to Scotland for the very first time, with an exhibition of his acclaimed late paintings; Talbot Rice will show Donald Judd, and Tim Rollins and K.O.S, which includes new work made especially for the exhibition; while Rachel Mayeri's Primate Cinema commissioned by Arts Catalyst, and featuring footage shot at Edinburgh Zoo, will be screened in the expansive space of Edinburgh College of Art's Sculpture Court.

New EAF venue Summerhall brings Polish artist Robert Kusmirovski to the city for the first time, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art brings us the iconic greats of the Twentieth Century, with Picasso and Modern British Art; and Van Gogh to Kandinsky: Symbolist Landscapes at the Scottish National Gallery.

BR: It’s great to hear that the festival will feature new commissions by Susan Philipsz, Andrew Miller, Kevin Harman and Anthony Schrag. How did you select which artists to work with on this element of the programme?

SC: Our 2012 commissions programme will be series of publicly sited works which unfold a promenade through the city, and encourage residents and visitors to see the city and its architecture anew. All of the artists we have invited to propose new commissions have an interest in exploring this in their practice, and are united by a playfulness of approach, as well as an ability to draw out hidden stories that are lying dormant in the city. Susan Philipsz' distributed sound installations, for example, are inspired by Edinburgh's famous one o'clock gun, and an electric cable which used to connect this to the Nelson Monument on Calton Hill, and will use sound to reflect on time and place.

BR: There are some big names featuring as part of the festival this year, but the programme also gives exposure to early career artists. Who should we be most excited about seeing in the emerging section?

SC: Kevin Harman and Antony Schrag are both making new work for the festival programme. But I'm equally excited to see some completely new spaces emerging on the scene which are dedicated to working with young artists and curators. Rhubaba, a relatively new studio complex and gallery in Edinburgh are developing a very interesting show in response to the work of Slovakian artist, Julius Koller; and Superclub are another new space on the city scene - they have a consumer riposte in the work of John Brown; GARAGE (literally a garage in Edinburgh's New Town) is also returning to the festival with its micro-residencies, and I will be particularly interested to see the work of Holly Fulton and Rebecca Key there.

BR: What strikes me most about the festival is the successful pairing of international visual art alongside talent based in Scotland. How have the Scottish artists responded to the architecture of Edinburgh in their work this year?

SC: The commissioned artists are developing a range of responses, from artists who are responding to the historic fabric of the city (Susan Phillipsz), to those who will play much more with the vernaculars and oddities of architecture and how we relate to it. Andrew Miller's The Waiting Place, our festival pavilion in St. Andrew's Square, is a kind of playful importation of summer architecture into a city where summer is by no means guaranteed. Anthony Schrag, on the other hand, will be our Tourist in Residence for the duration of the festival, and will lead 'alternative' architectural tours of the city centre.

BR: You’re a visitor to the EAF and you only have 24 hours in Edinburgh. What would you do with your day?

SC: For me, coffee is essential to start the day, so I would pick up a coffee and go and sit in Andrew Miller's pavilion in St. Andrew's Square, while planning my must-sees for the rest of my day. I'd definitely book onto a tour with Anthony Schrag; and depending on the weather, either enjoy the promenade commissions in the sunshine, or spend a pleasurable morning sheltering from the rain in the many galleries in and around the city centre. Dovecot have a great cafe, so I'd head there for lunch, enjoy their Weaving the Century - a celebration of 100 years of leading artists working with the studios - and then go on to the other spaces on the south side - Talbot Rice, New Media Scotland, and over to Summerhall. I'd make sure to time my visit for the 23 August, which sees a special programme of late night events and tours taking place across the art festival venues. And our Festival Detours programme allows visitors to enjoy some key performers from the other summer festivals, without every leaving the Art festival!

The 9th Edinburgh Art Festival takes place from 2 August - 2 September at various venues across the city. Further information and a full programme is available on their website:  www.edinburghartfestival.com

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you are missing out. The April/May issue of Aesthetica is out now and includes a diverse range of features from Bauhaus: Art as Life, a comprehensive survey of one of the most influential schools of thought from the 20th century, Growing Up: The Young British Artists at 50, which centres on Jeremy Cooper's examination of the illustrious career, and the phenomenon that was the YBAs and Behind Closed Doors, an intimate portrait of family life in Cuba from photographer David Creedon.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can find your nearest stockist here. Better yet, subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine. To subscribe visit the website or call us on +44 (0) 1904 629 137.

Dieter Roth
(Solo Szenen) Solo Scenes, 1997-1998
Video installation; 128 monitors, video content on 131 CF card media players
Dimensions variable
© Dieter Roth Estate
Courtesy Hauser & Wirth

Roger Ballen: Shadow Land: Photographs 1983-2011 | Manchester Art Gallery

Text by Carol Huston

Currently showing at Manchester Art Gallery is Roger Ballen’s first major solo exhibition in the UK, representing three decades of Ballen’s photography. The retrospective guides the viewer through a 30 year progression of his photographic practice, from the documentary to documentary fiction to the more recent imaginary realism. As evidenced with 180 photographs of his work, it is certain that Ballen appreciates consistency, working strictly in black and white and printing in a square format.

Born in New York in 1950, Ballen has lived and worked in South Africa since the early 1980s. His early works portray marginalised figures of society, capturing his subjects at home in small towns. Critics often describe Ballen’s work as darkly disturbing in the vein of Diane Arbus, but this assignment betrays the element of straightforward honesty which underpins much of his photography. By shooting interior spaces and people at their homes, Ballen gives a voice to a largely under-represented group of society as well as a voyeuristic look into their lifestyles. Accordingly, the title of the exhibition, Shadow Land, reflects upon the idea of marginalisation rather than dis- or mis- representation. The gray area which lingers at the border lands is presented through the retrospective, both literally in Ballen’s medium of black and white and also figuratively through the display of social outliers.

For example, his 1993 photograph Dressie and Casie, Twins, Western Transvaal garnered much attention from critics as a contemporary form of putting the social deviant on display. Despite this critique, however, Ballen as a photographer does not judge his subjects, he merely acts as a conduit for their representation. Of course, with commercial photography, the image must be viewed as mediated and ultimately removed from its initial context through the framing and hanging process. In this sense Ballen’s documentary photographs such as Dressie and Casie act as social reportage when viewed in a gallery space, rather than any form of social critique.

With Ballen’s later two series Outland and Shadow Chamber, the photographer moved towards a more fantastical display of documenting social outsiders. Animals too play a larger role in these series than they previously had for Ballen. For example, in Puppy Between Feet (1999) from Outland, Ballen’s focus turns towards the photographic description of a newborn puppy with the use of a 90mm macro lens, allowing for more graphic detail of the subject being described. From the puppy’s fur to the calloused feet to the fabric of the pillows, Ballen strikes an artistic balance between texture and form, as the curved feet are visually transformed into massive wings attached to the tiny puppy.

The characteristic human figure which was central to the first two decades of Ballen’s works has been either distorted or entirely withheld in his most recent photographs spanning the last several years. Instead, Ballen’s practice now focuses on the production of fictional scenes using live animals or drawings of humans in combination with painted backdrops. By replacing the human form or only using a segment of the human body, such as a hand, arm or face, Ballen enters a proto-Surrealist display of fantasy and fiction-making. The scenes Ballen produces often appear nightmarish and haunting, as the photograph Cut Loose (2005) depicting a hanging body recalls the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs.

Included in the display of photographs are three short films, one being the music video which Ballen directed for Afrikaner rappers Die Antwoord (The Answer) that quickly went viral upon its release at the end of January this year. Shot entirely in black and white, Die Antwoord’s I Fink U Freeky video acts as an introductory point to a young audience who would not necessarily be familiar with Ballen’s work. Die Antwoord had previously collaged together Ballen’s stills to make music videos, eventually leading to their collaboration with the photographer as artistic director. Much like his recent photographs, Ballen designed the sets for I Fink U Freeky using drawings and graffiti. Human faces are sometimes replaced with drawings of faces instead, as in the photograph Alter Ego (2010) from the Asylum series. The figures in the video correlate with the subjects of Ballen’s early photographs, showcasing the marginal, strange and unusual, whereas the settings correspond to Ballen’s contemporary work with his use of graffiti and painting.

To read more an in-depth interview with Roger Ballen on his latest work and three decades of his practice, visit the Aesthetica Shop and pick up your copy today.

Roger Ballen: Shadow Land: Photographs 1983-2011, 30/03/2012 - 13/05/2012, Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL. www.manchestergalleries.org

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you are missing out. The April/May issue of Aesthetica is out now and includes a diverse range of features from Bauhaus: Art as Life, a comprehensive survey of one of the most influential schools of thought from the 20th century, Growing Up: The Young British Artists at 50, which centres on Jeremy Cooper's examination of the illustrious career, and the phenomenon that was the YBAs and Behind Closed Doors, an intimate portrait of family life in Cuba from photographer David Creedon.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can find your nearest stockist here. Better yet, subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine. To subscribe visit the website or call us on +44 (0) 1904 629 137.

1. Dressie and Casie, Twins, Western Transval (1993)
2. Eulogy (2004)
3. Excited Man (2001)
4. Head Inside Shirt (2001)
All images courtesy of the artist and Hamilton's Gallery, London.

Monday 2 April 2012

Aesthetica April/May issue "Wider Narratives" Out Now!

Our April/May issue "Wider Narratives" goes on sale today. This issue is about critical thinking and wider narratives.

Inside the magazine, we start with the Bauhaus: Art as Life - a comprehensive survey of one of the most influential schools of thought from the 20th century, as well as Cuban-born artistic duo, Los Carpinteros opening at Kunstmuseum Thun with their show Silence Your Eyes, which juxtaposes the public, political and private spheres. Photographer, Roger Ballen’s first major UK retrospective opens at Manchester Art Gallery and explores three decades of the artist’s career. We re-examine the illustrious career and the phenomenon that was the YBAs, through Jeremy Cooper's new book Growing Up: The Young British Artists at 50.

In images we explore Mexico from 1920 until the present day with Photography in Mexico, which is on now at SFMOMA. David Creedon’s latest work Behind Open Doors is an intimate portrait of family life in Cuba, and then we survey the World Photography Awards, which opens at Somerset House, London in April. Finally, we introduce Joseph Hahn’s unique blend of fashion and portraiture.

In film, we chat with Karl Markovics, whose critically acclaimed and emotionally intense film Atmen opens in cinemas nationwide. There is also a Q&A with Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley whose low-budget film, Black Pond, has created a stir in independent filmmaking.

In music, we speak with Frank Turner and examine how national identity can influence popular music. We also chat with the School of Seven Bells about their latest album and losing a member of the band.

In performance, David Shrigleyhas now moved into opera with his latest offering Pass the Spoon. Finally, Gerald McMaster, co-curator of the Biennale of Sydney tells us about this year’s programme.

Buy the issue direct here or pick up a copy from one of our stockists.

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