Things I have seen with my eyes

Annihilation – Alex Garland – 2018

Annihilation is a far less anaemic film than Ex Machina and the casting’s perfect. The Thing, Stalker, The Crystal World each get a nod and there’s a very, very frightening bear. Lucky I caught it before I rainbow-ed my own current work in progress though…

Margaret Salmon, Mm & Sacred Paws @ The Tramway

Live score for Margaret’s Salmon’s Mm by Sacred Paws was exciting! Mm showing Berwick Speedway lads transforming from ordinary to adonis-y over a day, reduced to 30 minutes here. Sacred Paws caused dancing and warm feelings of admiration, made even cosier by the presence of favs. L and L.

Alchemists and alchemical-like types…

…seem to spring up everywhere when you start looking – all part of its symbolic mutability and what not. This week I have mostly been watching & reading, with Eggs and Aliens for The Curios Society as the excuse…

The Holy Mountain, The Colour of Pomegranates, El Topo, Picnic at Hanging Rock, A Dream Within A Dream, Get Out, Possession, Arrival, The Story of Your Life, Memoirs of a Spacewoman, Blade Runner 2049 (again) & The Exterminating Angel. A mixed bag, I think you can agree. What can I say? I’m a nibbler and a picker at the black, white and red buffet…


We Are All Completely Free – Women Artists and Surrealism, Museo Picasso, Malaga

Oh boy. It’s been weeks, weeks hasn’t it?

Still in my brain is this incredible show that I caught between cake, anchovy and rioja at the MUSEO PICASSO in MÁLAGA. Carrington, Oppenheim, Cahun…

More on the show here.

Here’s the PR:



Transgressive and controversial, the women artists in the Surrealist circle only gained complete freedom and protagonism as artists when they rebelled against the social and moral impositions of their time. Museo Picasso Málaga presents a new exhibition in Spain that provides a vast and international overview of the new creative horizons these artists opened up within the context of Surrealism.

From 10th October, 2017 until 28th January, 2018 We are Completely Free. Women Artists and Surrealism brings together 124 works by eighteen artists from different countries: Eileen Agar, Claude Cahun, Leonora Carrington, Germaine Dulac, Leonor Fini, Valentine Hugo, Frida Kahlo, Dora Maar, Maruja Mallo, Lee Miller, Nadja, Meret Oppenheim, Kay Sage, Ángeles Santos, Dorothea Tanning, Toyen, Remedios Varo and Unica Zürn.
Once again, Museo Picasso Málaga has produced an exhibition that showcases art by the women in art history. It is only very recently that their work has begun to be viewed with the same attention and respect as that of their male Surrealist colleagues.
We are Completely Free. Women Artists and Surrealism presents the work of a group of women artists who, from the 1920s onwards, became involved to a greater or lesser degree in Surrealism, a movement historically associated with men. Museo Picasso Málaga has brought together for the occasion works by eighteen spirited and rebellious female artists who were, in several cases, overshadowed by their male partners. The exhibition aims to give back the focus they deserve to a group of women artists whose work stood out on the Surrealist landscape and some of whom have perhaps had to wait too long to gain major international recognition: Eileen Agar, Claude Cahun, Leonora Carrington, Germaine Dulac, Leonor Fini, Valentine Hugo, Frida Kahlo, Dora Maar, Maruja Mallo, Lee Miller, Nadja, Meret Oppenheim, Kay Sage, Ángeles Santos, Dorothea Tanning Toyen, Remedios Varo and Unica Zürn.
The exhibition curator, José Jiménez, professor of aesthetics and art theory at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, tells us that the choice of artists “is not a separatist option, but rather a recovery task” and also that “it is not a closed list; it is open to new considerations and inclusions. The selection is aimed at giving consistency to the construction of the exhibition narrative, with the focus on the artistic quality of the works and on the fact that these women exercised active independence as creative, thinking beings, in a quest for complete freedom”. Their individuality and personality is conveyed in the more than 124 works brought together for the show, which include paintings, drawings, sculptures, collages, photographs and films.
Men’s Surrealism
Art history has been biased in favour of the male artist, and women artists have been systematically excluded from the main Western art movements. Women have been considered, first and foremost, as sources of inspiration and only secondarily as creative artists. Their works, generally overshadowed by that of their male colleagues, have often been associated with domestic life, and were undervalued.
Officially founded in 1924, when André Breton penned the First Surrealist Manifesto, the artistic output of the Surrealist movement was primarily literary and visual. Mainly developed in Paris, it soon spread to other countries such as Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Mexico and the USA. The Manifesto defined Surrealism as: “Pure psychic automatism, by which it is intended to express either verbally, in writing, or by any other means, the true functioning of thought. It is dictated by thought alone, in the absence of all control exerted by reason, and outside any aesthetic or moral preoccupations”.
It was an influential, transgressive and anti-academic ideology which, while supporting women’s equality and their artistic options, considered them more as an artistic object than a creative subject. Surrealist artists saw women on an idealistic, passive level, as an eternal woman-child, a muse, an object of sexual desire; an enigma that had to be deciphered to suit their own imagination and desires. But the movement also featured important female proponents who deserve to be valued and remembered, as they played a large but underacknowledged part in it. It is only recently that these women’s work has started to be regarded with the same attention and respect as that of their male colleagues.
Women’s Surrealism
Although male Surrealist artists explored the unconscious through dreams, automatism and induced trances, their artworks did not necessarily express their own personal experience. For the women, however, Surrealism was a way to develop their self-awareness, to explore their deepest thoughts and feelings and to construct their own identity by depicting past and present experiences, fears, hopes and desires.
Unlike their male counterparts, these female artists delved into the unconscious as a means of gaining self-knowledge, in a way that was more introspective than playful: it was the tool they employed to explore their womanhood vis-à -vis the world and to exorcise their demons. Several of them suffered from illnesses, tragic events and abuse during their lifetimes. At a time when psychoanalytical theories were widespread, their art visualised the female psyche as it had never been shown before, initiating a dialogue that was gradually to transform gender relations.
Many of their works are therefore self-referential, and portraits feature prominently. They felt the need to represent themselves in order to express who they were and what they felt. It could be said that the Surrealism produced by these artists was in fact their own inner realism, and they expressed it in a wide variety of techniques.
Identity and freedom
To women, Surrealism was the most appealing of the avant-garde movements, as it was refreshing and provocative and it demanded total freedom for human beings. It was art that ascribed importance to personal reality and which fostered the union of eroticism and poetic emotion as a means of expression, encouraging duality and ambiguity in response to the dictates of reason. This process of liberation was painful and dramatic, and it occasionally led to tragic ends which, paradoxically, helped women to achieve artistic independence and throw off a yoke that was both theoretical and ideological.
At some point in their career, all the artists whose work is shown in the exhibition turned up in 1920s Paris, where, in the intellectual circles of the inter-war period, there was little room for female artists with a voice of their own. Therefore, when they crossed the Atlantic to the US and Mexico a decade later after the Second World War, it was there that they found liberation and revolution as Surrealists, far away from the orbit that had formed around Breton back in the City of Light. Exile provided many of these women with an environment of freedom they had not enjoyed in Europe and, thus, the chance to reinvent themselves as far as their independence and imagination was concerned.
These women sought their identity and freedom through art and this, in a sense, led them to become revolutionaries who prepared the cultural arena necessary for the emergence of the future feminist movement, with art that challenged not only social and institutional conventions, but also the boundaries of gender.
The works in this exhibition come from leading European institutions such as Moderna Museet, the Tate, Centre Pompidou, the Lee Miller Archives, and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, and from US museums such as Museo de Arte Moderno de México and Yale University Art Gallery, as well as from private collections.
After Sophie Tauber-Arp. Avant-garde Pathways (October 2009 – January 2010), Hilma af Klint. Pioneer of Abstract (October 2013 – February 2014) and Louise Bourgeois. I have been to Hell and back (June – September 2015), Museo Picasso Málaga has once again set up an exhibition that showcases artworks by the women in art history. As usual, the exhibition will be accompanied by an associated programme of cultural activities, enabling visitors to discover the main artistic and historical features of the exhibition.

New Look does Blade Runner 2049

It’s not just the jacket. There’s Joi and Luv too…

Aleksandra Vajd & Markéta Othová: What Is Life?

Aleksandra Vajd & Markéta Othová: What Is Life? – Street Level Photoworks

“This exhibition presents current work by two eminent figures in Central and East European photography, Markéta Othová (1968, Prague) and Aleksandra Vajd  (1971, Maribor, Slovenia).

This is not a great shot, but the only one with both circles and fireworks in.

This is not a great shot, but the only one with both circles and fireworks in.

Othová is known, above all, for her series of large-format photographs, whose meaning is predominantly derived from the formal and cultural-historical quality of the captured objects, such as architecture or applied arts. Vajd has recently focused on reductive photographic work, which explores the limits of the medium, with particular emphasis on its materiality.

For Street Level Photoworks, they have prepared an exhibition in which their means of expression complement each other. While Markéta Othová interprets photography as a transparent medium which confronts the viewer with technical quality, texture and the reality of the world, Aleksandra Vajd emphasises the material quality of the same photographs. It is exactly these contrasting approaches which allow the viewer to see the photographic medium in its fundamental ambivalence.


Sue Tompkins – Country Grammar

… while over the road it was like stepping back to 2004, to experience Sue’s incredible delivery of heart-jerking banalities. In a good way I mean. And Luke Fowler made a film of it.

Martin Boyce – Light Years

Over at the Modern, exhausted 1920s whores of standard lamps slumped in 2001…

Ilana Halperin – Geologic Intimacy

“We are delighted to present a selection of Halperin’s new project Geologic Intimacy (Yu No Hana) in Glasgow, after being previously shown in Fujiya Gallery Hanayamomo, Kyushu, Japan; Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen, Scotland and The Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, Scotland.

The project is curated by Naoko Mabon and developed over a two-year period between the Japanese island of Kyushu and Scotland.

The exhibition features new geothermal sculptures formed over the course of a year, in the Kannawa hot springs of Beppu, alongside a geothermal sculpture formed in Iceland and new works on paper.

This new series of prints was developed with Peacock’s Master Printmaker, Michael Waight, utilising Yame Washi paper – the oldest Japanese handmade paper in Kyushu, in combination with hot spring minerals collected by Halperin in Beppu. A selection of Scottish soil was generously donated to the project and used to create ink, including soil sourced from Slighhouses Farm where James Hutton, the ‘Father of Modern Geology’, farmed and began to formulate radical ideas about the age of the earth and deep geologic time. The materials used to create the works on paper reflect the unique process used to form the geothermal sculptures in Beppu, continuing the narrative of exchange between the locations intrinsic to this project.”


Sara Barker – The Faces of Older Images

Just caught the last of Sara’s show at the v. New Yorky new Mary Mary space. Thank you Hannah.

“This exhibition brings together a group of four wall based relief sculptures, Barker’s most elaborate and monumental in the series of tray ‘trench-works’ she has been producing for a number of years. Blurring the lines between painting, drawing and sculpture, the works sit between image and three dimension, like hybrid etching plates for collecting colour and reference or a ‘finds tray’ from an archeological dig for organising and grouping.

The works behave like portals looking out to an ancient landscape – it’s crafting and cultivation, where the brazed metalwork itself appears industrial and machine-like, and imagery, pattern and colour act as signifiers of people and place. In Barker’s work there is a drama in light and dark, reflection and fluidity through her use of materials, with the observation of line, texture and colour of landscape, evolved from her interest in the Modernist linkage to landscape in literature.

The work here also shows the influence of Japanese ink paintings and print, where strong black borders outline images of the exterior world and motifs. So too does it look to the Medieval woodcuts and the illustrations of William Blake, with images that relate to hieroglyphics or script. In this sense there is a looking back to a traditional past, to the nature of hand-work, crafting and making, and a connection to a modern future.

In each of the four works, pattern and line acts as code, spelling out something half materialised. Appearing in part like illustrative plates, fresco, tarot cards or flags, each offers a distorted journey, our view of the abstract and figurative blurred. As a result, in their use of fragmented imagery and complexly constructed layers and mark making, the work feels coded and encrypted with no set narrative or straight read.”