8 Must-See Art Shows In 2018
1/8 Katharina Grosse
Katharina Grosse lives in a colour-saturated world. She’s known for using reams of fabric and industrial spray guns in lieu of brushes to create vibrant, site-specific installations that challenge the limits of painting, but also of space—think abandoned buildings and public gardens, seashores and industrial environments, all transformed into vibrant, temporary and tactile universes.
In January, Grosse will unveil a sprawling piece at the Carriageworks arts centre as part of the annual Sydney Festival, immersing audiences within a canvas that could only be described as epic. This is Grosse at her best: 8,250 square metres of suspended fabric running through Carriageworks’ cavernous hallways, upon which the artist will spray-paint a spiralling palette of colours to dizzying effect.
Grosse’s installation, The Horse Trotted Another Couple of Metres, Then It Stopped, will be unveiled at Carriageworks on January 6 and remain on show until April 8.
2/8 Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away
Where: New York
The political is personal for performance artist Danh Vo, which is why his work feels remarkably poignant in the current global climate—and why the Guggenheim is holding the first comprehensive survey in the US of his work.
Vo was born in South Vietnam in 1975 but grew up in Denmark after he was plucked by the crew of a Danish tanker from the boat his father built to flee Vietnam. Drawing inspiration from his background, Vo has become one of the most compelling artists of our time. His works address issues such as Western colonisation and the arbitrary nature of identity, religion, capitalism and artistic authorship. He examines the inherent power games and tensions through intimate narratives involving found documents, objects and images, a display of possessions from his family members, and assemblages of items purchased and collected over the years.
The Guggenheim show will present more than 100 pieces and installations, what Vo calls “the tiny diasporas of a person’s life.”
Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away runs from February 9 until May 9 at the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum.
3/8 New Museum Triennial
Where: New York
New York’s New Museum isn’t new anymore—it opened 40 years ago—but its Triennial, which debuted in 2009, is certainly one of the freshest shows of its kind.
The first featured works by artists no older than 33 and the following two editions maintained that spirit. The co-curators at the helm of the fourth iteration are known for their dynamic approach to emerging art. They are Gary Carrion-Murayari, 34, who has been a curator at the New Museum since 2010 and was co-curator of the Whitney Biennial that year, and Alex Gartenfeld, 28, the founding deputy director and chief curator of the Institute for Contemporary Art in Miami.
The programme is yet to be announced, but the curators have said they are keen to present up-and-coming artists from Africa, Southeast Asia and South America—exactly the kind of new, unfamiliar approach the art sector needs.
The New Museum Triennial runs from February 7 until May 27.
4/8 Joan Jonas
Born in 1936 in New York, Joan Jonas is a pioneer of performance and video art, and a titan of the American avant-garde. She is known for blending performance and film in exciting and challenging ways. She rose to artistic fame in the late 1960s for her compelling Mirror Pieces, which featured performers carrying mirrors on stage and slowly, deliberately rotating them, transforming the audience into an image on glass.
Snubbed by US museums for most of her career—and this despite representing the country at the 2015 Venice Biennale—she’s finally getting her due with the Tate show, which will feature experimental installations and a large-scale new work in an immersive setting, with a labyrinth of projections, soundscapes, props, masks and mirrors. For the first time in the Tate’s history, the retrospective will extend beyond the galleries, with film screenings at the museum’s Starr cinema and performances in the Tanks, Tate modern’s space dedicated to live art—testimony to the importance of Jonas’ work.
The Joan Jonas exhibition runs from March 14 until August 5 at the Tate Modern.
5/8 Manifesta 12
The best word to describe Manifesta, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, is nomadic. The event, which originated in the early 1990s as a response to the socio-political and economic changes of the Cold War, changes its location for each edition, aiming to be a pan-regional cultural meeting point for the arts and different local communities.
Palermo, Sicily, is the next host and the programme holds plenty of promise. A team of four “creative mediators”—Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, a partner at Rotterdam-based architectural firm OMA (the first architect to be part of the biennial’s curatorial panel), Swiss contemporary art curator Mirjam Varadinis, Spanish artist and scholar Andrés Jaque, and Dutch filmmaker and journalist Bregtje van der Haak—is working with Palermo residents to address diverse perspectives on migration, climate change, heritage and the state of Europe today, and to envision a new future for the city. Sound ambitious? Certainly does.
Manifesta 12 will run from June 16 to November 4 at various venues.
6/8 Venice Biennale of Architecture
The biennale returns with Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects as artistic directors. The duo, who set up Grafton in 1978 and were recently chosen for the high-profile Paul Marshall Building at the London School of Economics, join Kazuyo Sejima (2010) as the only women ever to spearhead the biennale. Their theme, Freespace, focuses on “architecture’s ability to provide free and additional spatial gifts to those who use it,” through elements such as shade and light, texture and movement, with the aim of proposing civic projects and prototypes that nurture meaningful contact between places and people.
On the ambitious, often politically charged programme, this will translate into buildings reimagined as generous public spaces, as at the British Pavilion, curated by Caruso St John Architects and artist Marcus Tay; practices exploring the meaning of citizenship, as in the case of the works at the US Pavilion; and exhibitions designed to respond to current debates on nations, protectionism and division, which will take over the German venue.
The Venice Biennale of Architecture runs from May 26 to November 25.
7/8 Front International: An American City
Cleveland in the US Midwest might not immediately come to mind as an arts hub, but that’s the goal the city set itself with the creation of Front International, its own triennial for contemporary art.
The brainchild of art collector Fred Bidwell, the inaugural show is titled An American City, and it's a multipart programme of interconnected “cultural exercises” that will bring together some 55 local, national and international artists across mediums, disciplines and venues, weaving, in the words of its website, “critical approaches to museum exhibitions, public and educational programmes, residencies, publications and research strategies in a complex presentation.”
The public will have to see for itself what exactly this entails, but with a budget of about US$5 million behind it, this triennial is certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art runs from July 14 until September 30 at various venues.
8/8 Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts
Where: New York
Conceptual painter, performer and sculptor Bruce Nauman is one of the most influential artists of his generation.
His works are challenging—some might say hostile—mixing brutal humour and disturbing images, raw beauty and emotional content. For example, an installation made with corridors of sound-speakers reciting the days of the week, for which he won the Golden Lion for best national participation at the Venice Biennale in 2009. Or candy-coloured flashing neon showing a stick figure being hanged and getting an erection. Or a video of a clown lying on the ground and screaming “No, no, no.”
The Museum of Modern Art is bringing these and more works together in the first comprehensive Nauman retrospective in more than 20 years. Spanning photography, neon, video, drawing, performance and printmaking, the show will be one of the year’s most powerful—a must-see for anyone interested in contemporary art.
Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts runs from October 21 until March 17, 2019, at the Museum of Modern Art.
See also: Art Talk: Samson Young On His Sound Drawings