Women Artists in London
The Highlights of Frieze Week 2013
||For four days every autumn, London is the center of the international art scene. The Frieze Art Fair and the Frieze Masters attract visitors from all over the world to Regent’s Park.
But guests and residents of the city can look forward to more than what
is offered by the some 270 selected galleries at the two fairs. During
the Frieze, local institutions also mount exciting exhibitions every
year. This season the focus is clearly on women artists. They include Dayanita Singh and Kara Walker, to each of whom a floor is devoted in the Deutsche Bank Towers. “Please note the subject matter in the exhibition is challenging and explicit,” writes the Camden Arts Centre,
warning potential visitors about the first comprehensive Kara Walker
show in Great Britain. Indeed, the room-size cut-paper tableaux of the
African American artist deal with such issues as repression, violent,
racism, and sexuality. And some of the works are executed right at the
location during the exhibition. Back in 2002, the artist was presented
in a large show in Berlin. The Deutsche Guggenheim showcased drawings and cut-out works from the Deutsche Bank Collection.
Singh also challenges conventions, at least as far as the presentation
of her photographic works is concerned. Rather than hanging framed
prints on the wall, the Indian photographer relies on artist books and
so-called museums. In Go Away Closer, her show in the Hayward Gallery, these wooden structures oscillating between sculpture and architecture can be seen for the first time. Her museums
enable 70 to 140 photos to be exhibited in ever-new arrangements.
Parallel to the Singh show, the Hayward Gallery is celebrating an icon
of feminist art: Ana Mendieta.
The radical performances and photo and film works of the Cuban artist,
who died in New York in 1985, have been discussed and exhibited a great
deal in recent years. Birgit Jürgenssen has also been rediscovered, and works from the 1970s by the Austrian artist (who died in 2003) are being shown in the Alison Jacques Gallery. The female body is at the center of her work.
Mendieta with her ritual-like performances incorporating blood, earth,
water, and fire represents the spiritual side of Latin American art,
the Brazilian Mira Schendel
(1919–1988) is in the tradition of modernism. Her abstract paintings
and her typical letter drawings on rice paper are on exhibit in the Tate Modern in the artist’s first large-scale retrospective outside of her home country. Sarah Lucas
belongs to a younger generation of artists. At the beginning of her
year, she shocked audiences with stained mattresses, and this year
bronze sculptures by the artist were shown at the Venice Biennale. The Whitechapel Gallery is now presenting an exhibition tracing the controversial artist’s career.
Zaha Hadid’s restaurant for the new branch of the Serpentine Gallery
is also attracting a great deal of attention. The star architect
transformed a former gunpowder store into a modern exhibition hall and
designed a futuristic annex in which visitors can eat at asymmetric
tables. The dynamism of this gleaming white fiberglass construction
contrasts strongly with the rigidly classical architecture of the
historical building in which the exhibitions are shown. The Serpentine
Sackler Gallery, which like the Serpentine’s main space is situated in
Hyde Park, opens with a site-specific installation by the Argentinian Adrián Villar Rojas
consisting of monumental gray sculptures that seem to almost burst the
boundaries of the building. The exhibition in the “old” Serpentine
Gallery is somewhat more modest but no less fascinating. Marisa Merz, the grande dame of Arte Povera, is being featured there.