A major Tate exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s work doesn’t even open for another three weeks, but Twin are already dotty with anticpation. Such is the appeal of the Japanese artist’s work and personal story that the exhibition is shaping up to be the most exciting of 2012.
Since 1977, Japan’s foremost contemporary artist has, of her own free will, lived in a psychiatric institution and has been a victim of her own neurotic and obsessional behaviour. This behaviour however, has transformed itself over four decades, into startling, astounding art.
Come February 9th, the Tate Modern offers a diverse parade of her work, from paintings and drawings, to captured performances and immersive installations.She may be mostly known for her slight dot obsession, but this exhibition explores further, celebrating her intensely fruitful career, and is sure to only garner her more fervent followers.
Yayoi Kusama is at the Tate Modern from 9th February – 5th June 2012 tate.org.uk
Artist Taryn Simon’s work is a fascinating blend of photojournalism and art photography. Often taking the form of a visual inventory, she’s famed for her meticulous research and crisp photographic execution.
Among her projects, the 2007 book, An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar delved into America’s secret places such as a nuclear waste storage facility in Washington State to a cave where a sleeping black bear and its cubs are monitored by biologists studying hibernation,
Her new show at the Tate Modern is no less obscure, or engrossing. A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters is a complex genealogy of family histories. Four years of research that took just two to photograph, the installation traces a series of 18 family bloodlines, each with its own individual story.
The opening chapter centres on a living Indian man who gives the project its title, having been declared dead in official records. Other real life characters include an Iraqi man who was apparently employed as Saddam Hussein’s son’s body double and a member of the Druze religious sect in Lebanon who believes in reincarnation and re-enacts remembered scenes from previous lives. It’s a magnum opus that’s not to be missed.
A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters is at Tate Modern, London, 25 May to 6 September. tarynsimon.com
Caption: Excerpt from Chapter IV, A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters a. Gold-plated Iraqi Al-Kadissiya sniper rifle seized by members of the American Defense Intelligence Agency during a search of Uday Huessein’s palace in Baghdad. The inscription on the gun transalted from Arabic reads: “A gift from the president of the republic, Mr. Saddam Hussein.” Saddam Hussein produced gold-plated weapons for use on ceremonial occasions and as gifts. Defense Intelligence analysis Center, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C. b. Latif Yahia impersonating Uday Hussein. Undisclosed location, Ireland.
Caption: Excerpt from Chapter VI, A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters 51. No. 326, 27 May 2009. Inglewood, Queensland, Australia.
52. No. 327, 27 May 2009. Inglewood, Queensland, Australia.
Artist Richie Culver uses words to grab his audience’s attention and bring old images to life. Last year his collage featuring Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics bursting out of the starting blocks, along with the line – ‘Have you ever really loved anyone?’ – stormed the Tate Modern, and since then he’s been busily building an oeuvre of black and white photos reinvigorated with his sharp slogans.
Now in his debut solo show at W11 Gallery, Culver has seized the chance to exhibit his statement canvases alongside personal photography.
“I’ve documented my life over the past 10 years with no intention of anyone ever seeing the photographs,’ says Culver.” But after my art started getting attention with the Jesse Owens piece, I thought: ‘Why not show this other side of me too?’. They touch people in different ways which is something I never expected.”
The photos in question are dark images of love, loss and heartbreak. A naked lover curled up on a bed, remnants of last nights parties and portraits of local characters reminiscent of Diane Arbus – all are shot in his black and white stamp. Culver, who recently shot the cover art work for Twin girl-crush Coco Sumner’s debut album, says it was his own realisation at a young age that he wasn’t going to make it as a rockstar that helped him to discover his own voice.
“It started with my playing around with words.. coming up with song titles and lyrics.. and when you don’t play the guitar too well, you’re basically just left with all of these words. For me they then turned into images.” He doesn’t disappoint.
‘Borstal Spots and Polka Dots’ is at the West 11 Gallery until Sunday 26th September.