Six to Watch in February
The Space: The Mistake Room in Los Angeles
The ever-growing L.A. art scene just got a new exhibition space—The Mistake Room. Based in a 4,500-square-foot ex-warehouse in the industrial downtown of the city, this space has big ambitions. Founded by curator Cesar Garcia, who has created shows for the Hammer and LAXArt, the aim of the institution is to focus on a serious international program of emerging artists in the style of a kunsthalle. It launched January 18 with a solo show from Oscar Murillo entitled “Distribution Center,” which runs until April 12, focusing on the Colombian London-based artist’s video work concerning ideas of production, social interaction and economies. A new imprint Misprint Press is putting out publications to go with the shows. Expect big things.
The Exhibition: “La voix humaine” at Kunstverein München
Jean Cocteau is an artist who is overdue for a serious rival. This exhibition is based on Poulenc’s 1958 adaptation of the draftsman, director, writer, and all round genius’ play La voix humaine. Here the focus is on intimacy and the emotional in relationship to technology. Cue a refreshing selection of names like Frances Stark, Cally Spooner, and R Kelly (of “Bump ‘N Grind” fame). These are artists reinventing contemporary approaches to performance and film such as Cecile B. Evans, whose work, Agnes (the end is near), is a video work where a computerized identity questions its future and in turn technology’s dependency on man. January 25 – March 30; more info here.
The Prize: Max Mara Art Prize for Women
Girls are on top in this notable biannual art prize, now in its fifth incarnation. The winner of this well respected award, devoted to female artists based in the United Kingdom, was announced last week: Canadian-British Glasgow-based artist Corin Sworn, who was one of the three artists to show at the Scotland Pavilion as part of the 55th Venice Biennale last year, was chosen as this year’s winner. The prize includes a six month residency in Italy and shows at London’s Whitechapel Gallery and in Italy. This year’s jury included: artist Runa Islam, gallerist Pilar Corrias, and curator and Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick, OBE, who chose from a shortlist of artists: Beatrice Gibson, Melanie Gilligan, Judith Goddard, Philomene Pirecki, and Sworn. Past winners have included Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost, so this is definitely a prize to get serious attention.
The Artist: Alexandre Singh
Singh’s first major London solo exhibition is based on a major three act play the artist was commissioned to create in 2013 by Performa 13 and Rotterdam’s Witte de With museum. The Humans is a piece with a wild as hell narrative about creation, brimming in art historical and classical references, allegorical landscape and the kind of intelligence and depth of research that Singh has gained serious attention for. Sprüth Magers’ Mayfair space is being transformed into a museum of objects and characters, and the play will also be screened in film form for the first time. Who else but Singh could put Aristophanes, Charles Ray, and Woody Allen into the same project? January 24 – March 29
The Event: “Fight” at Center, Berlin
From the paintings of George Bellows to novels of Norman Mailer, boxing is one of those sports that the world of culture can’t seem to get enough of. This inventive series of events at experimental space Center in Berlin, pairs artists in art “fights.” In this case that involves contrasting video installations, sculptures, ideas and the visual equivalent of a knock out. Organized by Clemence Delatourdupin, Antoine Renard, and Jol Thomson, upcoming fights include hot international artists like Jennifer Chan, Steve Bishop, and Leslie Kulesh. Gloves at the ready.
The Curator: Paul Pieroni
Paul Pieroni is a well established young curator on the London art scene, notably transforming SPACE, the exhibition space co-founded by Bridget Riley and connected to a group of artist studios, into one of the most innovative and boundary pushing nonprofits in the city. The current program, which opened on January 24th, took things to another level. Pieroni put on three immaculately curated simultaneous shows. The main focus was Paul McCarthy’s rarely seen early performative black-and-white film works, which was shown alongside a group exhibition of emerging artists with a surface-pop aesthetic, like Amy Yao, and a brilliantly installed video work satirizing Lettrism from collective Everybody Agrees in a graffiti laden stairwell. Give it a bit of time and Pieroni could well be curating the Tate.
Portrait of Corin Sworn courtesy Whitechapel Gallery. Photo by Alan Dimmick.
Alexandre Singh: Photos: Sanne Peper. Choreography: Flora Sans. © Alexandre Singh. Courtesy Sprüth Magers Berlin London / Art:Concept, Paris / Metro Pictures, New York / Monitor, Rome.
SPACE: Dean Blunt, Brixton 28s, SPACE (2013); Raymond Pettibon, Human Wave, SPACE (2013). All installation images courtesy the artists and SPACE. Photography by Plastiques.