Emmanuel Van der Auwera in ARTnews

'8 Shows to See in London During Frieze, From Sam Gilliam’s Late Paintings to a Celebration of Iranian Feminist Icons' by Elizabeth Fullerton

11 October 2022  London galleries and institutions have pulled out the stops for the Frieze art fair this year, offering a mind-boggling amount of intriguing shows across the city. Painting exhibitions predominate, but even among those, the variety is vast.


ARTnews has selected some of the best exhibitions taking place in London right now. Hosted in venues ranging from blue-chip galleries to artist-run spaces across, their offerings span miniatures of pre-revolutionary Iranian feminist icons, delicate depictions of the Amazonian flora through the eyes of a Yanomami artist, and a phantasmagorical film delving into the cosmology of one Indigenous people in Indonesia.


Emmanuel Van der Auwera’s new show, Fire and Forget, presents a powerful meditation on our highly surveilled existence in the age of fake news and internet conspiracies through an immersive video installation, a film, and light-responsive photographic plates. The brilliant centerpiece is VideoSculpture XX (The World’s 6th Sense), which presents a disorienting forest of tripods bearing polarizing filters. Peer through them at six white wall-mounted LCD screens stripped of their polarizing layers, and suddenly photographic images of loom out of the blankness showing close-ups and panoramic shots of citizens in Las Vegas, captured by a military thermal imaging camera. It makes for unsettling viewing, prompting questions about who is watching us, where, and how often. It also reminds us of our own collusion in this state orchestrated surveillance. Downstairs is a looped screening of the Belgian artist’s 2019 film The Death of K-9 Cigo, splicing live-streamed video footage from the now-discontinued app Periscope. Taking the Miami Parkland school shooting as its starting point, the film reveals the twisted fault lines in the gun ownership debate. We hear the shooter’s paranoid insecurities in a speech posted before the slaughter, see an anti-gun protest, witness a man extolling the right to kill trespassers, and, in a bizarre turn, watch the outpouring of grief among officers when a police dog named Cigo is killed.


Emmanuel Van der Auwera: Fire and Forget, installation view, Edel Assanti, London, 2022. Photo: Andy Keate. Courtesy the artist and Edel Assanti.


Tai Shani at Gathering
An exciting newcomer to the London scene, Gathering has launched with a thrilling, complex, cosmic show “Your Arms Outstretched Above Your Head, Coding with the Angels” by Tai Shani, a winner of the 2019 Turner Prize. Through film, watercolors, and a trippy sculpture installation, the British artist weaves a fantastical immersive narrative around ergot, a hallucinogenic and potentially fatal fungus found in crops such as rye and wheat. Shani invites the visitor on a psychedelic feminist odyssey that begins with nine watercolors and her nine-chapter film the Neon Hieroglyph; downstairs one descends into a nightmarish crypt-mausoleum and encounters a creepy multi-eyed Madonna-like bust with enormous exposed breasts, black candelabras with light-up zombie faces in glass globes, disembodied hands, golden ionic columns, and a relic vitrine containing bones and intestines. Paintings and sculptural reliefs around the walls evoke fungal spores, portals, and the insides of bodies. Shani weaves together myriad historical, religious, ideological, and mythological references in this multi-sensory tapestry, from a folkloric tale of a flying witch who stole uninfected bread to distribute it to the poor to incidents of mass poisoning and hallucination from eating ergot-infested rye bread to midwives’ use of the fungus in childbirth. We are presented with an intoxicating vision of an alternative, harmoniously interconnected world liberated from the capitalist patriarchy, where angels, crones, magic and hallucinogens are not ostracized but celebrated.


11 October 2022
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