those untwisted by the love of things
irreconcilable…And yet, suppose some evening I forgot
The fare and transfer, yet got by that way
Without recall, – lost yet poised in traffic.
Then I might find your eyes across an aisle,
Still flickering with those prefigurations –
Prodigal, yet uncontested now,
Half-riant before the jerky window frame.
There is some way, I think, to touch
Those hands of yours that count the nights
Stippled with pink and green advertisements.
And now, before its arteries turn dark
I would have you meet this bartered blood.
[excerpt, For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen]
We are at the year’s end, 2019. There is not a singularity of form which could define the past twelve months, or any epoch. The word of the year by some was existential. The euphemism of populism fell back on old conservatism. This year, we have had our part of crisis and tension, distorted visions, along with struggles in identity, politics and culture.
2019 marked the 400th year anniversary of the first slave boats arriving in Jamestown in the U.S., considered by many as setting the stage for slavery in North America, renewing the discourse on reparations.
2019 was The Year The World Burned, with wildfires raging around the world, from Australia, the Amazon forest, the western coast of the U.S., through Russia, Indonesia, and even Lebanon.
2019 was one of most consequential years in the effects of climate change. Oxford defined the year with the term “climate emergency” and Time Magazine name Greta Thunberg person of the year, the youngest ever in their series.
In short, it has been a year, like many others, replete with anguish and joy, fear, love, and devastation.
Welcome to the .107th edition of Prescriptions and our look back on 2019.
An international photography exhibition of monumental scale, featuring over 200 original photographs by over 100 contemporary photographers from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe. Including artists Olaf Otto Becker, Mark Power, Amalia Ulman and Alec Soth. On view at National Gallery Victoria through February 2, 2020.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan
It was announced that the Turner Prize 2019, presented in partnership with Tate and Turner Contemporary, has been awarded to a collective bringing together the four nominated artists Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo, and Tai Shani, who shared a joint statement: “At this time of political crisis, we feel strongly motivated to use the occasion of the Prize to make a collective statement in the name of commonality, multiplicity and solidarity.” Through January 12, 2020 at Turner Contemporary.
Picking out a face in a crowd, capturing an act of violence between siblings, or framing close-up portraits of quiet despair, Dave Heath had an instinctive ability to capture the soul behind the persona. His work was featured this past fall at the National Gallery of Canada.
The exhibition of Navjot Altaf represents a new chapter in an investigation into the relationship between artistic practice and ecologist thinking, and reflects on the cultural sovereignty of indigenous populations. Curated by Marco Scotini. On view through February 16, 2020 at PAV Parco Arte Vivente.
Hayden Fowler, Together Again, 2017. Photo: Joy Lai
This major exhibition project at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art brought together works by over 50 artists including Allan Sekula, Martha Rosler, Doug Aitken, John Akomfrah, and Le Corbusier, looking at a future already in the making as the environmental agenda became one of most pressing global political questions, exploring the symptoms in various stages of anxiety or denial, and offers ways of working and coping with our collective ecological trauma.
Thirty years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden presents works by Boris Mikhailov, whose artistic stance displays a strong influence by the political and social changes of that time while also representing an important contemporary voice. Through February 9, 2020 at Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden.
The curiosity with which humans observe each other is insatiable. This exhibition brought this presumably universal characteristic into focus showcasing treasures of the Federal Photography Collection. Works by Lillian Birnbaum and Paul Kranzler, among others were presented at Museum der Moderne Salzburg.
The exhibition comprised of large scale portraits and interiors focuses on Alec Soth’s depiction of the individual, posing questions about what these images reveal about both the sitter and photographer. Presented at Sean Kelly Gallery, New York.
The U.N. General Assembly designated November 25th as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and began the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, running to December 10, Human Rights Day. We featured some women artists who have inspired and created in the art world, including Analia Saban, Rineke Dijkstra, Sophia Al-Maria, Cig Harvey, Ornella Mazzola, Helen Cammock, and Senta Simond, among others.
Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated in several parts of the world with minor variations in meaning and practice. Despite the evolution of holidays into the commercial realm, this year’s Thanksgiving we surveyed some contemporary Native American art, featuring works of Fritz Scholder, Frank Buffalo Hyde, Merritt Johnson, and the artist collective Postcommodity. Let us give thanks, and let us not forget our history.
Camilla Monga / Duetto in ascolto
The thematic exhibition was an in-depth exploration of the strands that connect humans to the natural environment that have been intensely compromised, if not entirely severed, over the years. XXII International Exhibition of La Triennale di Milano took place in September.
Naturales Historiae / Pauline Julier. Switzerland, 2018
With international films that consider the diversity of relationships of nature and society, this series was dedicated to the artistic and scientific debate of nature / culture as an indivisible whole. Presented this past October at Fogo Island Arts.
For the 10th edition rounding out 300 photographers to the collective, we featured the annual 30 Under 30 Women Photographers for 2019, presenting them at Maison de la Photographie in Lille and during Paris Photo in Paris at Galerie Claude Samuel. Stay tuned as we announce the selections of the 2020 group on January 1, 2020.
“There are many such moments here, from military exercises in a warming Arctic and Rwandan schoolgirls flexing their muscles to Alex Honnold climbing El Capitan’s sheer face without ropes. Johnson calls that particular photo run “a whole stretch of strength across space and time.” –Whitney Johnson, Curator. Featuring photographers Moises Saman, Jennifer Emerling, among many others.
This selection encouraged a reflection on the medium through questions of representation and the effects of the image on our perception of reality, notions of territory, and the represented subject. Artists included Nan Goldin, Wolfgang Tillmans, Martin Parr, among others from the Mudam Collection, Mudam Luxembourg.
Edward Weston, Nude, 1936
The 4th edition of Huxley-Parlour Gallery’s annual exhibition Masters of Photography included over 30 masterworks spanning the history of the medium. Artists included Edward Weston, William Klein, Irving Penn, Josef Koudelka, Cindy Sherman, and Joel Meyerowitz, and others. Recently presented at Huxley-Parlour Gallery.
Thomas Ralph / Darkest Hour (still)
“It’s never felt quite as isolating to live in the British Isles as it does in the wake of the Brexit referendum. That feeling of isolation by the insidious definition separating the them and us.” Darkest Hour, Directed by Thomas Ralph.
What a year it has been, as perhaps could be said of any year, seeking equilibrium and clarity. But not without hope. After all, 2019 was also the year of the global protest wave, where people around the world turned to the streets in record numbers.
A goose, tobacco and cologne… Distinctly praise the years, whose volatile blamed bleeding hands extend and thresh the height, the imagination spans beyond despair, outpacing bargain, vocable and prayer. (Hart Crane)
Promethean fire, water from Sisyphus. Let us remember this day. As Hegel reminds us, the world’s history is not the ground of happiness, for periods of happiness are simply empty pages in our history.
May we continue to live in such interesting times.