Culture briefing / Global
Whether you’ve got your eye on a painting at Art Basel, want to watch a thrilling piece of cinema or prefer to spend your summer days relaxing with a good novel, our guide to the best films, series, art, books and exhibitions on offer this month has all the information you’ll need.
‘A Bath Full of Ecstasy’
The London band’s seventh studio album is their most commercial to date – and a joy to listen to. A Bath Full of Ecstasy marks Hot Chip’s first time working with external producers (French house maestro Phillippe Zdar and Rodaidh McDonald) and the collaboration brings fresh impetus to the quintet’s sound.
The celebratory tone starts with euphoric opener “Melody of Love”, which features a sample of US gospel group The Mighty Clouds of Joy. First single “Hungry Child” shows how Hot Chip can dominate the dancefloor, while industrial-sounding “Spell” is also enchanting. Vocalist Alexis Taylor has never sounded so good.
‘A Bath Full of Ecstasy’ is released on 21 June
Edson Sabajo and Guillaume Schmidt – better known as Edson and Gee – made their names as founders of Dutch streetwear brand Patta. Now they are guest-curating the opening programme of Het Hem, an enormous space in a former munitions factory just north of Amsterdam.
The emphasis is on cultural crossover: the opening show will mix art, performance and music. Big names in the exhibition include US conceptual artist Adrian Piper and Rotterdam-based multimedia artist Erik van Lieshout. There’s a restaurant and bar, as well as an art library and studios for artists-in-residence.
Het Hem opens on 21 June
‘Etel Adnan and the Moderns’
What a difference a few years makes. Until 2012, 94-year-old Lebanese poet Etel Adnan was barely known as an artist. Then her small, luminous semi-abstract landscapes – which she paints on a tabletop in her tiny Paris apartment – were shown at Documenta 13 in Germany and she became an overnight star.
As well as paintings, Adnan is a prolific poet, playwright and essayist who’s written a great deal about feminism and anti-war sentiments, with pieces dedicated to the Vietnam War as well as Lebanon’s civil war.
This exhibition in architect IM Pei’s dramatic Luxembourg museum will show Adnan’s paintings and tapestries alongside early 20th-century artists who influenced her: Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Nicolas de Staël. Adnan grew up in Beirut in a house “with no paintings – but we had rugs”. Of her influences she has said: “Klee was the first painter I fell in love with; his paintings put me in state of ecstasy.”
Etel Adnan opens on 8 June
Centre Pompidou, Paris
Dora Maar is remembered as Picasso’s muse. But Henriette Theodora Markovitch (her real name) was an acclaimed photographer and artist in her own right. Dora Maar, which opens at the Centre Pompidou before travelling to London and Los Angeles, starts with her early fashion work then moves on to her famous surrealist photography of the 1930s (before her fateful meeting with Picasso in 1936).
Less well known are her extraordinary photograms: painterly photographs that were produced without a camera, which she made in the last decades of her life. It is also easy to forget how political she was: a powerful set of street portraits in Paris, London and Barcelona capture the poverty in interwar Europe.
‘Dora Maar’ opens on 5 June
There are about 300 art fairs on the international calendar every year but if you only travel to one, make it Art Basel. The Swiss edition of the contemporary show is a more sober affair than its Hong Kong and Miami cousins but remains the original and best. Competition is fierce to capture the attention of the world’s top collectors, curators and critics. Expect the 290 galleries to make the most of artists who have just starred at the Venice Biennale or have had recent museum shows.
Hales Gallery is bringing rare 1980s paintings by black British artist Frank Bowling; there will be daily performances by Alexandra Pirici, an artist-choreographer who broke through at 2017’s Skulptur Projekte Münster; and the ever-popular Unlimited exhibition of large-scale pieces curated by New Yorker Gianni Jetzer.
Art Basel is open to the public from 13 to 16 June
More satellite fairs in Basel:
Design Miami/Basel: A group of 43 galleries show modern and contemporary design, including pieces by Gio Ponti and Flemming Lassen.
Liste: A great fair for spotting emerging artists. First-timers include A Thousand Plateaus Art Space from Chengdu and Good Weather, a gallery started in a garage in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
Photo Basel: The 41 galleries showing at this fair (see column, opposite) include established names such as Galerie Springer in Berlin as well as up-and-coming spaces. Master Cabinet hosts a selection of vintage works.
‘City on a Hill’
Boston in the 1990s: corruption and racism are rife – and it’s the perfect place for an unlikely alliance between a prosecutor and a cop that changes the way justice works. After a sizzling performance in I Love Dick that gained him a Golden Globe nomination, Kevin Bacon returns in stellar form as the series’ swindling yet venerated policeman. Playing his counterpart is Aldis Hodge: the district attorney who’s come from Brooklyn to “rip out the machinery in this bullshit city”. Their performances make for an unmissable series; a cop drama with soul. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are among the executive producers.
‘City on a Hill’ launches on 16 June
Michael Bully Herbig
Seven adaptations have been made about the hot-air balloon that crossed from East Germany to West in 1979. The tale of two families joining forces to stitch together fabric for a huge gas balloon captures the imagination – not least because they had a previous attempt that ended in failure.
Now German polymath director Michael “Bully” Herbig takes the elements of a cosy period tale and crafts this thrilling nail-biter. Like Titanic or the recent glut of superhero films, you know what will happen: it remains to see exactly how. Engaging and pacy, Balloon doesn’t hang around: you’re with the families who are only one step ahead of the Stasi. This is a beautiful, serious and joyous piece of cinema.
‘Balloon’ is released in the UK on 14 June
‘What the Constitution Means to Me’
Helen Hayes Theater, New York
Near the conclusion of this play by writer-performer Heidi Schreck, each theatregoer gets a pamphlet-sized version of the United States Constitution. But that’s just the most obvious takeaway prompted by a 100-minute show (no interval) that was among this year’s finalists for the Pulitzer prize for drama.
With the help of two other actors, one of whom is a high school senior who hopes to be a lawyer, Schreck guides us through a play that is equal parts historical document, legal inquiry and personal reminiscence. It’s often laugh-out-loud funny but deeply moving too. The play speaks up to its audience and demands that we listen.
‘What the Constitution Means to Me’ is on until 21 July
Ahead of the fifth edition of Photo Basel, we speak to the director of this boutique fair about the photography market and why it’s a smart route into collecting.
“Photography is a great market for young or first-time buyers. There may still be some artists (of a particular generation) for whom it’s not art but it’s certainly on the rise – and not only because everybody with a smartphone is a photographer at this stage, and therefore in tune with the medium. Unlike contemporary art, it’s accessible and affordable: you can find a fantastic photograph for a few thousand euros. The average prices at Photo Basel are between €5,000 and €12,000, though obviously it depends on the name. The most expensive work we had last year was a €100,000 Cindy Sherman. My advice is: buy with your eyes and heart. It’s fantastic if you find a piece that you know won’t decrease in value but, most importantly, you want a piece that makes you feel something – that grabs your attention, even if you can’t explain why.
You should ask questions; at an intimate fair like Photo Basel, you have every opportunity to talk to gallerists, dealers and artists. How was it made? How many editions are there? Another thing you can do now is buy in instalments. We have Netflix accounts that we pay for per month – why not the same with art?”
Photo Basel is open to the public from 11 to 16 June at Volkshaus Basel
The Lone Star State’s media needs are well served by the excellent Texas Monthly but that won’t stop new quarterly Lone Sound zooming onto the state’s culture and music scene. Co-founders Jaimie Siegle and Clint Young make a point of working with writers, photographers and artists who are redefining the expectations surrounding Texan music – and going well beyond the country-folk stereotype.
So far, for its online journal, Lone Sound has spoken to Dallas-based drummer Robert “Sput” Searight and Fort Wright-born soul-singing superstar Leon Bridges. It has also spotlighted the formidable Fortress Festival, another cultural institution that’s betting on the state’s musical bounty with acts such as Houston dub trio Khruangbin.
In its print incarnation, the magazine promises to be just as smooth, surprising and achingly cool.
Lone Sound is out this spring
‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’
Little Dog writes a letter to his Vietnamese mother who can’t read. If she could, would he be able to tell this family story that starts in war-torn Saigon and comes to America? Would he confess his attraction for a farmhand called Trevor? While there is love between mother and son, there’s also violence that erupts after she’s been working among the fumes of the nail parlour.
This is a stunning, sensuous novel that paints a portrait of a mother and her child struggling to work out how to live in a new land. There is fear and anger but the boy’s love for his mother – and for the world that surrounds him – sings off the page.
‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ is released by Jonathan Cape on 20 June