This autumn, the meaning and power of love get a fresh outing on stage, TV and in music. So get ready for plenty of laughs, tears and everything in between with the help of our indispensable guide to the top cultural picks that should be on your radar.
It is no surprise that, in our increasingly terrifying world, the demand for tender ambient music is on the rise. The latest offering in the genre is Cry, the new record from Texas group Cigarettes After Sex. The quartet’s self-titled 2017 album had fans enraptured with their seductive, melancholic songs that are the sonic equivalent of the band’s name.
Lead singer Greg Gonzalez’s extraordinary and somewhat feminine vocals deliver effortless, aching love songs that are almost indistinguishable from one another. Strangely this is no bad thing. Cry is a beautiful, lilting collection of soothing ballads full of lovelorn emotion.
‘Cry’ is out 25 October
The inspiration for this eight-part series comes from real-life stories – specifically, those published in the ever-popular Modern Love column in the New York Times. Selected from the newspaper’s 750-strong archive, they cover everything from adultery and unwanted pregnancy to infatuation, and are a tribute to the confessional role that the daily has been playing for decades. Of course it’s not all just cosy romcom: there’s spiky humour too. For instance, Tina Fey and John Slattery enjoy date night at a couple’s therapy session. Anne Hathaway, Andy Garcia and Dev Patel are also among the terrific cast.
‘Modern Love’ airs on 18 October
The story of a man who spent five years poring over 6.5 million pages of CIA documents may not sound like one that could be readily translated to the silver screen. But screenwriter Scott Z Burns’ directorial debut about the exhaustive investigation into the agency’s post-9/11 implementation of “enhanced interrogation techniques” makes for an engrossing watch.
Diligent staffer Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) uncovers the disturbing legal and ethical gymnastics employed by the CIA and the White House to justify the use, and subsequent downplaying, of torture of suspected terrorists. What follows is a fight to get the findings published. The Report is a disquieting triumph of intelligent political film-making.
‘The Report’ is out in the UK on 15 November
Archetypally Jewish-New York and a product of the anxious times in which it is set, William Finn and James Lapine’s 1992 Broadway musical Falsettos might be assumed to have passed its sell-by date. In fact, the show is still a smart and moving musical outing.
This European debut for composer-lyricist Finn’s excavation of love and loss during the onset of Aids speaks to the need for both community and compassion. Daniel Boys brings humour and heart to the role of the mournful Marvin, who leaves his wife Trina (Laura Pitt-Pulford) for male lover Whizzer just as Trina takes up with a psychiatrist who counts their son among his patients. Even if you tend to resist sobbing in public, you’re likely to leave stifling more than a sniff.
‘Falsettos’ is on until 23 November
This powerful exhibition of 20 years’ work by Italian-born Magnum photographer Paolo Pellegrin is a show of two halves. The first darkened section focuses on his photos of war and migration: Isis prisoners on trial, the battle for Mosul, Israeli airstrikes on Beirut. The second is an immersion in light – dazzling pictures of Antarctica, bathers in the Dead Sea – showing his engagement with nature. Curator Germano Celant compares Pellegrin to photographers such as Walker Evans and Lee Friedlander, who had “the urgency to learn more, rather than a desire to create an iconic image”.
‘Paolo Pellegrin’ is on from 31 October to 23 February
“Art to wear” was a little-known art movement that emerged in the late 1960s in the US, now rediscovered via a show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Director Timothy Rub describes it as “an adventurous aspect of American art that took the body as its vehicle of expression”. Against a turbulent background – the Vietnam War and the assassination of Martin Luther King – artists tore up the art-school curriculum, embracing craft, environmental design and performance.
The works on show range from embroidered denim hotpants (made in 1973 by Anna VA Polesny) to a Native American-inspired feathered cape that turns the wearer, as its title suggests, into a “Big Bird”.
‘Off the Wall’ is on from 10 November to 17 May
Last summer Tokyo’s Ariake bay area suddenly became the city’s unlikely new cultural beacon. The reason? TeamLab. Headed by Toshiyuki Inoko, this 500-member Japanese artist collective opened Borderless, an unprecedented digital-arts museum. Run by 520 computers and 470 projectors, the museum’s breathtaking, ever-changing moving digital artworks interact with each other and the visitors. It has attracted a record-breaking 2.3 million people from around the world within the first year. Its second outpost is opening in Shanghai’s Huangpu district; inside an enormous space, the museum will showcase 50 of TeamLab’s artworks, including its famous “Forest of Lamps”.
TeamLab Borderless Shanghai opens on 5 November
Contemporary west African art is having a moment at shows around the world and Art x Lagos is a fair hoping to position Nigeria at the centre of this rising scene. Founded in 2016 by young collector and businesswoman Tokini Petearside (who submitted the idea for the region’s first international art fair as a project proposal for her MBA), the show attracts patrons from around the world and returns to Lagos this November with a much- expanded fourth edition.
The number of international galleries taking part has increased from 18 to 26 and includes London-based Tafeta and South Africa’s Goodman Gallery. Also new is Art x Modern, a section dedicated to promoting pioneers of 20th-century African art, and a performance-art section curated by artist Wura-Natasha Ogunji. Don’t miss the installations dotted throughout the three-day fair, where artists including Emeka Ogboh and Amanda Iheme will present works in mediums from augmented reality to film and sound.
Art x Lagos is open to the public from 1 to 3 November
Louis Simone Guirandou Gallery:See the work of Nù Barreto, whose ashen-grey paintings represent Africa’s hardships.
Bloom Art: FindNigeria’s Bloom Art in the fair’s brand-new Art x Modern section, showing a series of Muraina Oyelami’s romantic paintings.
Addis Fine Art: Check out the brightly coloured photographs of Eyerusalem Adugna Jiregna.
When Hisham Matar was 19 and living in London, his father was kidnapped in Cairo, bundled into a plane and taken to Libya. There, he disappeared. As a way of coping with this loss, Matar spent a lot of time in London’s National Gallery looking at paintings by artists from Siena.
Twenty-five years later, after writing his powerful memoir The Return, Matar decides to visit the Tuscan town. As he immerses himself in the city and its paintings, he meditates on how works of art can both console and disturb. He also reflects on how they have the power to illuminate our own inner landscape and enable us to understand the nature of grief, love and solitude. Matar’s writing has a precise simplicity and this book – with full colour reproductions of the paintings he discusses – is a thing of beauty and wisdom; something of a consolation in itself.
‘A Month in Siena’ is released on 17 October
M – Le Magazine du Monde is the fantastic weekly title that accompanies French daily Le Monde every weekend. With clever design and a wide range of stories (from Oscar Niemeyer’s unfinished work in Lebanon to the best of French fashion), M is the perfect example of what all newspaper supplements should aim to be.
It will come as good news for non-French speakers, then, that the title just published its very first English-language edition. According to the title’s editorial director Marie Pierre-Lannelongue, the international edition will not simply be the best of the weekly but will offer an in-depth look at what France represents today.
‘M – Le Magazine du Monde’ is on newsstands now
SFMoma curator Eungie Joo on the museum’s large-scale ‘Soft Power’ exhibition, which brings together 20 artists to reflect on this slippery subject.
“The concept of soft power emerged during the Reagan era. Joseph Nye, a political scientist, talked about the cultural assets of a nation in international relations; about persuasion, not coercion. The way I’m using it in this show is really a sly appropriation: I’m thinking about artists as cultural producers with influence. The artists will play off each other’s work, some of them in formal ways and others in content. Pratchaya Phinthong is researching methane hydrate [so-called ‘flammable ice’] under the Sea of Japan, which is an incredible resource. But as we know, energy sources can prove to be double-edged swords. Tanya Lukin Linklater is a First Nations artist of Alutiiq descent. She has been working with ritual objects in the Hearst Museum of Anthropology [in Berkeley]. She said she was moved by the objects and the violence of their removal. Because they’ve been fumigated, some of them are now quite toxic. But they have also been protected so her and her children’s generation can learn from them. The society that took them has also looked after them. That’s what I would like people to take from this exhibition: that things aren’t monolithic, they are complex. Things aren’t black and white, there are many shades of grey.”
‘Soft Power’ opens 26 October