Culture: Briefing / Global
Sight and sound
From an artist’s interrogation of identity to an auteur’s latest work of high melodrama, we survey forthcoming cultural highlights.
This newly renovated space is expected to become Belgium’s latest major art gallery. It’s an experiment in what a cultural venue can be; consisting of two buildings, it includes a co-working space with integrated artist studios, as well as a bar and a gym. It also features a more conventional white-cube space, which will serve as the home of the Frédéric de Goldschmidt collection. This includes work by major international artists such as French-Algerian Neïl Beloufa, US painter Christopher Wool and Iranian Shirin Neshat, alongside that of younger emerging creatives and historical pieces sourced from the arte povera and Zero Group movements. Ahead of Cloud Seven’s official unveiling in February, the space is hosting a group show of 250 artists inspired by Turin-born master Alighiero Boetti.
Cloud Seven opens in February
‘Shooting Down Babylon’ at Zeitz Mocaa
South African artist Tracey Rose has been exploring issues of identity, race, gender and colonialism through her installations, performances and photography since the 1990s. In her largest-ever show, Rose will present ambitious installations, photographs and video works, including the titular “Shooting Down Babylon (The Art of War)”, a film about non-Western rituals of exorcism and cleansing.
‘Shooting Down Babylon’ runs from 17 February
‘What Is the Object?’ at Bard Graduate Center
Throughout his long career much of US minimalist artist Richard Tuttle’s practice has been based around collecting objects and creating work in response to them. This exhibition focuses entirely on those projects. Made up of 75 items taken from his collection, each accompanied by an index card detailing its origins and the artist’s relationship to it, the show asks viewers to consider teacups, textiles and antiques. Tuttle’s eclectic, mesmerising work also invites them to question the line between inspiration and artwork.
‘What Is the Object?’ runs from 25 February
The latest novel from the author of The Buddha in the Attic takes as its setting a public pool. What begins as a group portrait of the swimmers who find comfort there becomes the story of Alice, whose daily laps have helped her to keep dementia at bay. When a crack appears in the pool, forcing it to close, her memories start to drift. Following the effect of her deterioration on her relationship with her estranged daughter, Julie Otsuka spins a tale of community, grief and love.
‘The Swimmers’ is published on 24 February
Tossing out the idea of transition as a straightforward journey, writer, editor and Berkeley scholar Grace Lavery explores literature, pop culture and queer theory in a memoir that touches on subjects ranging from performance, addiction and sex to our relationship with our bodies.
‘Please Miss’ is published on 8 February
How High We Go in the Dark
Japanese-American writer Sequoia Nagamatsu’s debut can be read either as a series of short stories or as a single epic tale. It follows loosely connected characters spanning generations as they adjust to life after a plague is released by the melting Arctic ice. With unbridled imagination, Nagamatsu conjures a world that is at once unrecognisable and frighteningly close to our own. It’s an ambitious and timely piece of speculative fiction that is both harrowing and hopeful.
‘How High We Go in the Dark’ is out now
The Gods We Can Touch
Norwegian singer Aurora Aksnes’s ethereal vocals will be catnip to fans of the Cocteau Twins or Björk. She often works on multiple records at once, referring to them as “steps” rather than albums; her next step, a soaring spook-fest, could be her best yet.
‘The Gods We Can Touch’ is released on 21 January
Life on Earth
Hurray for the Riff Raff
When Bronx-born Puerto Rican musician Alynda Segarra was 17, she ran away from home and had to busk for a living. Her life story has worked its way into the lyrics of her past five albums, which were musically inspired by folk singers such as Woody Guthrie. On her latest record her band’s sound and subject matter have evolved, now focusing on the beauty of the world in a bid to make people take better care of it. With songs as good as “Rhododendron”, it might just catch on.
‘Life on Earth’ is released on 18 February
Cate Le Bon
Welsh artist Cate Le Bon took self-isolation one step further when she decided to lock herself away in a house to record a new album alone. There she created Pompeii, a collection of songs that question human existence, faith and the mundane surreality of life, deftly juxtaposing dark lyrics with deliciously tight instrumentation that largely consists of synths, saxophone and drums. It’s a peculiar combination of soothing yet intriguing sounds.
‘Pompeii’ is released on 4 February
Mr A & Mr M: The Story of A &M Records
What links Carole King, Sting and Janet Jackson? The answer is their record label, a&m Records, which was renowned for nurturing its artists rather than pushing for a disposable hit. This two-part documentary, rich in archive footage, looks back at the label’s history since its beginnings in 1962, when it was founded by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss in a garage. Their ability to adapt to rapidly changing tastes turned a&m into the world’s biggest independent record label. This documentary pays homage to their achievements.
Edward Buckles Jr
The devastating effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans is well documented but more than 15 years later its consequences are still being felt. This new documentary by Louisiana-based film-maker Edward Buckles Jr reminds us of the ramifications of the hurricane on those who were children when it happened. Now adults, they are still grappling with the trauma of their city’s destruction. — sbr
The Blue House Family
South Korean drama has enjoyed huge international acclaim recently. This sitcom could become the latest success back on home ground. Starring Cha In-pyo as the country’s president Ko Han-pyo, this political comedy paints an intimate picture of the people inside the “Blue House”, the executive office of the head of state, and shows the president as a man who is desperately trying to balance work and family life. The 10-episode series is being released just in time for the forthcoming presidential election, which will no doubt attract viewers ready to laugh at the absurdity of campaigning.
If you had to think of the most quintessential Pedro Almodóvar film, you would most likely imagine a movie about motherhood or an unusual friendship starring Penélope Cruz. All of the auteur’s signatures are found in Parallel Mothers. An artful piece of high melodrama with sinuous plotting, the film follows two women from disparate backgrounds whose lives become intertwined when they give birth on the same night. Cruz delivers a stunning turn, which won her the best actress award at the Venice International Film Festival.
‘Parallel Mothers’ is released on 28 January
Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige
Lebanese duo Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige blur the lines between film and video art, fiction and documentary, in their latest film. It follows a teenager in Canada who tries to access her mother’s little-discussed earlier life by immersing herself in a time capsule of recordings, photos and diaries from her youth during the civil war in 1980s Lebanon (in reality the mementos belong to the film-makers). The result is a multilayered collage that provides a look at how and why we remember.
‘Memory Box’ is released on 21 January
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
Though the title of this film by Japanese director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi might evoke a mid-afternoon game show, worry not. This mature drama offers considered meditations on fate, the choices we make and the delusions of everyday life. Hamaguchi presents his feature as three separate vignettes, each linked only by the centrality of chance to the narrative and their focus on female protagonists. That means we’re treated to three expertly crafted films in one.
‘Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy’ is released on 11 February
photographer: David de Vleeschauwer. images: Astory, El Deseo de Slu/Nico Bustos, Isak Okkenhaug