Art Monthly 447: June 2021

Art Monthly cover Art Monthly back cover
Sutapa Biswas

Interviewed by Amanprit Sandhu

Art and the Counter-Archive

Francis Frascina

Morehshin Allahyari

Profile by Helen Kaplinsky

Mental Health and Art

Tim Steer

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Sutapa Biswas, Lumen, 2021



Sutapa Biswas interviewed by Amanprit Sandhu

I had to revisit what I imagined was the mindset of my mother at the time that she left India for England, travelling by herself by sea with five young children; travelling to the country of the very people who had violently colonised India for several hundred years.

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The Art Workers’ Coalition and Guerrilla Art Action Group protest outside MoMA, New York, 8 January, 1970


Art and the Counter-Archive

Francis Frascina proposes alternative ways of compiling and accessing art archives

The archive promises historical and documentary completeness in its secure vault, but inevitably occludes loss, absence and separation. Think of official slavery archives, rendered incomplete for the tragic reasons expressed in Derek Walcott’s 1979 poem ‘The Sea is History’.

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Morehshin Allahyari, Lamassu, from ‘Material Speculation: ISIS’, 2015–16


Morehshin Allahyari

Helen Kaplinsky on the Iranian artist’s use of folklore to restore erased histories while critiquing techno-positivism

While there has been much debate recently concerning the restitution of items seized before living memory, such as the Benin Bronzes, Morehshin Allahyari questions the fate of heritage in the midst of today’s current conflicts.


Dull and Duller

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has announced a 50% cut to higher education arts funding, expanding his government’s culture war into a war on culture.

If this were not bad enough, the letter goes on to say, ‘we would then potentially seek further reductions in future years’, assuming there is anything left to cut by then.



Michaële Cutaya proposes that artists stop digging and instead focus on surfaces

I would say that it is sidewards we should be looking rather than downwards; that it is the superficial that needs our urgent attention more than geological strata.


Lack of Trustee

The government continues its culture war by blocking the reappointment of a museum trustee over his work on decolonisation; the Public Campaign for the Arts organises against the government’s 50% cut to higher-education arts funding; a senior curator at LA MOCA resigns over the leadership’s lack of support for her inclusion work; artists go on hunger strike after their work is criminalised; the FBI’s Art Crime Team returns a British artist’s work stolen by white supremacists; plus the latest on galleries, people, prizes and more.


Richard Nonas 1936–2021
Martin Holman

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Chooc Ly Tan, On The Offbeat, 2020
‘Syncopes’, Mimosa House


Alice Channer: Megaflora

Chloe Carroll


Tess Charnley

Manfred Pernice: >accrochage<

Mark Prince

Olivia Bax: Off Grid

Martin Holman

Matt Bollinger: Collective Conscious

Hettie Judah

London Round-up

Paul Carey-Kent


David Curtis: London’s Arts Labs and the 60s Avant-Garde

Colin Perry

Art history comes alive in gossip, name-dropping and slanderous half-memories, and David Curtis’s account is stuffed to the brim with such material.

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Elsa M’bala, performance in the field, 2017, photo by Simone Gilges

Cathy Lane and Angus Carlyle: Sound Arts Now

Greg Thomas

While many non-western hubs appear to have been established – in Hong Kong, Taiwan, India – some artists, such as the Cameroonian Elsa M’bala, appear to be working with tenuous infrastructural support.

Alexandra Moschovi: A Gust of Photo-Philia – Photography in the Art Museum

Chris Clarke

Conceptual and performance art practices which utilised photography as a form of documentation rendered notions of medium-specificity redundant while, conversely, tendencies towards larger-scale, high-definition images imbued other photographs with a sense of aura and awe more readily associated with painting.

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The Decorators, Portal Tables: Connecting Multiscalar Communities, 2021


The Decorators: Portal Tables – Connecting Multiscalar Communities

Ellen Mara De Wachter

The shake-up of rituals occasioned by the pandemic has given artists interested in social relations much to ponder.

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Richard Fung, Sea in the Blood, 2000


10th Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival: Alchemy Live

Matt Turner

In Sea in the Blood, Richard Fung describes his relationship with disease, having lost a sister to thalassemia around the same time that his partner was diagnosed with AIDS.

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John Smith, Covid Messages, 2020

John Smith: Citadel and Covid Messages

Alexandra Hull

John Smith pokes fun at the government’s mishandling of the pandemic while also documenting a significant period in UK history, of lockdowns and tedious press conferences and the Tories’ prioritisation of the health of the economy over the health of the nation, which led to disaster for both.

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Jeamin Cha, Sound Garden, 2019


Mental Health and Art

Tim Steer

Recent contemporary art projects, such as the ICA’s programme ‘THIS WORLD MAKES US SICK’, devised by the bare minimum collective, and the lecture series ‘Don’t Worry I’m Sick and Poor’, have pointed to the relationship between neoliberalism, illness and mental health.

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activists gathered outside MoMA, 30 April 2021


Strike MoMA

Saim Demircan

‘Whether Leon Black stays or goes, a consensus has emerged: beyond any one board member, MoMA itself is the real problem,’ continues Strike MoMA’s argument, which views the museum as a monument to the failings of Modernism.


On Critical Distance

Matthew Bowman

If the critic speaks through the doorbell camera, then that would be the human condition. Detachment and attachment are each other’s inner lining.

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Martin Kippenberger, Martin, Into the Corner, You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself, 1989, estimated at $10-15m, sold for $9.5m


Cautionary Tales

Colin Gleadell

Fractional ownership is something finance people have tried to introduce into the art world in the past, but without much success. Now it is being reported that resales of NFTs are not going too well; in fact, they are going down in value for the poor investors.

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BurntBanksy cunning stunts


Crypto Art Business

Henry Lydiate

Making/minting an NFT of an artist’s original artwork without the artist’s express prior permission or licence, then trading the NFT commercially, might arguably be breaches of the artist’s copyright in the physical/analogue image of the artwork. Furthermore, burning a physical artwork and posting a video of that execution to be viewed thousands of times worldwide might arguably be a breach of the artist’s statutory moral right not to have their work suffer derogatory treatment.

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