Art Monthly 449: September 2021

Art Monthly cover Art Monthly back cover
Grieving and Grievance

Francis Frascina

Representing Destruction

Matthew Bowman

Entangled Bodies

Stephanie Bailey

Letters from Venice and Arles

Agnieszka Gratza • Virginia Whiles

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Melvin Edwards, Texcali, 1965


Grieving and Grievance

Francis Frascina discusses the politics of public grieving, asking why some lives are worthy of official remembrance and others are not

Grieving for lives lost depends on the subject positions of grievance and identity. For Margaret Thatcher, images of IRA hunger strikers from 1981 or of miners on strike from 1984–85 were the opposite of what Judith Butler calls the dominant media narrative of ‘unite the nation’.

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Sam Durant, Paris 1871, 2018


Representing Destruction

Matthew Bowman considers the role of archives in recording and representing the destruction of art by artists and by others

Ultimately, it might be suggested that what matters is not destruction in the public sphere or by the public, but the destruction of the public sphere itself and the social bonds that it can foster.

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Carolyn Lazard, A Recipe for Disaster, 2018


Entangled Bodies

Stephanie Bailey considers the ways in which artists and audiences are marginalised by definitions of disability that derive from an ‘ideology of the abled’

The politics of disability connects with the politics of decolonisation, anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism, because the conditions are rooted in a system that defines a human’s worth by their ability to work.


’Nam Flashbacks

Politicians understand the power of images to shape political and military narratives, which is why the images now forever associated with the chaotic retreat from Afghanistan are as surprising as they are deadly.

President Biden: ‘There’s going to be no circumstance [in which] you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan.’


Universities and Disaster Capitalism

Thomas Morgan Evans on the expectation that students show ‘resilience’

Though individual and collective attempts to adapt and hold on are praiseworthy, ultimately, narratives of resilience following a disaster only serve the agendas of those keen to legitimise or normalise strained conditions.


Freedom Day

The arts sector re-opens over the summer with sensible safety measures in place, unlike Parliament; the culture secretary uses his platform to defend an extremist broadcaster against a grassroots anti-hate campaign; the Whitworth gallery first caves in to partisan pressure then U-turns regarding its Forensic Architecture exhibition; fine art is moved out of the historic Wimbledon School of Art site; the Barbican hastily reorganises after staff highlight institutional racism at the arts centre; plus the latest on galleries, people, prizes and more.


Christian Boltanski 1944–2021
David Trigg

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Adam Chodzko, The Return of the Fleet Spring Heads, 2021, audio walk, part of ‘Estuary’


The Rebel Dykes Art & Archive Show

Morgan Quaintance

Light and Language

Chris Clarke

Tino Sehgal

Adam Heardman

Ain Bailey: Version

Frances Whorrall-Campbell

Mel Brimfield: From This World, to That Which is to Come

Lauren Velvick


Creative Coast: Waterfronts

Paul Carey-Kent

Ajamu: Archival Sensoria

Dominic Johnson

Ireland Round-up

Joanne Laws

London Round-up

Chloe Carroll

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Huw Wahl, The Republics, 2020


Huw Wahl: The Republics

Martin Holman

The heightened grain and occasional flickering grey fuzziness of the picture complement Stephen Watts’s vehement verbal solidarity with the unpredictability that varies the remorseless rhythms of nature.

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‘Top Stories’ exhibition view at Kunstverein, Amsterdam

Artists’ Books

Anne Turyn: Top Stories

Amy Tobin

That Top Stories was a project made between friends, as a means of support and an archive of contingent practices, suggests both its limits and its status as a ‘feminist project’ today, even if Turyn says she would have declined that label in the past.


Ben Burbridge: Photography After Capitalism

Anna-Maria Kanta

Paging through Photography After Capitalism the reader might feel as if they are caught up in communicative capitalism’s self-reflexive loop: even the most well-intended and socially engaged practices find their limits in the perpetuation of the conditions they set out to expose, and even dismantle.

Matthew Fuller and Eyal Weizman: Investigative Aesthetics – Conflicts and Commons in the Politics of Truth

Jack Smurthwaite

Matthew Fuller has said that part of the inquiry was to see how, in a post-truth landscape ‘the facts of a matter’ can be discerned. And it does, but it also deals with the matter of fact, the material that gives way to or carves a path through difficult political fields (with long and often colonial histories) towards truth.

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‘Stop Painting’ exhibition view at the Prada Foundation


Letter from Venice

Agnieszka Gratza

In the normal run of things, this would have been the art biennale preview and art tourists would be descending on the city in droves. I missed the last one, but didn’t Ralph Rugoff’s curatorial conceit hinge on a Chinese proverb, or curse, ‘May You Live in Interesting Times’? The words (and their source) now feel bitterly ironic.

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A protester standing on Khartoum’s main railway line, which was part of the army headquarters ‘sit-in’ zone, wears a shirt that reads ‘A revolutionary from Kalakla, one fall, that’s it’, 13 April, 2019, photograph by Muhammad Salah, from ‘Thawra! REVOLUTION!’

Letter from Arles

Virginia Whiles

By far the most radical show in the photography festival is ‘Thawra! REVOLUTION’ in the Eglise des Trinitaires, which brings together works that document the Sudan rebellion that led to the fall of the dictator Omar Hassan al-Bachir in 2019.

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Cinga Samson, Two Piece 1, 2018
estimated at $25,000–$35,000, sold for $378,000


Performing Sales

Colin Gleadell

Below the banks of staff bidders, the socially distanced guests sat in comfortably upholstered sofas and armchairs sipping champagne and nibbling at wild mushroom arancini in a semicircle around the pink-powder-cheeked auctioneer.


No Heirs Apparent

Henry Lydiate

Recent reports of artwork being unsympathetically dealt with after death may give pause for thought to artists currently uninterested in their treatment by posterity, which may over time come to value their life and work.

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