Art: Diane Arbus & Kader Attia

Hayward Gallery

Hi Everyone,

How has your weekend been so far? It has been a really exciting one for me – my boyfriend and I went to our first house viewing! It was an awesome experience and I think we might have found our dream home. It is a new build and the developers were looking to transact quite quickly. Unfortunately, it looks like getting enough money together would be a bit of a problem (understatement) but I guess that is the same for most young professionals in London. We hadn’t planned to be looking so early as we wanted to build up a deposit in order to buy a home, therefore it continues to be a 2020 goal. The home was beautiful, but timing not so much.

Anyway! This was not what you were here for, so let’s get back to our usual 🙂 I managed to see some art last weekend and there is a lot more planned for the next coming few weeks. Remember, if there is anything that you would like me to go and review in London, please do leave a comment below!

Hayward Gallery does it again!

Hayward Gallery in Southbank is one of my favourite art galleries in London. I have come to love the brutalist structure and the vast ceilings within. I was very excited when I first found out that the latest exhibition is on photography. There were adverts all over the tube and I knew I wanted to be one of the first to see the exhibition. It will be open until 6 May 2019, so you have plenty of time to check it out! The only downside was that no photography was allowed, so you will just have to enjoy my written prose instead 😉

Kader Attia – The Museum of Emotion

Admittedly, I didn’t realise that the exhibition was for two artists. I hadn’t heard of Kader Attia before so was slightly surprised when I entered the exhibition to find a concrete brick was in the corner, suspended by a clear line rather than photographs! Attia grew up in the banlieues of northeast Paris. The first room of the exhibition was dominated by a projection of La Tour Robespierre (The Robespierre Tower) (2018) – I really recommend you spend the time to watch the 2-minute video as it is a close up of a post-war housing estate. The endless windows and concrete capture and provokes the viewer to consider the gap in the living standards between the wealthy and the poor.

Attia’s work, personally, was difficult for me to enjoy. Through art, he really makes the viewer explore powerful emotions and topics. It was definitely “heavy” viewing, with Room 2 focusing on large scale and intimate photos of Algerian transgender sex workers. In Room 3, which I found to be really weird, explored the politics of Western museums. He seemed to mock old methods of display – such as a stuffed cheetah in a vitrine. This is probably something you still see in the Natural History Museum in London today, however, he would then randomly includes a magazine within it or a contemporary “African” mask of his design. I couldn’t comprehend whether he was just trying to be smart or just provocative? The room did make me feel really uncomfortable but maybe that was exactly what has trying to do?! Honestly – not sure!

Room 5 is just one huge installation – The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures (2012). This room was super eerie and unsettling!  Particularly, when all you can hear is the constant click of the slideshow projector in the corner. It resembles a museum storeroom with shelves of various books and busts of African design. Some of the books are displayed upright as if in a bookstore, whilst others are bolted together to the shelves. All the book covers touch upon war, medicine, and African art. The purpose of the art was to contrast Western societies on how they seek to erase marks left by injury or trauma, compared to more “traditional societies” such a those in Africa who may have revered body modification such as facial scarring. It really isn’t for everyone….

Attia’s exhibition ends with video installations Shifting Borders (2018) which comprised of several large screens playing three separate videos and random chairs with prosthetic legs – super freaky! I didn’t sit through all of the videos as I would have been there for hours, but one, in particular, looked at the 1980 Gwangju Uprising in South Korea. It is not an easy watch and because I didn’t know much about the historical event, I thought made it even harder to watch as I didn’t really have enough time to process.

All in all – heavy viewing. I really didn’t enjoy it but not sure if everyone would feel the same?

Diane Arbus – In the beginning

I was pretty relieved when I could climb the stairs and move to Diane Arbus’ part of the exhibition in the Upper Galleries. Street photography is much more up my alley.  Diane was born in New York City and this is where she took most of her photographs. I think she captured the best era: 50s and the 60s.

The exhibition features more than 100 photographs, the majority of which are vintage prints made by the artist, drawn from the Diane Arbus Archive at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. More than two-thirds of these photographs have never been seen before in the UK. – Southbank Gallery

The exhibition was not organised chronically and there was no set route for visitors, so naturally being British, people tried to line up and follow an S line around all the pillars lol. Diane is a legend in street photography and she explored various different subjects. From “every day” adults and children on the streets to others considered “outsiders” such as midgets, circus freaks, giants and, transgenders. My personal favourites are the very up close portraits where the subject is gazing back at the camera.

Here are just a few of my favourite images:


Though I struggled to enjoy Attia’s artwork, I personally recommend going to the exhibition to see Diane Arbus’ photography because a Google image search really does not give any of the photos justice! It is a great opportunity to see her pieces all under one roof.

I would love to know what you think of the exhibition. Do you have a favourite photographer? As always, would love to hear from you!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

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