Les Rencontres d’Arles 2021: July 4 – September 26, 2021
Arles’ photography festival returns after a year’s hiatus with a new director, Christoph Wiesner (formerly of Paris Photo), and some 40 photography shows dotted around the ancient French city. Highlights include The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion, a celebration of Black creativity and “the cross-pollination between art, fashion, and culture in constructing an image”; and Masculinities: Liberation Through Photography, a photographic exploration of the many guises masculinity can take, featuring work by Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Peter Hujar, Ana Mendieta and more.
Sophie Taeuber-Arp at Tate Modern, London: July 15 – October 17, 2021
At Tate Modern, a new exhibition pays long-overdue homage to the radical Swiss artist and designer Sophie Taeuber-Arp, and her seminal contribution to her fields. Taeuber-Arp’s multidisciplinary output spanned painting, embroidery, sculpture, puppet-making and beyond, and saw her fuse traditional crafts with the language of modern abstraction to truly groundbreaking effect. The show marks the first UK retrospective of the artist’s work and will feature pieces from around the globe, many of which have never been shown here before.
Children of Covid at Offshoot Gallery, London: July 9-31, 2021
In July of 2020, British artist and photographer Bex Day began work on a new project, documenting UK children during the lockdown period. Titled Children of Covid, the resulting series blends realism and surrealism to beguiling effect, serving to capture the strange mixture of boredom, anxiety and potential for play the pandemic embodied for many young people. Londoners can view the works in person this month, alongside screenings of an accompanying documentary, at Offshoot Gallery in East Finchley. You can also purchase a print online to support children’s mental health charity YoungMinds.
Wolfgang Tillmans: Moon in Earthlight at Morena di Luna, Hove: July 3 – September 5, 2021
This month sees German artist Wolfgang Tillmans transform Maureen Paley’s Hove space, Morena di Luna, into one giant installation that investigates “the obvious and the hidden, and considers what lies between night on earth and night on the moon and how the two exist as interconnected opposites.” The show will expand upon Tillman’s long standing fascination with time and astronomy, as well as his ongoing quest to challenge what it means to make pictures in today’s image-saturated world.
In Her View at the Minneapolis Institute of Art: July 3, 2021 – December 12, 2021
In Minneapolis, a new group exhibition considers the pivotal role of photography by women and women-identifying artists in contemporary American art, spanning images from across the past 50 years. Featuring work by a diverse range of photographers, including Deana Lawson, Adrian Piper, Martha Rosler, Mickalene Thomas and Carrie Mae Weems, the display centres on themes of national identity and belonging, cycles of trauma and healing, and imagined futures where the inequalities of the present day no longer exist.
The Digital Weird, online: 5 July 5 – September 6, 2021
In the market for an exhibition meets online scavenger hunt? We have just the ticket! Launching on July 5, a group show, presented by arebyte, will examine the concept of “weirding” in digital art trends. The exhibition will send viewers spiralling down an Internet rabbit hole, encouraging them to embrace the role of digital flâneur as they progress through “a sequence of carefully placed videos, stills, texts and games” via hidden links in each of the artworks. Curious, indeed.
The New Woman Behind the Camera at The Met Fifth Avenue, New York: July 2 – October 3, 2021
The late 1900s heralded the arrival of the New Woman, a worldwide phenomenon that “embodied an ideal of female empowerment based on real women making revolutionary changes in life and art”, in the words of The Met Fifth Avenue. This week, the New York art space will unveil an exhibition of New Women photographers from around the globe, working between the 1920s and the 1950s. Work by such influential and experimental imagemakers as Berenice Abbott, Dorothea Lange, Tsuneko Sasamoto and Homai Vyarawalla (among others) will serve to showcase the immense, often-overlooked contribution of these early pioneers to their medium during these four defining decades in world history.
No Comply: Skate Culture and Community at Somerset House, London: July 19 – September 19, 2021
This year, skateboarding will debut as an Olympic sport at the Tokyo 2020 Games. What better time, then, to celebrate the UK’s storied skater history? Which is exactly what No Comply, a forthcoming, free exhibition at London’s Somerset House sets out to do, through the realms of photography, art, design, fashion and film. Divided into three key themes – the city as a playground, skateboarding communities and DIY culture – the show will document the transformative influence of the subculture on people and places, at home and abroad.
Paula Rego at Tate Britain, London: July 7 – October 24, 2021
Portuguese-born, London-based artist Paula Rego has played an extraordinary part in revolutionising the representation of women in contemporary art. Now, a retrospective at Tate Britain will allow viewers to understand the full scope of Rego’s boundless imagination and socio-political activism. Over 100 artworks are set to go on display later this month, ranging from paintings, collages and large-scale pastels to drawings and etchings. These span her early work from the 1950s, exploring both her own struggles and larger societal issues, through her seminal Abortion series, an unflinching look at the repercussions of illegal terminations, ending with her more recent, staged figurative works.
UNTITLED: Art on the Conditions of Our Time at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge: July 10 – October 3, 2021
In Cambridge, a group show brings together the work of ten British African diaspora artists – including Barby Asante, Phoebe Boswell, Larry Achiampong and David Blandy – to highlight the ways in which their individual practices probe at some of today’s most important cultural and political issues. A curation of painting, drawing and printmaking, alongside performance, video and sound installations, the display asks viewers ”to examine the conditions of our time through the prism of [contemporary] Black British artists, without reducing the encounter solely to an exploration of Black British identity.”
Let’s Live with Less Plastic: The Art Exhibit, UK and Online: July 5 – 31, 2021
An upcoming exhibition from Le Good Society will foreground a number of artworks and prints that spotlight the ill-effects of plastic usage in a bid to encourage viewers to participate in The Marine Conservation Society’s plastic challenge, #PlasticFreeJuly. The playful but pertinent pieces, by the likes of Ellise Chappell, Paul Davis and Stuart Semple, will be displayed on large digital billboards across the UK, as well as online.
Albion Fields, Oxford: July 4 – September 25, 2021
UK readers, don’t miss the opening of Albion Fields, a new 50-acre sculpture park located just outside Oxford. Its inaugural exhibition consists of 18, large-scale sculptures by an impressive array of artists like Ai Weiwei, Erwin Wurm, Jeppe Hein and Alicja Kwade, presented in the park’s verdant surroundings: the perfect way to while away a hot summer’s afternoon.
Mother of Mankind at HOFA Gallery, London: July 22 – August 31, 2021
Be sure to catch Mother of Mankind, a group display of contemporary, all-female artists at HOFA Gallery, London, in collaboration with ADA Gallery, Accra. While hailing from a wide range of countries – Nigeria, Canada, the UK, South Africa, Ghana, the US and France – the featured artists share what the galleries term ”a bold figurative approach and courageous, spirited embrace of mixed media”. Including work by Sophia Oshodin, Emma Prempeh, Jamilla Okubo and Adebunmi Gbadebo, the exhibition’s themes span ”identity, gender, family, society, sexuality, empowerment, and consumerism, [viewed] through perspectives of Black femininity”.
This month’s film releases have something for everyone. Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s comedy-drama Another Round sees a group of teachers conduct their own experiment to observe what happens if they each maintain a blood alcohol level of 0.05 per cent throughout the school day – with intoxicating results. Then there’s Two of Us, Filippo Meneghetti’s singular drama following two retired neighbours, Nina and Madeleine, as they navigate the tail end of their secret, decades-long romance. Ben Sharrock’s BAFTA-nominated film Limbo, meanwhile, tells the offbeat story of a young Syrian musician and three other asylum seekers temporarily stranded on a fictional Scottish island.
Be sure to catch Tove, Zaida Bergroth’s biopic of the beloved Moomins’ creator Tove Jansson, which traces the Swedish-Finnish artist’s rise to fame, and her impassioned relationship with theatre director Vivica Bandle, in the wake of World War Two. Doyen of the supernatural M. Night Shyamalan returns with Old, a mysterious thriller about a family vacationing on a tropical island, who discover that their surroundings are somehow causing them to age at a rapid pace over the course of a single day. While the wonderfully idiosyncratic comedy-horror Deer Skin, by French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux, follows a man with a single, strange ambition – ”to possess the finest jacket in the world at the expense of all others”.
Music lovers, don’t miss The Sparks Brothers, Edgar Wright’s enthralling documentary examining the life and legacy of Ron and Russell Mael, the siblings behind the iconic, yet criminally underrated rock band Sparks. Then there’s Questlove’s brilliant film Summer Of Soul ( … Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised), which uses a combination of archive footage and new interviews to shed light on the Harlem Cultural Festival, a legendary celebration of Black history, culture, music and fashion in the summer of 1969.
One for the gourmands, The Truffle Hunters, by Gregory Kershaw and Michael Dweck, tracks a group of men as they seek out the rare and costly white Alba truffle in the forests of Piedmont, Italy. Last but not least, Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri’s film The Most Beautiful Boy In The World takes a deep dive into the turbulent life of Björn Andrésen, the 16-year-old star of Luchino Visconti’s Death in Venice, whom the director once dubbed the world’s most beautiful boy.