​12 exhibitions to see while frieze is in town

The whole art world is in town and everyone’s brought out their biggest and best exhibitions. So here’s your guide to what to see right now.

by Felix Petty
06 October 2016, 8:25am

Amalia Ulman at Arcadia Missa
Amalia's new exhibition, Labour Dance, at Arcadia Missa, takes in; 300 bright red helium-filled balloons; ceramic, crumbled balloon sculptures that dot a checkerboard floor; the new york skyline printed on the gallery walls; net curtains. Then there are two video monitors that cycle through videos showing Amalia's pet pigeon, Bob; wild pigeons; Amalia's pregnant belly; Amalia in a lift; Amalia going up and down escalators.

Labour Dance is a continuation of Amalia's work at this year's DIS-curated Berlin Biennale, with a labour dance being ostensibly an action pregnant women perform to induce birth, though of course it references labour, as in work, with the gallery working as a kind of Amalia-ified office, with New York as an iconic site of hyper-capitalist labour. In one of the videos on display, Amalia slides across an office floor on a typical office chair in a squeal of joy. Which is the same reaction you get from looking at Amalia's work, as it constantly uses humour as a way of turning big-subjects like capitalism, power, and aesthetics, into work that's only ever a pleasure to experience.

Mike Kelley at Hauser & Wirth
The late Mike Kelley's first exhibition at the UK branch of Hauser & Wirth is the presentation of a 1999 work, Framed and Frame, that explores the Chinese community of the artist's adopted hometown of Los Angeles. Framed reconstructs a wishing well in the city's Chinatown; Framed the gate into Chinatown itself. As an artist who has spent his career examining the fringes of American society, the reconstruction of these LA Chinese-American landmarks explores both prosecution of minorities in America, but also their resourcefulness and cultural resilience.

Donna Huanca at Zabludowicz Collection
The New York based artist's first UK solo exhibition is easily one of the best exhibitions on at the moment. Donna is a master of crafting work that blends sculpture, sound and performance into something spiritually effecting; the spiritual element magnified by the fact that the Zabludowicz is housed inside an 19th century church. Donna has constructed, in the main room of the old church, a massive, three-story high glass box, within which a naked, painted woman moves slowly and deliberately. Across from this there's a rune like floor sculpture, filled with sand, a pane of glass and a series of speakers raised on a podium, upon which another naked, painted woman moves. Bass vibrates around the room, it's frequency modulating as visitors or performers move. In a back room, the fragments of the performances accumulate and find new life in a series of paintings and sculptures.

It's an oddly unnerving, quietly affecting performance-led work. Firstly in the way it concurrently draws attention to the body whilst it obscures those bodies under paint. Then there's the uneasy forced voyeurism of watching through glass and the impossibility of deciphering the complex enigmatic rituals of the performers' movements; it all adds together to something magical.

Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon at David Zwirner
Let Us Compare Mythologies at David Zwirner unites punk legend Raymond Pettibon and Canadian collagist/painter/scribbler Marcel Dzama in a series of large and intricate collaborative works that the two artists made over one month in New York this summer. The works are a blistering crash of comic books characters, pop culture icons, intricate doodles, magical backgrounds, surrealist mise-en-scenes and humorous textual notes.

Helen Marten at The Serpentine
At the Serpentine right now there's a chance to see a new exhibition by Helen Marten, one of this year's Turner Prize nominees, and widely thought be one of the favourites to pick up the award itself. At The Serpentine's Sackler Gallery Helen brings together new work, crafted specifically for the gallery, alongside some older works never before displayed in London. Like the work on display at the Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain, Helen's sculptures here combine constellations of diverse objects and fragments into mysterious undecipherable wholes, that can't help but beguile the viewer.

Philippe Parreno at Tate Modern
The French artist Philippe Parreno is the latest to take on the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall, with his new work, titled Anywhen, it's the first Turbine Hall commission since the opening of the new Switch House building. Anywhen is an experiential journey through the cavernous architecture of the old power station; moving lights and soundscapes morph around you, overhead and in planes arranged on the building's sides. There's a selection of floating fish balloons, video pieces, performances, and out of all these parts Philippe crafts something moving and mysterious, that, in its constantly changing structures revels in possibility, and will continue to unfold and change throughout its time in the hall.

Guerilla Girls at The Whitechapel
Is It Even Worse In Europe? is the famous art provocateurs first foray into uncovering the sexism at the heart of the European art world; deploying the Guerilla Girls' trademark use of stats, slogans and subversion to dramatic effect. The exhibition looks into the diversity of European museums through a series of questionnaires sent out to museum directors and curators about their programmes. As part of Tate Exchange, the gang of anonymous activists will be holding a week long residency as Tate Modern between 4 and 9 October.

Darja Bajagić at Carlos/Ishikawa
Darja's new exhibition at Carlos/Ishikawa, Nobody Knows I'm Funny, features a series of cut out faces of women plastered low on the gallery walls, the faces of these women are covered in cum, underneath them, their faces are reflected back in pools on the gallery floors. So far, so grotesque. The exhibition's second part features a prison-like, caged, black wall sculpture, that, beneath the bars, displays work culled from pornography.

There's emotional revulsion at the work, but it's magnified by its openness, the lack of context and judgement Darja provides you with. The twist though is that amongst the cum-splattered faces of porn stars, sits an image of Biana Brust, a woman who was strangled to death, then decapitated by a spurned lover, before he posted the posted the pictures online.

Piotr Lakomy at The Sunday Painter
Polish artist Piotr Lakomy's new exhibition at The Sunday Painter in Peckham continues the artist's exploration of materiality, scale, nature and architecture. The sculptures on display here engage with human scale, either in unsettling cocoon like wax hanging objects, or totemic aluminium meshes rising from the ground. Materiality is the key for Pitor; whose works stretch industrial fabrics out of shape and beyond use, or distort natural substances, like honeycomb or egg shell, into something alien. Work to get lost in.

The Infinite Mix at The Store
An off site exhibition from the Hayward whilst their permanent home on the Southbank is being redeveloped. The Infinite Mix is an audio-visual showstopper at The Store on The Strand; the meeting of history and fiction is the starting point for a range of artists, from Martin Creed to Jeremy Deller to Cyprien Galliard. The works takes in everything from music videos to documentary to performance pieces, the uniting thread is the way they play with storytelling and bask in the potential of non-linear narrative.

Ed Ruscha at The Gagosian
The iconic pop artist brings together a selection of new word paintings at London's Gagosian outpost. Extremes and In-Betweens continues to explore Ruscha's fascination with America by juxtaposing words and their meanings in a series of dramatically descending textual motifs; for example "universe" becomes "america" becomes "Tampa, Florida". Whilst their powdery backgrounds evokes the negative space of the words, stencilled in. In another group of word paintings, Ruscha continues to look into American landscapes, specifically mountains, overlaying interrelated words on the peaks that cumulatively mimic the vanishing horizons.

Maureen Gallace at Maureen Paley
American painter Maureen Gallace is the latest to take to Maureen Paley's east London gallery; the heir to the quietly affecting and disturbing work of Edward Hopper, her landscapes' solitude evokes something unsettling in us. The paintings are a series the artist made in New England, capturing the coastal landscapes of the American state, each painting revealing some different details in the landscape, weather, architecture, flora. 


Text Felix Petty

David Zwirner
Mike Kelley
amalia ulman
Tate Modern
ed ruscha
Turbine Hall
Donna Huanca
Guerilla Girls
the sunday painter
helen marten
what to see
carlos ishikawa
freize week