Arts Radar: March 23
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You're into all kinds of things — we know, we have plenty of data on your habits — so we feel like you're going to be enjoying the array of topics getting the art treatment this week. There are shows on the history of French electronic music; a design-led imaginary Soviet landscape; intimate portraits of migrators; and the absurd quirks that lie in store in the British countryside. And plenty of political statements too, of course.
Alrighty, 100 years since Russia's revolution and London is doing a fair job in marking it. There's currently a big one on at the Royal Academy and this offers a nice contrast: an imaginary Moscow dreamt up by a bold new generation of architects and designers in the 1920s and 1930s who had fresh, radical visions to impart upon the Soviet Empire. This exhibition focuses on the various facets of life including urban planning, communal living and recreation. Definitely one for fans of alternative realities.
Winner of this year's British Journal of Photography International Award, Daniel Gastro Garcia most certainly has it. His work centres on migration and is an antidote to the sensationalist and alarmist pics found in the media. These beautiful shots are intimate and insanely personal portraits documenting journeys in transit or at their end. Giving a human face to the current upheaval, this is one of those shows you really ought not to miss because you're an invested and compassionate citizen of this world after all.
Who doesn't want to be part of a movement? Especially one as sexy and French as the French Electronica movement. This charts its entire history: the DJs, artists, photographers, clubs and figures that have done their bit from the beginning of the 20th century all the way to today. So, photography, film and artwork capturing plenty of iconic moments from plenty of people we've never heard of, but with real sexy names.
Anyone who has spent any time in the British countryside will know that all kinds of strange shit happens out there, as behaviour you'd never get away with in the city is passed off as the 'rural lifestyle'. Think the Bottle Kicking and Hare Pie Scramble, the National Ploughing Festival, or that weird chasing-cheese-down-a-hill thing. Ivan Colman has spent the last seven years documenting it, dipping into themes like social class, leisure time, community and the absurdities of Britain, baby.
Two artists, friends and collaborators come together here to make some political statements. Well, they're artists: it's in the job description. In one corner, Gardar Eide Einarsson: an artist who uses found imagery including American flags, advertisements and CIA manuals which he then adds a heavy dose of nihilism to. In the opposite corner, Oscar Tuazon's sculptures and installations focus on public architecture full of cuts and changes, cutting apart reality to force us to confront some hard truths. File this one under timely, although we realise that file is almost at capacity now.
Remember that Donald Rumsfeld quote about there being known knowns, known unknowns, etc., etc.? No? Look it up. Gordan Cheung reckons there are also things we don't know we know. Like unconscious beliefs and prejudices that determine our perceptions and actions - and he's confronting that with a show full of political propaganda, internet imagery and hyperreal paintings. Each time, he's forcing us to question what we're looking at; challenging the narratives we've imbued on them. That's so typical of us.