Curators’ Picks: The Exhibitions to Look Out For in 2018

Four UK-based museum directors and curators, and a Turner Prize-winning artist, select the shows they are looking forward to this year

In alphabetical order, the thoughts of curator and writer Osei Bonsu, Director of Camden Arts Centre, Martin Clark, Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid, current Director of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art and soon to be Director of the Whitworth, Manchester, Alastair Hudson, and Director of the Liverpool Biennial, Sally Tallant.

(Click on a name below to jump to their entry)

Osei Bonsu
Martin Clark
Lubaina Himid
Alastair Hudson
Sally Tallant

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The curatorial team of the 10th Berlin Biennale. From left to right: Thiago de Paula Souza, Gabi Ngcobo, Nomaduma Rosa Masilela, Yvette Mutumba, Moses Serubiri. Courtesy: Berlin Biennale, photograph: F. Anthea Schaap

The curatorial team of the 10th Berlin Biennale. From left to right: Thiago de Paula Souza, Gabi Ngcobo, Nomaduma Rosa Masilela, Yvette Mutumba, Moses Serubiri. Courtesy: Berlin Biennale; photograph: F. Anthea Schaap

Osei Bonsu
Osei Bonsu is a writer and curator based in London, UK.

In a moment when a dual sense of introspection and activism is being felt across so many forms of contemporary practice, I am looking forward to exhibitions driven by a sense of true political purpose. The biennial format, once considered the obvious platform for challenging the status quo, is in need of fresh thinking; the kind of radical oppositionality I’m expecting from the forthcoming 10th Berlin Biennale, organized by Gabi Ngcobo. She is a curator who has always engaged with history playfully, yet seriously, in ways that illuminate questions of memory in the context of South Africa. I am keen to observe the ways in which this sprawling exhibition format might be complicated by the sincerity of a personal/political perspective.

I am also looking forward to various solo presentations: the French-Moroccan artist Bouchra Khalili – whose meditations on statelessness feel more relevant than ever – at Jeu de Paume, Paris (5 June – 23 September); and in London, the Hayward Gallery’s timely Andreas Gursky retrospective (25 January – 22 April) is bound to shine a light on globalization after a torturous year of Brexit induced self-reflection.

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Linder, Fantesse, 2013, photomontage. Courtesy: Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London © the artist

Linder, Fantesse, 2013, photomontage. Courtesy: Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London © the artist

Martin Clark
Martin Clark is Director of Camden Arts Centre, London, UK. Previously he was the director of Tate St Ives (2007–13) and Bergen Kunsthall (2013–17).

Following Joan Jonas’ fantastic exhibition in the US Pavilion at Venice in 2015, recent shows in New York and Iceland demonstrate that after more than 40 years she is only getting stronger. I can’t wait for this survey of one of the great American video and performance artists of our time. (at Tate Modern, London, 14 March - 5 August 2018, and Haus der Kunst, Munich, 9 November 2018 – 3 March 2019.)

After being closed to the public for three years, Kettle’s Yard reopens on 10 February after an ambitious and much-needed refurbishment, restoration and extension by the brilliant Jamie Fobert Architects. Once the home of curator and collector Jim Ede, Kettle’s Yard is an inspiration, and Fobert’s new galleries look like they will finally provide the contemporary exhibition spaces that the extraordinary collection and historic house deserve.

Banu Cennetoğlu was a highlight for me at last year’s documenta 14 in both Athens and Kassel. This timely new work, co-commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery, London, and the Liverpool Biennial (at Chisenhale Gallery, London 29 June – 26 August and Liverpool Biennial, 14 July – 28 October), draws on ‘The List’, an annual register of migrant deaths, compiled by UNITED for Intercultural Action.

Linder is curating an exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary (‘Linder: The House of Fame’, 24 March – 17 June 2018) that will draw on her recent residency at Chatsworth House. I can’t wait to see what she does with the scope and scale of an artist-curated exhibition, as well as the eccentricities of the Chatsworth collections. ‘I'm very interested in taking the house out of itself, to places where it shouldn't go’, she told me recently. ‘I love the idea of the stately home as a portable sensorium!’

The long-awaited official biography of Krautrockers CanAll Gates Open: The Biography of Can (Faber & Faber), written by one of my favourite music writers, Rob Young (Electric Eden) – is finally released in May. According to a press release it will also include a second volume, described as a ‘collage’ of Can member Irmin Schmidt’s thoughts and visuals. Should be interesting!

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Ava DuVernay, A Wrinkle In Time, forthcoming 2018, film still. Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

Lubaina Himid
Lubaina Himid is an artist based in Preston, UK, where she is Professor of Contemporary Art and the University of Central Lancashire. In 2017, she had solo exhibitions at Spike Island, Bristol, and Modern Art Oxford, and her work was included in the group shows ‘The Place Is Here’ at Nottingham Contemporary, and the Folkestone Triennial, UK. In 2018 she will have solo exhibitions at Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, Hollybush Gardens, London, and MRAC, Serignan, France. Himid was awarded the 2017 Turner Prize. 

The first treat I’m looking forward to is the release of the latest album by Stick in the Wheel, Follow Them True (out 26 January on From Here Records). I want to go to their gig at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool on the 4 March. The hardest thing to do will be to sit still and not sing along (very badly) – not at all cool in a public setting.

Later in the year is a weird-sounding, slightly cheesy sci–fi film called Wrinkle in Time (terrible title), directed by Ava DuVernay and released in the UK in September. It stars Storm Reid as a teenager on an interplanetary journey with Oprah Winfrey as a supernatural being; the strapline from the trailer is: ‘The only thing faster than light is the darkness.’ I’m sure I can persuade my friend the photographer Ingrid Pollard to come and see it with me.

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Photograph by Laure Prouvost at Grizedale Arts. Courtesy: Laure Prouvost and Grizedale Arts

Photograph by Laure Prouvost at Grizedale Arts. Courtesy: Laure Prouvost and Grizedale Arts

Alistair Hudson
Alistair Hudson was appointed Director of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima), UK, in October 2014; in February 2018 he will become Director of The Whitworth and Manchester Art Galleries. For the ten years prior to mima he was Deputy Director of Grizedale Arts in Coniston in the Lake District. Together with Tania Bruguera he is co-director of Asociación de Arte Útil– an international project and online archive that forms part of the ‘Uses of Art’ programmes with the L’internationale confederation.

The team at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven is always refreshingly open to institutional self criticism (which I would say is opposed to the conventions of Institutional Critique) and I shall be following their ‘Deviant Practice’ programme with great interest, particularly as it extends beyond their project programming, to infect their collections policies.

I also look forward to the (re)opening of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Toronto this spring, under the directorship of November Paynter, formerly of SALT Istanbul. It will be interesting to see how a genuinely open approach can be accommodated in a hefty building.

Tania Bruguera’s INSTAR (The Institute of Artivism Hannah Arendt) launched last year in Havana and will be very active throughout 2018 with a different guest every month teaching – if that’s the right word – activism and various forms of transformational aesthetics. I think I’m going to have to make the pilgrimage at some point.

Nuria Guell is an artist worth watching in the coming year. Whilst she’s not really one for the shows and exhibitions crowd, she always comes up with active projects and startling stories that tread the fine line of alegality – responding to issues through making and doing some rather than pointing a finger at them.

Meanwhile the shows and exhibitions crowd will be chomping at the bit for the imminent ‘The Land We Live In – The Land We left Behind’ at Hauser & Wirth Somerset’s super-lux farmstead. An historical romp through humanity’s relationship with the land also featuring aquaponics and goat milking.

Oh, and Manchester, in general.

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Magali Reus, Hwael (Wheelbarrow) (detail), 2017. Courtesy: The Approach, London © the artist; photograph: Plastiques

Magali Reus, Hwael (Wheelbarrow) (detail), 2017. Courtesy: The Approach, London © the artist; photograph: Plastiques

Sally Tallant
Sally Tallant is the director of Liverpool Biennial, UK.

2018 is a dynamic year for biennials – with Sydney (March), Glasgow International (April), Gwangu (September), São Paulo (September) Casablanca (October) and Kochi-Muziris (December) to mention a few. I am particularly looking forward to the 10th Berlin Biennale (9 June – 9 September 2018): curated this year by the amazing Gabi Ngcobo, it promises to be an important and timely edition.

The Dhaka Art Summit (2–10 February 2018) is an impressive gathering in Bangladesh and will be a great opportunity to meet and learn about artists from the region – especially those included in the Samdani Art Award. Another highlight will be the performances included in ‘A Utopian Stage: Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis’ curated by Vali Mahlouji, inspired by and including documentation of an arts festival held in Iran every summer between 1967–77.

In the UK, I am excited about the solo exhibition of work Magali Reus at South London Gallery (23 March – 27 May 2018; co-commissioned by Bergen Kunsthall) and I am really looking forward to the opening of their new space, in the Grade-II listed former Peckham Road Fire Station, in autumn.

For the third iteration of the ‘Grand Tour’ across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, Nottingham Contemporary are again collaborating with Chatsworth House to present ‘Linder: The House of Fame’ (24 March – 17 June 2018). Curated by the brilliant Linder, the exhibition will include her own pieces alongside work by more than 50 artists.

Chisenhale Gallery in London is presenting new work by Lawrence Abu Hamdan (14 September – 9 December 2018). I’m looking forward to seeing the final chapter of his timely and unflinching acoustic investigation into the Syrian prison of Saydnaya, where more than 13,000 people have been executed by the Assad regime since 2011.

Main image: Andreas Gursky, Les Mées, 2016, c-type print, 221 × 367 × 6 cm. Courtesy: Sprüth Magers, Berlin / Los Angeles © Andreas Gursky/DACS, 2017

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