Reelin’ in the Year: Things To Look Forward To In 2016

As the January blues drags on, gather up the tears and look ahead to five exciting things the art world has in store for the next twelve months

The new Tate Modern © Peter Saville with Paul Hetherington and Morph

The Tate Modern Extension

If your trips Bankside in recent years have have found wonder at what that odd agglomeration of brick cladding and acute angles jutting out of the Turbine Hall’s backside might one day house, then your curiosity is about to be rewarded. It’s been a long time coming, but the Tate Modern’s ‘Switch House’ extension will finally open this June. First announced in 2004, and originally intended to open for the Olympics in 2012, the new south-westerly wing cost some £260 million (£45 million more than expected) and offers 20,700 square feet of new exhibition space, staff rooms, a viewing deck, and a member’s lounge, amounting to more than twice the original capacity of the Tate Modern.

“The new Tate Modern will be so much more than a container for art,” insists outgoing director Chris Dercon, “it will be a platform for human encounters.” Having already opened up Bankside Power Station’s old oil tanks in 2012 to become the world’s first dedicated museum space for performance art and installation, the new building will allow the Tate to broaden its horizons in a twin sense: on the one hand, offering space for a promised and much-needed renewed focus on art from the global South; and on the other, creating a new entrance way and new public square towards the residential areas of Southwark the art centre had previously turned its back on. Opening first to parties of school children on the 16th June, the new Tate Modern will be open to the public on the the 17th June, bringing with it a whole new hang of the collection across the entire site.

Guan Xiao at the ICA

In selecting her as one of Art Review’s 2014 Future Greats, curator-critic Karen Archey described the young Chinese artist Guan Xiao’s 2012 Cloud Atlas installation, as “a sci-fi mind-screwing experiment in antilinear storytelling, evincing the artist’s interest in aesthetics that span space and time.” Like the David Mitchell novel it took for its name, the show, at Beijing’s Magician Space, toyed with anachronism and fabricated new mythologies through a set of five marbled wooden slabs adorned with totemic images drawn from the worlds of dance, opera, and Roman antiquity. The effect, claimed Rhizome’s Iona Whittaker, “felt truly uncanny.”

Born in 1983, with a BA in Directing from China’s Communication University, Guan Xiao is a Beijing-based artist, working across sculpture, video, and installation, for whom the flattened plane of the internet is a starting point from which to launch speculative journeys across art history. “What we consider today as new or advanced things are actually things that are ancient or unknown,” she says. “The incomprehension of the past and unknowns gives rise to intriguing discussion in the present. That’s why I have been prone to putting these extreme things together – the old and new – and making them work together.”

Following last year’s successful collaboration in mounting Zhang Ding’s Bruce Lee-inspired show Enter the Dragon, the ICA will be working once more with the Hong Kong-based non-profit, K11 Art Foundation, to present Guan Xiao’s first solo exhibition in a UK institution from 20 April.

Dadamaino, Volume a Moduli Sfasati, 1960

Laurie Anderson’s Brighton Festival

Last May, Laurie Anderson drew packed crowds and rave reviews to the Brighton Dome for her zoologically-themed set of songs and stories, All The Animals. She had been invited by the Brighton Festival’s guest director for the year, Ali Smith. Since then she has released a documentary film about her dog, Lolabelle; performed live with Philip Glass, Rufus Wainwright, and Omar Souleyman; and married her friend, the enigmatic artist Sophie Calle in a Swedenborgian church in San Francisco. This year Anderson returns to the Brighton festival as guest director herself.

She will be the seventh guest director the annual arts festival has chosen, from Anish Kapoor in 2009, Brian Eno in 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi in 2011 (who also invited Anderson to perform), Vanessa Redgrave in 2012, Michael Rosen in 2013, and Hofesh Schechter in 2014. Little of 2016’s programme has been announced as yet, bar a collaboration between theatrical practitioners Tim Crouch and Spymonkey to stage every death from the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, plus new works from Lola Arias, Neil Bartlett, and Akram Khan. The festival was founded in Brighton in 1965. It is the country’s largest annual arts festival.

The Serpentine’s New Magazine Sessions

Starting in February and continuing monthly through spring, the Serpentine Gallery launches a new platform for “experimental and immersive events” held in the gallery’s restaurant, The Magazine. Produced in collaboration with the Fiorucci Art Trust, the Magazine Sessions are to be site-specific, live performance evenings “where all aspects of the experience are considered.”

The series kicks off with A Woodland Truce, a new piece by young British artist Matt Copson with music by PC Music affiliate, Felicita. Billed as “a play without actors”, the show continues Copson’s focus on the folkloric character of Reynard the Fox in a new mix of live music, dramatic lighting, and sculpture.

More Women Artists

There remains a huge disparity in the fortunes of males and female artists. As Melissa Lawford of the auction house Bonhams told me, “in 2012, only 6.5% of the works offered at auction were by female artists. Of the lots that sold for over one million dollars, only three percent were by women artists.” Bonhams, she said, are expecting that differential to start disappearing over the next few years and they will be dedicating a section of their 11th February sale to women artists, with major works by Germaine Richier and Dadamaino going under the hammer.

The auction will coincide with the Saatchi Gallery’s first all-female exhibition, Champagne Life. Taking its name from a work by Julia Wachtel, the show opens on 13 January, bringing together 14 emerging female artists including Alice Anderson and Marie Angeletti. Meanwhile, another show featuring only women artists, No Man’s Land, at the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, continues until May after a strong opening during Art Basel Miami Beach in December. As Nigel Hurst, chief executive to the Saatchi Gallery told The Guardian, “Though women artists are far better represented in contemporary art now, in terms of the number of women artists that are having their work exhibited and shown, there remains a glass ceiling that needs to be addressed.”

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