Werner Herzog, Michael Kiwanuka, Sterling Ruby and Peter Hujar: the best film, music, art and photography of the month
Peter Hujar: Speed of Life at Jeu de Paume, Paris
Peter Hujar photographed friends, lovers and art world luminaries in 1970s and 80s New York, creating a seminal body of work which would make him one of the most influential photographers of the late 20th century. Hujar struggled through a troubled childhood in New Jersey, moving to New York as a young man and immersing himself in the city’s burgeoning underground art scene. Here, Hujar became intertwined with influential art world figures such as Susan Sontag, Candy Darling, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe and David Wojnarowicz, his partner, though his work was largely overlooked in his lifetime. Open until January, Jeu de Paume’s exhibition Speed of Life celebrates Hujar’s definitive black and white portraiture, which soulfully explores sex, death and queer life in 1970s New York. As Hujar himself put it, he took “uncomplicated, direct photographs of complicated and difficult subjects”.
Peter Hujar: Speed of Life
Sterling Ruby: ACTS + TABLE at Gagosian, London
Gagosian is hosting its first solo exhibition of prolific artist Sterling Ruby’s work, presenting sculptures from two series, ACTS (2006–18) and TABLES (2015–19). An acronym for ‘Absolute Contempt for Total Serenity’, ACTS sees precise urethane blocks flooded with beautiful waves of dye atop defaced Formica plinths. This unsettling contrast is characteristic of Ruby’s work, which has historically explored themes of societal friction through various media, including sculpture, ceramics, painting, drawing, collage, video, and most recently, fashion – the artist released his first clothing collection under his label S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA earlier this year. “I use many different media as a kind of schizophrenic labour strategy,” says Ruby. “It seems very easy now to say it, but it has taken me years to convey that this scattered routine belongs within a coherent trajectory... There is a lineage that links everything that I do together.”
Watch The Amazing Johnathan Documentary
Immerse yourself in the weird and wonderful world of the Amazing Johnathan – AKA John Edward Szeles – in Ben Berman’s documentary on the controversial magician and comedian. The mind-bending film is the result of two and a half years Berman spent with Szeles. “I did go mad, and not just on camera, tonnes of stuff behind the scenes too, with me just feeling like shit, being confused, not knowing what to do next,” the director told Another Man. The film is being screened at the BFI – with an introduction by Berman and Louis Theroux – on November 19.
Shot in Soho at The Photographers’ Gallery, London
Soho is a patch of London steeped in mysticism, long associated with sex, underworld activity, art and fashion. Now, a new exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery hones in on the fabled streets of Soho, celebrating its unique characters and unorthodox history through the work of seven photographers, all of whom have chosen the area as their subject. Shot in Soho sees the era-defining fashion photography Corinne Day took in her Brewer Street flat in the 1990s alongside 1980s shots by William Klein and work by Anders Petersen, as well as a new commission documenting modern-day Soho by Daragh Soden.
Shot in Soho
The Medium’s Medium at The Gallery of Everything
If you’re in the mood to see something unique, head to Marylebone’s The Gallery of Everything to see The Medium’s Medium, an exhibition celebrating Spiritualist art practices from the turn of the century and beyond. Largely overlooked as a genre until recently, Spiritualist artwork reaches beyond the material world, channelling and communicating messages from the dead. The transporting show features a mixture of seance photography, channelled paintings and mystical artworks from over 20 Spiritualist artists, as well as exploring the genre’s connection with Surrealism, Art Brut and Occultism.
Listen to new albums from Michael Kiwanuka, Mura Masa and Cigarettes After Sex
This month sees new releases from exciting names in today’s music scene. Cigarettes After Sex’s Cry is an intimate new album of lo-fo lullabies; Michael Kiwanuka’s self-titled third album sees the musician explore his African roots while preaching a message of unification via spellbinding, jazz-gospel-inspired tracks; and Mura Musa’s second offering, RYC (Raw Youth Collage), sees the prodigious musician and producer take a surprising new direction.
Paris Photo and Offprint Paris
The world’s largest international photography fair, Paris Photo, arrives in the French capital this weekend, with an exciting programme of exhibitions, talks, book signings and film screenings that spotlight all manner of contemporary and historic image-makers. Also in Paris, at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Offprint returns to the city: head to the book fair to discover offerings from over 160 publishers from around the world.
Werner Herzog’s Meeting Gorbachev
When filmmaker Werner Herzog met Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union: the documentary Meeting Gorbachev traces the life of the Russian former-leader, and features searing face-to-face interviews between the German filmmaker and Gorbachev.
Public Toilet by Sang Woo Kim
London-based artist Sang Woo Kim has transformed a Venice gallery (plumbing included) for new installation Public Toilet. “Am I an artist? Or am I a plumber?” Sang Woo Kim asks, presenting an exhibition that questions the very notion of exhibiting art. Public Toilet references iconic installation pieces by artists like Marcel Duchamp, Sarah Lucas and Elmgreen & Dragset and subverts existing ideas surrounding the works – all within the context of a reconstructed, mundane public toilet.