The way we connect to the arts has changed. Whilst some galleries are now reopening, many exhibitions and talks have moved online, welcoming audiences from around the world to enjoy virtual experiences. Aesthetica collates five videos to watch and YouTube channels to browse – offering insights direct from some of the world’s leading creatives.
John Akomfrah (b. 1957) is an artist, filmmaker and founding member of Black Audio Film Collective, started in London in 1982. His works explore memory, postcolonialism, temporality and the experiences of migrant diasporas globally. This discussion looks at Akomfrah’s early films, such as Signs of Empire and Handsworth Songs, in the context of ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, the destruction of colonial monuments and the structures of institutional racism.
Stephen Shore (b. 1947) is one of the most influential living photographers. He was the first to have a one-person show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York since Alfred Stieglitz, forty years earlier. Shore revolutionised colour photography in the 1970s through images of the everyday, which are immortalised in famous monographs such as Uncommon Places and American Surfaces. In this film, the photographer talks about his career and new work that zeroes in on overlooked details.
Acclaimed photographer Sally Mann speaks to Sarah Meister, curator in MoMA’s Department of Photography, about Dorothea Lange’s (1895 – 1965) renowned documentary works. The talk connects to the online show Words and Pictures, which reveals important connections between Lange’s images and accompanying texts. It presents her work across many contexts – photobooks, Depression-era government reports, newspapers, magazines, poems – alongside the voices of artists, writers and thinkers.
“I’m an unreliable narrator”, says Kara Walker (b. 1969) in this interview with Tate, based around Fons Americanus, the artist’s 13-metre tall working fountain inspired by the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace. Rather than celebrating the British Empire, Walker’s fountain explores the interconnected histories of Africa, America and Europe – referring to the transatlantic slave trade and the ambitions, fates and tragedies of people from these three continents. At a time when colonial monuments are being called into question, this is an important watch.
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) is a world-famous Japanese artist whose works are renowned for their polka dots, pumpkins and infinite space. She speaks here about her longing – and fight – for love and peace, as well as her interest in “the marvellous mystery of the universe.” Louisiana Channel explores her position in the avant-garde, connecting Kusama’s work in fashion and literature with the paintings, sculptures and installations for which she is best known. “I have the enthusiasm as if I was still a child,” she explains, offering viewers insight into her working process.