5 To See: Spring Exhibitions

5 To See: Spring Exhibitions

In March, an image of Pope Francis wearing a white puffer jacket went viral. The candid shot looked deceptively real, yet it was generated by AI art tool Midjourney. BuzzFeed News reporter Ryan Broderick commented on Twitter that it was “the first real mass-level AI misinformation case,” highlighting the everchanging relationship between art, technology and truth. Must-see shows this Spring navigate the impact of the digital realm on portrayals, experiences and perceptions of the world. Personal and collective notions of identity are influenced by the internet, conflict and the climate crisis, questioning the future of humanity.

Feels Like Home | Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

In 2017, Nigerian-Canadian Creative Director Josef Adamu founded Sunday School. It is a creative agency that reimagines the limits of digital content and branded experiences to champion the diaspora, placing relatable, powerful storytelling at the heart of visual communication. To mark its sixth anniversary, a major exhibition of collaborative work unpicks notions of community, identity and representation. Ongoing series Jump Ball, for example, connects international athletes with a passion for basketball. The narratives echo the organisation’s ethos, touching every facet of life – from home to education. 6 May – May 2024.

Arko Datto: Kings of a Bereft Land | Fotomuseum Den Haag

The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river basin is one of the largest delta systems in the world. Today, approximately 300 million people reside in the area. Yet, it is under threat from rising sea levels, with an estimated 3.5 million people at risk of flooding each year in Bangladesh alone. Kolkata-based photographer Arko Datto (b. 1986) witnesses this impending threat daily. Kings of a Bereft Land depicts a landscape on the brink of humanitarian disaster. Saturated pink and yellow render the land apocalyptic, reminding viewers that time is running out to find solutions for the climate crisis. Until 21 May.

Sony World Photography Awards 2023 | Somerset House, London

1.81 trillion photographs are taken every year, according to a 2023 study by Photutorial. In a world saturated by images, what makes a “good” photograph? Sony’s annual awards showcase visual innovations across categories such as architecture, portraiture, sport and wildlife. Thirty shortlisted artists capture the varying experiences of life on Earth, such as Ines Vansteenkiste-Muylle’s (b. 1997) series Communities I Love. The Amsterdam-based artist portrays women who seek out prejudice-free pools, illuminating spaces that allow them to wear their hijabs or other headpieces in the water. 14 April – 1 May.

Isaac Julien: What Freedom Is To Me | Tate Britain, London

In 1983, the Sankofa Film and Video Collective was co-founded by Isaac Julien, Martina Attille, Maureen Blackwood, Nadine Marsh-Edwards and Robert Crusz. The artist-led initiative provided a platform for Black filmmakers to interrogate visual narratives on representation, pushing forward Black independent cinema in Britain. Forty years on, Tate Britain presents the UK’s first survey of Julien’s experimental body of work, including the European premiere of Once Again … (Statues Never Die) (2022), which examines American collector Albert C. Barnes and the cultural critic Alain Locke’s relationship. 26 April – 20 August.

Modern Love (or Love in the Age of Cold Intimacies) | EMST, Athens

The number of active online dating users is expected to reach 441 million by the end of 2023, according to Statista. Twenty-four artists from 14 countries explore the effects of this “emotional capitalism,” placing modern-day relationships under a microscope. Melanie Bonajo’s Night Soil – Economy of Love (2015), for example, examines body politics from the perspective of a Brooklyn-based group of sex workers. The video challenges ideas around intimacy, empowering subjects. Modern Love looks beyond genre, time and space to paint a picture of people’s ever changing attitudes towards affection. Until 28 May.

Words: Saffron Ward

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Image Credits:
1. © Ines Vansteenkiste-Muylle, Belgium, Shortlist, Professional competition, Portfolio, Sony World Photography Awards 2023
2. Jump Ball, Mighty Migration, Photography: Joshua Kissi – Videography: Samuel Pierre – Creative Direction: Josef Adamu – Production: Andrew Somuah, Malik Sulieman. © Courtesy of Sunday School.
3. Arko Datto, Where Do We Go When The Final Wave Hits Chakariya Upazila, Bangladesh, from the series Terra Mutata, (2020). © Arko Datto

4. © James Deavin, UK, Finalist, Professional competition, Portfolio, Sony World Photography Awards 2023
5. Isaac Julien, Glass House, Prism (Ten Thousand Waves), (2010). Endura Ultra photograph, diptych, 180 x 239.8 x 7.5cm each, 70 7/8 x 94 3/8 x 3 in each. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro. © Isaac Julien
6. Melanie Bonajo, Night Soil – Economy of Love (video still), (2015). Single channel video projection, colour, sound, 32’ 46’’. Courtesy the artist and AKINCI, Amsterdam