5 to See: This Weekend

5 to See: This Weekend

Aesthetica selects global shows exploring themes of utopia, identity and artificial intelligence. At a time of climate crisis and political turmoil, these exhibitions – spanning photography, digital art and installation – offer visions of the future.

Petrina Hicks, Bruised Peaches and Velvet, 2018. From the Still Life Studio series, 2018.
© Petrina Hicks, courtesy Michael Reid Gallery

Bleached Gothic, National Gallery of Victoria

Photographer Petrina Hicks (b. 1972) crafts pristine portraits rich with mythological symbolism. The surreal compositions introduce allegorical props such as fruits, birds, flowers and snakes – drawing on historical representations of women. The images create a visual tension between notions of beauty and danger, familiarity and strangeness. Until 29 March.

Trevor Paglen, Dead Satellite with Nuclear Reactor, Eastern Arizona (Cosmos 469), 2011, chromogenic print, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mike Wilkins and Sheila Duignan, 2012.24.2, © 2011, Trevor Paglen

Trevor Paglen: From ‘Apple’ to ‘Anomaly’, Barbican Centre, London

AI networks are taught how to ‘see’ and ‘perceive’ the world through datasets – groups of categorised images used for training purposes. But how does this work, and who decides? Paglen looks at approximately 30,000 images, revealing the politics, biases and stereotypes hidden within. The show explores a world in which machines will elicit forms of judgement. Until 16 February.

Nathan Coley, There Will Be No Miracles Here, 2006.

Nathan Coley: The Future Is Inside Us, It’s Not Somewhere Else, Parafin, London

Coley’s text-based neon light installations offer thought-provoking messages. This exhibition takes inspiration from 19th century wallpaper by French printers Zuber and Cie, offering a panoramic view of a new world. The artist combines this design with short contemporary texts – including a CNN report about migrants at the US/Mexico border – reflecting on ideas of utopia, identity and relationships to place. Until 16 November.

Whitten Sabbatini, Couple Embracing, 2016.

Go Down Moses, Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago

Contemporary America is the subject of Go Down Moses. It delves into MoCP’s collection, interweaving images from past and present to look at movement, chaos, freedom and hope. As curator Teju Cole notes: “Everyone is longing to be free, and everyone is curious about whether hope is still possible. The photographic archive contains evidence that thus it ever was, that we have always lived in this urgency.” Until 29 September.

Cannupa Hanska Luger, The One Who Checks & The One Who Balances, 2018.
Courtesy of the artist, Photo credit: Chip Thomas, Ginger Dunnill.

Utopian Imagination, Ford Foundation, New York

14 international artists come together to present futuristic narratives at Ford Foundation. Utopian Imagination aims inspire hope for a planet marked by the climate crisis and turbulent politics. Featuring a wide array of lived experiences and identities, including indigenous, LGBTQIA+, and feminist voices, it envisions a world transformed by love, imagination, perseverance, and solidarity. Until 7 December.

Lead image: Nathan Coley, The Same for Everyone, Aarhus, 2017.