Tag Archives: art

Outside Guests: Doug Aitken’s migration (empire)

I recently spent five weeks travelling in the US and UK for work. If you showed me a picture of a street I regularly visited—in Pasadena, or London, or Newcastle—I imagine I could identify it. If you asked me to identify the room I stayed in, well, that would be trickier. The hotel room is […]

New Art for a Migrant World: Brisbane’s Eighth Asia Pacific Triennial

Since 1993, Brisbane, Australia has hosted a remarkable and unique cultural event: the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. The eighth instalment opened in November 2015 at the venerable Queensland Art Gallery and its shiny young neighbour the Gallery of Modern Art. Two years ago I wrote about Brisbane and a spectacular exhibition of Cai […]

Colonial Returns: Tom Roberts’s Coming South

Countless nineteenth-century travelogues were written by Britons visiting the settler colonies: Charles Dickens wrote about his time in North America, Anthony Trollope described his travels in Australasia and South Africa, Rudyard Kipling wrote about all of the above. Far less common and less celebrated are recorded journeys from the other perspective: Americans or Australians travelling […]

The Migrants Keep Coming: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series

What are the greatest achievements in American arts on the theme of migration? John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath comes to mind, as do Dorothea Lange’s photographs of migrant farm families. I would add Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series now on show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In sixty small panel paintings, Lawrence […]

Trampoline House: Space for Connection in Copenhagen

Starting from the end of May, against the backdrop of streets drowning in election posters, a series of cultural and artistic events emerge in the weather-wise frozen Copenhagen. It seems like all cultural operators and organizers are mobilizing themselves – and also the artists and their audience – by a more or less accidental common […]

‘Who the hell do you think you are?’ … almost fiction

‘We could all live on drugs, pee in our pants, drown in mud and puke sitting in the streets, covered with self-pity, if we really insist on indulging our hardships and scars, right?’ says R. No, he does not say it. He spits it, he yells, thunders it with his glass-blue eyes lightning through the […]

Doubtful Nationalities: A Josef Koudelka Retrospective

So, what nationality are you?” In my Omaha grade school in the mid-1970s, we’d ask each other this question with deep concern. I had friends who claimed Irish with pride (especially around St Patrick’s Day, or when the Boston Celtics were in the playoffs—thanks to a guy named Havlicek, but never mind). German was a […]

Immigrant Woods

My mate Pete and I had just left our Saturday morning coffee gathering when we noticed a tremble of dark feathers in the street. A female blackbird (which in fact is brown) was not doing well. Unable to fly, she had struggled through the grass and stumbled down the curb into the road. I picked […]

A Polish Exile in London

What does the name Kosciuszko mean to you? Australians know it as their tallest mountain; New Yorkers know it as the bridge connecting Brooklyn and Queens; daytime television fans know it as the Mississippi town that gave us Oprah Winfrey. Residents of Washington DC, Chicago and Boston may have seen the name on an old […]

Still Waiting

James Tissot’s Waiting for the Train (Willesden Junction) is one of the small treasures of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in New Zealand. It’s a panel painting depicting a young woman at a London station about to depart for a long stay somewhere. Most viewers are immediately struck by her gaze: not haughty exactly, but […]