This critic’s guide was written by the five participants in this year’s Frieze New Writers program – a free three-day intensive course for aspiring art writers, run by the Frieze editorial team in London. This initiative is part of Frieze’s broader commitment to amplifying diverse voices in the art world and is supported by our membership program.
The gallery of photographers
October 07, 2022 – February 19, 2023
Algorithmic Ordered Overlapping History: For A·kin, his current solo show at Photographers’ Gallery, artist Aarati Akkapeddi uses an image classification algorithm to arrange photographs into the shape of a kolam: the pattern drawn by Tamil women, culture around everything Good to welcome in a place. Ordered into clusters, the photographs are represented by a single composite image that averages all images in a given cluster. The images come from both Akkapeddi’s own family albums and the stars.archive of South Indian studio photography (all taken between 1880 and 1980) and testify to the strength of family ties and the evolution of customs across the generations. In a composite image, a woman faces the camera, hands at her side, her partner a blurred outline. By merging the digital with the personal, “A·kin” brings different stories to the fore again.
– Matthew Maganga
Camden Art Centre
September 30, 2022 – January 15, 2023
Framed in beaten, weathered driftwood, Forrest Bess’ paintings could have almost been washed ashore on a bleak morning after a storm. This weather-beaten aesthetic pervades Out of the Blue, the Camden Art Center’s retrospective of more than 40 works by Bess, created between the 1940s and 1970s, thanks to the artist’s ability to play with textures, breaking up abstract forms and to scratch. Thick acrylic drops make you want to reach out and run your fingers across their surfaces to see Bess’ visions through touch, not just sight. Bess wanted his art to be displayed alongside his radical theories, particularly his “thesis” – an ongoing, unpublished research project – that becoming intersex could confer immortality. This exhibition fulfills Bess’ wish through carefully curated showcases showing his correspondence with eminent academics, including Carl Jung, in order to convince them of his ‘thesis’. Rather than meddle in hackneyed discussions of symbolism, this exhibition shows the purpose art served for Bess as he journeyed through uncharted waters to reimagine gendered binary numbers.
– Vaishna Surjid
Henry Moore Institute
October 07, 2022 – January 15, 2023
Claye Bowler’s solo show Top documents a personal and collective history of the trans experience and includes an installation of drawings, sculptures and videos created since the artist’s Top surgery – a breast tissue removal procedure – in 2016. Bowler presents objects made from a variety of materials, including latex and plaster, on shelves reminiscent of a museum archive that, by making them accessible to the public, turns trans-visibility in society on its head. The transformation of Bowler’s body since the surgery is particularly evident in the latex vest Fine, I’ll do it myself II (2020–21), into which the artist has embroidered lines to represent the scars of the surgical procedure. Bowler’s body casts, displayed in this context, could be seen as a nod to the sculptures of Henry Moore – whose repeated references to the human form can be seen in adjacent gallery spaces – albeit imbued with a deeply personal, queer narrative.
– Ania Kaczynska
Dundee Contemporary Art
August 27, 2022 – November 20, 2022
The 11 paintings and three videos in Manuel Solano’s solo exhibition The Top of Each Ripple, which spans the transgender artist’s work since losing their sight in 2014, are proud. Liverpool (2020) shows a huge, deserted department store in Mexico City: its high ceilings appear reverent; its geometric regularity almost meditative. Another empty interior is presented in Sala de Espera (Waiting Room, 2021) next to the three free sun loungers by Camastros (lounge chair, 2021). The contemplative stillness of these works is offset by visually louder pieces, including The girl with the pearl earring (2020), in which Solano’s irreverent approach references Peter Webber’s 2003 film as much as it does Johannes Vermeer’s famous 1665 painting. Yet despite its disparate tones, Solano’s work successfully blends into a clean, clear harmony.
September 17, 2022 – December 04, 2022
Find scattered glimpses of girlhood in Natasha Tontey’s newly commissioned, kaleidoscopic 27-minute film. Garden amidst the flame (2022): jeweled acrylic nails, colorful rings, face masks and flamingo slippers. When a young girl shaves her eyebrows with a baby pink Gillette razor, she unleashes a series of ritual transformations and becomes a warrior of the Minahasa, an indigenous society in the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi. The show’s dreamlike narrative attempts to reinterpret the gendered practices of the Minahasan by following a group of young girls in traditional warrior garb as they rehearse Kabasaran, a war dance usually only performed by men. They also sing, eat traditionally every now and then Porridge and play hide and seek with the camera in an ancient burial ground. Flickering between earnest ancestral ceremonies and a whimsical exploration of youth, Garden amidst the flame is a dazzling coming-of-age film that weaves a thread between the metamorphoses of childhood and the intergenerational practices of Minahasan culture.
– Nevan Spier
Thumbnail: Forrest Bess, “Out of the Blue”, 2022, installation view. Courtesy: Camden Art Centre; Photo: Luke Walker