The Five Best Exhibitions in Europe Right Now

From Max Pinckers's ‘Speculative Documentary’ to James Gregory Atkinson's love song to the German outposts of the Black Atlantic this is what to see within the Schengen

BY frieze in EU Reviews , Exhibition Reviews | 25 FEB 22

James Gregory Atkinson

Dortmunder Kunstverein, Germany

11 December 2021 – 13 March 2022

James Gregory Atkinson, 6 Friedberg-Chicago, 2021, installation view, Dortmunder Kunstverein. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Jens Franke

Somewhere between counter-archive and exhibition-cum-artwork, James Gregory Atkinson’s ‘6 Friedberg-Chicago’ at Dortmunder Kunstverein renders a polyphonic love song to the German outposts of the Black Atlantic. Created in collaboration with art historian Mearg Negusse and sociologist Eric Otieno Sumba, the show opens with Preußisches Liebesglück (The Joy of Prussian Love, 2021), an installation touching on the ‘Black Horror on the Rhine’ – a German propaganda campaign mobilized in response to the deployment of African soldiers during France’s occupation of the Rhineland from 1918 to 1930. Then, as now, Black men were regularly stereotyped as lascivious savages prone to perpetrating unspeakable acts against white women. – Stanton Taylor

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany

30 October 2021 – 10 April 2022

LaToya Ruby Frazier, Grandma Ruby, Mom and Me at Mom’s house, 2005, gelatin silver print, 61 × 50.8 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Charlotte Feng Ford Collection

As a 16-year-old in Braddock, Pennsylvania in the late 1990s, LaToya Ruby Frazier began taking black and white photographs of her family and local surroundings at a time when her native city was plummeting into post-industrial ruin. In the exhibition ‘True Pictures?’ at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, the resulting series, titled ‘The Notion of Family’ (2001–2014) approaches the bleak realities of life in America’s former industrial strongholds with a remarkable degree of intimacy, offering a personalized window into the material effects of social inequity. – Octavia Bürgel

‘Sex Ecologies’

Kunsthall Trondheim, Norway

9 December 2021 – 6 March 2022

Alberta Whittle, Uncoiling my navel strings to fertilise interspecies love (detail), 2021, cowrie shells, glass beads, coral, textiles, clay, wire, plastic pony beads, spider conch, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Copperfield, London; Photograph: Daniel Vincent Hansen.

In ‘Sex Ecologies’, each work houses a mélange of erotics, care and play that obliquely indicts imperialism’s central logic of monoculture. More directly, these works also enjoin questions with present-day and particular implications: who gets to live by which bodies of water? Whose foods are regarded as exotic? When does a stamp of possession fade? How is life valued that ordinarily remains unperceived? – Patrick Kurth

Evan Ifekoya

Migros Museum, Zurich

29 January – 1 May 2021

Evan Ifekoya, ‘~ Resonant Frequencies’, 2022, exhibition view, Migros Museum, Zurich; Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Stefan Altenburger

‘~ Resonant Frequencies’, the first institutional solo show in Switzerland by London-based interdisciplinary artist and energy worker Evan Ifekoya, is a mesmeric encounter with sound, in which the artist explores the desire to know and to be known by means other than the overwrought, increasingly fatalistic, objectifying and exploitative parameters of imagic representation. Ifekoya’s immersive, newly commissioned installation at Migros Museum investigates their interest in finding balance and harmony through sound as it resonates in air, water and, crucially, the human body. By blurring the lines between the experience of the collective and the individual, the artist encourages gallery-goers to attune to their own resonant frequency – best understood as the natural vibration determined by the physical dimensions of any entity. – Olamiju Fajemisin

Max Pinckers

Fomu Photo Museum Antwerp, Belgium

26 November 2021 – 16 March 2022

Max Pinckers and Michiel Burger, Members of the Mukurwe-ini Mau Mau War Veterans Association demonstrate how people were rounded up and sent to detention camps, Mukurwe-ini, 2015, photograph. Courtesy: © the artists and MMWVA

‘Double Bind’, Max Pinckers’s first museum retrospective, at FOMU Photo Museum Antwerp, presents five of the Belgian artist’s projects from the past half-decade. Each embodies his critical stance on the truth claims of photography, an approach that Pinckers terms ‘Speculative Documentary’. Conceived with fellow artists Thomas Bellinck, Michiel De Cleene and An van. Dienderen (a grouping that refer to themselves as The School of Speculative Documentary), the theory seeks to problematize various documentary formats – from photography and film to theatre and performance – blurring the line between reality and fiction. – Wilson Tarbox

Main image: Max Pinckers, Performance #1 (Los Angeles), photograph. Courtesy: © the artist and Gallery Sofie Van de Veld

Contemporary Art and Culture