Top Five Shows to See in Europe this Autumn

From Ruth Novaczek's fragmentary films at Kunstverein Gartenhaus, Vienna, to Rosa Barba's Ludwig Mies van der Rohe inspired installation at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, here are five shows not to be missed. 

BY frieze in EU Reviews , Exhibition Reviews | 08 OCT 21


Main image: Ruth Novaczeck, Footnote, 2016, film still. Courtesy: the artist and Kunstverein Gartenhaus, Vienna

Ruth Novaczek

Kunstverein Gartenhaus, Vienna, Austria 

31 August – 30 October 2021 

The female lament in Ancient Greece was so disruptive, according to Anne Carson in her fascinating essay ‘The Gender of Sound’ (1992), that women were discouraged from ‘pour[ing] forth unregular cries […] within the earshot of men’. Ruth Novaczek’s emotive, fragmentary films – currently the subject of a retrospective at Kunstverein Gartenhaus, Vienna – are equally unruly, giving a platform to myriad female and non-binary friends to noisily expound their thoughts on love and life. In doing so, the London-based artist and poet raises a plethora of questions: what does the female gaze look like? When is an artwork a self-portrait? And when is a film a text? – Francesca Gavin

Rosa Barba, 'In a Perpetual Now', 2021, exhibition view, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin. Courtesy: the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin; photography: Andrea Rossetti 

Rosa Barba

Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany

22 August 2021 – 16 January 2022

The first artist to exhibit at the newly renovated Neue Nationalgalerie – one of Modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s most iconic buildings – is particularly well suited to the task. Rosa Barba has dedicated years to an expanded filmmaking practice that explores light, transparency and reflection, all central concerns of the German architect, animated here through a parallel architecture installed in the subterranean floor of the celebrated museum. The resulting exhibition, ‘In a Perpetual Now’, proposes a complex form of co-operation between artist and architect, time and space, and articulates the kaleidoscopic possibilities of looking. – Isabel Parkes

'HR Giger & Mire Lee', 2021, exhibition view, Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin. Courtesy: the artist and the HR Giger Estate

HR Giger and Mire Lee

Schinkel Pavillon

18 September 2021 – 2 January 2022

‘Have you seen Schinkel Pavillon’s H.R. Giger show?’ has been the question of the month in Berlin. In fact, the exhibition pairs the late Swiss artist with the South Korean sculptor Mire Lee, a detail that has mostly footnoted ensuing conversations. Although it’s hardly a surprise. An obvious novelty factor accompanies this appearance of Giger’s sculptures, paintings, drawings, and prints which – due to their creator’s work on the Alien film franchise (1979–2017) – fundamentally impacted society’s collective imagination of the far-flung other. – Mitch Speed

Simone Fattal, 'A breeze over the Mediterranean', 2021, exhibition view, ICA Milan. Courtesy: the artist; Photograph: Andrea Rossetti

Simone Fattal

ICA Milan

8 September 2021 – 9 January 2022

In 79AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted catastrophically, destroying the prosperous Roman port city of Pompeii in a matter of days. The city and its inhabitants were buried under six meters of volcanic ash and pumice – a whole civilization frozen in time, its fate sealed as a unique archaeological site. This ancient city is the subject of ‘A breeze over the Mediterranean’ at ICA Milano, where the Syrian-born artist Simone Fattal deftly employs its history, ancient religions and mythologies in a series of new ceramics that mine the past to remind us of the fragility of the present. As she writes in the exhibition literature: ‘Pompeii represents what the word destiny signifies. An event that concerns all and that no one can escape.’ – Ana Vukadin

Lucie Stahl, Goo 5 (detail), 2021, Hahnemühle museum etching paper, wooden frame, polyurethane, 54 × 76 cm. Courtesy: the artist and dépendance, Brussels; photograph: Kristien Daem

Lucie Stahl

dépendance, Brussels, Belgium

9 September – 23 October 2021

For the seven photographs of encrusted oil wells in ‘GOO’, Lucie Stahl’s current solo exhibition at dépendance, the artist has pushed the polyurethane that usually covers her signature posters onto the frames of her pictures. Stahl is known for her large, unframed prints coated with a layer of clear polyurethane that echoes the glass of a flatbed scanner – the tool she uses to turn artful arrangements of consumer products, liquids and body parts into compound images. Here, however, instead of using a scanner, she has embodied one by directing her camera downward to ‘surf' over the shimmering surfaces of petroleum spills in an abandoned oil field in Albania. – Emile Rubino


Contemporary Art and Culture