What to See in Europe this April

From a group show on the psychological and philosophical dimensions of combat in Turin, to Isa Melsheimer’s enchanted ceramics in Vienna

BY frieze in Critic's Guides , EU Reviews | 21 APR 23

Adji Dieye

Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland

25 February – 29 May

Adji Dieye, ‘Aphasia’, 2023, exhibition view, Fotomuseum Winterthur. Courtesy: the artist; Photo: © Fotomuseum Winterthur / Conradin Frei

Language is often said to be the key to the world, but it is also a colonial project that sought to reflect the dominance of the colonisers’ culture and ideology in large parts of the globe. This aspect of language is the focus of ‘Aphasia’, Italian-Senegalese artist Adji Dieye’s solo exhibition at Fotomuseum Winterthur, which takes its name from a medical disorder that leaves a person unable to communicate effectively with others. Featuring an eponymous two-channel film shot in 2022 in Dakar, where the artist is partly based, the exhibition uses this condition as a metaphor to explore how linguistic hegemony influences a nation’s ability to build a post-colonial identity. Ann Mbuti

Peter Piller

Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
, Germany

11 March – 21 May

Peter Piller, ‘Afghanistan Field Research’, 2013–14, installation view. Courtesy: Capitain Petzel, Berlin; Photo: Katja Illner © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023

During his student days in Hamburg in the 1990s, Peter Piller earned money as a press clipper, cutting out articles from newspapers and magazines. This process became the base of his artistic practice: sorting through archival sources, finding repetitions, enlarging, rearranging and collecting. For his retrospective exhibition at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, ‘There Are a Couple of Things That Bother Me’, Piller presents 15 series of works from the past 25 years that continue this tradition. Rather than forming a claim about collective memory or the archive as a site of power relations, however, the retrospective tells the story of one man’s way of seeing – a man with a quick-witted eye who enjoyed pointing out the cracks and glitches in the world of images, until that world became so complex it forced him to shift focus. Ben Livne Weitzman

Isa Melsheimer

Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Vienna, Austria

Until 13 May

Isa Melsheimer, ‘Continuous Process of Improvement’, 2023, exhibition view. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder; photo: Markus Wörgötter

Dotted throughout the largest room of the gallery, five monolithic tree stumps unravel into splintered, crystalline shapes, walls with small geometric cut-outs nestled into them like fantastical lodgings. They might be read as cave dwellings, burrows or nesting holes, but their smooth walls seem to suggest a more-than-natural touch. A moody palette of reddish and violet browns, deep blues and greige projects a sense of enchanted darkness, ruptured only by one bright seafoam stump. – Kathrin Heinrich

‘Artists in a Time of War’

Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy

15 March – 19 November

Lee Miller, Corpses in a Room at the Crematorium, Dachau (left), and Lee Miller in Hitler’s bathtub, Hitler’s apartment, Munich, Germany, both 1945, installation view. Courtesy: Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Turin; Photo: Sebastiano Pellion

Presenting more than 140 works by 30 artists born between 1746 and 1995, ‘Artists in a Time of War’ traces how artists have historically transformed the traumatic experience of conflict into works that serve not only as testimony but as catharsis. Curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Marianna Vecellio, the exhibition goes beyond the economic and political implications of war to address the lingering cultural, psychological and philosophical dimensions of combat through both artworks and a dense array of archival material. Eva Scharrer

Dora García

M HKA, Antwerp, the Netherlands

February – 21 May

Dora García, ‘She Has Many Names’, 2023. Courtesy: the artist and M HKA, Museum of Contemporary Art; photograph: © Nathan Ishar

Drawing from her three-decade career, Dora García’s retrospective ‘She Has Many Names’, curated by Joanna Zielińska at M HKA, shines a spotlight on the artist’s performance practice through a selection of installations, drawings, films and printed matter, as well as a series of live performances during the show’s run. Opening at a time when performance has only recently returned to exhibition programmes in the wake of COVID-19, this engaging presentation imbues M KHA’s rather enclosed and largely windowless spaces with renewed vitality. Laura Herman

Main image: Adji Dieye, Aphasia, 2022, film still. Courtesy: the artist

Contemporary Art and Culture