What to See in Europe this Autumn

From Belkis Ayón's feminist rituals at Ludwig Forum Aachen to Olivia Plender's forgotten feminist histories at Maureen Paley, London

BY frieze in EU Reviews , Exhibition Reviews | 03 OCT 22

Reinhard Mucha

Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf

3 September 2022 – 22 January 2023

Portrait of Reinhard Mucha, 1973
Portrait of Reinhard Mucha, 1973. Courtesy: muchaArchiv and Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf

Born in 1950, Reinhard Mucha has spent most of his life in his native Düsseldorf, an epicentre of Germany’s postwar economic boom – the so-called Wirtschaftswunder or ‘Miracle on the Rhine’. In his youth, he witnessed the city’s rapid reconstruction from a bombed-out ruin to a beacon of West German art, culture and glamour that would give rise to Kraftwerk and Claudia Schiffer. This September, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen will jumpstart a contemporary reappraisal of Mucha by mounting the largest exhibition of his work to date, spanning both the K20 and K21 in the artist’s hometown. – Stanton Taylor

Olivia Plender

Maureen Paley, London

16 September – 30 October 2022

Olivia Plender
Olivia Plender, Arrest!, 2021, pencil on paper, 29.7 × 21 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Maureen Paley, London 

The transformational artefact powering Olivia Plender’s ‘Our Bodies Are Not the Problem’ is a forgotten play by the British socialist and campaigner for women’s suffrage, Sylvia Pankhurst. Plender unearthed the typed manuscript of Liberty or Death (c.1913) in the archives of London’s Women’s Library. It offers an unromanticized view of the early 20th century struggle for political representation. Visiting a tenement block, a social campaigner encounters a woman on her deathbed after eight back-to-back pregnancies, a Catholic wife trapped in a marriage to an abusive alcoholic, a brush-maker with hands broken from work, and many for whom exploitation is the norm. Protests demanding political representation result in the campaigner’s arrest, and violent episodes of forced feeding in prison. Change in the law is only discussed in UK Parliament after she dies at the hands of the police. – Hettie Judah

Hallyu! The Korean Wave

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

24 September 2022 – 25 June 2023

Hallyu! installation view
'Hallyu! The Korean Wave’, 2022, installation view. Courtesy: Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The V&A explores the making of South Korean contemporary culture and how the country’s creative industries have impacted the globe. Alongside monumental artworks by Nam June Paik, Ham Kyungah and Gwon Osang, the exhibition will also showcase around 200 objects from the worlds of beauty, drama, music and fashion. 

Carolee Schneemann

Barbican Gallery, London

8 September 2022 – 8 January 2023

Carolee Schneemann
Carolee Schneemann, Up to and Including Her Limits, 10 June 1976, Studiogalerie, Berlin. Courtesy: Carolee Schneemann Foundation and Barbican, London

Performed as a live work nine times over three years, Up to and Including Her Limits saw Schneemann suspended in a tree surgeon’s harness and illuminated by a Super 8 projector, her continuously moving body leaving marks on the surrounding space for the duration of the performance. The work included language as well as gesture: documentation from the 1976 iteration at Studio Galerie in Berlin shows that the artist wrote a series of statements on lapses of synchronization among the interconnected lines. – Cathy Wade

Belkis Ayón

Ludwig Forum Aachen

21 October 2022 – 26 February 2023

Belkis Ayon
Belkis Ayón, La sentencia (The Sentence), 1993, collagraph. Courtesy: Belkis Ayón Estate, Havana; Photograph: Carl Brunn

It has long been a creative strategy within feminist art practices to pay homage to women in history by generating visual metaphors and allegories that speak to their experiences. Judy Chicago’s pioneering work The Dinner Party (1974–79), for instance, features a table set for 39 women who have been largely neglected in the history of Western civilization. In the Cuban context, this trope is evident in Tania Bruguera’s Tribute to Ana Mendieta (1985–96), who many believe to have been tragically murdered by her husband, Carl Andre. But it is arguably Belkis Ayón’s collagraphs centring Black female subjectivity that best exemplify the notion of homage as a feminist ritual practice. – Aldeide Delgado

Thumbnail and main image: Reinhard Mucha, ‘An Initial Suspicion’, 2022, exhibition view. Courtesy: muchaArchiv/VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2022; Photo: Achim Kukulies

Contemporary Art and Culture