Shows Everyone's Talking about in Europe This November

From Martin Margiela’s underwhelming solo exhibition at Lafayette Anticipations, Paris, to a tech-savvy edition of the Athens Biennale, here's European shows on everyone's radar 

BY frieze in EU Reviews , Exhibition Reviews | 04 NOV 21

Martin Margiela, RED NAILS and RED NAILS model, 2019, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp; photograph: Pierre Antoine

Martin Margiela

Lafayette Anticipations, Paris, France

20 October 2021 – 2 January 2022

It’s tempting to approach ‘Martin Margiela’ at Lafayette Anticipations through the lens of the designer’s mythological tenure in the fashion industry, but the exhibition literature insists this is an art show, so we must evaluate it as such. Despite entirely rejecting fashion, however, Margiela’s crash landing into the sphere of contemporary art feels deeply haunted by its epistemologies. – Jeppe Ugelvig


Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Aquaphobia, 2017, video still. Courtesy: the artist

The 7th Athens Biennale

Various locations, Athens, Greece

24 September – 28 November

As someone whose gaming experience is limited to playing a bit of Sonic the Hedgehog (1991–ongoing) as a child, I must admit to occasionally feeling out of my depth at this year’s tech-savvy edition of the Athens Biennale. Co-curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah and Omsk Social Club – an artist collective known for their interactive role-play performances – the world-building potential of video games is utilized throughout the multi-venue exhibition. – Chloe Stead


Oleg Tselkov, Portrait with a Flower, 1962, oil on board, 75 × 60 cm. Courtesy: Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow

Oleg Tselkov

Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, Russia

10 September – 15 November

Watching Oleg Tselkov’s round, affable face in Tselkov Walk (2017), the documentary that accompanies the artist’s mini retrospective at Moscow’s Multimedia Art Museum, I couldn’t help noticing that all but of the 16 works on display depict anonymous, bald men who bear more than a passing resemblance to the late Russian artist. But these flattened, disk-shaped faces are much more than self-portraits. As the film’s narrator, the actress Isabelle Adjani, recounts: 'In 1960, in Moscow, a young painter had just portrayed a man’s face when he realized that he had unintentionally depicted something else: the face of The Man. Not just a human being, but all of humanity.' – Valerie Mindlin


Lawrence Abu Hamdan, ‘The Witness-Machine Complex’, 2021, exhibition view, Kunstverein Nürnberg. Courtesy: the artist, Kunstverein Nürnberg and Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut/Hamburg; photograph: Lukas Pürmayr

Lawrence Abu Hamdan

Kunstverein Nüremberg, Germany

15 September – 14 November

Around 2009, I read an essay called 'Breaks in Language at the Nuremberg Trials' (2003) by the legal and media theorist Cornelia Vismann. As soon as I got invited to do a show at the Kunstverein, I immediately thought of the Nuremberg Trials and how they became, following Vismann’s arguments, a precedent for thinking about justice itself as a process of translation. The trial was unprecedented in that it was the first-ever event to use simultaneous translation, moving between four languages: English, French, German and Russian. […] I went into this project thinking that everything there was to say about the Nuremberg Trials must surely have been said already, but I quickly realized how wrong I was. – Lawrence Abu Hamdan in conversation with Chloe Stead

Main image: Martin Margiela, VANITAS, 2019, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp; photograph: Pierre Antoin

Thumbnail: Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Aquaphobia, 2017, video still. Courtesy: the artist

Contemporary Art and Culture