Issue 215
November/December 2020

‘A powerful way to think about the present is to see it as the culmination of all that has come before it.’ – Skye Arundhati Thomas

In the November issue of frieze, Skye Arundhati Thomas profiles the artist Otobong Nkanga; John Kelsey examines the late style of the film director Jean-Luc Godard; and Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme answer our questionnaire. 

Profile: Skye Arundhati Thomas on Otobong Nkanga

‘Material is archive, memory and also monument.’ Otobong Nkanga’s excavation of material histories has taken her from Nigeria to Namibia and back. Her work – currently on view in solo exhibitions at Gropius Bau, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art – shows how tragedy shapes the landscape.

Essay: Jean-Luc Godard at 90 

‘In Jean-Luc Godard’s late films, we witness a mutation of the medium from within its own processes, as a living history tries to reveal itself amongst the fresh ruins of cinema.’ John Kelsey rewatches the filmmaker’s most recent works – Film Socialisme (2010), Goodbye to Language (2014) and The Image Book (2018) – which define the iconic auteur’s cranky late style.

Also featuring: 

A conversation between Simone White and photographer Dawoud Bey; 1,500 words by Shiv Kotecha on thinking through Bollywood’s class consciousness from the vantage of the Indian diaspora; nine artists – including Korakrit Arunanondchai, Lubaina Himid and Christodoulos Panayiotou – nominate a colleague whose work has been on their mind; and Philipp Ekardt responds to Isa Genzken’s Schauspieler III, 3 (2015). 

Columns: Camouflage

Maryse Condé recalls her first encounter with Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks (1952); Denise Ferreira da Silva on vulnerability, precarity and the necessity of opacity; Stephanie Syjuco on Ruth Asawa’s time in the Rohwer War Relocation Centre; Heba Y. Amin and Anthony Downey examine how pilotless aerial drones have reshaped the psychogeography of the Middle East; and a specially commissioned comic by Julien Ceccaldi, who has also designed our cover.


From this issue

Stawarska-Beavans multi-media works stress lost and forgotten aspects of spaces and their political, public and private borders 

BY Lubaina Himid |

How Virunhakul's performances mobilize touch between audience and performer

BY Korakrit Arunanondchai |

Tania Candiani on how the artists’ work challenges the dominant historical narrative of the clash between Indigenous and European cultures


BY Tania Candiani |

Rykeyn Bailey captures the violence of time passing in a new series of drawings and paintings

BY Ashland Mines |

What do art and cheerleading have in common? Moon thinks they both come from the core

BY Samson Kambalu |

Rodney McMillian on how work of his former students work is ‘a way to digest how ideas about race, radicalism and class are negotiated'

BY Rodney McMillian |

Panayiotou on how the French artist’s sculptures ‘look straight into the eyes of the viewer’

BY Christodoulos Panayiotou |

Black Brazilian contemporary artists confront the racial violence of the state 

BY Denise Ferreira da Silva |

Shiv Kotecha on the long career of playback singer Asha Bhosle 

BY Shiv Kotecha |

Philipp Ekardt on a Genzken sculpture that reaches back into her own artistic biography

BY Philipp Ekardt |

A group exhibition at Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger draws attention to the unique positionality of Caribbean artists

BY Rianna Jade Parker |

Her work – currently on view in solo exhibitions at Gropius Bau, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art – pulls tragedy from landscape

BY Skye Arundhati Thomas |

John Kelsey on how the French iconoclast rewrites film history, one image at a time

BY John Kelsey |

As Ruth Asawa is honoured with a postage stamp, artist Stephanie Syjuco considers her legacy and her internment by the US government

BY Stephanie Syjuco |

Since the beginning of the 20th century, aerial technologies have lent the sky – and the birds that fly through it – with a threatening presence

BY Heba Y. Amin AND Anthony Downey |

The artist creates a new, specially commissioned comic on the perils of looking good

BY Julien Ceccaldi |

As an exhibition of his work heads to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the photographer speaks to poet Simone White about the changing landscape of Harlem and US institutions

BY Simone White AND Dawoud Bey |

At etHALL, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, the artist pays homage to the thresholds between life and death

BY Max Andrews |

At London's Cell Project Space, the artists' timely new commissions explore the potency of intimate gestures and simple actions 

BY Kareem Reid |

An exhibition at Anna Schwartz Gallery of the late artist, curator and educator suggests that constructivist idioms still pulse with life  

BY Sophie Knezic |

At MMK Frankfurt, a retrospective housed in a group exhibition mirrors the artist's rejection of conventional classifications

BY Sarah E. James |

At Portikus, Frankfurt, the artist pays attention to quiet but powerful acts of resistance

BY Carina Bukuts |

At CLEARING, Brussels, the artist duo’s new handcrafted pieces reveal the sensuous in the clunky

BY Tom Engels |

The winner of the New Academy Prize remembers how Fanon's legendary book has changed her reading and writing life

BY Maryse Condé |

At Bonner Kunstverein, the artist investigates our relationship to everyday objects

BY Noemi Smolik |

The duo’s installations at Galerie Templon, Paris, couldn’t be timelier

BY Aaron Peck |

Amongst the family portraits and Sèvres porcelain, the artist’s newly commissioned paintings reflect on a broken Britain


BY Aindrea Emelife |

At Lenbachhaus, Munich, the artist’s installations show why matter matters

BY Pablo Larios |

At Museum Frieder Bruda’s Salon Berlin, the artist reflects on book burning during the Nazi regime

BY Kito Nedo |

Shot in Cambridge, the artist’s latest film interlaces histories of laziness, from Johnny Mercer to Audre Lorde

BY Rianna Jade Parker |

The strongest components of the unusually dispersed exhibition "take art from the altar and into the vernacular"

BY Pablo Larios |

MACRO’s ‘Museum for Preventive Imagination: Editorial’ is an experiment with new exhibition formats

BY Barbara Casavecchia |

At PDX Contemporary Art, Portland, the artist presents contrasting works on paper that recall Sergei Eisenstein’s theory of montage

BY Bean Gilsdorf |

At Ortuzar Projects, New York, the artist’s radiant portraits of travellers on ‘citizen ships’ maintain ‘an abiding faith in the power of the human spirit’

BY Saim Demircan |

At Daniel Marzona and Barbara Wien, Berlin, the artist highlights the communicative potential of everyday objects

BY Chloe Stead |

At Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, the painter combines Korean folk, Chinese Buddhist and Western Renaissance iconography to complicate the idea of national cultural heritage

BY Andy St. Louis |

At Situations, New York, the photographer’s portraits of lovers and Elvis-obsessed Swiss youths share sartorial cues

BY Jane Ursula Harris |

At Galerie Kandlhofer, Vienna, the artist reflects on the politics that dictate which lives matter

BY Eric Otieno Sumba |

Premiering in Ireland at Dublin’s Gallery of Photography, Bowe’s series ‘Love’s Fire Song’ offers a welcome pause to reflect on the segregation of the north

BY Pádraig Ó Meiscill |

At James Cohan, New York, a suite of new paintings harken back to the chaotic pre-COVID streets

BY Daniel Penny |

At Bel Ami, the artist uses the sonic and sculptural qualities of casino games to invoke modernism’s long obsession with chance

BY Jan Tumlir |