To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, filmmakers, designers, and performers to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2019.
Anthea Hamilton is a London-based visual artist working across installation, sculpture, and performance. Recent solo exhibitions include: The Prude, Thomas Dane Gallery, London (2019); The New Life, Secession, Vienna (2018); A is for… and, am, anxious, adore, kaufmann repetto, Milan (2018); The Squash, Tate Britain, London (2018); Lichen! Libido! Chastity!, SculptureCenter, Long Island City, New York (2015). She was one of four shortlisted artists for the 2016 Turner Prize. Her work was presented earlier this year as part of the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019, and in 2020 she’ll debut a commissioned work as part of the Walker-organized exhibition The Paradox of Stillness: Art, Object, and Performance.
The choices are connected to, but distinct from, the heaviness of current times. I tried to establish a softness to the way I experienced things that allowed reflection but without getting lost in it all. I reflected on the word “romantic” a lot.
Similar to A Star is Born being eligible for Grammy consideration outside the year of its release due to the canny release date of the film’s OST, I have to add this day of information as a highlight of 2019; it took place right at the end of 2018, but I was still unspooling it through much of this year. Curated by Filipa Ramos and Lucia Pietroiusti, it was nine solid hours, “of talks, performances and music [featuring] anthropologists, artists, robotics experts, historians and more, to address interior multitude, swarming organisms, entanglements, pregnancies, endosymbiosis, microchimerism and metamorphosis—across vegetal, human, artificial, non-human animal and mineral beings.”
MY DEAR, TIME HAS PASSED
BY BAKANI PICK-UP COMPANY
“A place between death and the afterlife. A place filled with love and sadness, happiness and loss. Join us as we venture into the unknown, join our dance.”
This was the Zimbabwe-born, UK-based choreographer’s first presentation in London performed by seven dancers, not including Pick-Up. It was sensitive and beautiful but was got me most was to see—so clearly—personal, perhaps autobiographical, gestures created through the lived experiences of his body moving through another’s.
GRACE WALES BONNER’S MUMBO JUMBO AT THE SERPENTINE
The pieces of clothing stir me, not with a desire to possess them but because the weight of fabrics or references of colours and prints spark memories from a range of places. I enjoy the strange disembodied sensation finding these reference points being submerged in the frame of luxury product. The show was presented within Wales Bonner’s exhibition A Time for New Dreams at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, also a highlight.
FLEABAG, SEASON 2
Thinking via the sculptural and the physical, this episode is like truth to materials and is as precise as a Donald Judd. Each aspect virtuously working its intrinsic qualities: middle-class repression; razor-sharp editing; priests; perfect lighting; sexiness; loneliness; Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s writing itself a substance and all those long-necked turns to camera which shouldn’t work but absolutely do. A play hiding in the format of a BBC situation comedy,
A turning point in the year: I ate some bad food, not even sure what it was. The 36-hour illness put a stop to my overloading of coffee and social media consumption.
Though I’d be back some weeks later for Volcano Extravaganza 2019 with Eve Stainton, this was the maiden voyage to the island volcano. I travelled with my 4-year-old daughter on the “girls boat.” We sailed by night from Bay of Naples and woke at 5 am to see the full dome of the sky bright orange and the pink-grey triangle of volcanic landmass. A loose spire of smoke from the crater a clue to the force of the planet’s innards that, all in all, rightly does not give a damn about us. A 3-D entity putting into perspective the worries of surface activity in the long term. I asked my kid to try and remember this moment.
Infinite Slippage: nonRepugnant Insolvencies T!-a!-r!-r!-y!-i!-n!-g! as Hand Claps of M’s Hard’Loved’Flesh [I’M irreducibly-undone because] —Quantum Leanage-Complex-Dub at Chisenhale Gallery, London, was the best solo show I saw this year. In this industrial interior was an incredible sense of a person’s presence, the softness of a body. The fabric of the building gave just as a body shares warmth. This doesn’t normally happen. Okon articulates ideas at a very different rpm and as such, though felt deeply, I can’t bring the experience of being in that room into words and am glad for that.
Phase II Empathy, Reconnection, Play was Scheibenbauer’s first show following graduating from Womenswear at Central Saint Martins in 2018. The collection was designed following a workshop with small group who subsequently become the performers in the show. Pieces had multiple ways of being worn; a jacket becomes a skirt, for instance. The twists in a top or toggle that tightens a pair of boots, numerous zips, especially on the ‘Love Me’ dress and skirt means everything is personal. The collection was made from mainly sustainable materials. The show, at the Swiss Church, London, was an extended dance of bodies combining, and supporting one another, replete with gong repertoire.
LOEWE SPRING 2020
The impracticality of sheerness spoke to me of my deep buried religiosity: a Latin, catholic childhood. There was extremely fine thread work that lead to a geometricizing of the body and some oversized moments. It was never kitsch or camp, the extremity of the labour never allowing that slip.
TYLER, THE CREATOR’S IGOR
There were many things I listened to but this was the album most often on repeat. The album’s narrative arc a crush gone sour and then recovered suited me very well.
TURNER PRIZE 2019 STATEMENT
There’s been a range of responses to the actions of this year’s nominees, but what I would hope is undeniable was their joint speech, which, as people rather than artists, they described life in the UK as, “an era marked by the rise of the right and the renewal of fascism in an era of the Conservatives’ hostile environment that has paradoxically made each of us and many of our friends and family again increasingly unwelcome in Britain.” The prize used to be broadcast on mainstream television, which meant for a few minutes a year art was beamed into everyone’s homes. This was a statement I’m sad did not have the space to be heard nationally.