Over the 12 days of Christmas, Apollo contributors and guests select their highlights of 2016
In January I’m looking forward to the film-maker John Akomfrah’s first exhibition at the Lisson Gallery (22 January–12 March 2016). Ever since his involvement in the pioneering Black Audio Collective in the 1980s, which is best-known for Handsworth Songs (1986), Akomfrah has combined avant-garde techniques with powerful political messages, resulting in films which are as interesting to listen to as they are to look at. The exhibition will include new installations about Greece and Barbados, and Tropikos (2016), a film exploring the darker history of the River Tamar.
The Anglophile tendencies of Sergei Eisenstein, who made a two-month visit to England in 1929, will be on display at the GRAD Gallery in February (17 February–30 April). The critic and film historian Ian Christie has brought together nearly 70 sketches and designs by the great Soviet director, who was an accomplished draughtsman. The exhibition focuses on Eisenstein’s lifelong obsession with Shakespeare – and his interest in more surprising English writers, and there will be an accompanying series of lectures about the history of Soviet film.
In May, I’m curious to see what the second edition of Photo London will feel like (19–22 May 2016), now that the novelty of the city having an ambitious photography fair is over. Once again, the talks programme, organised this year by William A. Ewing (formerly of the Musée de l’Élysée) looks unmissable.
In June, the Jeu de Paume’s run of exhibitions devoted to photographers who deserve to be better known (certainly in the Anglophone world), continues with ‘Josef Sudek (1896–1976): The World at my Window’ (7 June–25 September 2016). The great Czech photographer is represented by 150 works from throughout his long career. As well as his pictures of Prague, taken with the view camera he manoeuvred through the streets (Sudek lost an arm in the First World War), there will be more experimental works, such as the Labyrinths series, in which he found mysterious effects among the everyday detritus of his apartment.
In the same month, Michel Houellebecq will follow in the footsteps of his pen pal Bernard-Henri Lévy and turn his hand to curating. Details of the exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo (23 June–12 September 2016) have not yet been announced, but Houellebecq’s Prix Goncourt-winning The Map and the Territory is one of the best novels about contemporary art of recent years; I hope the show is as inventive as the best of Houellebecq’s work – and not a Lévy-esque vanity project.
Fatema Ahmed is deputy editor of Apollo magazine.
‘John Akomfrah’ is at the Lisson Gallery, London from 22 January–12 March 2016
‘Unexpected Eisenstein’ is at the GRAD Gallery, London from 17 February–30 April 2016
‘Josef Sudek (1896–1976): The World at my Window’ is at the Jeu de Paume, Paris from 7 June–25 September 2016
Photo London is at Somerset House, London from 19–22 May 2016
‘Rester Vivant’, curated by Michel Houellebecq, is at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris from 23 June–12 September 2016