Free art exhibitions in London
The title of this show is a promise, but not one that anyone ever managed to keep. ‘New Order’ refers to the band, obviously, but also to the era. 1976-1995 represented a time of hefty culture-shifting. There was the arrival and subsequent evolution of punk, the death of Thatcherism and the birth of Blairism. Caught across these works is the promise of things changing, of cultural revolution.
The contemporary art world gives us many things, but laughter is rarely one of them. Opportunities to squeal? Even rarer. Which is what makes this exhibition at Southwark Park Galleries as precious to behold as a chug wearing a very small hat. If I was the Marie Kondo of art critics, I’d tell you to metaphorically throw out all the other exhibitions because only this one will bring you joy.
Wong Ping creates brutal, grim, sexually violent modern fairy tales. But there’s no Red Riding Hood or any cute little pigs here. Instead, the Hong Kong artist tears and rips at ideas of societal dynamics through a world of throbbing cocks, aborted foetuses and mistreated OAPs.
There’s a soft orange glow being cast across the floor of the Chisenhale. Warm shadows ripple out of mini glass chandeliers filled with cognac and palm oil, stuck into a low false ceiling. Opposite, Ima-Abasi Okon has screwed an army of air conditioners into the wall. Their fans spin and stop, juddering along to a syrupy, slow soundtrack emanating from behind.
Fans of the photographic uncanny are in for a great summer: first Cindy Sherman lands at the NPG, and now Canadian weirdo Jeff Wall has arrived at White Cube. Wall by name, wall by nature, he’s known for his epically scaled, carefully orchestrated set-ups, which have all the complexity of a movie, only they don’t – you know – move.
You can’t call the RSPCA for crimes against toys, apparently, but one look at Jamian Juliano-Villani’s art and you’ll desperately want to. I mean, if hammering a dildo into a toy tiger’s mouth over and over again isn’t abuse, then what is?
The voices of forgotten women echo through the Whitechapel Gallery. British artist Helen Cammock’s commission, made in a residency in Italy, is a mournful look at historical female pain.
Astonishingly, this is the first UK solo show for Liz Jonhson Artur, a London-based, Russian-Ghanaian photographer, who has been documenting the African diaspora for three decades.
It’s easy to take photography for granted. In fact, it’s easy to get sick of photography. But as this show of Latin American photography from 1959 to 2016 makes clear, cameras have long served a more important function than capturing the light bouncing off an acai berry bowl.
Art is a weapon. I mean, not always. Sometimes it’s just something pretty for rich people’s walls. But in the hands of octogenarian American artist and activist Faith Ringgold, art is a weapon. Art is a way of fighting back.
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