Blow-Up, Untitled 5 (detail) by Ori Gersht, at the National Gallery
Sadler’s Wells, 2nd to 9th October
Akram Khan’s semi-autobiographical work reveals a choreographic storyteller at the peak of his powers. The Anglo-Bangladeshi artist has always mixed imaginative staging with traditional and contemporary dance forms. But never before have all the elements combined so triumphantly.
Desh means “homeland” in Bengali and the work is an exploration of Khan’s relationship with his cultural roots, his past and his family. With the aid of a wide-ranging score by Jocelyn Pook, outstanding lighting by Michael Hulls and endlessly inventive visuals by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon designer Tim Yip, this is an extraordinary example of dance/theatre fusion.
Alone on stage, Khan conjures characters out of the air—from the little girl to whom he tells a folk tale, to a village cook he recreates with a face painted on top of his bald head. The use of naïve animations projected onto a gauze allows him to interact with birds, an elephant and even a crocodile. Khan’s cocktail of folklore, history, humour and horror folds into a continuous narrative that delivers a triple whammy to the heart, mind and guts.
Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present
National Gallery, 31st October to 20th January 2013
Right from the beginning, early photographers in Britain and France saw their medium as the equal of painting. Pioneers such as Julia Margaret Cameron and Gustave le Gray took on the high themes of religion, history, portraiture, and landscape, drawing consciously on Old Master painting for inspiration and to justify their own ambitions.
This October the National Gallery deigns to consider this upstart sibling, in its first exhibition devoted to photography. Historical paintings from the collection will hang alongside early masterpieces by the greatest French and British photographers, as well as work by contemporary photographers and video artists who draw consciously from painting traditions.
Martin Parr’s photographs will hang beside Gainsborough’s Mr and Mrs Andrews, while Ori Gersht’s digital still life, Blow Up No. 05, will be displayed alongside the Fantin-Latour that inspired it. The work of certain contemporary photographers will even infiltrate the august main galleries, while Maisie Broadhead and Jack Cole’s video piece An Ode to Hill and Adamson—inspired by a photograph of the wife of the National Gallery’s first director—reminds us that the…