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Aesthetica #118

Aesthetica #118

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Perception is everything. I like to see obstacles as stepping stones and challenges as opportunities. This viewpoint keeps me invigorated and resilient. I’m often asked the question, “where do ideas come from?” For me, it’s about absorbing as many things as possible, going out of my comfort zone and doing things differently. Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places, and, what’s exciting about that is every day you can spark your imagination. As you’re reading this, I’d like you to surprise yourself by trying something new today – maybe it’s walking home via a different route or stopping to help someone (even though you're busy). There is so much beauty in the everyday, and that is worth celebrating.  

This issue recognises agents of change. Throughout history, art has influenced societies, challenged norms, questioned the status quo, raised awareness and prompted new perspectives. The artists in this issue embody this notion. We speak with Tania Franco Klein about her distinct style, which is realised through cinematic photographs. She surveys present-day anxieties and effects of media overstimulation.

Meanwhile, Cristóbal Ascencio’s work and research focuses on the relationship between images and memory. He looks at how experience can be appropriated between generations. Kaya & Blank is a photographic duo that explores the way that humans inhabit the world, pushing the boundaries of how reality is presented. Tara Donovan, featured in When Forms Come Alive, opening at the Hayward Gallery, London, this winter, is one of 21 artists in an exhibition that reclaims space in an increasingly digitised world. It spans 60 years of contemporary sculpture and shows works that trigger a physical response. 

In photography we traverse continents with an extraordinary range of practitioners, including Derrick O. Boateng, Ibai Acevedo, Jonathan Knowles, Tom Hegen and Neil Burnell. Our cover duo, Tropico Photo, offers pop colours and urban cool. Finally, the Last Words go to Yannis Davy Guibinga.There’s a famous Tennessee Williams quote: “Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by so quickly you hardly catch it going.” I've had that written down on a piece of paper, and I have been carrying it around for years. It resonates with me. We must unplug, disconnect and savour the things that bring us joy – from the macro to the micro we must embrace it all. Life is complicated and our relationship with technology has made it faster and more efficient – I am still amazed at what I can achieve from my phone. However, we’re always “on” and often detached from our surroundings. We are truly in the Anthropocene, and, for the first time in history, more people live in urban than rural locations.

Inside this issue we explore these ideas further. First up, we look to Kunstmuseum Basel’s Dan Flavin presentation, which asks key questions about the longevity of Flavin’s fluorescent tubes. Looking back, this minimalist approach and use of industrial materials was radical. It changed the course of art history forever. Next, we speak with Jessica Backhaus about how she has stripped photography back to its fundamentals of light, shadow and colour, as she moves towards total abstraction. Michael Webb, architecture writer, chats about his latest publication, California Houses. The allure of the 900 mile coastline, palm trees and blue skies endures, but we look at how buildings are responding to the climate emergency in a move towards net zero. Tyler Mitchell, Vogue’s first Black fashion photographer, opens a Berlin show that offers new perspectives on self-determination and finding the extraordinary in everyday experiences.

In photography, we feature Djeneba Aduayom, Olivia Lavergne, John Barbiaux, Vlad Hrynko, Michelle Blancke and our cover photographer Sarah Doyle. They bring us to new worlds engaging with history, memory and place through series that are pushing boundaries of where photography can go next. Finally, the Last Words go to artist and developer Liam Wong. His work is part of Photo City, on now at V&A Dundee.
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