Spreading the Word: Aids Posters from Around the World
It is 30 years since the identification of Aids, and the anniversary is being marked by an exhibition at the New Walk Museum (from 15 July until 28 August) of Aids-awareness posters from around the world. Assembled from the holdings of the Wellcome Library in London, it has been curated by Sarah Graham, lecturer in English at the University of Leicester, who has long been fascinated by how different nations, cultures, religions and ethnicities have responded to Aids. Notable examples include posters featuring the Australian "superhero" Condoman, another which points out that "All You Need is Love (and a little bit of rubber)", and the poignant appeal "I HAVE AIDS. Please hug me. I can't make you sick".
Shorelines: The World's First Literature Festival of the Sea
Taking place in a temporary venue at Solomon Monk's Pump House over the weekend of 15 to 17 July, this new festival focuses on the great writers of the past and leading voices of today who have used the sea as a central theme. It will include adaptations of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, featuring poet (and co-curator) Lemn Sissay and local choirs, and Ernest Hemingway's novella The Old Man and the Sea. Writer and artist Rachel Lichtenstein, the festival's other co-curator, joins writers Iain Sinclair, Jay Griffiths and Robert Macfarlane for a discussion on "Contemporary British Authors on Sea", while local author Syd Moore will speak on "The Sea Witch of Leigh on Sea", Roma Tearne discusses her novel The Swimmer, and journalist Tom King leads a Thames Estuary trail.
In the Penal Colony
Set in a remote prison camp, Franz Kafka's terrifying novella In the Penal Colony tells the story of a man who is about to be strapped into an elaborate execution device, though he is totally unaware of what crime he is supposed to have committed. The Executioner shows no mercy, but might the Visitor still be willing to intervene? Director Amir Nizar Zuabi and the ShiberHur Theatre Company triumphed last year at the Young Vic with I Am Yusuf and This is My Brother. They have now returned from Palestine with a powerful and provocative new production at the same venue (until 23 July), which will be performed in Arabic with English surtitles. The cast includes one of Palestine's most respected actors, Makram J. Khoury, who appeared in the long-running TV series The West Wing and Steven Spielberg's film Munich.
The Australian ensemble Circa is determined to create "a new frontier in circus arts" by combining seemingly impossible feats with a poetic sensibility in performances that move, astonish and amaze. They return to the Barbican Centre (19 to 24 July) in Wunderkammer, a breathtaking cocktail of circus, cabaret and vaudeville. Just about anything seems possible: a diva melts into a rope, balloons and bubble-wrap discover their artistic souls, and bodies seem to twist and fly. Sexy, funny and explosive, this is a show in which seven performers of impressive ability set out to bend the very fabric of reality.
Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces before 1500
As part of a series of summer shows focusing on its own collection, the National Gallery turns its attention to the function, original locations and development of altarpieces in Italy during the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance (until 2 October). Since they were obviously not intended to be displayed as separate artworks in galleries, the exhibition explores how these pieces were created for a specific sacred context, how they fitted into the monumental architecture around them and how they focused the act of devotion for worshippers. A separate section examines fragmentary altarpieces, the parts they once played in the overall ensemble, how they came to be dismembered and how they are being lovingly reassembled by art historians.