March 8, 2012


The Compassionate Eye: Birds and Beasts from the American Museum's Print Collection

Although he was a doctor, Dallas Pratt (1914-94) was deeply troubled by vivisection and committed to animal welfare. He also assembled an extensive "print menagerie", which he hoped would encourage people to treat animals with more compassion. He eventually donated it to the American Museum in Britain, which he helped establish in 1961, where it is now being exhibited from 10 March to 1 July. Techniques range from etching, lithography and serigraphy to lino and wood cuts. Perhaps the most celebrated artist on display is James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), represented by a 1895 lithograph of The Smith's Yard. An equally sympathetic image of horses, this time in deep snow, is February, a 1940 lithograph by Grant Wood, best-known for his 1930 painting American Gothic.


Going Dark

Max is an astronomer whose job as a planetarium narrator requires him to ask all the big questions. Yet when his life is turned upside down, he discovers that understanding the Universe requires a totally different kind of vision. The pioneering theatre company Sound&Fury dazzled audiences with Kursk (2009), which took them on a journey in a British submarine sent to spy on the Russian submarine stranded by an explosion at the bottom of the sea. This new play has been written by Hattie Naylor in collaboration with the company and continues at the Young Vic until 24 March. Using a highly original combination of surround-sound design, total darkness and inventive lighting, it aims to reawaken a sense of wonder at the cosmos.


Shilpa Gupta: Someone Else

Shilpa Gupta is one of the most significant up-and-coming artists working in India today, but this exhibition at the Arnolfini (until 22 April) is her first major solo exhibition in the UK, featuring new as well as established work. She uses a variety of media, including video, objects, photography, sound and performance, to address themes such as desire, conflict, security and human rights. She is also fascinated by the ways that technology affects our understanding of the political realm. A notable example is the installation Singing Cloud (2008-09), where an amorphous cluster of 4,000 black microphones is suspended from the ceiling, but instead of registering ambient noise they are reverse-wired to emit sounds that travel in ripples over the surface.


Can We Talk About This?

From the 1989 burnings of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses to the murder of film-maker Theo van Gogh and the controversy about the "Muhammad cartoons" in 2005, issues of who has the right to offend, and who the right not to be offended, remain deeply contentious. They have both reflected and shaped our understanding of multiculturalism, censorship and freedom of speech. This thrilling co-production with the DV8 Physical Theatre, in the Lyttleton Theatre from 9 to 28 March, walks straight into this highly charged territory. Conceived and directed by Lloyd Newson, Can We Talk About This? makes extensive use of interviews from across the religious, political, cultural and social spectrum, including MPs, high-profile authors and journalists.


Jam Tomorrow

In an age of austerity, the promises of tomorrow are constantly eroded and it is all too easy to lose hope. This exhibition at the APT Gallery (9 March-1 April) is a deliberate counterblast, bringing together the work of six artists - Kathryn Place, Matthew Evans, Gemma Cossey, Deepa Chudasama, Clive A. Brandon and Paul Snowdon - who are determined to cut through the apathy. All draw on the resources of abstraction and modernism to produce forward-looking styles of painting, collage, sculpture and mixed-media work. Recurrent themes include nostalgia, memory and the passing of time; architectural construction; painstaking craft; and the kind of utopian ideals that might yet help us to build a better future.

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