Dissecting the space race, teenager’s bedrooms and an electro penis cage: these are the shows that got our hearts racing this year
December is the ideal time to round up an abundance of exhibitions in a tidy top ten – to compare and contrast what we saw, missed, liked and hated. There is no way anyone can be comprehensive. We still mourn missing shows in Paris, NYC, Istanbul, LA and all the rest that aren’t included below. Nonetheless, these are some of the best exhibitions you could see in 2015. Work that made us cry, tingle, laugh, spin out and look at the world in a different way.
WOLFGANG TILLMANS AT DAVID ZWIRNER, NEW YORK
Tillmans first major solo exhibition with David Zwirner in New York was jaw-droppingly good. The huge exhibition felt as thorough and expansive as a museum solo show and highlighted how Wolfgang is often at his best when he focuses on the everyday. Some of the show-stoppers were a simple weed in a pavement, a pile of dirty washing and oddly formed tomatoes.
LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE AT THE SERPENTINE GALLERY, LONDON
This British painter’s major solo show at The Serpentine proved she is arguably one of the best painters of her generation. Black figures were presented in heroic, hypnotic portraits. This work in particular reinvented the representation of the figure as well as an approach to blackness in one of its most nuanced forms.
HAROON MIRZA AT MUSEE TINGUELY
Mirza’s show at the Musee Tinguely in Basel was the best exhibition that you probably haven’t seen. The artist layered his work – in the form of his studio Hrm199 – over the museum’s own collection of kinetic art. The British artist presented incredible audio, light and sculptural installation works, including collaborative pieces with artists including Jeremy Deller and Channa Horwitz. If you missed it, at least get the catalogue.
SAMARA GOLDEN AT CANADA GALLERY, NEW YORK
Walking into this space was the most disorientating experience. The floors mirrored with projected clouds floating across them while tables were on the walls. A heavy noise drone played throughout the space – making things even more upside down. One of the most refreshingly odd experiences of the year.
CYPRIEN GAILLARD AT SPRUETH MAGERS, BERLIN
This 3D film work was so well made that thousands came through the doors of Sprüeth Magers’ Berlin space. The piece focused on weird swaying trees, grown from seed presents (to American Olympic winner Jesse Owens) by the Nazis, and fireworks above the 1936 Olympic Stadium against a looped perfect sample from Alton Ellis’ Blackman’s Word. The work of Gaillard’s career.
HIPPIE MODERNISM AT THE WALKER ART CENTER, MINNEAPOLIS
The Walker Art Center programming is so good you know why Minneapolis' local Prince stays in the area. The latest show explores the counter-cultural experiments in art, architecture and design – from geodesic domes to the graphic work of Emory Douglas, the show demonstrates how radical creativity in the late 60s really was and what we can learn from it.
SOFTWARE, HARD PROBLEM AT CUBITT, LONDON
Morgan Quaintance is a curator (writer and broadcaster too) with a brilliant take on creating exhibitions. He has now been appointed curator of artist run Cubitt in Islington and his first show with Cecile B Evans, Dazed Emerging Artist Award Winner Lawrence Lek and older artist Manfred Mohr was a great take on the role of software in art.
JON RAFMAN AT ZABLUDOWICZ, LONDON
Rafman’s solo show at London’s Zabludowicz collection, which followed a solo in Montreal, was filled with video installations that were watched lying down on waterbed mattress, sitting on a massage chair, in a pool of floating plastic balls, in hot tight metal cabinets, in the set of a stained teenagers bedroom and in a 3D fake garden maze. The perfection mix of computer nerd tropes and contemporary art dialogues.
MARK LECKEY AT CABINET, LONDON
Who doesn’t love Mark Leckey? Leckey has created a new film work that debuted at Cabinet gallery that will floor fans of Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore. An incredible cut and paste narrative that brings together the artist’s own biography and themes about changing media interfaces and our relationship to the space race alongside the music and moods of popular culture.
TETSUMI KUDO AT HAUSER & WIRTH, LONDON
Dazed was ahead of the game when we profiled the late Japanese auteur Tetsumi Kudo, who this year got a deservedly exciting solo show at Hauser & Wirth in London and Zurich. In both spaces, the interior of the gallery was covered with bright green Astroturf to provide a plus setting for Kudo’s straight electro penis cage, acid terrarium sculptures and UV tech-organic installations. Hard to forget.