A woman with large red wings sits on a black and white striped carpet in the desert

Must-see photography in October 2019

Welcome to our round-up of must-see photography in October 2019.

From feminist perspectives to the portraits of August Sander, these are our top picks for the month.

Woman in yellow dresses with their faces painted blue and white sit in front of blue doors. Part of our round-up of must-see photography in October 2019.
A woman’s work from Water Life by Aida Muluneh © Water Aid/Aida Muluneh
Aida Muluneh’s Water Life series, commissioned by WaterAid with support from the H&M Foundation, will run across 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House until October 20 www.wateraid.org/uk/waterlife

Water Life

This extraordinary series by internationally acclaimed Ethopian artist Aida Muluneh is inspired by the impact of dirty water on women’s lives and futures.

It features 12 striking pieces commissioned by WaterAid with support from the H&M Foundation.

Muluneh shot in the extreme landscape of one of the hottest and driest places on earth – Dallol, Afar, in Northern Ethiopia.

The powerful Afrofuturist artwork responds to the urgent issue of a lack of access to clean water, which has a particularly devastating impact on the lives of women and girls.

Water Life, Somerset House, London, until October 20.

Main image: Star shine, moon glow from Water Life collection by Aida Muluneh commissioned by WaterAid and supported by H&M Foundation. © WaterAid/Aida Muluneh.

Installation shot of Keystone exhibition. Part of our round-up of must-see photography in October 2019
Installation view, Liz Deschenes, Keystone, September 29 – November 17, Campoli Presti, London. Courtesy of the artist and Campoli Presti, London / Paris


Keystone is a non-linear exhibition of Liz Deschenes’ existing works.

Her photographs and photograms’ photosensitive materials have been further exposed to external conditions, including light, atmosphere and circulation.

By re-presenting these works, Deschenes extends the works’ process of production, engaging in a reframed conversation.

Works from different series spanning more than 20 years of exhibitions, with their own particular circulation histories, operate in the exhibition as keystones.

They are essential structuring elements that hold the other pieces in place, without establishing any hierarchies.

Keystone, Campoli Presti, London, until November 17.

A woman slumped over a table appears lit from the inside in this image by Doug Aitken
All doors open, 2019 © Doug Aitken. Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich; Victoria Miro, London/Venice; and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Return to the Real

This new exhibition of works by Doug Aitken explores our rapidly changing relationships to one another and the world around us in an age dominated by technology.

Its starting point is the idea of the contemporary individual and the ways in which humans are continuously both in and out of sync.

The exhibition creates a fragmented narrative of today’s unprecedented digital landscape.

Each artwork functions like a signpost, inviting the viewer to pause, stop and evaluate their surroundings.

Return to the Real, Victoria Miro Gallery, London, until December 20.

An installation shot of Sonya Dyer's work in Rewriting the Future
Installation shot, Rewriting The Future, Sonya Dyer © Jules Lister

Rewriting The Future

New and existing moving image, performance and sculpture by Sophia Al Maria, Ursula Mayer, Victoria Sin and Sonya Dyer is on show in Rewriting The Future.

In a world ruled by patriarchal societies where wealth controls systems of power, feminist speculative perspectives can offer new insights, predictions and even possible alternatives.

Feminist artists and writers have long been presenting new angles on gender, power, ecology and community.

This exhibition explores some of those narratives.

It is accompanied by a digital publication, curated by Angelica Sule, compiling new speculative fiction writing from some brilliant feminist minds.

Rewriting The Future, Site Gallery, Sheffield, until January 26, 2020.

August Sander's portrait of a secretary in Cologne 1931 smoking a cigarette is part of our round-up of must-see photography in October 2019
August Sander, Secretary at West German Radio in Cologne 1931, courtesy of National Museum Cardiff

Autumn Photography Season

A programme of three major photography exhibitions opens at National Museum Cardiff this autumn.

The season will present work by August Sander, Bernd and Hilla Becher and Martin Parr.

A number of the photographs have never been exhibited before and all are displayed in Wales for the first time.

ARTIST ROOMS presents more than 80 portraits by August Sander, one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.

They are drawn from Sander’s monumental project, People of the Twentieth Century.

Industrial Visions brings together 225 photographs by Bernd and Hilla Becher.

Since the 1960s their work has reinforced photography’s international currency as art.

As founders of what is now known as the Düsseldorf School, the Bechers influenced a new generation of artists.

Martin Parr in Wales features photography by Martin Parr, one of the most influential and prolific photographers working today.

Over the last 40 years, he has recorded people, places and cultures in the UK and beyond, exploring themes of leisure, consumption and communication.

His humorous and affectionate portrayal of modern life has changed the way we understand society and its many nuances.

Autumn Photography Season, National Museum Cardiff. ARTIST ROOMS and Industrial Visions, October 26, 2019, to 1 March, 2020. Martin Parr in Wales, October 26, 2019, to May 4, 2020.

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