Olivia Gideon-Thomson's Best of 2016 and 2017

Reading Time: 3 minutes

1. Dana Lixenberg’s Imperial Courts at Huis Marseille 12 December 2015-06 March 2016
I’ve known Dana since 1995 and used to work at the agency that represented her. We became friends and have stayed close since then. I met her shortly after she had taken the first set of images of Imperial Courts and saw the first show of it in LA in 99 I think. It’s a project that is so close to my heart. The installation at the Huis Marseille was I think the best show I’ve seen in a while, and is testament to both Dana’s meticulousness and Nanda’s skill. The book is a complete survey of all the characters that we have all fallen in love with over the years of knowing her. Dana has carried these people with her for 20 years. She knows them, she has laughed with them and comforted them and listened to them. It’s a life’s work and she deserves to win The Deutsche Borse Photography Foundation Prize 2017 for this work [Lixenberg has been shortlisted for the prize]. I hope she does.
2. Forest Hills and Briney Breezes from Bill Sullivan’s Sun Publications
Forest Hills and Briney Breezes are two books I picked up in The Photographers’ Gallery this year. I’m a sucker for a good design and my eye was just drawn to how they looked at first. They are two very intriguing photo books that have come out of Bill Sullivan’s Sun Publications. I like them because they’re wide open and seemingly not really about anything although put in a place and time, there’s no explanation, no text – it’s a bit like floating through nostalgic dream spaces that are connected only by a subtle photographic and print language. I like them because they are modest, and feel like quiet personal encounters to me.
3. Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s, The Photographers’ Gallery 07 October-29 January 2017
I thought the Feminist Avant Garde show was incredibly well curated and an important show for them to put on. I think that my generation of women is in the middle of the first feminist movement, and the millennials are now rewriting what being a feminist is. I think the morbidity of the story of Francesca Woodman is revealing of a contemporary culture where we play out our popularity online – I’m very conscious of the effects of Instagram on a young woman’s mind, I wonder how it will go for them. The show made me think about all of that stuff.
4. Zanele Muholi
Zanele is just an incredible artist whose self-portraits are ambitious, combatative and forceful. She’s making us take her on. I respect her.
5. Etel Adnan: The Weight of the World at Serpentine Sackler Gallery 02 June-11 September
Etel Adnan is in her 90s now, and her show at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery was so beautifully done – a real testament to their respect and love for her and her work. I like that the Serpentine seems to get to know the artists they give solo and survey shows to over a period of years, and from a place of genuine interest and understanding. A genuine polymath, Adnan is also a rare woman in that she has escaped the title of crafts person, even though her work includes tapestry, book making and so on.
In 2017 I am looking forward to
1. The Deutsche Borse Photography Foundation Prize 2017 at TPG 03 March-11 June
Again – I want Dana to win the DB!! It’s a life’s work and she deserves to win.
2. Lucy Raven: Edge of Tomorrow at the Serpentine Gallery 08 December 2016-12 February
I have seen a bit of her work here and there, and am really looking forward to getting into see the show over the holidays.
3. Metahaven
Figuring out what Metahaven are all about and learning more about digital art – it’s a space that I don’t understand yet, and I want to get on top of what it is.
4. Wolfgang Tillmans at Tate Modern 15 February-11 June
I’m not a huge fan of massive survey shows, however I’m sure it won’t be what I expect.