Curator’s Picks: Artists who defy societal expectations

Curator’s Picks: Artists who defy societal expectations

Welcome back to “Curator’s Picks,” our monthly series highlighting themes in ALL ARTS’ broadcast and streaming content. This October, I’ve been thinking about how artists defy expectations of society and of art itself.

I think good art finds ways to surprise us in ways that don’t feel gimmicky; it holds a mirror up to us, telling us a truth about ourselves that couldn’t be expressed in any other medium. And when it’s really great, it makes us question how we see the art itself. It manages to be of its form while being curious about its form.

“Made You Look”

Artist Pete Fowler in one of many artists featured in the documentary “Made You Look,” airing and streaming on ALL ARTS this October.

This British documentary uncovers the explosion of young people who are deciding to eschew traditional jobs and are instead using their hands to design a new world. It gives insight into how creative people attempt to make an artisanal living in the midst of a hyper-digital age, with its challenges, triumphs and complications. The documentary itself emphasizes the beauty and charm in the everyday objects that surround the designers.

[“Made You Look” premieres on broadcast on Oct. 7 at 10 p.m. and streams until Nov. 6.]


“Edge of Obedience”

“Edge of Obedience” follows Malaysian visual artist Ahmad Zakii Anwar. He rejects the divide between fine art and commercial art and has worked in genres spanning from graphic design and advertising to oil painting and charcoal. The way he deals with the body and sexuality alternates between reverence and whimsy, and some of his work explores spiritual mysticism, which sometimes causes problems for him in Malaysia, where conservative Islamic politics can dictate cultural expression. Anwar seems at home depicting these ambiguities in paintings that tend toward the hyper-realistic but often incorporate a twinge of the surreal upon closer inspection.

[“Edge of Obedience” premieres on broadcast Oct. 14 at 10 p.m. and streams until Nov. 13.]


“Rules of the Game”

Still from “Rules of the Game”

The dance performance “Rules of the Game” plays with our expectations of how dance, sound and materials can work together. Jonah Bokaer choreographed the piece, and it’s set to a score composed by Pharrell Williams, with objects and video designed by visual artist Daniel Arsham. It’s a postmodern interpretation of a vaudevillian play that revolves around a love triangle, which was written in 1918 by Luigi Pirandello. But when we watch, this plot doesn’t immediately emerge. Bokaer isn’t limited by the narrative events of the play, and instead shows tensions building more abstractly. Characters hold classical busts, and basketballs are scattered sculpturally around the stage. Williams’ score defies category — it moves from sounding like an old-school jazzy movie score to a light-hearted disco song with a drum machine and eventually incorporates a digitized voice over a pop, orchestral groove. By refusing the conventions of all of their genres, these three collaborators expand our ideas about how to tell stories.

[“Rules of the Game” premieres Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. and repeats throughout the week. The full ALL ARTS broadcast schedule can be found here.]