Five Shows to See in the UK this March

From Sonia Boyce’s triumphant Venice installation at Turner Contemporary, Margate, to an exhibition that channels artists’ spiritual relationship with nature at Modern Art, London

BY frieze in Critic's Guides , UK Reviews | 10 MAR 23

Mohammed Sami
Camden Art Centre, London 
27 January – 28 May 

Mohammed Sami, Ten Siblings, 2021, acrylic on linen, 1.6 × 2.4 m. Courtesy: the artist, Modern Art, London and Luhring Augustine, New York

Mohammed Sami does not paint people. If figures appear, it is as statues about to be toppled or official portraits shrouded in shadow. Instead, he is an artist of places and things – interiors, cities, clothing, potted plants – and of the traces, both material and psychological, that trauma leaves behind. He is also an artist of memory, allegory and truth. Friedrich Nietzsche’s definition of truth as a ‘mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, anthropomorphisms’ (On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense, 1896) rarely feels far away. Sami imbues each work with latent dread. – Tom Jeffreys 

‘The Moth and the Thunderclap’ 
Modern Art, Helmet Row, London 
4 February – 18 March

N. H. Stubbing
N.H. Stubbing, Cactus, 1964, oil on canvas, 51 × 61 cm. Courtesy: Modern Art, London

Featuring works by more than 40 artists, ‘The Moth and the Thunderclap’, curated by Simon Grant, explores how artists experience and mediate the primal energies of the natural world through psychologically and symbolically charged imagery. Whether real, imaginary or mediumistically channelled, the biomorphic forms that are the focus of many of the works on view create an overarching impression that the exhibition, like an egg or a seed, is at once complete yet contains the promise of new life. – Aliya Say 

Sonia Boyce 
Turner Contemporary, Margate 
4 February – 8 May 

Portrait of Sonia Boyce, 2021. Courtesy: the British Council; photograph: Sarah Weal

The first time I met Sonia Boyce, I was awed by her stature, her broad voice, her nonchalant chain-smoking. My partner and I were interviewing her about ‘We move in her way’, her 2017 show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. ‘We’re interested in the relationship between the Black artist and the white institution,’ I declared proudly. Boyce’s response startled us, defying our bright-eyed expectations of willingness and celebration: ‘I’m not! We were having that conversation back in the ’80s. What else can we ask each other?’ – Imani Mason Jordan 

‘People Make Television’
Raven Row, London
28 January – 26 March 

People Make Television
Street Farmers, 1973, ‘Open Door’, film still. Courtesy: BBC and Raven Row, London

In 1973, BBC 2 issued a call for proposals for Open Door (1973–83) – a Monday night slot for which groups who did not work in television could make shows using the equipment, expertise and funds of the broadcaster’s Community Programme Unit. The series ran for ten years, airing 243 episodes of varying length and subject matter: around 100 feature in ‘People Make Television’ – Raven Row’s first show after a five-year hiatus – curated by Lori E. Allen, William Fowler, Matthew Harle and Alex Sainsbury, where they are presented as primary sources for a history of 1970s social movements, a substantial achievement of post-war cultural democracy and independent works of art. – Juliet Jacques 

Mike Nelson 
Hayward Gallery, London 
22 February – 23 April

Mike Nelson
Mike Nelson, I, IMPOSTER (the darkroom), 2011, installation view, various materials. Courtesy: the artist and the Hayward Gallery, London; photograph: Matt Greenwood

For me, the awkward thing was how to articulate a survey of such ephemeral work. Was I going to make a more archival exhibition – with documentation and objects – or build a show out of the histories and detritus of all my old exhibitions? At the tender age of 55, I felt I still had the latter in me, which is what we have done. It’s an attempt to respond to my passage through a lifetime of making, but also to the world through which it has passed, and somehow reconfigure the works. – Mike Nelson

Main image: Mike Nelson, Triple Bluff Canyon (the woodshed), 2004, installation view, various materials. Courtesy: the artist and the Hayward Gallery, London; photograph: Matt Greenwood

Contemporary Art and Culture