Culture

Paula Rego: Obedience and Defiance

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The title of this exhibition, which spans Portuguese artist Paula Rego’s output from the 1960s to the present day, succinctly describes the tensions expressed in her complex work. Rego’s experience and imagination are particular to Portuguese society —starting with growing up under Salazar’s savage fascist dictatorship and the weight of the Catholic Church. But her works go beyond the particular to comment on the human experience — particularly women’s — in all oppressive, hierarchical societies.

The Art of Persuasion: Wartime posters by Abram Games

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The Art of Persuasion at the National Army Museum is a fascinating exhibition of Second World War posters produced by the incredibly prolific and inventive artist Abram Games (although artist is not a term he liked to use about himself. He preferred the term “graphic thinker”). It’s also an insight into how the Second World War was seen by very many of its ordinary participants, military and civilian.

Five things to do or see this month

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Keith Haring
Tate Liverpool, 14 June to 10 November
Keith Haring emerged from the New York art scene of the 1980s, taking grafitti, pop art and club culture as inspiration. He used public spaces and new media in a determination to break out of the restrictive spaces of art galleries. And he was an activist, responding to issues from racism to homophobia; AIDS awareness to climate change. This is the first major UK exhibition of his work. Definitely one to catch.

Not Waving, but Drowning

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Laid-back, sensitive and dreamy — nothing less could be expected from Croydon rapper Loyle Carner’s second album. Although perhaps not packing as much of a punch instrumentally as his debut released two years ago, the album has some impressive features. Jorja Smith, Sampha and Tom Misch all make appearances, as well as an excerpt from south London rap giant Giggs.

But by far the most impressive aspect of Carner’s art is his beautifully poetic lyricism, effortless flow and intimate, honest portrayals of his emotional world. In this, Carner has not yet failed to deliver.

Nothing Great About Britain

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At a time when the music industry’s fat cats are once again tightening their grip on the grime scene, Slowthai’s highly anticipated new album defies genre boundaries with a dirty, grimy album of class struggle and resistance.

Fresh off his “99p tour”, the 24 year old’s debut LP, Nothing Great About Britain, is a refreshing injection into the UK hip-hop scene, combining multiple genres that were popular during his childhood in Northampton. This has secured Slowthai (Tyron Frampton) a place at the top of the UK grime scene.

The Flood

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The Flood opens with these words: “Currently some 70 million individuals have been forcibly displaced by persecution, conflict, and violence around the world… Over 18,000 have died while trying to reach Europe in the last five years alone.”

Based on interviews with migrants and ex-Home Office officials, this dignified and dramatic film describes the horrors and risks endured by people seeking refuge in Europe, and the chilling, politicised calculations of the UK border agency.

A powerful record of resilience

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Spent teargas canisters. Hundreds of these dull grey tubes the size of deodorant cans littered the sand on the walk to the contaminated former landfill site in Calais that became a temporary camp for as many as 10,000 displaced people until late 2016. This was the place called Lande or “heath” by the French authorities, but alternatively “The Jungle” by its oppressed inhabitants.

Booksmart

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Molly and Amy are best friends who have spent their high school careers focusing on getting the best possible grades so they can get into the best possible colleges and kickstart their bright futures.

The day before graduation Molly is in a toilet cubicle and overhears some students joking about her nerdy status. She challenges them, boasting that she will be heading off to Yale while they will probably end up in crappy jobs because they’ve spent their time partying.

Five things to do or see this month

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The Migrant Festival
Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 30 May to 2 June
The Migrant Festival celebrates Birmingham’s diverse roots, welcoming new arrivals to the city. This year’s programme includes designer Osman Yousefzada’s fashion parade, a performance by Syrian Ood Player, Rihab Azar from Celebrating Sanctuary and a tour of the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) exhibition Handsworth Self Portrait: 40 Years On (23 March to 2 June).

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