What role might art play when our freedom is curtailed? Can confinement trigger new creative processes and networks of solidarity?
Here Whitechapel Gallery’s Youth Forum, Duchamp & Sons, share their thoughts behind the works selected for their current display, Home: Live > In Room, drawn from the Hiscox Collection. Open until 3 January 2021, this virtually-curated exhibition considers the ways in which lockdown has affected experiences of art and culture and how the home – as refuge or prison, as still life or real life – has inspired generations of artists.
I liked Billingham’s photos – so candid it became uncomfortable, unpleasant even.
It felt familiar, not far off the TV dinners we’d have on a Friday night.
My parents reclined into the wine-coloured sofa, after sharing a bottle of red themselves,
The living room dimly lit by a coned lampshade and the static light of television screen reflecting off my dad’s glasses.
How different could it be? What art would we hang and how many plants could we cram into the corners? How many coffees would come out of that machine and how many breakfasts would we eat together on the counter? One day, leaving will not feel like escaping and going home won’t choke me with dread. When I return it won’t be to this coop of four peeling walls and three crusty cushions.
The image is ugly like a picture of a maltreated animal. Starkly lit, like a crime scene photo. The red man like raw meat and the dog like rotting flesh. I think home is a place where you can easily decay and rot. You like to see the ones that are carefully curated but not Billingham’s one. By showing us inside he becomes a voyeur and separates himself from it.
Joshua von Uexkull
Her brute exists, but here he is beautifully off-key: tender, holy, golden in the summer of just this. Fast and sharp and dirty but through my lens it’s just me and her smooth, grey ache. The tiny hurts collect and band together, and I watch from my cage as they sparkle in the sun. She lied when she said I wouldn’t burn but now I am built on ash and I can’t breathe.
How do we make sense of all the madness around us?
We try to organise it, packing little fragments of violence, tightly together. Into a contained chaos. Combusting slowly.
Step back, look up and outwards, towards the sky.
But it’s not right. It’s unsettling, uncomfortable. Only a confused sense of peace.
Isolated, drifting away on the dark mass. Lost at sea. Overpowered by the salt in the air, it stings my nose. If I look up and behind me, I can see the horizon, the place I want to be, or is it the place I’m escaping from? I can’t remember.
When the sky sings like this, sweet yellow and pink I don’t want to remember what’s real or not. If I look up and lie back I can live in my own dream – swaying into the rhythm of the dark sea. Always looking up and out. Sweet and salty.
What becomes of home when we journey forth? Beyond the place we once held close, onwards to another which we know not yet. In this liminal space we may hang, unable to mark in our minds the shape of home. The cliché of the journey into the unknown made all the more real in its intangibility.
Whitechapel Lates: All exhibitions free from 6-9pm today!
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