Duchamp &Sons, Digital Curating workshop, 2020. Image: Whitechapel Gallery.


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.

Richard Billingham, Untitled (RAL 45), 1994, Colour photograph mounted on aluminium,105 x 158 cm, Edition of 5 + 1 AP © Richard Billingham.



Truth be told, I don’t like this photo. It’s too real, too exposed. Life is like this but I wish it was unlike this, trapped in reality, like there is no control, thick tar absorbed in the wallpaper, drenched in mucus. Like my uncle’s room. Memories of the family I try to remember, but the settings I often try to forget.

Akraam Ahammed



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.

Maya Brown

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.

Aasiya Merali

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

Lisa Oppenheim, Calendar, 1986-2011, 2013, Silver gelatin black & white photographs exposed and solarized by fire light, unique in a series, 91.5 x 91.5 cm. Courtesy the artist and The Approach, London.



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.

Aasiya Merali 

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.

Sara Ismail

Peter Doig, Canoe – Island, 2000, 12 colour Silkscreen printed on 300 gsm Somerset Tub Sized paper, 75 x 100 cm. Courtesy of, Margate.



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.

Sara Ismail       

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.

Ellen Lloyd

Agnieszka Kurant, Political Map of Phantom Islands, 2011, Print on archival paper.



We were all at home when we began imagining foreign places. They came to us like remnants of a near-past, still hanging in the trees like rubbish after a storm. We were their territory and they had come so far to find us. To tell us that our home was not like their home; but to make their home they needed each brick from ours and each brick from our children’s homes. They took and took until there was no earth to be found; first we became an island and then we drowned.

Sammara Abbasi 

This map is lying, I think of whether any map tells the truth. We label a country or an island or a house to make it feel like it belongs to us. My home, my country. The map is a minuscule abstraction of the infinite world. We find our place in it by turning it into bright coloured flecks of paint on a blue surface. I see in this map how our names for things give them a reality in our minds even when they do not exist. It is a fragile existence. Home, United Kingdom, the World, the Universe.

Joshua von Uexkull