Zineb Sedira: Dreams Have No Titles
15 February – 12 May 2024
Zineb Sedira’s (b. 1963, France) critically acclaimed exhibition, Dreams Have No Titles, will have its first UK showing at Whitechapel Gallery in Spring 2024. Originally conceived for the French Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale, 2022, Dreams Have No Titles is an immersive installation comprising film, sculpture, photography and performance.
Sedira will transform the Gallery’s exhibition spaces into a series of film sets, which reference specific films drawn from a key period in avant-garde film production in France, Algeria and Italy, as well as elements of the artist’s personal history. Visitors are invited to participate in an unfolding narrative where fiction and documentary, the personal and the collective, are blurred and intertwined.
Visitors will enter a ballroom set based on Ettore Scola’s iconic film Le Bal (1983) as well as encountering reconstructions of scenes from landmark films such as Gillo Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers (1966) and Luchino Visconti’s L’Etranger (1967). The exhibition also features an exact replica of Sedira’s living room in her Brixton home, which further provides a stage for the artist to tell her own histories: of France, of Algeria; of decolonisation and displacement, but also of solidarity, freedom and hope. A full-scale cinema will be constructed in the upper galleries to screen Sedira’s film, which provides the exhibition with its title.
Dreams Have No Titles invites consideration of reality and artifice, the role of the artist as ‘author’ and ‘character’, and the position of the visitor as viewer and participant. The installation powerfully draws attention to the complex layering of history and the impossibility of presenting a single, fixed interpretation of it. Through the intersection of forms, histories and viewpoints, the artist foregrounds the importance – and joy – of collective shared experiences while simultaneously raising a warning about the failure of the emancipatory dream that for many people remains an unfulfilled promise.
A programme of post-colonial and activist films, curated by Sedira and specially invited guests, will accompany the exhibition.
Andrew Pierre Hart
15 February – 7 July 2024
Spring 2024 sees a new commission by London-based artist Andrew Pierre Hart. A self-taught electronic musician turned artist; Hart works across a range of media to explore the inter-relationship between painting and sound. The artist builds on his musical background, citing jazz methods such as improvisation, spontaneity and deep listening as informing his painting practice. He also mentions ‘structures within electronic music’, including ‘binaural and body-responsive sound and atmospherics’ as important influences.
For this commission, Hart has produced a series of six new oil paintings set within an environment that comprises a bamboo structure, a site-specific mural, a musical composition and a video installation. The work continues the artist’s recent interest in both vernacular architecture in West Africa and connections between murals and graffiti around the Whitechapel area.
Bamboo is widely used in Africa as a construction material; here, Hart uses it to create a tower-like structure placed in front of a geometrically patterned mural, which fills one side of the gallery. The bamboo stems and linear shapes in the painted wall design combine to create a visual rhythm.
These components share the space with a film exploring Whitechapel’s longstanding history as a home for migrant and diasporic communities. Shot in the streets directly surrounding the Gallery, Hart works with three dancers who, through sound and movement, communicate what the artist describes as “the ‘sites’ and sounds of the area: its myriad histories positioned alongside aspects of contemporary life”.
The commission is accompanied by a publication and a special series of live events, during which the space will be brought to life through dance, electronic music, discussion and performance.
Gavin Jantjes: To Be Free! A Retrospective (1970 – 2023)
12 June – 1 September 2024
This timely retrospective of Oxfordshire-based South African painter and printmaker Gavin Jantjes (b. 1948, South Africa) is his largest solo presentation in the UK to date. It brings together more than five decades of the artist’s diverse and distinctive practice.
Through over 100 prints, drawings, and paintings, as well as archival material, the exhibition celebrates Jantjes as a significant and critical agent of change while tracing his development as a painter, printmaker, writer, curator and activist.
Structured into chapters spanning 1970 to the present, To Be Free! focuses on pivotal phases in Jantjes’s life, from his formative years in Cape Town during the early years of South African apartheid (1948–1994), his transformative role at art institutions in the UK, Germany and Norway, his compelling figurative portrayals of the global Black struggle for freedom, to his recent transition to non-figurative painting. Jantjes’ journey embodies a quest for artistic emancipation, marked by a search for an autonomous form, freed from Eurocentric traditions and expectations of Black creativity.
The exhibition also focuses on Jantjes’ influence on the cultural landscape of London. His anti-apartheid print series A South African Colouring Book was shown at the ICA in1976, and his role as both exhibiting artist and co-curator in the ground-breaking 1986 Whitechapel Gallery exhibition From Two Worlds cemented his position as a major voice in the UK’s arts scene.
Importantly, 2024 marks the 30th anniversary of the first free general election in South Africa, resulting in Nelson Mandela’s eventual presidency. Jantjes returned to South Africa in 1994 to participate in the momentous event after spending over twenty years in exile from his home country. It was his active critique of the oppression and discrimination faced under the leadership of the Afrikaner Nationalist Party that rendered him exiled, with his entire artistic and academic career censored.
To be Free! provides an unprecedented opportunity for audiences, especially those new to his work, to recognise and explore the full breadth of Jantjes’ career and his leading role in furthering the discourses around and representation of Africa and its diasporas.
Organised by Sharjah Art Foundation in collaboration with The Africa Institute, Sharjah, the exhibition is curated by Salah M. Hassan, Director, The Africa Institute, and Professor, Cornell University, with Gilane Tawadros and Cameron Foote, Whitechapel Gallery.
Max Mara Art Prize for Women
Dominique White: Deadweight
2 July – 15 September 2024
Dominique White (b. 1993, UK), the winner of the ninth edition of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women (2022-2024), presents Deadweight, a new body of work developed during a six-month residency organised by Collezione Maramotti in Italy.
Comprising a series of large-scale sculptural installations, Deadweight builds on the artist’s philosophical interests in exploring and creating new worlds for ‘Blackness’, weaving together theories of Black Subjectivity, Afro-futurism/pessimism and Hydrarchy. The exhibition title derives from the term ‘Deadweight Tonnage’, a reference to a nautical measure. This term collapses everything on a ship, including cargo, passengers, crew and provisions, into a single unit, which determines the ship’s ability to float and function as intended. White frequently uses the concept of a ship as an analogy for statehood, arguing that without the ship, the Nation-State would not exist.
Deadweight continues and develops themes exemplified in the artist’s previous works, which often combine found objects gleaned from shipyards, such as sails, ropes and chains, with clay to create sculptures that are both physical and ghostly. Throughout her residency, White undertook extensive research and developed new practical skills to inform the project. Working with a range of specialists and mentors, White visited nautical institutions and archives to extend her research on Mediterranean naval history, science and structural engineering, and past and present political contexts while working alongside historic foundries, factories and artisan workshops to learn traditional and modern metalworking techniques.
The exhibition features four new works that continue an exploration of the shipwreck as both symbol and object, ruminating on what remains and what is lost – especially as the wreck of the ship is lifted from the sea and is brought to land. Deadweight considers the absence of the boat itself, raising questions around how the ‘container’ mediates the ‘contained’ and what possibilities present themselves when this framework is degraded. White proposes that while previous works exploring the ship as an analogy of statehood reflect an aggressive tension, these works focus in comparison on the fragility held within this tension, which manifests not in terms of size or intent but in gesture.
Deadweight marks the artist’s first solo exhibition at a major London institution. It then travels to Collezione Maramotti in Italy. A full-colour bilingual publication will be produced alongside the exhibition. A film documenting the 6-month residency will be screened during the exhibition.
The Max Mara Art Prize for Women is a longstanding initiative and collaboration between Max Mara, Whitechapel Gallery and Collezione Maramotti and is set up to support and nurture women-identifying artists at a crucial stage in their career who have not previously had a major solo exhibition.
Archive of Dissent: Photomontage in Action
23 July – 24 November 2024
Peter Kennard (b. 1949, UK) is a London-based artist and activist and, until his recent retirement, Professor of Political Art at the Royal College of Art. Since the 1970s, he has produced some of our most iconic and influential images of resistance and dissent.
From the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) to Stop the War Coalition campaigns in the 2000s and his ongoing commitment to environmental activism, Kennard has developed a unique visual practice that bridges art and politics for a broad range of audiences.
For the exhibition, presented in the former Whitechapel Library building, Kennard will activate a constantly evolving archive of work – a repository of social and political history accumulated over fifty years. Throughout his career, Kennard has responded to events as they happened. He has pursued art that, in his words, “counters and protests the established status quo, attempting to operate both in and outside the gallery to reach wider audiences”. Archive of Dissent unpacks the artist’s process of making, beginning with his distinctive photomontages that are then re-imagined through different formats and scales of publication to respond urgently to moments of crisis and attacks on people’s freedom, safety and dignity.
Reflecting the history of the building’s former library function, most of Kennard’s work will be presented as printed material, in vitrines and on lecterns. These include the newspapers where his images were first published and the many posters, book covers and placards through which they continue to circulate and be used in protest. His most recent work, consisting of a series of larger works on salvaged boards, operates as a deconstruction of the medium of photomontage, foregrounding the process by using lights, glass and projection. Other materials will further reveal the working roughs and tools of making, as well as the many forms his work finally appeared, cementing Kennard’s legacy as a leading and vital artistic force.
2 October 2024 – 12 January 2025
This exhibition marks the first major UK public gallery survey of Brazilian artist Lygia Clark (1920 – 1988, Brazil).
It explores a pivotal moment in Clark’s artistic journey when, in the 1950s and early 1960s, her approach shifted from the object as a work of art towards an experience that elicits and foregrounds audience participation. The exhibition highlights how the artist’s early formal experiments and her interest in the phenomenological character of art led to a gradual closure of the gap between the work and the viewer, making them an active participant. The works presented exemplify the crucial shift in Clark’s practice, exploring how two-dimensional works made in a post-constructivist vein began to open up a more physical and active experience.
The exhibition further highlights Clark’s remarkable influence on subsequent generations of young artists. One such artist is Sonia Boyce (b.1962, UK), who will present two bodies of work influenced by Clark in a separate exhibition to be held concurrently at the Gallery.
The Lygia Clark exhibition is co-curated by Anglo-Brazilian art scholar Michael Asbury, Sonia Boyce and Whitechapel Gallery Director Gilane Tawadros.
2 October 2024 – 12 January 2025
Sonia Boyce‘s (b.1962, UK) solo exhibition is conceived to be in dialogue with Lygia Clark’s. Boyce was introduced to Clark’s work in the late 1980s, and she quickly became fascinated by the Brazilian artist’s experiential and participatory practice. Boyce was inspired to make works that involved interaction, participation and improvisation, and this approach forms the prime focus of the exhibition.
A significant section of the exhibition will explore Boyce’s fascination with, and use of, hair since the 1990s. Encompassing sculpture, photography, collage and film, the exhibition presents an invitation to touch and respond sensually to the works on display and explores deeply-seated desires and assumptions. The exhibition will also include the multi-media installation We move in her way (2017). Inspired by Clark’s work from the late 1960s–70s, it encourages performers to allow the work to unfold organically through their improvisation and interactions.
Whitechapel Gallery has long supported Boyce’s practice, premiering her ground-breaking solo exhibition in 1988. Other collaborations have included the pioneering Artists in East London Schools Scheme in 1985 and the Music in Museums programme in 2015.
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