23 July 2024 – 12 January 2025

Peter Kennard (b. 1949, UK) is a London-based artist and activist, and Emeritus Professor of Political Art at the Royal College of Art.

Archive of Dissent marks one of the most extensive displays of Kennard’s work to date and has been specially conceived for Whitechapel Gallery. Taking over three galleries within the former Whitechapel Library space, the exhibition brings together work from across the artist’s prolific and influential five-decade career, offering an important repository of social and political history while illuminating an artistic practice that has continuously countered and protested the status quo.

Since the 1970s, Kennard has produced some of our most iconic and influential images of resistance and dissent. From the Vietnam War, Anti-Apartheid Movement, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and Stop the War Coalition campaigns in the 2000s, through to the present wars in Ukraine and Gaza 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.

Reflecting the history of the spaces’ former library function, Kennard’s proposition for the exhibition takes the form of an active and constantly evolving archive, much of which will be presented as printed material displayed on walls, placards, in vitrines or on lecterns. These include the newspapers where his images were first published, as well as the posters and books through which they continue to circulate.

The exhibition delves into the artist’s process of making, beginning with a selection of the distinctive photomontages he has been making since the 1970s. Inspired by the work of John Heartfield (1891–1968), who pioneered montage as a political tool in the 1930s, Kennard’s montages deconstruct familiar and ubiquitous images and re-imagines them through different formats and scales of publication. The works not only serve to expose the relationship between power, capital, war and the destruction of planet Earth but also ‘to show new possibilities emerging from the cracks and splinters of the old reality’.

Archive of Dissent also includes two of Kennard’s most recent and ambitious installations Boardroom (2023) and Double Exposure(2023) which use light, glass and projection to deconstruct the medium of photomontage, as well as a new work, The People’s University of the East End (2024). Taking its title from the colloquial name for the former Library space, the work draws attention to its original purpose as a democratic local resource, while continuing to harness and evoke the iconography and forms of protest.

“My art erupts from outrage at the fact that the search for financial profit rules every nook and cranny of our society. Profit masks poverty, racism, war, climate catastrophe and on and on…Archive of Dissent brings together fifty years of work that all attempt to express that anger by ripping through the mask by cutting, tearing, montaging and juxtaposing imagery that we are all bombarded with daily. It shows what lies behind the mask: the victims, the resistance, the human communality saying ‘no’ to corporate and state power. It rails at the waste of lives caused by the trillions spent on manufacturing weapons and the vast profits made by arms companies.” – Peter Kennard


Press InformationFor more information, interviews and images, contact:

Hannah Vitos, Rees & Co | hannah@reesandco.com | +44 (0)20 3137 8776
Colette Downing, Whitechapel Gallery | colettedowning@whitechapelgallery.org

Notes to Editors:

Visitor Information:

General Gallery Admission: Free
Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 6pm; Thursdays, 11am – 9pm

Whitechapel Gallery, 77 – 82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX
T + 44 (0) 20 7522 7888 | E info@whitechapelgallery.org | W whitechapelgallery.org


About Peter Kennard:

Peter Kennard studied at Byam Shaw, the Slade, and the Royal College of Art, where he is an Emeritus Professor of Political Art. He has exhibited across the world, including solo exhibitions at Imperial War Museum, London, UK; Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, UK; United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland; and Gallery Fifty 24MX, Mexico City, Mexico. He has participated in group exhibitions at Tate Liverpool, London, UK; Tate Modern, London, UK; Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands; and Gallerie Vallois, Paris, France.

Kennard’s photomontages have been exhibited in galleries and museums nationally and internationally and have been acquired by major collections. They have been shown in community centres, schools and town halls across the UK. They have been used in innumerable publications and newspapers, including The Guardian, The Sunday Times, and The Scotsman. They have been endlessly reproduced in posters, book covers, placards and digital format, circulated among activist groups and held at protests.

About Whitechapel Gallery:

Whitechapel Gallery was founded in 1901 with the aim to bring great art to the people of East London. From the outset, the Gallery has pushed forward a bold programme of exhibitions and educational activities, driven by the desire to enrich the cultural offerings for its local communities and provide new opportunities for extraordinary artists from across the globe, to showcase their works to UK audiences, often for the first time.

From ground-breaking solo shows from artists as diverse as Barbara Hepworth (1954), Jackson Pollock (1958), Helio Oiticica (1969), Gilbert & George (1971), Eva Hesse (1979), Frida Kahlo (1982), Sonia Boyce (1988), Sophie Calle (2010), Zarina Bhimji (2012), Emily Jacir (2015), William Kentridge (2016), Theaster Gates (2021) and Nicole Eisenman (2023) to thought-provoking exhibitions that reflect key artistic and cultural concerns, the Gallery’s focus on bringing artists, ideas, and audiences together, remains as important today as it did over a century ago and has helped to cement the East End, as one of the world’s most exciting and diverse cultural quarters.

We are proud to be a Gallery that is locally embedded and globally connected. Its vision, under the new Directorship of Gilane Tawadros, is to ensure Whitechapel Gallery claims a distinctive and radical position in the social and cultural landscape, building on its pioneering history as a place for invigorated and inclusive engagement with contemporary art.


Press enquiries

Colette Downing
Communications Manager
E colettedowning@whitechapelgallery.org
T +44 (0)207 539 3315

Other enquiries

For all other communications enquiries please contact:

T +44 (0)20 7522 7888