Is This Tomorrow?
14 February – 12 May 2019
Galleries 1, 8 & 9
13th February 2019 – Whitechapel Gallery unveils experiential installations, environments and pavilions, conceived by over 30 world-leading artists and architects working in collaboration. Ten new experimental multimedia projects respond to critical issues of today to offer speculative visions of the future.
Inviting visitors to peer into a model museum for Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, traverse a sculpture formed from security barriers, empathise with animals by entering structures built for them, or consider how a machine could equip us for the future, the ten intriguing and provocative projects pose the question – is this tomorrow?
Diverse international artists and architects explore universal topics including borders, migration, privacy, living space and our relationship with technology. Working together in ten interdisciplinary pairs or groups commissioned by Whitechapel Gallery, each project reveals the expansive potential of collaboration. The exhibition features 6a architects, Adjaye Associates, APPARATA, Rachel Armstrong, Rana Begum, Tatiana Bilbao Estudio, Cao Fei, Mariana Castillo Deball, Cécile B. Evans, Simon Fujiwara, Andrés Jaque / Office of Political Innovation, Kapwani Kiwanga, David Kohn Architects, mono office, Farshid Moussavi Architecture, Hardeep Pandhal, Amalia Pica, Jacolby Satterwhite, Zineb Sedira and Marina Tabassum Architects.
The commissions are arranged in a maze-like configuration. In the first, 6a architects (established 2001, UK) collaborate with artist Amalia Pica (b. 1978, Argentina) to explore the way architecture proscribes our relationship with animals. Boundaries between human and animal are blurred in their pens weaving throughout the galleries.
Creating a space for solitary moments within the exhibition, a colourful pavilion from Adjaye Associates (established 2000, London) and Kapwani Kiwanga (b. 1978, Canada) is constructed from reflective and semi-transparent glass. Highlighting the public versus private, the installation offers a central chamber for conversations between visitors to take place, containing fabric which absorbs sound waves.
APPARATA (established 2015, UK) and Hardeep Pandhal (b. 1985, UK) consider what happens to architecture when political systems collapse or become outmoded. Their structure, resembling a construction site or ruin, provides a resting place to listen to a song by Hardeep Pandhal and view a comic cut-out of a nuclear family.
Exploring the relationship between people and technology, particularly how consumers adapt themselves and their environments in a rapidly changing society, mono (established 2017, China) and Cao Fei (b. 1978, China) conceive a prototype for a machine that dispenses objects and emotions to represent and imagine possible futures.
A mountain-like structure opens up to reveal a series of films and images in which sex, designer babies, wealth, gentrification, queerness and fracking all converge in flickering moving images. Conceived by a New-York based group, Office for Political Innovation including principal Andrés Jaque (b. 1971, Spain) and artist Jacolby Satterwhite (b. 1986, US), the installation considers the relationship between bodies and resources.
Mariana Castillo Deball’s (b. 1975, Mexico) sculptural work relating to the Mesoamerican calendar, Tonalpohualli, is brought together with Tatiana Bilbao’s (b. 1972, Mexico) architectural exploration of the human need to be isolated yet communally connected. Their installation consists of vertical and horizontal elements, placed using ancient Mesoamerican measurements such as the distance between the heart and the outstretched hand.
Visitors walk beneath a seemingly banal structure with a blocky exterior, containing a beautifully textured and pigmented interior surface which reflects and refracts the light. This space of hope and spiritual reflection is presented by Marina Tabassum (b. 1969, Bangladesh) and Rana Begum (b. 1977, Bangladesh).
A model for a museum made to host Leonardo da Vinci’s famed painting Salvatore Mundi is conceived by David Kohn Architects (established 2007, UK) and Simon Fujiwara (b. 1982, UK). Their Salvator Mundi Experience includes a selfie station, an auction room and a gift shop. It explores how iconic works of art are gaining increasing currency in a world dominated by international capital and driven by mass populist appeal.
Farshid Moussavi OBE (b. 1965, Iran) and Zineb Sedira (b. 1963, France) present an experiential pavilion made of a series of security gates, considering the physical architecture of borders and control. With an accompanying soundscape triggered by motion sensors, they imagine the potential to overturn and subvert the tedium of these structures.
Rachel Armstrong (b. 1966, UK) and Cécile B. Evans (b. 1983, UK) are interested in systems that may already be in the process of eclipsing constructs of capital, like time and space. They present an installation that incorporates microbes, a curtain of fog, and other traditionally uncooperative elements within a framework dictated by absurd units of measurement: the 13sqm surface area deemed as the minimum “acceptable” space for human living and the 999 years designated as the maximum period of occupancy for land within the UK. What can be achieved in spite of, and beyond, the structures that attempt to rationalise or even contain humanity?
More than 60 years on Is This Tomorrow? takes its model from This is Tomorrow, one of the most influential exhibitions in Whitechapel Gallery’s history. Held in 1956, it grouped British architects, painters and sculptors including Eduardo Paolozzi, Erno Goldfinger, Richard Hamilton, James Stirling and Alison and Peter Smithson who worked in groups to present installations. It is now widely considered a watershed of post-war British Art.
Artists and architects invited to participate in Is This Tomorrow? were born after the original exhibition took place. Expanding the vision of the original exhibition and reflecting changes of the intervening years, they are based around the world and reflect an equal gender balance.
Notes to Editors
Tickets are now on sale at £12.95 / £9.50 concessions.
To celebrate the exhibition opening, Whitechapel Gallery will be open late on Thursdays and Fridays with events on offer including films, talks and performances plus free tours.
Book a ticket for entry 6pm – 8.30pm on Thursdays and Fridays and get a free drink in The Whitechapel Refectory.
Book a ticket to a Thursday night event and exhibition ticket at the same time to save £4.95 / £1.50 concs plus get a free drink
The exhibition is curated by Lydia Yee, Chief Curator at Whitechapel Gallery, with Trinidad Fombella and Cameron Foote, Assistant Curators at Whitechapel Gallery and Pedro Gadanho, MAAT as curatorial advisor
It is co-commissioned with MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon, where it will be presented in 2020.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated publication including contributions from each group. Special exhibition price: £20
The Whitechapel Gallery Commissioning Council: Erin Bell, Leili Huth, Irene Panagopoulos, Catherine Petitgas, Mariela Pissioti, Alex Sainsbury
With additional support by:
Bagri Foundation, Graham Foundation, The Embassy of the Argentine Republic, The High Commission of Canada, The Embassy of Mexico, The Ford Foundation, Personal Improvement, Walmer Yard
The project from Rachel Armstrong and Cécile B. Evans is supported by the Living Architecture project, which is funded by the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under EU Grant Agreement no. 686585
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