Tracing Absence

  • Music is about to begin kopi

    Ola Kolehmainen, The music is about to begin, 2000, 130 x 184 cm © Ola Kolehmainen, Courtesy Galleri Brandstrup

Past Exhibition

This exhibition was on 20 August - 31 December 2022

Access Information

Tracing Absence

20 August – 31 December 2022

Explore your relationship with absence in this new exhibition from 10 student curators.

Selected from the Christen Sveaas Art Foundation, Tracing Absence invites the viewer to experience absence as a process, one which encourages us to confront our discomforts and find reflection in emptiness. Absence is everywhere, existing beyond a vacant space or blank canvas; it can be found in crowded rooms, relationships, people, in nature and society.

This selection balances these aspects, navigating their relationship with one another and with the viewer. Two works of sound art from artists Joseph Sergi and Yiskāh will feature in the space, providing viewers with the opportunity for total immersion in these challenging artworks.

Visit Galleries 5 and 6 to discover this display of works from artists Andreas Gursky, Wolfgang Tillmans, Nan Goldin, Francesca Woodman, Sophie Calle, Zanele Muholi, James White, Mikkel McAlinden, Ola Kolehmainen, and Ken Matsubara.

Tracing Absence was curated by Ada Egg Koskiluoma, Cathy O’Sullivan, Charlotte Nicoll, Georgia MacCallum, Harriet Poulter, Mariarosaria Innaccone, Milo Frayre, Sara Cuce, Sonia Barbey, and Sophie Gibbons.

About the MA Curating Art and Public Programmes

This Master of Arts degree in Curating Art and Public Programmes is a unique collaboration with London South Bank University (LSBU). It trains emerging curators over a one-year, full-time course. Focusing on curating art and public programmes and culminating in the students’ final exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, it offers a unique curriculum that stands out from other curating courses. The backbone of the programme is a professional placement, an exclusive opportunity to learn in a real-life environment at an internationally renowned public contemporary art gallery. Students work alongside highly-experienced staff across the Gallery over a period of 20 weeks in addition to attending other taught modules. This programme allows students to apply the knowledge, understanding and skillset acquired through this course in the workplace. Candidates enter the professional field with practical knowledge, confidence and a strong global vision as they are connected with professional networks from the outset.

Course directors: Professor Geoff Cox, LSBU and Dr. Nayia Yiakoumaki, Whitechapel Gallery.


Hear, Now

Episode 18 of Whitechapel Gallery’s Hear, Now podcast series delves deeper into the themes that underpin the exhibition Tracing Absence. Students graduating from the MA Curating Art and Public Programmes course, run by Whitechapel Gallery and London South Bank University, had the opportunity to curate this exhibition as part of their course, which confronts the different ways in which absence manifests in the world.

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