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Enjoy today’s self-led walk of late openings and public art as part of Whitechapel Gallery‘s First Thursdays. The Walking Route of tonight will start as usual from our Gallery and head to a commemorative plaque, a mural and three art openings for a one-hour and twenty minutes walk.

The first stop will be at the Altab Ali Commemorative Plaque. This plaque, located on Whitechapel High Street, commemorates the racially motivated murder of the 25-year-old textile factory worker, Altab Ali, in 1978, and the consequent Bangladeshi community’s resistance to far-right extremism and institutional racism. His death catalysed a historic youth movement, leading to the ‘Battle for Brick Lane’, the birth of groups like the Anti-Nazi League, Rock against Racism, and a protest where 7,000 people marched behind Ali’s coffin to 10 Downing Street. A visit to this plaque will serve as an early commemoration of the ceremony scheduled for Saturday, May 4, 2024 (6:00-6:45 pm), featuring wreath laying, poetry readings, and tributes inside the park, marking the 46th anniversary of the murder.

The walk will later head to the Cable Street Mural, located in Shadwell, East London. Adorning the side of St George’s Town Hall, the artwork was created by Dave BinningtonPaul ButlerRay Walker, and Desmond Rochfort during the years 1979 to 1983, and it serves as a tribute to the historic events of the Battle of Cable Street in 1936. The original concept for the artwork was devised by Dave Binnington himself and inspired by the Mexican mural artists David Siqueiros and Diego Rivera. Taking place on Sunday, October 4, 1936, in Cable Street, this event marked a pivotal moment in history, opposing a procession by the British Union of Fascists under Oswald Mosley’s leadership. Demonstrators from diverse backgrounds, including local Jewish, socialist, anarchist, Irish, and communist factions, confronted the Metropolitan Police, who sought to dismantle the barricades erected to impede the march. The mural showcases faces captured from newspaper photos of the battle, commemorating a diverse array of communities living in the neighbourhood both in the past and in the present. Among them are members of Cable Street’s Bengali community, today’s largest community in the neighborhood.

From there, the following stop is at Casa UVW. United Voices of the World organised an opening for members and the public for the launch of the Viva Palestina Libre art exhibition. A group exhibition, which, according to the organisers, brings together “artists exhibiting prints, embroidery and paintings in an act of solidarity with the people of Palestine and to protest genocide and the illegal occupation of their land”. During the event, there will also be talks, poetry and food. UVW is a trade union whose roots lie in anti-colonialist and anti-racist movements which have a rich history of resistance through political art.

The following stop is Lychee One gallery for Portals to The Past by Chinese-born London based artist Qian Qian. The exhibition advances Qian’s artistic explorations over the past five years, intertwining the realms of technology with mythology, the material with the spiritual, and the tangible with the transcendent. In addition to her previously produced watercolours on paper, the exhibition also features some first attempt at presenting oil paintings on canvas, alongside a sculptural installation piece titled Form and Emptiness.

The end of today’s route will be at Annka Kultys for an exhibition featuring Christiane Peschek. The Austrian artist, whose works oscillate between emotional alienation, self-sacralization, and fluid identity research within an expanded virtual space, will present 13 small paintings. These self-portraits, altered through various apps, form a series of works that explore the artist’s relationship with their body and the passage of time. Each artwork serves as a window into the artist’s exploration of identity and the evolving self, offering unique insights into the fluid nature of identity in the digital age.

 

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