Life is More Important Than Art is a summer-long, multidisciplinary programme of exhibitions and events. It explores the intersection of art and everyday life and the role of the contemporary art institution at a time of uncertainty and change.

The title of the season takes inspiration from African-American writer and novelist James Baldwin, who proposed that life is more important than art … and yet that is why art is important. At a time when the cost-of-living crisis is causing severe financial hardship and the after-effects of the pandemic are still being felt, we consider the role of art and the art institution in everyday life. What importance can we attach to art alongside more pressing concerns?

The exhibition maps dynamic histories of migration and difference, with a focus on London and the East End. Representative of, and animated by, the distinctive and radical history of Whitechapel Gallery, Life is More Important Than Art points to the critical role that art can play in both reflecting lived experience and opening up new possibilities for thinking, feeling and dreaming.

Image Credit: Janette Parris, Whitechapel Gallery, 2023, Digital Drawing, Courtesy the artist.
Osman Yousefzada Installation view of An Immigrants Room of Her Own, 2018

Life is More Important Than Art

Twelve artists spanning film painting, photography and installation, past and present histories are interwoven and personal stories are entangled with global events.

London, United Kingdom - Saturday 29 April 2023, Numbi Arts - DJ Elmi.

Somali Museum UK: Any-Space-Whatever

Combining an art gallery, library, archive, museum, dance and music studio in one space, the Somali Museum radically reimagines what a ‘museum’ is and what it can do.

Sculpting Conversations lead image, Sarah Marsh (1) copy

Sculpting Conversations

Relax and play in a room full of soft, bendy and weighted objects; talking, laughing and sharing stories.


Escape the Slick

Take a seat in a space which rejects the slickness and polish of modern architecture, and instead embraces comfort and self-expression, blurring the lines between public and private space.

whitechapel gallery main corrected final

Whitechapel Radio Station (WRS)

Whitechapel Radio Station (WRS) is an intra-gallery radio station broadcasting live and online, hosting a series of talks with artists, collectives, writers and musicians.

Escape The Slick by Nina Photography-127

Live Events

As part of Life is More Important than Art, Whitechapel Gallery is activated throughout the summer by an exciting range of discursive and performative live events.