Protest art, a modern cabinet of wonder and Jackson Pollock: Whitechapel Gallery this autumn

From the protest art created by a renowned Greek artist and a modern cabinet of wonder to a retrospection of James Pollock exhibition in the late fifties, the Whitechapel gallery announced three exhibitions that will open in August and September. The first display, No Ordinary Protest, opens its doors to the visitors this Saturday.

whitechapel gallery autumn 2018 no ordinary protest
Mikhail Karikis, No Ordinary Protest, 2018. Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art and Whitechapel Gallery, London. Video still courtesy of Mikhail Karikis.

Children’s Commission: No Ordinary Protest by Mikhail Karikis

As a part of the gallery’s commissioning programme, an internationally recognised artist is given an opportunity to create something new and display it to its audiences. For its tenth edition, a Greek artist Mikhail Karikis was selected, following in the footsteps of Assemble, Rivane Neuenschwander and Eva Rothschild. He collaborated with a group of local schoolchildren to create No Ordinary Protest, inspired by a sci-fi novel The Iron Woman by Ted Hughes.

whitechapel gallery autumn 2018 no ordinary protest
Mikhail Karikis, No Ordinary Protest, 2018. Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art and Whitechapel Gallery, London. Video still courtesy of Mikhail Karikis.

A story of the children with special powers granted to them by the titular superheroine Iron Woman who refuse to give into the apathy of the adults in the polluted, destroyed environment, took shape of an activist piece. It gave the children an opportunity to create art that reflects on their own responsibilities towards the environment, using sounds as one of the driving forces of the artwork.

The display will open on the 18th of August in Galleries 5 and 6 and will remain available until the 6th of January 2019.

Collector and artist in conversation: Surreal Science

whitechapel gallery autumn 2018 surreal science
Francesco Garnier Valletti, Box of wax fruits (peaches), 19th century. Image courtesy of George Loudon Collection, photograph by Rosamond Purcell.

Displaying the works collected by George Loudon, an art patron who assembled a collection of interesting objects relating to studying and teaching life sciences. These range from illustrated books, glass models of sea anemones, botanical models to bisected human skulls. Once pedagogical artefacts that served scientists around the world from the Enlightenment to the early 20th century, the objects gained a brand-new meaning.

whitechapel gallery autumn 2018 surreal science
Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, Glass model of a Portuguese man-of-war, mid-to-late 19th century. Image courtesy of George Loudon Collection, photograph by Rosamond Purcell.

To highlight new interpretation possibilities, the gallery invited Salvatore Arancio, an Italian artist who shares the collector’s interest and reflects them in his own works, to curate an exhibition that could be a conversation between the unique objects and his own practice.

The selected objects will include a boxed collection of seashells, magic lantern slides that depict extinct species, glass jellyfish model, two medical heads, plaster anatomical models, Japanese botanical illustrations and coral specimens. Alongside these, Arancio will display his own mixed media work, including ceramics, collage, video and animation. The entire exhibition hints at a modern rendition of the cabinets of wonder – the display rooms filled with objects presenting natural history, ethnography, relics, curious objects and works of art that date back to the Renaissance – as well as the surrealist practices.

The exhibition will open on the 25th of August 2018 in Gallery 7 and will remain available to the public until the 6th of January 2018.

September opening: Staging Jackson Pollock

whitechapel gallery autumn 2018 staging jackson pollock
Jackson Pollock, Summertime: Number 9A, 1948. © Tate, London 2018

The Whitechapel Gallery hosted the UK premiere of Jackson Pollock’s work 60 years ago. To commemorate the anniversary of the game-changing exhibition that sparked conversations in 1958 and left a mark on the history of exhibition-making, the institution brings back Summertime 9A – a five-metre-wide drip painting – as a centrepiece of the exhibition alongside archival material. An exclusive interview with the designer of the original show Trevor Dannatt, a modernist architect, provides broader context on the artist’s legacy as well as the event itself. The original 1958 display of the works of famed abstract expressionist consisted of 58 paintings created by Pollock during his “drip period” that was his ticket to international fame.

Installation view of Jackson Pollock exhibition, 1958. © Whitechapel Gallery

A fascinating behind-the-scenes story that led to the set up of the exhibition in London was also captured in the new display: through the interview, Dannatt shares his approach to staging the exhibition, his collaboration with the gallery director Bryan Robertson, as well as their trip to Berlin to see the exhibition travelling to Europe after Pollock’s death. It was rumoured to be backed by CIA through MoMA’s International Programme as a part of culture war and propaganda that played a significant part in the Cold War – and the background of abstract expressionism as a part of the force promoting the freedom of expression is also touched upon.

The exhibition will open on the 4th of September in Gallery 5 and will be available to the public until the 24th of March 2019.

 

Whitechapel Gallery, 77 – 82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX. Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 6pm; Thursdays, 11am – 9pm. Free entry to all exhibitions mentioned above. Additional info: whitechapelgallery.org

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