Whitechapel Gallery

Alicja Kwade

I was enthralled by this piece and really enjoyed watching the electronic star charts revolving around each other. This piece really epitomised the vastness of the universe and the smallness of me, the individual, the person.

Berlin-based artist Alicja Kwade’s commission Medium Median explores our relationship to space and time.

A 21st century mobile, featuring twenty-four electronic star charts, revolves at the centre of the installation. Slowly orbiting each other in a three-dimensional composition, the devices evoke kinetic sculpture and occasionally align in the formation of the constellation Cassiopeia.

As the sky charts receive information from GPS satellites showing the current locations of stars, they also vocalise in unison a reading of passages from Genesis. Directly connected to the universe, the screens become windows into a starry Milky Way, positioning the viewer at the centre.

Surrounding the mobile, Kwade (b.1979, Katowice, Poland) has placed several large bronze casts reminiscent of Modernist sculpture. Their biomorphic shapes are echoed in the artist’s projection of an ambiguous mass rotating in a black void.


Guerilla Girls

A lot of people appear to show distaste for the work that Guerilla Girls, however, I do get their use of public space and text, infographics to get a message across and to a certain extent I can see their point.

I liked the fact that in this piece, they have collected together responses to questionnaires that were sent to exhibition organizers to be included in this installation. Very professionally represented with information placed on every aspect in the room, including the floor.

The Guerrilla Girls’ new commission for the Whitechapel Gallery revisits their 1986 poster stating “It’s Even Worse in Europe”.

Characteristically deploying their strategic combination of humour, information, bold graphics and a subversive use of public space, their latest campaign includes a banner installed on the front of the Gallery and a display of posters and new research.

Guerrilla Girls: Is it even worse in Europe? explores diversity in European art organisations. It presents responses to questionnaires sent to 383 directors about their exhibitions programme and collections. The questions were formulated to critically look at the narratives that are produced by cultural institutions.


Assemble with Granby Workshop

This reminded me of the old Brickworks in Rhyl, and the time when the Chimney was destroyed to make way for the Brickfield Pond Nature Reserve, perhaps this recollection occurred because of the inference that positive change can happen through collective action.

The collective Assemble (founded in 2010) works across architecture, design and art. For this new commission they have created a display of industrial ceramic production and handmade objects developed with Granby Workshop as part of their community-led rebuilding of a Liverpool neighbourhood.

Bricks are one of the city’s basic structural components. A brick house is assembled from these portable hand-sized units. Extracted as soil from the ground, the clay is dried, crushed, pressed, cut, often fired and then laid to give form to walls, buildings and pavement. From the raw material to the way cities are constructed and imagined, Assemble is interested in the process of ‘making-learning’.


Focussing on materials, labour and production, this installation features a collection of experiments, prototypes and failures produced at Granby Workshop, shown alongside a film of Ibstock Brick Ltd, a factory with a history that dates back to the 1800s. The new products are made of a rough sedimentary brick clay abundant locally – now re-engineered in a liquid state and playfully applied to new and unlikely uses.

Brickfield reveals how places are made by people and how change can be brought about through self organisation and collective action.

Terrains of the Body

Overall I was very impressed by the Terrains of the Body exhibition and really wanted to spend more time in there. Whitechapel Gallery seem to use subdued lighting which gives the gallery a very calm peaceful feeling. I definitely felt a sense of nurturing in this exhibition.

Drawn from the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, U.S.), this collection display showcases photography and video work by seventeen contemporary artists from around the world.

By turning their camera to women, including themselves, these artists embrace the female body as a vital medium for storytelling, expressing identity and reflecting individual and collective experience.

Featuring work by: Marina Abramović, Rineke Dijkstra, Anna Gaskell, Nan Goldin, Charlotte Gyllenhammar, Candida Höfer, Icelandic Love Corporation, Mwangi Hutter, Kirsten Justesen, Justine Kurland, Nikki S. Lee, Hellen van Meene, Shirin Neshat, Daniela Rossell, Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation, Janaina Tschäpe and Adriana Varejão.



Mwangi Hutter

This felt like a very personal collection of images and made me consider how my own body would appear in photographs like these. The image with the scars on her back I became quite moved by – thinking about the scars that we all carry, some visible, some invisible. Made me feel very reflective.

Mwangi Hutter live and work in Berlin and Nairobi.
The duo sees its work as a unit arising from two bodies, two minds, dual histories and the continuous merging of expression. Working in video, digital photography, installation and performance, they are developing a body of work that focuses on human experience, using themselves as the sounding board for exploring modes of self-knowledge and relationality.

Their recent international exhibitions, among others: “Heaven, Hell, Purgatory – The Divine Comedy from the Perspective of Contemporary African Artists”, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; “Total Art: Contemporary Video”, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC (2014)
“VISIONS. An Atmosphere of Change”, Marta Herford Museum; “Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa”, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art – NMAfA, Washington DC (2013)
“Ingrid Mwangi Robert Hutter. Constant Triumph“, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, GA (solo, 2011)


Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation

Beautifully shot photographs from an incident in Roman Mythology recreated in an idealised 1960’s – has a utopian feel to it. Leaves me feeling quite disconnected and indeed this would have been a feeling experienced by the women abducted from their communities.

Director Eve Sussman (b. 1961) and her collaborative team Rufus Corporation reimagined a well-known story, Romulus’s founding of ancient Rome, in their eighty-minute video The Rape of the Sabine Women (2005), set in an idealised 1960s. The video’s sumptuous shots are reflected in the sleek and evocative photographic stills produced by the team. An image of Greek actress Themis Bazaka seated on the deck of the modernist Lanaras House near Athens illuminates the artists’ meticulous design and staging processes.


The rape of the Sabine Women” is the common name of an incident from Roman mythology, in which the men of Rome committed a mass abduction of young women from the other cities in the region. It has been a frequent subject of artists, particularly during the Renaissance and post-Renaissance eras.



Sussman’s first solo show was at the Bronwyn Keenan Gallery in SoHo in 1997.[1]

In 2003 Sussman began working in collaboration with The Rufus Corporation, an international ad hoc ensemble of performers, artists, and musicians. She produced the motion picture and video art pieces 89 Seconds at Alcázar (2004) and The Rape of the Sabine Women (2007).[2]Sussman translates well known masterworks into her large scale re-enactments.

89 Seconds at Alcázar is a 10-minute, continuously flowing single take that meticulously creates the moments directly before and after the image portrayed by Diego Velázquez in Las Meninas (1656). It premiered at the 2004 Whitney Biennial.

Sussman’s The Rape of the Sabine Women is a video-musical loosely based on the myth of the founding of Rome, inspired by the French neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David‘s masterpiece, The Intervention of the Sabine Women (1794-1799). It was shot on location in Greece and Germany.[3]

Sussman’s 2011 film whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir follows the observations and surveillance of a geophysicist software writer stuck in a futuristic city.[4]

Yuri’s Office, published in 2010, is a movie set built by Sussman in cooperation with The Rufus Corporation. The piece is a three-dimensional version of an original photograph taken by Sussman depicting the office of Yuri Gagarin.


Kirsten Justesen

Kirsten Justesen trained in classic sculpture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts from which she graduated in 1975.
Her activities comprise a wide range of genres, from body art and performance art to sculpture and installation. Justesen was part of the avant-garde scene of the 1960s, where she became a pioneering figure within the three-dimensional modes of art that incorporate the artist’s own body as artistic material. These experiments led her in the direction of the feminist art which challenged traditional value systems during the 1970s. Her later works constitute broader investigations of relationships between body, space, and language.


A pioneer of body art, Kirsten Justesen (b. 1943) frequently photographs her own body to explore its relation to space and language. Her performances typically take place outdoors, but to make a recent self-portrait, she tucked herself into the shelf of a wardrobe above a box marked ‘old bits of little sketches,’ keeping her ideas for future projects close at hand.


Curious about the placing of her own body into the shelf and the idea of keeping her ideas for future projects close at hand. As a child I would tuck myself away in the wardrobe to hide away from the world and this photograph reminded me of this, something which I haven’t thought about for perhaps 35 to 40 years and has left me considering why this piece would bring back such a memory and what I was doing at the time.

I do still have to shut myself away from the rest of the world to control the overwhelming feelings that I experience on a daily basis.

Hellen van Meene

The pensive moods expressed by adolescents provide fertile ground for enigmatic portraits of young women by Hellen van Meene (b. 1972). With their warm natural light and uncomplicated compositions, van Meene’s photographs appear to be spontaneous snapshots, but they are painstakingly planned and executed.


Hellen’s photographs have an almost surreal illusion to them, leaving me feeling quite melancholy.

 Artist Hellen van Meene (Alkmaar, Netherlands, 1972) is known for her (mostly) square photographic portraits of teenage girls. Her work was first exhibited in 1996 and has been shown around the world since then. Her photos are in the collection of many prominent museums, including Guggenheim NYC and MoMA. She lives and works in Heiloo and her subjects now include boys, still lifes, dogs and other animals.

Dutch photographer Hellen van Meene’s new book invites you to enter her world. Tout va disparaître (French for “Everything will disappear”, presents dreamlike portrait studies of really young people in their own individual surrounding environments.


Hellen van Meene is an artist who makes photos, mostly portraits, mostly of young people, and mostly of girls. Thanks to her galleries she can make a living out of this. Her work is shown in museums and galleries all over the world. She is the single subject of three books and appears along other artists in many other books and magazines. She lives in Heiloo, The Netherlands.


Justine Kurland

I was very touched by these photographs and see the representation of journey very strongly and can associate these images with my own investigation into the refugee crisis for the Specialist Study (ARF 505) module.

Justine Kurland is known for her utopian photographs of American landscapes and the fringe communities, both real and imagined, that inhabit them. A lifelong nomad, Kurland takes photographs during cross-country journeys that reveal the double-edged nature of the American dream.  She presents a reality where utopia and dystopia are not polar opposites, but rather fold together in an uneasy coexistence. For her most recent exhibition at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Sincere Auto Care (2014), Kurland returned to a purely documentary style in the tradition of Walker Evans, exploring two competing narratives: the car as an aspirational symbol of freedom, sex, the American Dream, and the bleaker daily life behind the scenes.


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