Creative curation: Stamp Out Photographie at Whitechapel Gallery

I can’t believe I’m closing in on four years in London, and until last weekend, I’d never been to the Whitechapel Gallery. I’m putting that down to the fact that I spend roughly zero hours per month in East London (or indeed outside of Peckham/Camberwell, work aside) but this really ought to change.

After a delightful brunch with Kel, Laila and the folks at Uncover app at Spitalfields’ new foodie favourite, Blixen (more on that later), Anni and I went for a wander.

Blixen me

Blixen Anni 3 bandw

This mainly meant a bit of amateur street photography…

Blixen walk

Blixen walk 4

Blixen walk 2

…and unbridled tomfoolery…

Blixen Anni 4

…but we turned a corner and found ourselves in front of a beautiful, imposing building decorated with gold leaves. I’ve always meant to go in, but for one reason or another, I’ve just never got ’round to it.

One of the rooms, Gallery 7, was exceptionally well curated; it kind of felt like the exhibition itself was an installation, with a crazily varied range of artworks placed in odd places on the walls (near the skirting board, for instance).

Entitled Stamp Out Photographie, it is the second of four unique monographs documenting four contemporary artists’ selections from Moscow’s VAC, a private collection. This time, it’s British artist Fiona Banner who has decided to mess with museum display conventions.

The Young British Artist rose to prominence with her wordscapes series, which are written transcriptions of the frame-by-frame action in Hollywood war films.

The writing on the wall (literal, not figurative) told me she’s drawn more to pieces from the VAC that challenge their own medium, like the works by Christopher Williams and Shannon Ebner that at first seem to represent nature, but are in fact meticulously staged photographs. Likewise, Sherry Levine’s Khmer Torso (in the second blue photo below) is a cast of an ancient Buddhist sculpture that questions authenticity.

“I want to make a theatre for the works to act in,” she says. “It is a play on the act of looking, on our perception.”

The room is subject to a changing light (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black directly reference the CMYK system commonly used for printing images) which brings out different colours in different artworks. That’s the way in which it feels like an installation.

Photo cred: Whitechapel Gallery
Photo cred: Whitechapel Gallery


Photo cred: Whitechapel Gallery
Photo cred: Whitechapel Gallery


Photo cred: Whitechapel Gallery
Photo cred: Whitechapel Gallery


Photo cred: Whitechapel Gallery
Photo cred: Whitechapel Gallery


This exhibition is part of the Whitechapel Gallery’s programme of opening up rarely seen collections from around the world. It’s open until the 8th of March, so rush down there to get a final glimpse of this oddly stunning installation.









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