Stephen Willats: Concerning Our Present Way of Living

4 Mar 2014 – 13 Sep 2014

Cost of entry


London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Bus: 25, 205, 254
  • Tube: Aldgate East / Aldgate
  • Train: Liverpool Street

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‘I view the world we live in as a multi-channel experience'. British artist Stephen Willats (b.1943) richly complex works combine modular abstraction with pictures and texts that tell the life stories of our own neighbourhoods. Inspired by cybernetics and communication theory, Willats has deployed photography, architecture and abstraction to examine ‘the function and meaning of art in society'. This display revisits an exhibition he made at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1979. The artist spent time with leather tanners, dockworkers and the residents of a public housing estate, capturing the life and times of communities who have long since dispersed. His ambitious project insists on the work of art as having ‘a dynamic, interactive social function'. Drawing on remarkable documents from a number of archives this display shows Willats as a pioneer in using art and technology as a trigger for social networks and self-organisation. ‘For me… a work of art can itself constitute a model of human relationships'. The Whitechapel Gallery archive exhibitions are generously supported by Catherine and Franck Petitgas.


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