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“Is This Tomorrow?” at the Whitechapel Gallery: Artist Kapwani Kiwanga Collaborates With Adjaye Associates

“Is This Tomorrow?” at the Whitechapel Gallery: Artist Kapwani Kiwanga Collaborates With Adjaye Associates

More than 60 years on Is This Tomorrow? is derived from This is Tomorrow, one of the most prominent exhibitions for the Whitechapel Gallery to date. Back in 1956, British architects, painters and sculptors were grouped together this included Eduardo Paolozzi, Erno Goldfinger, Richard Hamilton, James Stirling and Alison and Peter Smithson, who worked in groups to present installations. (Image credit Alt A Review: centre Kapwani)

Is This Tomorrow? expands on the idea of the original exhibition, reflecting the changes of  time, the artists and architects are based globally and it presents a more equal gender balance.

The agricultural maze around a star-shaped pavilion by Adjaye Associates and Kapwani Kiwanga, is about creating a space for solitary moments within the exhibition, constructed from reflective and semi-transparent glass. It highlights the public versus private, the installation offers a central chamber for conversations between visitors to take place with an interior material intended to metaphorically record interactions in the space. We spoke to the renowned the Paris based Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga.

AA . How does art and architecture meet and how do they differ?

KK: I don’t know if i can speak to art and architecture. I can only speak about the collaboration I had with David Adjaye and Adjaye Associates, it really was a discussion. It actually went very quickly in terms of thinking of how we wanted to approach this question of tomorrow and then talking about the different materials and then from there forms were discussed and exchanged. And we both said you know this would be a collaboration in which it’s something that we would not have done otherwise, that it’s something that really comes from both of our input and it will resemble something we would not have done on our own.

AA: Can you explain the importance of the role of the visitor in this exhibition?.

KK: I mean the the role of the visitor is key. There’s a question of experiencing a space together and also being an individual observing others through this dichroic glass which reflects color in different ways but allows for transparency but at times also mirrors and kind of conceals. It’s very….. I’d say fluid material also it’s at once an experience of being Armando, we can have that individual experience and also a collective one. 

AA: So how did the collaboration between yourself and and Adjaye Associates come about?

KK:  Well Lydia Lee, who’s the curator of this exhibition approached me and asked me if I’d like to participate. And of course I was thrilled and she asked me whom I would like to work with. And of course I was aware of David Adjaye’s work not just as an architect but also in all the cultural realms in which he’s worked. And I thought it’d be nice to be in discussion with him. I suggested he got to know a bit of my work and he agreed. So I was very privileged that that he chose to or agreed to participate.

AA: Can you tell us about your works in the exhibition, the process and some of the materials used?

KK: So the process as I said was really a back and forth discussion of what the form could look like and what that meant conceptually was quite important. But the materials came quite quickly the first material was a dichroic glass and we were looking at what materials could kind of be as recording devices. So what came out from that was this acoustic fabric which absorbs sound vibration very very simply. So it’s not a very it’s more of a metaphoric and kind of a poetic idea of trying to think about archiving fleeting moments things which are intangible in a way which is not solid or solidified which also is is moving. And I think that reflects more of our idea of being in the past but also in tomorrow or future looking. 

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AA: And do you think solitary moments are escaping us in this age of technology? 

KK: I think that was part of one of our first discussions with David Adyaje was the question of being on one’s own or believing that we were on one’s own but still being observed and still part and connected and so that that kind of tension between being in a private space being solitary but also being part of a larger connected ecosystem or environment is kind of what happens because you’re in this space which is sonically a bit more muffled, you feel somewhat protected than of the quality of glass. But at the same time you are exposed and you are still part of, this kind of tension back and forth of this solitary but also open connectiveness. So I think it responds to what we’re thinking about now in terms of you know being in a society but also being quite alone at times.

When and where... Is This Tomorrow?
14 February – 12 May 2019
Whitechapel Galleries 1, 8 & 9

About Kapwani Kiwanga

(b. 1978, Canada) is an artist working in video, installation, sound, performance and sculpture. Her work is shaped by her academic background in anthropology and comparative religion, and often involves multiple formats and media in order to make possible a diversity of experiences for the viewer. She was awarded the Sobey Art Award 2018, Canada’s leading annual art prize for artists under 40, and was named winner of the inaugural Frieze Artist Award in 2018.

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