Emily Whitebread

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Working across diverse media ranging from performance and video work to written publications, Whitebread investigates breaks down and reimagines utopian futures as proposed by architects, social policy makers, technologists and scientists. Her starting point is how visionary ideas are formalised and presented in dogmatic discourse that canonises particular historic moments. She renegotiates these reductive archives to re-imagine the potentialities contained within the original ideas.

Coming Home (2016) acts as a post-mortem confessional from an avatar of John Betjeman. The piece explores the historical and cultural impact of Betjeman’s ‘Shell Guides to English Counties’ on our 21st Century concept of nationhood. The piece is a confessional from Betjeman himself, mixing coherent ideology with false memories and mute arguments.

Cosmic Tissue (2014), evolved from an interest in paper architecture inspired by Georgii Krutikov’s Flying City project. In this work trapeze artists perform simple balancing tricks defying gravity to reveal the utopian impulses that reside in unsuspected places.

Whitebread’s process is complex and cyclical using writing as a foundation, and an artistic tool with which to develop strategies for her projects. Her work in archives is both independent of and generative for her practice; ideas depart from and return to her research visually constituting this loop. Mixing reality with fiction she examines the complex and unexpected realities that arise. Collaborating with diverse groups, from acrobats to physicists, is for Whitebread a method to propel unexpected narratives. The resulting work is often a playful proposition or perspective on the world, drawn from diverse sources. A sense of absurdity and a wry sense of humour often surface, as do underlying sharp political agendas.

Whitebread has a MA in ArtScience, Royal Academy Den Haag 2014 and a BA in Fine Art and Art History, Goldsmtihs 2009. She has just finished being an Associate artist at Open School East and has exhibited work both nationally and internationally, and participated in residencies in the UK and The Netherlands. Highlights of her artistic career included South London Gallery, Bold Tendencies, Chisenhale Gallery, Whitstable Biennale and TENT Rotterdam.


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