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Art galleries preview 2016

29 December 2015 | Ryan Ormonde

Three major exhibitions in 2016 look at the history of computing and the Internet, the surprising possibilities of ceramics and the shifting concept of bad taste.

Electronic Superhighway (2016-1966)

29 January – 15 May 2016

Taking its title from a term coined by video art pioneer Nam June Paik, Electronic Superhighway is a major exhibition for Whitechapel Gallery in 2016, featuring work that responds to digital culture spanning 50 years from 70 artists including Cory Arcangel, Jeremy Bailey, James Bridle, Constant Dullaart, Oliver Laric, Roy Ascott, Judith Barry, Lynn Hershman Leeson and Ulla Wiggen.

The exhibition starts with recent work and moves gradually back in time to 1966, looking at Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T) - a prescient initiative set up to encourage collaborations between artists and engineers. As one would expect, multimedia work will be represented, but there will also be film, painting, sculpture, photography and drawing as the exhibition guides the viewer back through key moments in the development of the Internet and contemporary art history.

In conjunction with the main exhibition, Artists’ Film International will explore the theme of technologies, including Rachel Maclean’s Germs (2013), a dark and surreal take on female-targeted advertising, Purgatory (2015) by Tor Jørgen van Eijk and Karin Sander‘s Sigrid 1930 (2009). In a similar vein, Whitechapel Gallery’s Writer in Residence Heather Phillipson will present a multimedia installation incorporating her work at the Gallery to date.

For more information and to book tickets, see website.


Betty Woodman

3 Feb – 10 Apr 2016

Minoan and Egyptian art, Greek and Etruscan sculpture, Tang Dynasty works, majolica and Sèvres porcelain, Italian Baroque architecture, and the paintings of Bonnard, Picasso and Matisse are all reference points in the work of Betty Woodman, who will receive her first UK solo exhibition at the ICA in 2016, Betty Woodman: Theatre of the Domestic. Woodman is an artist who has expanded possibilities in the use of ceramics and its application to contemporary ideas in art.

Although Woodman began working in clay 55 years ago, producing a great number of vases over the years, the exhibition will focus on her output over the last decade. A number of new mixed-media pieces on display include sculptural works combining ceramics and painting and large, colourful drawings and paintings on handmade paper or canvas that combine graphite, ink and lacquer with wax and terra sigillata, a slip glaze used for centuries in ceramic production. One of Woodman’s techniques is to apply terra sigillata to paper; another is to apply lacquer paint to earthenware.

For more information and to book tickets, see website.


The Vulgar

13 October 2016 – 5 February 2017

Art has always been a question of taste and in The Vulgar Barbican Art Gallery will give visitors the chance to find out just how much they can swallow. The Vulgar traces changes in taste throughout history in a display of art and design objects. Curator Judith Clark draws on the knowledge of psychoanalyst Adam Philips to examine the concept of vulgarity and tastefulness through the ages.

Exhibits come from the Renaissance, the 18th, late 20th and 21st century, incorporating historical costumes, contemporary couture and high street fashion, textile ornamentation, manuscripts, photography and film. Literary definitions of ‘the vulgar’ provide an insight into historical taste. Indeed, many of the examples of vulgarity on display should appear entirely tasteful to modern eyes.

For more information and to book tickets, see website.

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