Johanna Billing: Each Moment Presents What Happens

  1. Home
  2. UK
  3. News
  4. Johanna Billing: Each Moment Presents What Happens
Johanna Billing, Each Moment Presents What Happens (Video Still), 2022. Image courtesy the Artist and Hollybush Gardens, London © Johanna Billing

Whitechapel Gallery exhibits a new moving image work from artist Johanna Billing

This Autumn, Whitechapel Gallery exhibits Each Moment Presents What Happens (2022), from artist Johanna Billing (b. 1973, Sweden) 11 October 2023 - 28 January 2024, which continues her interest in improvisation, collaboration and education. Billing’s work explores the idea of performance and the possibility it holds to impact the public and the private, as well as the individual and the collective.

Realised over several years, the project was commissioned by Bristol Grammar School in 2017.  Billing worked in collaboration with students, staff and invited guests to reimagine the American composer and music theorist John Cage’s radical 1952 performance piece Untitled Event (Theater Piece No. 1). Billing’s film shows the process of students engaging with Untitled Event and Cage’s methodology, as well as wider ideas around educational practices.

Featuring artists from different disciplines, improvising and simultaneously performing solos, Untitled Event was uniquely staged at Black Mountain College, the renowned US experimental liberal arts school (1933-1957).  It is widely regarded as the first art ‘happening’ and despite being undocumented paved the way for the emergence of new collective multi-media art forms. 

Billing’s film shows the students going through the process of reinterpreting Cage’s work, engaging with his methodology as well as wider ideas around educational practices.  As in Cage’s original work, all experiences – on and off ‘stage’ – are equally valid.

The project encourages learning through process, chance and failure and raises important questions about artistic freedom, experimentation and imagination at a time when these seem under increasing pressure and scrutiny. By giving the students agency, and by focusing on the process rather than the outcome, Billing highlights the issues facing education today and asks what’s at stake within a climate of cuts. 

Each Moment Presents What Happens reminds us of the necessity of cultivating creative learning and collective action within schools.

Johanna Billing: Each Moment Presents What Happens: 11 October 2023 - 28 January 2024

Further Information:  Whitechapel Gallery - the artists’ gallery for everyone.