Whitechapel Gallery: The Spirit of Utopia (until 5th September 2013)

The Whitechapel Gallery, E1, is one of my favourite galleries in London. In accordance with the grandeur of its architecture and the convenience of its location, a stone's throw away from trendy Shoreditch, there are no gimmicks to be found here; it is a gallery for the discerning art lover.

The Spirit of Utopia urges its audience to consider the world differently. You may think this a fairly standard request of artists, however as part of the Time/Bank project, a film has been devised focusing on the financial crisis of 2008. Referring to how 'economists debate and work with poets' (paraphrase) during a time of capitalist meltdown, the project inspires the Marxist notion of mutualism, which I believe is a fascinating point to make, especially to an urban audience who both fear and worship money.

The video installation also questioned the existence of time. (Not as complex as you might think!) How time is considered to be moving quickly and progressively, yet the past is a magnetic force that we can neither deny nor ignore. It was a powerful feature, suggesting that time is nothing but a mechanistic way of charting change. I personally have always found the concept of time both intriguing and problematic, due to time zones and time 'restraints'. Of course, I would have to further my own knowledge in physics and the like before continuing such a debate but it truly is fascinating, especially the way in which Time/Bank pitches it to their audience, who cannot resist watching the video in its entirety.

A second video installation as part of the exhibition comes courtesy of Moroccan artist, Yto Barrada. It is something of a ten-minute visual autobiography, with little chronology. The voice and stories are so engaging that the viewer feels as if they have themselves been thrown back to the 1950s and 60s. With what New York's MoMA describes as 'sixteen myths based on unreliable narrators and unverifiable stories', this is certainly not relevant to the viewer's enjoyment, as Barrada directs a tale that is realistic enough to include warmth, laughter, anecdote and a dark moment or two.

The Spirit of Utopia, as I have said, is for a more discerning art lover, so perhaps not one for the whole family. That's not to say that there isn't a wide variety of content, but the depth of ideas that are conveyed will deliver the most to a slightly older audience.

You might also like...