ISelf Collection: The End of Love Exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, London

A few weeks ago I went to London with Beth to Whitechapel Gallery to see the Thomas Ruff exhibition, but then we just happened to come across the ISelf Collection: The End of Love. Whilst there I realised the exhibition had some similar themes to my MA project, which meant it was great for research! 

ISelf Collection - Whitechapel Gallery

Gillian Wearing:

"Kim, 2008

Wearing is known for her films and photographs which explore both public personas and private lives and obsessions. Kim is part of the Pin Up series (2008) for which Wearing placed an advertisement asking young women who aspire to become glamour models to send her their photographs and stories. Collaborating with the young women Wearing included idealised airbrushed portraits along with their own letters and snapshots inside an archival box frame, combining the fantasy and reality of self-representation."

- ISelf Collection, Whitechapel Gallery 27 April 2017 - 12 August 2018

The majority of my research for my project so far has been about identity, and exploring this in terms of the diary, authenticity, and the public and private self. It was the work of Gillian Wearing at the exhibition that I felt related the most to what I have been researching in terms of imagined identities, even though my project is based mainly around the theme of online identities, I am finding that the themes I'm covering cross over with many other types of works by a variety of artists, just like with this project by Gillian Wearing.

Kim from the Pin Up series has been presented in an archival box which I thought was very effective in bringing across to the audience the idea of public fantasies and hidden realities. On the outside you can see a photo of Kim taken professionally which is airbrushed to perfection, whereas inside there are snapshots presented with a handwritten letter letting people know why she wanted to become a glamour model and how being in front of the camera makes her feel. At the time of seeing Gillian Wearing's work at the gallery I found this juxtaposition of public/private presented at such close proximity was very eye-catching, that it's not something we usually see - but then again we all know with the Selfie obsession that's not true. How often do we see a view of people's bedrooms in the background of a selfie, possibly some dirty laundry in the corner or a messy bed?

My public and private life is kept as far apart as it can in a world where privacy no longer seems to be important to many social media users. My private Instagram account is locked, where I'm happy to post the most awful framed snapshot or an occasional selfie, and where I only accept those I know personally, with an exception of some true friends I've made online. On the other hand my public Instagram account is kept as non-personal as it possibly can be. Very rarely is a photo of myself posted, but you will find a couple of self-portraits here and there taken for my past university projects, plus one photo of myself taken at graduation, and I remember being hesitant to even post that.


Exhibition details:

ISelf Collection - Whitechapel Gallery

"Continuing the Whitechapel Gallery's programme of presenting rarely seen collections, this display is drawn from the ISelf Collection, a UK-based collection which focuses on identity and the human condition. Established in 2009, the collection includes painting, sculpture and photography where the themes of birth, death, sexuality, love, pain and joy are all rigorously represented. Many of the works examine the existential dilemma that is inherent to human nature. Figuration plays a major part, and many of the artists represented are women.

The series of exhibitions will look at the self in art through four displays, aiming to reveal artists' attempts to understand how we build our sense of identity as an individual, in relation to others, to society and to the wider world. The four chapters are each named after a key work in the display."

- ISelf Collection, Whitechapel Gallery 27 April 2017 - 12 August 2018