These richly complex works tell the stories of our own neighbourhoods. Stephen Willats’ (b.1943) approach is a landmark of socially engaged art in Britain. A pioneer in using art and technology as a trigger for social networks and self-organisation, he is inspired by cybernetics and communication theory, and uses photography, architecture, fashion and design to examine the function of art in society.
Drawing on remarkable Whitechapel Gallery archive documents, this display revisits an exhibition Willats made at the Gallery in 1979 when he spent time with leather tanners, dockworkers and the residents of local public housing estates, capturing the life and times of communities who have long since dispersed.
The Whitechapel Gallery archive exhibitions are generously supported by Catherine and Franck Petitgas.
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