ISelf Collection: Bumped Bodies at Whitechapel Gallery
Over the course of four thoughtfully curated exhibitions, the Whitechapel Gallery has presented selections of work from the ISelf Collection, a private compendium of contemporary art which focuses on personal identity and the human condition. The last of these, Bumped Bodies, is now on view as a free display.
Each of the four ISelf exhibits has taken a different theme related to human existence, and the concluding instalment examines the relationship between people and physical objects. Many of the works on view displace elements of our anatomy into new contexts, or introduce unexpected items (foreign bodies, as it were) to the human form.
Powerful examples include Sarah Lucas’s Oral Gratification, where rugby balls covered in cigarettes are attached to an office chair so that they resemble breasts. The seat becomes a metonym for the body that usually sits upon it, asking pertinent questions about the social politics surrounding the female figure, office work and objectification.
The pieces on view use a refreshing mixture of wall-based media and sculpture to explore how we formulate our selves in relation to objects and environments, and how our shapes can simultaneously be both subject and object. The latter is examined particularly appositely through Bumped Body by Paloma Varga Weisz, which uses the extreme bodily state of pregnancy as a lens for how we can express selfhood. This work also gives its title to the exhibition, using a play on words that is both subtle and thought-provoking.
Photo: Stefan Hostettler
ISelf Collection: Bumped Bodies is at Whitechapel Gallery from 10th April until 12th August 2018. For further information visit the exhibition’s website here.