Hi, my name is
Keith Whittle

I am an English, London-based academic, writer and curator.

Currently on an extended period of research in Tokyo, Japan.

Working collaboratively with artists, galleries and cultural organisations internationally. Previously specialising in commissioning artists’ moving-image work presented in collaboration with galleries across the UK, more recently on monographic and thematic group and solo exhibitions, and projects working with leading contemporary artists such as Adam Chodzko, Sutapa Biswas, Fan Con Hoo, Michael Lin, Isaac Julien, Erika Tan, Michael Landy, Chikako Yamashiro, Chim↑Pom, Aki Sasamoto, Taro Izumi, Meiro Koizumi, Mari Katayama, Sun Xun and Turner Prize winners Mark Leckey & Laure Prouvost.

Recipient, The Cultural Leadership Programme, UK. A programme to nurture and develop emerging to established world-class, dynamic and diverse leaders for the 21st Century.

Research Fellow at The Japan Foundation and Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, and Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Art, Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

Long-standing interest in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Art. Research focused on the aesthetic, cultural and political histories, and processes that shape its production.

Associate Curator, White Rainbow, London
2015 ~

Research Fellow, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London
2016 ~

Lecturer, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London
2013 ~

Guest Lecturer, Tokyo University of the Arts
2013 ~

Research Fellow, Japan Foundation, Tokyo

Recipient, The Cultural Leadership Programme, UK Government, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, London  2009

August, 2021.

With artist Atsuko Mochida, to view her site-specific project located in the area of Mito city.

THE REVOLVING HOUSE OT T. , Ibaraki, Japan (2017)
Atsuko Mochida, The Revolving House of T., Mito city, Ibaraki, Japan (2017)

PHOTO: Atsuko Mochida
WORK: The Revolving House of T
LOCATION: Mito city, Ibaraki, Japan
YEAR: 2017

This particular site-specific project is located in the area of Mito city, where Atsuko Mochida researched for over a year the history of an old wooden family house that has been abandoned for about a decade.

While developing this project Atsuko Mochida collaborated with local carpenters and printing establishments.

Delving together with her grandmother into the history of the house, the artist came to realise an almost organic sense/dimension of this process, which revealed to somehow even mimic the evolution of human biological features.



Featured #01.

Sutupa Biswas, Mata Ne, (See you Soon), Beppu, Japan, 2015

Mata Ne, a solo exhibition at Fujiya Gallery by Sutupa Biswas, 2015

Currently the subject of two major solo shows that span the artist’s extensive career at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge. Sutapa Biswas is a British Indian conceptual artist, who works across a range of media including painting, drawing, film and time-based media. A vital contributor to the Black Arts Movement in Britain and to shifting understanding of post-war British art. Biswas’ works visually disrupt, challenge and reimagine our present time. Visual theorist Griselda Pollock said that it was Biswas who ‘forced us all to acknowledge the Eurocentric limits of the discourses within which we practise’.

Commissioned in 2015 Mata Ne, (See you Soon), is inspired by the oral histories of women of Beppu, Japan, who recount important moments in their lives. A method of recovering neglected histories, through a methodology exploring autobiographical practice centred on the subjectivity of the narrator. Oral histories focused on women’s experiences that demand revision of the historical.

From these oral history’s, Sutapa aims to decenter patriarchal national narratives in Japan, through collaborations that make space for women’s narratives – their voices, experiences, and stories.

Featured #02.

Mari Katayama, Broken Heart, White Rainbow Gallery, London, 2019

Broken Heart, a solo exhibition at White Rainbow by Mari Katayama, 2019. Photography: Damian Griffiths

A solo exhibition of photography and sculpture at White Rainbow by Japanese artist Mari Katayama. The artist’s first UK solo show.

In her arresting and visceral work, Katayama’s body features prominently, surrounded by intricately arranged objects, in intimate settings or set against vast landscapes. Born with various physical developmental challenges, Katayama had both legs amputated at age nine and has since lived with prosthetics.

Using her body as a living sculpture, she photographs herself among intricately embroidered, hand-sewn objects and her prosthetic legs. Investigating issues of beauty, frailty, sensuality, femininity, vulnerability and characterisation of her physicality as less-able bodied. Katayama’s artistic practice is shaped by her direct experiences of her condition and societies obsession and anxieties about bodily appearance. Her striking work does not solely focus on disability itself, or the representation of the female body, but rather embodies the challenges brought about by her condition and wider perception of disability, in relations between the self and others.

Featured #03.

Catalogue essay for Yumiko Ono publication Utopian Figures, 2021

Yumiko Ono, Utopian Figures, 2021

Yumiko Ono is a New York and Kyoto-based Japanese contemporary artist.

Yumiko Ono’s prime mediums are drawing and slip cast porcelain, and she focuses on surface nature in both practices. By using these methods, Ono attempts to create content with superficial elements, to express the fragility and fictionality of modernity. 

She is the recipient of solo shows at national galleries such as Epitomes, MoCA Taipei (Taiwan); Organic Matter, Diem Phung Thi Museum (Vietnam). Group exhibitions include Domani, The National Art Center in Tokyo.

Featured #04.

Fan Chon Hoo, Into the World of Palpable Objects and Fruitful Delight, 11 Spitalfields, London, 2011

The Blue and White Collection, Article#11-Chamber Pot, 2010, part of Into the World of Palpable Objects and Fruitful Delight, a solo exhibition by Fan Chon Hoo at 11 Spitalfields, London, 2011

Into the World of Palpable Objects and Fruitful Delight was Malaysian artist Fan Chon Hoo’s first solo exhibition in London.

Shortlisted for the Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4’s New Sensations 2010, Fan Chon Hoo is an artist with a uniquely compelling visual language. By assuming the role of a modern-day amateur antiquarian and anthropologist, one informed by earlier figures of 18th and 19th-century travellers and amateur naturalists, Hoo explores the role that cultural artefacts have as residues and deposits of the process of cultural translation.

Amongst these cultural artefacts, the Willow Pattern chinaware and the Victorian copper jelly mould underline for Hoo the notion of cultural translation. In works such as the Blue and White Collection a series of paper earthenware works created in response to the Willow Pattern invented by English craftsmen in the late eighteenth century and embellished with imaginary landscapes made up of oriental architectural structures, exoticised follies from ornamental gardens found within the UK, Hoo playfully explores how a foreign culture can be appropriated and translated then subconsciously tucked into the local culture.

The exhibition is an encounter with Fan Chon Hoo’s prodigious talent for creating accomplished and thoughtful works that evoke and echo the authentic, and through his idiosyncratic experimentations, question the positing of origin through his subtle and irreverent exploration of artifice.

Featured #05.

Laure Prouvost, Questions Will Be Asked, Sallaumines | Maison de l’Art et de la Communication, 2016

Monolog, Laure Prouvost, 2009, Sallaumines | Maison de l’Art et de la Communication, 2016

Language – in its broadest sense – permeates the video, sound, installation and performance work of Laure Prouvost. 

Known for her immersive and mixed-media installations that combine film and installation in humorous and idiosyncratic ways, Turner Prize winner Prouvost’s work addresses miscommunication and ideas becoming lost in translation. Playing with language as a tool for the imagination, Prouvost is interested in confounding linear narratives and expected associations among words, images and meaning. She combines existing and imagined personal memories with artistic and literary references to create complex film installations that muddy the distinction between fiction and reality.

At once seductive and jarring, her approach to filmmaking employs layered storytelling, quick edits, montage and wordplay and is composed of a rich, tactile assortment of images, sounds, spoken and written phrases. The videos are often shown within immersive environments which comprise found objects, sculptures, painting and drawings, signs, furniture and architectural assemblages, that are rendered complicit within the overarching narrative of the installation.

Featured #06.

Interview with Jonathan Watkins who has led Ikon for over 20 years, joining the gallery in 1999.

Jonathan Watkins
Jonathan Watkins, Director, Ikon Gallery, UK

Previously he worked for a number of years in London, as Curator of the Serpentine Gallery (1995-1997) and Director of Chisenhale Gallery (1990-1995).

He has curated a number of large international exhibitions including the Biennale of Sydney (1998), Facts of Life: Contemporary Japanese Art (Hayward Gallery, London 2001), Quotidiana (Castello di Rivoli, Turin 1999, Tate Triennial (2003), Shanghai Biennale (2006), Sharjah Biennial (2007), Negotiations (Today Art Museum, Beijing 2010) and the Guangzhou Triennial (2012). 

He was on the curatorial team for Europarte (Venice Biennale, 1997), Milano Europa 2000, (Palazzo di Triennale, Milan 2000), and Riwaq (Palestinian Biennial 2007). He curated the Iraqi Pavilion for the Venice Biennale in 2013 and Floating World, Bahrain in 2017. In 2019 Watkins was the curator of Small Between the Stars, Large Against the Sky, the 9th Manif d’art Quebec City Biennial.

Jonathan Watkins has written extensively on contemporary art. Essays have focused on the work of Giuseppe Penone, Martin Creed, Semyon Faibisovich, Yang Zhenzhong, Noguchi Rika, Oliver Beer, Beat Streuli and Cornelia Parker. He was the author of the Phaidon monograph on Japanese artist On Kawara.

Featured #06.

Interview with Mami Kataoka who was appointed director of Mori Art Museum in 2020.

Mami Kataoka, Director, Mori Art Museum, Japan

She was formally Chief Curator at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery (1997-2002) and Mori Art Museum (2003-2020).

International Curator at the Hayward Gallery, London (2007-2009); Co-Artistic Director for the 9th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2012); Artistic Director of the 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018); and Artistic Director of the Aichi Triennale 2022. She has been serving as a Board Member of CIMAM International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art and is currently the President of CIMAM 2020-2022.

Her other roles include Chair of Contemporary Art Committee Japan, Art Platform Japan [Initiative by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan]; Councilor of Tokyo Council for the Arts [Initiative by Tokyo Metropolis, Japan]; and Member of AICA [International Association of Art Critics]. Visiting Professor at Kyoto University of the Arts Graduate School; Visiting Professor at Tokyo University of the Arts (Faculty of Fine Arts, Graduate School of Fine Arts).

Kataoka frequently writes, lectures, and juries on contemporary art from Japan, Asia and beyond.

Featured #07.

One Place After Another: What can periodical International Contemporary Art Projects actually share?

Carston Hollier, Rolling Cylinder, 2012. Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale.

Exploring the proliferation of large-scale international recurrent exhibitions of contemporary art across the globe. This talk by Keith Whittle took place within the same year that in the UK, saw the presentation of the Liverpool Biennial, third Folkestone Triennial, and in Japan the fifth Yokohama Triennial and inaugural Sapporo International Art Festival.

He was joined by internationally recognised curators, Yuko Hasegawa and Lewis Biggs, both responsible for curating a number of major exhibitions, including in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates and Aichi, Japan respectively, and Koki Tanaka representative artist, Japan Pavilion, 55th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale and Mark Rappolt, Editor, Art Review.

The talk and discussion explored amongst other questions if these art projects and international exhibitions can expand and democratise access to culture, for a diversified public, creating a meaningful cultural social space for a general public and tourist majority generally less directly engaged with Art?

Talk organised in partnership with and staged at Japan Foundation, London, 2015

Featured #08.

Catalogue essay for Satoru Aoyama exhibition Division of Labour, White Rainbow Gallery, London, 2016

Division of Labour, a solo exhibition by Satoru Aoyama at White Rainbow, 2016. Photography: Damian Griffiths

Division of Labour, was a solo exhibition at White Rainbow by Satoru Aoyama (b. 1973). The focus of the exhibition was a new series of work: ‘Map of the World (Dedicated to unknown embroiderers)’ (2012-). The works reference the Afghan craftswomen who assisted in the making of Alighiero Boetti’s ‘Mappa’ series (1971-1989)

For his new series, Aoyama has embroidered four world maps, along with a map of Europe. Reflecting the passage of time since Boetti’s works, new countries such as Ukraine and Serbia are now visible on the contemporary world map. Aoyama’s maps are embroidered using a fluorescent thread. In daylight, they reveal little detail, but when shown in a darkened space each country and border is revealed. With this theatrical presentation, the artist offers a suggestion of the often immaterial and intangible quality of borders and the geopolitics that underpin them.

Where Boetti hired craftswomen to implement the technique necessary to realise his ideas, Aoyama undertakes the skilled labour himself on an old Singer sewing machine, in order to reflect on the notion of the individual craftsman in an age of outsourcing and mechanised labour.

Exhibition organised and curated by White Rainbow.