Keith Whittle is a curator, programme director, art consultant and lecturer based in Tokyo.

As a curator, he works collaboratively with institutions and galleries to deepen exchanges with artists internationally.

Currently, Advisor and Associate curator at White Rainbow gallery, London whose recent exhibition programme include solo shows by Mari Katayama; Chikako Yamashiro; Chim↑Pom; Aki Sasamoto; Taro Izumi; Meiro Koizumi. and Yuko Mohri.

In keeping with his interests in modern and contemporary art from Japan and the wider Asia-Pacific region, recent projects have brought attention to emerging and under-recognised artists, and expanded areas of practice and presentation in the art world. Committed to making art available to the widest possible audience he combines extensive experience of working with artists, both national and international, with a strong academic background in art history. 

As a curator and programme director, he has worked on, co-organised and produced numerous monographic and thematic exhibitions most recently with particular focus on championing the work of emerging and mid-career Japanese artists never before seen in the UK, and by so doing, promoted the study of the field and the introduction of Japanese art overseas. 

Projects encompass the complete life cycle of art production, from production to dissemination, exhibition and interpretation, and a spectrum of work (art commissions, international residencies, biennials and triennials, conference, talks, symposia, writing, exhibitions, events, broadcast, new media, and site-specific public-realm projects) grounded in professional practice at the highest level, that resonate with culture and open up new dialogues. 

Previously, he has held positions at leading cultural institutions and commissioning agencies such as the Institute of Contemporary Arts, where he was responsible for delivering the centre’s major annual digital media festival. Projects included collaborations with the likes of John Maeda and MIT media lab, NHK, Sony and Motorola,  working closely with former ICA director Philip Dodd and writer and cultural critic Ekow Eshun. 

Whilst at Film and Video Umbrella, London, 1995-2005 he was involved in the commissioning of national touring exhibitions in moving image and new media with a focus on installation-based practices highlights of which include; ‘Cinerama’ the Turner Prize-nominated collaboration by British film-maker and artist Isaac Julien and the Venezuelan-born choreographer and dancer Javier De Frutos, ‘Looking for Alfred’, by acclaimed Belgian artist, Johan Grimonprez (the maker of the celebrated ‘Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y’) exploring the legacy of Alfred Hitchcock. At the cutting-edge of artistic and technological innovation, other projects produced by Film and Video Umbrella included work by respected artists such as Michael Landy, Jane and Louise Wilson, Abigail Lane, Erika Tan, Supta Biswas, Jananne Al-Ani, Adam Chodzko, Cornford & Cross, Marine Hugonnier and Carey Young. Consecutively, he was a research fellow at ZKM, Karlsruhe working with the then Director of the Visual Media Institute on a curatorial project re-interpreting the centre’s video art and digital media collection. 

As director of Time Base Media at UOS, his activities focused on moving image and new media art through international artist residencies and off-site programme with a focus on the commissioning new work with exhibitions and presentations including several site-specific displays of contemporary Chinese artists’ work, including There is No I in Team a large-scale exhibition of moving image from practitioners in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Taiwan, and Hong Kong presented across Newcastle at The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Part of East 08, a celebration of contemporary Asian culture, which toured to the V&A, London as part of ‘CHINA NOW’ – the largest festival of Chinese culture ever in the UK. Residencies including Japanese artist Yuko Mohri’s first research and production residency outside of Japan, and the ambitious residency and touring exhibition project A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling the result of a cultural exchange of two artists between the UK and Japan, undertaken to celebrate the 150th anniversary of formal links between the two countries. Later as Assistant Director and later Programme Director, Beppu International Art Triennial, Japan, projects included site-specific commissions public art projects by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists; Adel Abdessemed, Michael Lin, Hossein Golba, Lani Maestro, Sarkis, Jin-me Yoon, Yinling of JOYTOY and Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries. 

Central to these projects is the establishment of strategic and mutual partnerships, negotiated and delivered working with international galleries, artists and cultural organisations. Projects were developed in collaboration and partnership with cultural agencies such as Culture 10, major cultural festivals such as CHINA NOW, EAST’08 & The British Council UK-Japan 2008 and Japan 150 festivals, working with galleries and venues such as BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and V&A South Kensington, London, BankART NYK, Visiting Arts, Beppu Project and P3 art and environment. 

As International Projects Associate , Cental Saint Martins he co-established the relationship and later joint Global Art Joint Project of the Graduate School of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts, in 2015, in collaboration with the world’s top art institutions: the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris; Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London; and the School of Art Institute of Chicago.  

In 2009 he was the recipient of a Cultural Leadership Award; UK Government-funded investment in excellence in leadership across the creative and cultural industries. Subsequently, he was awarded a Research Fellow from The Japan Foundation and later Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, and undertook several extended research trips to Japan, China and wider Asia-Pacific region. Research interests encompass Contemporary Japanese art since the 1960s, contemporary exhibitions of Japanese art; Japanese artists in the international diaspora, performance art and the body in art; strategies and politics of curating ‘Japanese’ art; twentieth-century Japan and modernity; Visual culture in Japan and spectatorship, transnational art and post-March 11 artistic activity; Criticism and curating in the Japanese art world.

As a Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Art, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, he specialises in the study and teaching of Japanese art. He has also given and participated in numerous conference and talks, lectures and delivered discussion events at esteemed institutions including the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, Tokyo Geidai, 3331 Arts Chiyoda, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, Japan Foundation and University of the Arts London. Major organisations and institutions he has collaborated with include Serpentine Galleries, London; BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle/Gateshead; NFT South Bank London; EAI, New York; BankArt NYK, Yokohama; Tate Art Galleries; P3 art and environment, Tokyo; Beppu Project NPO, Oita; Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, Norwich; ShanghArt gallery, Shanghai; Hong Kong Arts Centre & Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts), London.

Selected Artist Projects

Adel Abdessemed; Marina Abramovic; Vito Acconci; Jananne Al-Ani; Mark Amerika; Eric Bainbridge; Breda Beban; Simon Biggs; Sutapa Biswas; Roderick Buchanan;Adam Chodzko;Susan Collins; Connected; Thomson & Craighead; Nick Crowe; A K Dolven; Simon Faithfull; Hossein Golba; Dryden Goodwin; Johan Grimonprez; Lothar Götz; Graham Gussin; Marine Hugonnier; James Hutchinson; YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES; Lu Chunsheng; Yinling of JOYTOY; Isaac Julien; Janice Kerbel; Lucy Kimbell; Michael Landy; Abigail Lane; Cris Cheek & Kirsten Lavers; Mark Leckey; Michael Lin; John Maeda; Lani Maestro; Yuko Mohri; SARKIS; Mio Shirai; Erika Tan; Jake Tilson; Peeping Tom; Bill Viola; Boyd Webb; William Wegman; Jane and Louise Wilson; Jin-me Yoon; Carey Young; Jiang Zhi; Mari Katayama; Chikako Yamashiro; Chim↑Pom; Aki Sasamoto; Taro Izumi; Meiro Koizumi

Project Grants

Visiting Arts, Arts Council England, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, The Japan Foundation, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, Culture 10, Sunderland arc, Shiseido Co. Ltd., National Lottery Awards; Capital Programme, National Touring Programme, HEFCE, Culture 2000 programme of European Union

Research & Project Funding Awards

Visiting Arts, Arts Council England, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, The Japan Foundation, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, Culture 10, Sunderland arc, Shiseido Co. Ltd., National Lottery Awards; Capital Programme, National Touring Programme, HEFCE, Culture 2000 programme of European Union

Curatorial Project Partners 

Arts Council England, Asia Art Archive (China), BFI SouthBank (UK), BankART1929 (Japan), Beppu Project NPO (Japan), Britich Council (China), British Council (Japan), British Council (UK), CCGA (Japan), CIANT (Czech Republic), CRUMB (UK), Co-Lab, Tokyo (Japan), Command N, Tokyo (Japan), Cornerhouse (UK), Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation (UK/Japan), Embassy of Japan in the UK, EYEBEAM, (USA), FACT (UK), Film and Video Umbrella (UK), French Institute (UK & Japan), Hong Kong Arts Centre (China), Hong Kong Polytechnic University (China), IAMAS (Japan), Iniva – Institute of International Visual Arts (UK), Institute of Contemporary Arts (UK), Japan Foundation (UK/Japan), LUX (UK), 101 Tokyo Contemporary Art Fair (Japan), Liverpool Biennial (UK), Mori Art Center (Japan), NHK Broadcasting Company (Japan), NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC] (Japan), Nakaochiai Gallery (Japan), National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Japan), Newcastle University (UK), Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art (UK), P3 art and environment (Japan), Platform China (China), Royal College of Art, SCAI Bathhouse (Japan), SKA Associates (China), Southbank Centre (UK), School of, Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University (Japan), Serpentine Gallery (UK), Slade School of Fine Art (UK), Tama Art University (Japan), The Graduate School of Film and New Media, Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku (Japan), Ullens Center for the Arts (China), Victoria and Albert Museum (UK), Videotage (China), Visiting Arts (UK), YCAM, Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (Japan), body>data>space (UK), co-lab (Japan).