Hi, my name is
Keith Whittle

I am a British curator, art producer, lecturer, and writer based between London-Tokyo.

This website offers a brief overview of past and recent projects.

Keith Whittle is an independent curator with over a decade of experience encompassing the research, presentation, and commissioning of contemporary art. Exhibition projects include solo and group exhibitions and inter-institutional national and international traveling exhibitions.

He also lectures on art history at institutes of higher education in Tokyo and London. 

Awardee The Cultural Leadership Programme. A UK Government funded award for excellence in leadership to emerging to established world-class, dynamic and diverse leaders for the 21st Century.

Formally responsible for artists’ moving image at Film and Video Umbrella, the leading UK agency in commissioning, curating and producing of moving-image works, presented in collaboration with galleries and other cultural partners across the UK.

Advisor, project partner and consultant to galleries, academic institutions and cultural organisations such as Arts Council England, British Council, and Slade School of Fine Art.

International Projects East-Asia, and Fellow at Central Saint Martins, UAL and The Japan Foundation. Research primarily focused on modern & contemporary Japanese art, it’s aesthetic, cultural and political histories and processes that shape its production.

The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), overseeing the institutes New Media department and Media Art Festival exploring the possibilities of digital media working with international artists and digital media specialists.

Programme Director and Curator, ARCUS Project and Beppu Project, Japan, and OCAT Residency Programme, China

Researcher ZKM | Institute for Visual Media, Karlsruhe, Germany, exploring the conservation and exhibition of time-based media art, video, film, slide, audio, or computer technologies, both physical and digital.

Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Art, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Guest Lecturer in Fine Art, Tokyo University of the Arts and Visiting Professor, Sojo University, Japan.

Associate Curator and Advisor, White Rainbow Gallery, London that presents work of international artists, with a focus on contemporary art from Japan.

Director of Time Based Media at University of Sunderland, research & curating of new media and moving image projects working with national and international partners.


Talk #01

Leah Gordon, Co-founder of the Ghetto Biennale, 2023

Entrance to the Ghetto Biennale painted by Michel Lafleur and commissioned by John Cussans, 1st Ghetto Biennale 2009, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Image copyright the artist; courtesy Ghetto Biennale. Photo: Chantal Regnault

In 2023 the Atis Rezistans | Ghetto Biennale exhibition at St Kunigundis Church at documenta fifteen was awarded exhibition of the year award by AICA Germany.

Artist, curator, writer and co-founder of the Ghetto Biennale, Haiti, Leah Gordon gave a talk about the biennale, originally conceived to expose social, racial, class and geographical immobility, on Tuesday 27 June, from 6-8pm. Leah will be presenting her talk via zoom which will also be screened in Void Gallery, Derry. People are encouraged to attend the talk in person at Void to promote active discussion after Leah’s presentation.

During the talk, Gordon discussed one of the original strap lines of the first Ghetto Biennale: “What happens when first world art rubs up against third world art? Does it bleed?” The line is a transmutation of a quote from a book about the maquiladoras in Juárez, Mexico. The original quote, by Gloria Anzaldúa, states, “The U.S.- Mexican border es una herida abierta (is an open wound) where the Third World grates against the First and bleeds.” (Anzaldúa 1987, 3). She will explore what new practices, processes and relationships could emerge from these, often uncomfortable, entanglements.

Curated by Keith Whittle and hosted by Void Gallery

Talk #02

Fram Kitagawa, General Director of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, 2023

Takizawa Kiyoshi, Installation for Tsunan-Tsunagari, 2009. Image copyright the artist; courtesy Art Front Gallery. Photo: Miyamoto

In the past two decades, Japan has seen a flowering of startlingly ambitious contemporary art festivals offering a response to the many crises the country faces today, ecological, social and economic.

The groundbreaking Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale is at the heart of this uniquely creative social movement. One of the largest art festivals in the world held once every three years and located in the vast rural area of Satoyama, Echigo-Tsumari region in Niigata Prefecture. Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale offers an opportunity to reconsider our way of life in the age of globalisation and the anthropocene. 

In this Keynote, Fram Kitagawa discussed the concepts behind his life’s work, Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, and its impact on contemporary art and society in Japan.

Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale includes artworks by internationally renowned artists such as Marina Abramović, James Turrell, Christian Boltanski, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Antony Gormley, Leandro Erlich, Esther Stocker, Yayoi Kusama, Tadashi Kawamata, Kōhei Nawa, Lee Bul, MAD Architects, and Dominique Perrault.

Curated by Keith Whittle. Special thanks to Rei Maeda, Art Front Gallery and Akemi Nomoto.

Talk #03

Shubigi Rao, Curator of Kochi-Muziris Biennale, 2022-23

Such a Morning, Amar Kanwar, 2022. Image copyright the artist; courtesy Kochi-Muziris Biennale and Marian Goodman Gallery. Photo: Aswin Vn

Shubigi Rao, curator of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, 2022-23, is an artist and writer who makes films, books and layered installations etchings, drawings, pseudo-scientific machines, metaphysical puzzles, video, ideological board games, garbage and archives. Her interests include archaeology, neuroscience, libraries, archival systems, histories and lies, literature and violence, ecologies, and natural history. Her current decade-long project ‘Pulp’ concerns censorship, libricide, and the book as vehicle of resistance and was recently shown at the Singapore Pavilion of the 59th Venice Biennale.

Part of a programme of talks curated for ArtLink exploring large-scale perennial international exhibitions of contemporary art (Biennale & Triennial). Previous speakers in the series include Lewis Biggs, with forthcoming talks by Leah Gordon, co-director of The Ghetto Biennale, and Fram Kitagawa, general director of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale.

The series covers large-scale international art exhibitions that have become the means through which contemporary art is now mediated, experienced, and historicised. Along with the interrelated developments in the art world, such as the emergence of global curatorial discourse, art fairs, and vanishing boundaries between art and non-art categories, and the rise of contemporary art from non-Western countries such as Africa, Asia and Latin America, all prompting an explosion of perennial international exhibitions.

Curated by Keith Whittle and hosted by Artlink.

Talk #04

Lewis Biggs, Founding Director of Liverpool Biennial, 2023

Bridging Home – Do-Ho Suh, 2010. Image copyright the artist, courtesy Liverpool Biennial, UK

Part of a series of talks curated to explore large-scale perennial international exhibitions of contemporary art (Biennale & Triennial). These exhibitions, have gained a reputation as powerful forms of cultural communication. In her study of the relationship between globalisation and contemporary art, The Global Art World, Inc.: On the Globalisation of Contemporary Art, art historian, Charlotte Bydler points to a series of interrelated developments that have led to a boom in biennials; increased global communications, transnational travel and migration.

Along with a serious of interrelated developments in the art world, such as the emergence of global curatorial discourse, the vanishing boundaries between art and non-art categories, and the rise of contemporary art from non-Western countries such as Africa, Asia, and Latin America, all prompting an explosion of perennial international exhibitions

Exhibitions (particularly biennials, group exhibitions, art fairs, temporary perennial shows, and large-scale international art exhibitions) are then the main means through which contemporary art is now mediated, experienced, and historicised.

Curated by Keith Whittle and hosted by Artlink.

Exhibition #05

Bontarō Dokuyama and Yumiko Ono, Borrowed Scenery ‘Study’, 3331 Arts Chiyoda, Tokyo, 2021

Bontarō Dokuyama, installation view, Synchronized Cherry Blossom, 2019. Uiro, cloth, wire, cherry tree. Image copyright the artist; courtesy LEESAYA Gallery and Fountain

A display of work by Bontarō Dokuyama and Yumiko Ono furthering research exploring the continuous interaction between historical perspectives and the unending dialogue between the present and past in Japan.

In Synchronized Cherry Blossom (2020), Bontarō Dokuyama takes the symbolic cherry blossom, its historical and contemporary interpretation, and its adoption as a symbol of Japanese national identity. From the late 1920s until the end of World War II, the Japanese populace was led to believe that their young sons were going to war to gallantly sacrifice their lives to protect their families and loved ones. The same narrative linked soldiers whose lives were cut short to the Somei-Yoshino strain of cherry tree blossoms, with its petals that fall just a few days after reaching full bloom, in the minds of mourners. After the war, the Somei-Yoshino cherry trees planted across the country came to stand for reconstruction and booming economic growth. Today, the 100-yen coin contains an image of cherry blossoms, a symbol of recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and a pretext for the annual gala gathering hosted by the country’s prime minister for his supporters.

Curated by Keith Whittle and exhibited at 3331 Arts Chiyoda, 2021. Special thanks to Yukiko Ito, Tomoko Hisaki, Akio Tokunaga and Leesaya Gallery

Exhibition #06

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

Broken Heart, a solo exhibition at White Rainbow by Mari Katayama, 2019. Image copyright the artist; courtesy White Rainbow. Photography by Damian Griffiths

A solo exhibition of photography and sculpture at White Rainbow, Fitzrovia, London 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.

Curated by Keith Whittle. Special thanks Rin Art Association and The Japan Foundation

Exhibition #07

Satoru Aoyama, Division of Labour, White Rainbow Gallery, London, 2016

Division of Labour, a solo exhibition by Satoru Aoyama at White Rainbow, 2016. Image copyright the artist; courtesy White Rainbow. 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).

In this series, Aoyama 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 staged by White Rainbow Gallery

Talk #08

Film Without Film: SHIMURAbros in conversation with Keith Whittle, Japan Foundation, 2016

Moon Daylight Cloud, SHIMURAbros, 2018. Image copyright the artists; courtesy Tokyo Gallery

SHIMURAbros is a brother-sister duo consisting of Yuka Shimura and brother Kentaro Shimura. Researchers at Studio Olafur Eliasson and incorporating elements of sculpture, installation and avant-garde filmmaking techniques in their work. Their practice explores the history of moving image approached from a fundamentally different perspective. One that extends film beyond its two-dimensional limits through intricate installations and playful re-working of cinematic language.

The talk highlights SHIMURAbros film and moving image installations, focusing on the formalistic qualities and contexts at play. Followed by a discussion with Keith Whittle, exploring the role technology and cinematic history has on the aesthetic and conceptual approach the artists’ have to their work in terms of research and exhibition.

Curated by Keith Whittle and staged in partnership with The Japan Foundation and Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, home to the British Artists’ Film & Video Study Collection.

Exhibition #09

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

It, Heat, Hit Laure Prouvost UK, 2010, Laure Prouvost, 2009, Sallaumines | Maison de l’Art et de la Communication, 2016. Image copyright the artist; courtesy The LUX

Language – in its broadest sense – permeates the video, sound, installation and performance work of Turner Prize winner 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.

Curated by Keith Whittle and Margherita Gramegna.

Exhibition #10

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

Mata Ne, a solo exhibition at Fujiya Gallery by Sutupa Biswas, 2015. Image copyright the artist; courtesy Beppu Project, Oita

The subject of two recent 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), and produced during an international residency in Japan. The project is inspired by the oral histories of women of Beppu, 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, Biswas aims to decenter patriarchal national narratives in Japan, through collaborations that make space for women’s narratives – their voices, experiences, and stories.

Curated by Keith Whittle and co-produced by Beppu Project. Funded by Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan. Special thanks to Jun’ya Yamaida, Rina Nakano, Moemi Nagi, Akio Tokunaga, Takashi Serizawa and Beppu Project.

Exhibition #11

Adam Chodzko, Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Fujiya Gallery, Beppu, Japan, 2015

Our Host Postponed the Drinks Until After the Storm, Adam Chodzko, 2015. Image copyright the artist; courtesy Beppu Project, Oita

Adam Chodzko is an artist – exhibiting work nationally and internationally since 1991 – whose multidisciplinary practice explores the interactions and possibilities of human behaviour. His artworks include video, installation, photography, socially engaged practices, drawing and performance. Bringing together fragments from diverse fields of knowledge to make work that sits between documentary and fiction, his artworks are propositions driven by the question; if this is our current reality what really should happen to us next? Chodzko’s exhibitions range from a solo survey show at Tate St Ives to installations at Tate Britain. He has had work in the Venice and Istanbul Biennials, and his commissioners include Frieze Art Fair and Hayward Gallery.

Produced during a residency in Kyushu, Japan the works presented in the installation; RuptureExpulsion from the Garden of Eden; Somewhere Else; Our Host Postponed the Drinks Until After the Storm and Here., connect Chodzko’s ongoing investigations into how a community connects with its sense of its self, place and past. What might be revealed or hidden within these encounters, examining them through the parallel relationships between gallery, audience, neighbour, art object and ‘foreign’ artist? His work at Fujiya Gallery, Beppu, develops a series of mythologies to investigate these connections using a mixture of documentary ‘truth’ and a form of science fiction to communicate a psychological surrealism.

Curated by Keith Whittle and co-produced by Beppu Project. Funded by Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan. Special thanks to Jun’ya Yamaide, Rina Nakano, Moemi Nagi, Akio Tokunaga, Takashi Serizawa and Beppu Project.

Talk #12

One Place After Another: What can periodical International Contemporary Art Projects actually share? Japan Foundation, London, 2015

Rolling Cylinder, Carston Hollier, 2012. Image copyright the artist; courtesy Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale

Exploring the proliferation of large-scale international recurrent exhibitions of contemporary art across the globe. This talk by Keith Whittle at The Japan Foundation 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

Talk #13

Post 3.11 – What Can Art Do? – Case 1: Artist talk with Ichiro Endo, Japan Foundation, London, 2013

Real Times, Chim↑Pom, 2011. Image copyright the artist; courtesy Mujin-To Productions, Tokyo

Post 3.11 is a series of talks that aim to examine how the role of the artist and art activities post-earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region of Japan. For the first session, The Japan Foundation invited Ichiro Endo, a painter and performer who has exhibited at venues including Art Tower Mito and BACC Bangkok and the Beppu Contemporary Art Festival. 

Endo was joined by Kaori Homma, Art Action UK and Keith Whittle, curator and Japan Foundation Fellow, who introduced several artist projects initiated in response to the disaster. Including artists and artist groups Chim↑Pom, Shiga Lieko and Kato Tsubasa working in or near the regions affected and with its communities, and touching upon the contradictions and conflicts that exist in the context of Japanese modernisation and industrialisation, and post-war diplomatic policy, in the particular Japan-US relations under the Cold War structure, and the prioritising the economy and efficiency during the period of high economic growth. 

The talk explored the artist’s role and impact of art activities that respond to unprecedented situations, social and political issues, or take an exclusively political position in response to issues thrown up by the events in 2011, posing the question ‘What is the power of art and what can it do?’.

Talk organised by The Japan Foundation

Research #14

Conversation with Jonathan Watkins who led Ikon for over 20 years, joined 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.

Research #15

Conversation with Yuko Hasegawa, Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, 2012

Yuko Hasegawa, Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. Image copyright and courtesy The Kanazawa Art Promotion and Development Foundation

Yuko Hasegawa is the Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa.

Her previous positions include Artistic Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (MOT), Chief Curator and Founding Artistic Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa from 1999 to 2006. Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo from 2006 to 2016. Hasegawa was a board member of Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority from 2009 to 2011, and has remained a member of the Asian Art Council at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York since 2008. She is also a member of the Istanbul Biennale Advisory Board.

She is known for her work in various biennales including the 7th Moscow Biennale (Curator, 2017), 11th Sharjah Biennale (Curator, 2013), 12th Venice Biennale of Architecture (Artistic Advisor, 2010), the 29th Sao Paulo Biennale (Co-Curator, 2010), the 4th Seoul International Media Art Biennale (Co-Curator, 2006), and the 7th Istanbul Biennial (Curator, 2001). Her curated exhibitions include; Fukami: A Plunge into Japanese aesthetics at Hotel Salmon de Rothschild, Paris (2018), Japanorama: New Vision on Art Since 1970 at Centre Pompidou-Metz (2017), and Kishio Suga: Situations at Pirelli Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2016). She is also the artistic director of the Inujima Art House Project.

Her publications include A New Ecology and Art: on the Clouds⇄Forests exhibition (Journal of Global Arts Studies and Curatorial Practices vol. 1, Tokyo University of the Arts, 2020); Grotesque and cruel imagery in Japanese gender expression: Nobuyoshi Araki, Makoto Aida and Fuyuko Matsui, (The Persistence of Taste: Art, Museums and Everyday Life After Bourdieu, Routledge, 2018); Japanorama: Un Archipel en Perpétuel Changement (Japanorama, Centre Pompidou-Metz Editions, 2017); and Performativity in the Work of Female Japanese Artists in the 1950s–1960s and the 1990s (Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, 2010).

Research #16

Conversation with Takashi Serizawa, director P3 art and environment since 1989

Takashi Serizawa, P3 art and environment. Image copyright and courtesy Cinra, Tokyo

Takashi Serizawa is an artistic director, writer, collaborator and founder of P3 art and environment, an arts organisation and curatorial office in Tokyo. 

Commissioned in the late 80s to build a new temple for Tochoji Zen Temple in Yotsuya, Tokyo, commemorating its 400th anniversary, Serizawa designed an auditorium in the basement of the temple and devised a plan to expand the temples activities and explore cultural projects, mainly in the area of contemporary art. Subsequently, he established the influential P3 Alternative Museum Tokyo. Its inaugural exhibition Synergetic Circus – Buckminster Fuller’s Sea of Intuition (1989), explored the ideas of the American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist.

Other notable exhibitions include Ingo Gunther’s Wordprocessor (1990); Cai Guo-Qiang’s, Primeval Fireball: Project for Projects (1991); Seiko Mikami’s Pulse Beats (1990); and Sarajevo Survival Guide by Famal (1994); Obihiro Demeter Biennial; Asahi Art Festival and Mixed Bathing World, Beppu, among others. 

Research #17

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

Mami Kataoka, Director, Mori Art Museum, Japan

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.

Exhibition #18

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. Image copyright the artist; courtesy Fountain

Into the World of Palpable Objects and Fruitful Delight is 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.

Curated by Keith Whittle. Special thanks to Trevor Hampton and No. 11 Spitalfields.

Site-Specific #19

Adel Abdessemed, EXIT, Beppu, Oita, Japan, 2010

Adel Abdessemed, Exit, 2009. Copyright the artist; courtesy Beppu Project NPO and David Zwirner Gallery, New York

Adel Abdessemed is an Algerian artist living and working in Paris, France

EXIT is one of eight site-specific neon artworks by Algerian artist Abdessemed (b. 1971), Constantine, Algeria, commissioned as part of a city-wide contemporary art triennial in Beppu, Japan. With language as its object, a simple letter change in the lighted signs widely used to indicate a way out: “Exit” becomes “Exil”. The word here alludes to the artist himself, forced to leave Algeria in 1994, while the association with Exit signs evokes the act of crossing borders, one the artist sees as liberating and central to his work. 

Represented by David Zwirner Gallery, New York, the Algerian-born, Paris-based Adel Abdessemed (b.1971) works within a wide range of media (drawing, video, photography, performance, and installation), transforming everyday materials and images into unexpected, charged, and sometimes shocking artistic declarations. Born in Constantine, Algeria, Abdessemed has established himself as a prominent figure on the international contemporary art scene. Working across drawing, video, photography, performance, and sculpture, he transforms everyday materials and images into unexpectedly charged artistic declarations.

Commissioned as part of “Mixed Bathing World” Beppu International Art Triennale 2009, Japan. Special thanks to Takashi Serizawa, P3 art and environment, Jun’ya Yamaide, Beppu Project, and David Zwirner Gallery, New York

Site-Specific #20

Michael Lin, Beppu 04.11-06.14.09, 2nd floor of Kansai Kisen Terminal Pier 3, Beppu, Japan, 2010

Beppu 04.11-06.14.09, Michael Lin, Japan, 2010. Image copyright the artist; courtesy Beppu Project, Oita

Michael Lin is an artist living and working in Taipei, Shanghai, and Brussels.

Lin turns away from painting as an object of contemplation toward one of painting as a bounded, physical space, one we can settle into and inhabit (Vivian Rehberg). Lin orchestrates monumental painting installations that re-conceptualize and reconfigure public spaces. Using patterns and designs appropriated from traditional Taiwanese textiles his works have been exhibited in major institutions and international Biennials around the world including The Auckland Triennial and the California Pacific Triennial 2013, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila 2016, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne 2017, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei 2019 and most recently in 2020 at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto and Jumex Museum, Mexico City.

Transforming the institutional architecture of the public museum, his unconventional paintings invite visitors to reconsider their usual perception of those spaces, and to become an integral part of the work, giving meaning to its potential as an area for interaction, encounter, and re-creation.

Commissioned as part of “Mixed Bathing World” Beppu International Art Triennale 2009, Japan. Special thanks to Takashi Serizawa, P3 art and environment, Jun’ya Yamaide, Beppu Project.

Talk #21

Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions: Matter and Light Liliane Lijn talk at V&A South Kensington, London, 2010

Burma Requiem, Liliane Lijn, 2018. Image copyright the artists; courtesy Riflemaker Gallery

Presented in partnership with the V&A South Kensington, Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions: Matter and Light was a series of artist talks exploring light and matter.

In the first of the series, Liliane Lijn discussed the ideas and methodology behind her work. Lijn was born in New York and studied archaeology at the Sorbonne and Art History at the Ecole du Louvre, Paris (1958). Living in New York between 1961 and 1963, experimenting with fire and acids and working with light, poetry, movement and liquids, she rapidly established herself as a leading kinetic artist through many international exhibitions.

In 1966 she moved to London. She has featured in numerous group exhibitions in Britain, Europe and Japan, and is represented in important public and private collections in Britain, France, Australia and the United States. In 2005, she was ACE, NASA artist in residence at the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley and later Narec: New and Renewable Energy Centre Northumberland UK.

Liliane Lijn’s work covers a large spectrum of interests, from Light and its interaction with diverse new materials to the development of a fresh image for the feminine. Lijn has taken inspiration from incidental details both man-made and natural, mythology and poetry, science and technology. Lijn is interested in the development of language, collaborating across disciplines and making art that is interactive, in which the viewer can actively participate.

Curated by Keith Whittle with special thanks to Liliane Lijn and Irini Mirena Papadimitriou, and V&A.

Exhibition #22

Lu Chunsheng and Jia Aili: Counterpoints, Iniva, London, 2010

Lu Chunsheng and Jia Aili: Counterpoints, 2010. Image copyright the artist; courtesy Institute of International Visual Art (Iniva), London

A two-person show at the Institute of International Visual Art (Iniva) London of work by two contemporary Chinese artists, Lu Chunsheng (China Power Station: Battersea, London 2006), and Jia Aili.

Lu Chunsheng’s film, The first man who bought a juicer bought it not for drinking juice, receiving its European premier and Jia Aili his first solo exhibition in Europe; a series of new paintings and an installation specially created for the show. A site-specific piece inspired by 16th-century painter Caravaggio’s famous painting The Incredulity of Saint Thomas c. 1601–1602.

Presented in partnership with David Thorp, Iniva and Platform China Contemporary Art Institute, Beijing. Chunsheng’s work subsequently toured to Newcastle as part of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, a programme of international artists moving image.

Special thanks to David Thorp, Lorenz Helbling, ShanghART Gallery and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Galleries, London and CIRCA Projects, Newcastle. 

Exhibition #23

China Now, There Is No ‘I’ In Team, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, UK, 2008/09

The Times are Summoning, Meiya Lin, 2007. Image copyright the artist; courtesy Fountain, London

A unique opportunity to see the work of an extraordinary and vibrant new generation of Chinese artists from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau working in moving image, sound and installation art, arguably the most prolific and strongest type of work being created in China at the time.

The exhibiting artists offer a speculative commentary on changes in China. Reflecting on the substantial differences in individualist and collectivist cultural orientations, and exploring complex regional contexts and conditions, history, tradition and modernity, derived from their personal experiences, while critically reflecting on and simultaneously traversing their world of China now. 

Curated by Keith Whittle and Keri Elmsly – UK & Pauline Doutreluingne and Jiang Jian – China. Exhibited at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, and sound and moving image work across Newcastle city-wide locations, and touring to V&A, South Kensington, London and Program EV Berlin.

Part of CHINA NOW the largest festival of Chinese culture ever in the UK, and EAST’08, a world-class celebration of contemporary Asian culture in Newcastle-Gateshead. Funded by Culture 10 and British Council China and produced in partnership with CHINA NOW, ISIS Arts, Newcastle.

Exhibition #23

A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling, NGCA, UK and BankART NYK, Japan, 2008/09

Made in Japan: The Syntactical Impossibility of Approaching with a Pure Heart by Erika Tan, 2008. Image copyright the artist; courtesy Fountain

A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling was the result of concurrent exchange residencies of two artists between the UK and Japan.

UK based artist Erika Tan’s commissioned works were presented under the collective heading ‘Made in Japan’. The Syntactical Impossibility of Approaching with a Pure Heart. A meditation on apriori knowledge, the encounters with the unexpected and the inevitable impossibilities of reconciling representation, experience and expectation. Mount Fuji or Fuji-san comes to play a central role in this work, and the title refers in parts to the mythological tale of the fate of the faithless or unworthy pilgrims.

The work exhibited consists of 13 video works, several hundred donated drawn images, compiled or composite Mount Fuji’s, and other elements such as topological type puzzles, sculptural objects, digital prints, viewing mechanisms and LED signs.

Exhibition co-curated and produced by Keith Whittle and Alistair Robinson. Part of the British Councils UK-Japan 2008 & Japan 150 festivals marking the anniversary of trade and cultural links between the UK & Japan.

Exhibition #24

Yuko Mohri, Bairdcast Media: a history of machine translation, Discovery Museum, Newcastle, 2008

Bairdcast Media: a history of machine translation, 2008, a solo exhibition by Yuko Mohri. Part of AV Festival 08 and EAST.08. Image copyright the artist; courtesy Fountain
Bairdcast Media: a history of machine translation, 2008, a solo exhibition by Yuko Mohri. Part of AV Festival 08 and EAST.08. Image copyright the artist; courtesy Fountain

The first international residency and a solo exhibition by Japanese artist Yuko Mohri. Bairdcast Media: a history of machine translation explores the early history of broadcast media in the United Kingdom during the hugely significant period of transition in broadcasting with the switch from analogue to digital television.

Examining the pioneering work of John Logie Baird, the inventor of early television and the ‘televisor’ semi-mechanical, analogue television system that used a patented mechanical scanning method – Baird broadcast the earliest true-television images (with half-tones of light and shade rather than only silhouettes) in October 1925. Surprisingly his pioneering work is little known outside of museums dedicated to science and broadcasting history – the residency offered a unique opportunity for Mohri to explore the early history of broadcasting, the pioneering work of Baird, and contemporary broadcast media, from a different cultural perspective, at this turning point in broadcasting worldwide.

Produced in Japan and the UK, and based on primary research undertaken between 2006-2007 into Baird’s early broadcast apparatus – including access to Baird’s original “televisor” arranged by Jain Logie Baird, grandson of John Logie Baird – and using parts sourced from Akihabara electric town, Tokyo, Yuko Mohri produced the “gadget”. In Mohri’s gadget, the selenium cells of the inventors’ analogue televisors are replaced with the CCD sensors of a scanner and the Nipkow disk, as used by Baird in his original invention, by a series of rotating glass discs covered in photographic images of a dummy’s head evoked “Stooky Bill” the ventriloquist dummy the grinning face of which was the first image that Baird televised in the united kingdom and across the Atlantic and the first true-television pictures that anyone saw. Posing questions prompts us to observe and critique the journey from Baird’s experiments in 1925, right up to the creation of Youtube, in the 2005.

Curated by Keith Whittle as part of AV Festival 08 and EAST.o8, and produced in partnership with the National Media Museum, Bradford, Graduate School of Film and New Media, Tokyo Geidai.

Talk #25

Mirrored Lenses: A brief history of Japanese Video and Media Art, Cornerhouse, Manchester, 2008

Portrait of SHIGEKO KUBOTA. Image copyright the estate of the artist; courtesy Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation, New York
Portrait of SHIGEKO KUBOTA. Image copyright the estate of the artist; courtesy Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation, New York

Programmed to coincide with The Conquest of Imperfection, the first major UK exhibition of Japanese media artist Masaki Fujihata’s acclaimed interactive work. This talk explores Japanese moving image and media art and the embrace and manipulation of technology across varying generations of Japanese artists.

With references ranging from the 1960s to today, the talk highlighted the work of key practitioners such as Shigeko Kubota and those artists whose work across performance, sculpture, and moving image conflates the physical world and its life on screen through new media and video installation.

Special thanks to Kathy Rae Huffman

New Media #26

the.year.dot, Slipstream, Tristero* & Silicon Fen 1999-2005

Tristero, website homepage. Image copyright and courtesy of Film and Video Umbrella, London

From the mid-90s, commissioning and exhibiting innovative new media projects, many curated specifically for the internet, was one of my main activities.

As the internet and new media began to evolve, so to did the artistic and creative potential of the web as artists began to utilise it as a medium for expression and exhibition. Experimentation with this emerging form, online hypertext narrative, internet (or Net) art, and digitally expanded forms of moving image within contemporary art.

Uninhibited by political, social or cultural, or art world constraints and transcending geographical and cultural boundaries by employing networks, interactivity, participation, and open-source, online and mobile systems. It offered the exciting opportunity to rethink how artists and curators work and reach audiences.

Online projects included the.year.dot, Carey Young, Clive Gillman, Jake Tilson, Thomson & Craighead, Rory Hamilton, and Jeremy Millar. Slipstream, George Barber, Adam Chodzko, Erika Tan, Thomson & Craighead, Janice Kerbel, Sonia Boyce, Lucy Kimbell, Rory Hamilton. Tristero, Simon Biggs, Simon Faithfull, Brigid McLeer, Michael Landy, Shiho Fukuhara, Jacqueline Donachie Jananne Al-Ani, Erika Tan, Lucy Kimbell, Nick Crow, Silicon Fen, Suky Best, Susan Collins, Annabel Howland, Dalziel + Scullion, Stephen Hughes, TNWK. 

Festival #27

What Do You Want To Do With It? Digital Media Festival, ICA, London, 2001/02

What Do You Want To Do With It?, Festival website homepage, 2001. Image copyright and courtesy The ICA

ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art, London is where the groundbreaking exhibition Cybernetic Serendipity took place in 1968. Curated by Jasia Reichardt, the show challenged the role of the artists as they elaborated their designs on cybernetic devices, resulting in computer-generated music, graphics, texts or poems. The ICA was established as an institute (not a museum) for the contemporary (not just modern) and for all the arts (not just art) – and the exhibition reflected perfectly well the venues program and embrace of media arts, as well as its openness and curiosity for the new.

In this vein and to mark and build on Cybernetic Serendipity, wethe then-New Media Department at the ICA, staged What Do You Want To Do With It? A major festival of digital media exploring all aspects of new technology. Exploring both the possibilities of digital media and sponsored by SUN Microsystems, Motorola and SONY Playstation with contributions from cultural commentator Ekow Eshun, the cross-departmental exhibition brought together major international artists and digital media specialists Tim Etchells, Mike Figgis, Digista NHK, Tsai Ming Ling, British Interactive Media Association, Digit, with residencies by and John Maeda and students from MIT, and Mark Amerika, and pioneers of digital and net art. 

The programme of commissions, installations, artist in residencies, exhibitions, talks, and moving image and supporting programme of websites, gaming kiosks, video and text messaging events saw over 60,000 people visit the ICA. A forum to demonstrate ways digital technology can be harnessed, from sublime, through the pragmatic, to the playful, and how digital technologies and new media were extending creativity and inventiveness through new technologies and emerging internet culture.

Touring #28

Gillian Wearing, Gordon, Georgina Starr and Sam Taylor-Wood, Vanessa Beecroft, Alix Pearlstein and Alex Bag, UK/NY, 1997

Vanessa Beecroft, VB16 Piano Americano-Beige (performance), 1996. One of the featured artists in the UK/NY Touring Programme, 1997. Image copyright the artist; courtesy of the artist and Deitch Projects, New York.

The presentation of experimental film and video was the mainstay of my activities from 1995-2005 when involved in touring programmes of early video and performance; Vito Acconci, Marina Abramovic and Ulay, later work by emerging artists exploring the medium; Cheryl Donegan, Douglas Gordon, Gillian Wearing, Sam Taylor-Wood and Vanessa Beecroft. 

Subsequently, the realisation of national touring exhibitions of artists’ moving image commissioned and exhibited in partnership with galleries and cultural institutions, including major works by internationally-acclaimed artists, highlights of which include; Cinerama by the Turner Prize nominee and British artist-filmmaker Isaac Julien, Parade by Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey, A Free and Anonymous Monument by Jane and Louise Wilson and Looking for Alfred by acclaimed Belgian artist, Johan Grimonprez exploring the legacy of Alfred Hitchcock among many others.

An ongoing interest continued through curated programmes of the Film London Jarman Award that recognises and supports artists working with moving-image and celebrates the spirit of experimentation, imagination and innovation in the work of artist filmmakers inspired by visionary filmmaker Derek Jarman. Film London and Channel 4’s Random Acts, display of work by Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost, and return to early-experimental film and video through a curated programme of work by renowned filmmaker Tony Hill, among others.