Profile: Art & Academic Activities

Keith Whittle is a British academic, writer and curator. He was born in England and presently divides his time between London and Tokyo.

Curating and programming exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, research, teaching, writing, producing and publishing articles, books and catalogues. As a producer and curator, he has worked on numerous monographic and thematic exhibitions encompassing the complete life cycle of art production, from inception to exhibition and interpretation, across a spectrum of work (commissions, residencies, gallery and site-specific exhibitions, publications, festivals, symposiums, net and online projects, talks and events) with a particular focus on championing the work of emerging and mid-career artists. 

From 1994-2005 he worked at Film and Video Umbrella, London that brought him into contact with the contemporary art world during the heyday of the YBAs. Initially involved in the production of touring programmes of experimental video and performance; Vito Acconci, Marina Abramovic and Ulay, Cheryl Donegan, and later the realisation of national touring exhibitions of newly commissioned work in moving image and new media, highlights of which include; Cinerama by the Turner Prize nominee and British filmmaker and artist 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. Concurrently, he worked at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (ICA); overseeing the institute’s new media lab, and major bi-annual digital media festival working with artists such as John Maeda (MIT). 

In 2005 after 11 years working at the centre of the London arts scene, he left Film and Video Umbrella to begin a role as programme director and curator in the North of England. Where he initiated and curated several gallery and site-specific displays of contemporary artists’ work, including installations by emerging Chinese artists working in moving image, sound and installation art from mainland China, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong exhibited 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. 

The first international residency and solo exhibition for Nissan Art Award winner Yuko Mohri and the ambitious residency and touring exhibition project A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling. A cultural exchange of two artists between the UK and Japan, undertaken during the 150th anniversary of formal links between the two countries. In 2006 he was nominated by writer and curator Karen Smith to participate in the inaugural residency programme of OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (OCAT Shenzhen).

Subsequently, as programme director and curator in Japan, his activities focused on international artist residencies including acting as International Curator at ARCUS Project, Ibaraki Artist-in-Residence Programme, the longest running AIR programme in Japan, and off-site projects and commissions working with internationally acclaimed contemporary artists; Adel Abdessemed, Michael Lin, Hossein Golba, Lani Maestro, SARKIS, Jin-me Yoon and Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries., and international residencies by British artists Adam Chodko and Sutapa Biswas.  

A Cultural Leadership Award in 2009; UK Government-funded investment in excellence in leadership across the creative and cultural industries in collaboration with Central Saint Martins and P3 art and environment Tokyo. Drew him closer into research and curating in Japan, and led to him taking a research role (International Projects Fine Art) at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London followed by Research Fellowships at the school and The Japan Foundation. Outcomes of which included a joint symposia with Tokyo Geidai and later establishment of the academic and research relationships between Japan and China. The former supporting the establishment of the Global Art Course a joint project of the Graduate School of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts, in 2015, in collaboration with 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.

As an academic he teaches and lectures about different aspects of art, curating and museology at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and other art institutions. And during a Sotheby’s Institute of Art academic tour of White Rainbow Gallery, London he met the galleries director and was invited to join the gallery as Advisor and Associate Curator, to work on the exhibition of international artists, with a focus on contemporary art from Japan including exhibitions by Chikako Yamashiro, Chim↑Pom, Aki Sasamoto, Taro Izumi, Meiro Koizumi, Mari Katayama, among others.

Activities that ran concurrently with research and teaching through lectures, talks and participation in numerous conferences and events at 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. 

He is currently on a extended period of research in Tokyo and preoccupied with work towards a PhD.