Profile: Curating, Art Consultancy & Academia

Keith Whittle is a curator, academic, and writer based in London.

Primarily focused on commissioning new work, he has co-produced numerous curatorial and specialist projects including 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, talks and events), working with artists, commercial and not-for-profit agencies, galleries and museums.

Beginning his career at Film and Video Umbrella, London during the heyday of the YBAs. He was initially involved in touring experimental film, video and performance programmes; Vito Acconci, Marina Abramovic and Ulay, Cheryl Donegan, Douglas Gordon, Gillian Wearing, Sam Taylor-Wood and Vanessa Beecroft. Later the realisation of national touring exhibitions of newly commissioned work in artists’ moving image and time-based media, working with galleries and cultural institution’s, 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.

In 2005 after 11 years working at the centre of the UK art scene, he left Film and Video Umbrella to pursue a Research Fellowship and role as a Programme Director and curator. Furthering his curatorial and research interests in modern and contemporary art of East Asia, it’s aesthetic, cultural and political histories and processes that shape its production. From 2005-2008, he initiated and curated several gallery and site-specific displays of contemporary artists’ work from the region, 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 residency and touring exhibition projects such as 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).

A Cultural Leadership Award; UK Government-funded investment in excellence in leadership across the creative and cultural industries with Visiting Arts, Central Saint Martins and P3 art and environment Tokyo; drew him closer to research and curatorial activities in Japan, and led to his role as International Projects in Fine Art, UK-Japan at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. Followed by Research Fellowships at the school and The Japan Foundation, outcomes of which include a joint symposia with Tokyo Geidai and later establishment of collaborative academic and research activities. 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 a programme director, curator and arts producer in Japan, his activities include artist residencies, and site-specific projects 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.

In 2015, he joined White Rainbow, a London gallery, as Associate Curator and Advisor. Exhibiting international artists, with a focus on contemporary art from Japan. The gallery frequently presents artistic practices never before shown in the UK through exhibitions, research and publishing, creating a dialogue between historical work and emerging artistic practices. It’s programme includes solo and group exhibitions by Shigeo Anzaï, Tomie Ohtake, Satoru Aoyama, Lydia Okumura, Kazuko Miyamoto, Yuko Mohri, Chikako Yamashiro, Chim↑Pom, Aki Sasamoto, Taro Izumi, Meiro Koizumi and Mari Katayama.

Activities that run concurrently with transdisciplinary research and teaching through lectures, talks that raise further awareness of Japanese post-war art history and its relationship to international art movements. He has participated 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. 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.