ARTiculation Prize 2020: Ambassador reports on the Whitechapel Gallery

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Article by: Lara Smith, ARTiculation Ambassador (Nottingham Trent University)

On 9 January, I attended the first regional heat of the 2020 ARTiculation Prize at London’s charming Whitechapel Gallery as ARTiculation Ambassador and undergraduate design student. The beautiful space was a perfect setting for the event, tucked in the busy High Street presenting a resoundingly calm and reflective area for the talks. The insights to follow did not fail to disappoint, with some astonishingly deep exploratory talks from the ten young people.
Beginning with the 1970s photography of William Eggleston, Eva Mackenzie discussed the shocking use of colour within the context of his untitled piece (Greenwood, Mississippi) and explained her view on the impact this has had on a range of creative fields today, touching on colour film in particular. Following this, Anselm Kiefer’s Seraphim was proficiently analysed by Carmen McKenna, using the interesting approach of looking at the themes of memory and war within the painting. She dove into many aspects of the piece in a wonderfully critical way. Next Evie Chalk forced the audience out of their comfort zone by confronting the raw topics she felt were conveyed in Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde. By tying the art into a well constructed political argument, she focused on current issues around feminism and imagery portraying the female form. Not only was this a refreshingly forthright talk, it also left the audience with some questions to form their own opinions. We were then taken on a journey looking at the ‘uncanny valley’ within the art of Salvador Dalí’s The Face of War. This was an interesting, fast paced look at multiple features within Dali’s work from Alex Young. Vindyha Ravi was next, presenting us with a compelling overview of Banksy’s Mobile Lovers. She brought her own ideas to the piece, relating it to contemporary themes as well her own researched suggestions of the artist’s inspirations. It was an effective talk, bringing the first half of the day to a satisfying close.
The short interval was filled with an enthusiastic buzz after the insightful talks – people were full of anticipation. Next up was riveting talk given by Sa’Diyyah Shaikh on Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas, providing some interesting insights into her opinions on the details within the images, linked with some contextual information. Olafur Eliasson’s instillation piece Beauty was the next topic of discussion, providing a much more contemporary topic. Topics of climate change and political movements were introduced by Deen Khan, as well as some thoughts about the way art is consumed, particularly in a modern gallery environment. Gabriel La Guardia then changed the atmosphere of the room drastically with Butch Belair and Tommy Kane’s advertisement material Chick Walker. This enthusiastic talk from La Guardia addressed the fact that art can be in many forms, not just the typical artistic forms. The methods of creation were revealed, and it was intriguing to hear why perhaps this sort of creativity should be given more credit within the art world. Penultimately we were presented with an emotional talk on Doris Salcedo’s Palimpsest. Kasia Fallan spoke about personal experiences of changes in perception and how this work, situated in the White Cube gallery, really made her criticise her own preconceptions of modern art. Finally, a very different take on Banksy’s work was given to us. Studying the work Gross Domestic Product, Marci Talbot explained how it spoke about consumerism and intuitively addressed the social grounding of art today.
Overall this was a fantastic opportunity for those involved to demonstrate their skills and passion for some very contrasting pieces of art. The ARTiculation prize helps young people to analyse art and speak about it in a professional environment, and it was clear to see all the participants were very proud of what they had achieved. I believe this event also raised awareness of many new topics and artists for the audience, expanding ARTiculation’s reach further. I encourage all young people with an interest in art, whatever field, to explore how they could get involved with the many experiences the ARTiculation scheme has to offer.

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