Curated by Lewis Dalton Gilbert, creative director of A Vibe Called Tech, and featuring works by artists Lotte Andersen, Genesis Baez, Jess T. Dugan, Sabelo Mlangeni, Bernice Mulenga, Tourmaline, Vivek Vadoliya, Alberta Whittle, and Matthew Arthur Williams, London gallery Gathering’s new exhibition, Pictures of Us, brings together artists working with photography and film to capture manifold dimensions of the human experience. Many of the works included engage with conventions associated with the art historical genre of portraiture. Through the pursuit of a sitter’s likeness, portrait photography is highly charged with the relational dynamics between photographer and subject; for the artists shown, this becomes a mutual experience, laden with emotion.
Curator Lewis Dalton Gilbert tells Something Curated: “The primary goal of Pictures of Us is to offer viewers a deeper understanding of the human experience, both on an individual and collective level. The exhibition seeks to capture raw emotions, subtle nuances, and underlying narratives that shape our lives. It emphasises the importance of shared humanity, care, love, friendship, memory, and resistance. Through these artists’ work, the exhibition aims to foster a sense of unity and shared humanity, which we all need right now. I sincerely hope it serves as a reminder for all of us to focus on our commonalities rather than our differences.”
Gilbert continues: “The concept of “communing” serves as a central theme for the exhibition. It entails an intimate sharing of feelings and thoughts to connect on a deeper, spiritual level. The artists in the exhibition use their work to delve into this concept by exploring the emotions, relationships, and communities they capture. “Communing” bridges the gap between the artist and their subjects, creating a shared emotional experience, whether it’s a celebration or an exploration of familial connections, such as the work of artists like Jess T. Dugan, Genesis Baez, Matthew Arthur Williams and Lotte Andersen, or the profound relationships established between Alberta Whittle and Janice Knight in her film The Axe Forgets, But The Tree Remembers (2022), and Sabelo Mlangeni and the Royal House of Allure. The artworks in this exhibition emphasise the importance of human connection as a means of understanding our own world and the world around us on a deeper level.”
Expanding on how he went about selecting the artists included in the show, Gilbert explains to SC: “While some artists, like Alberta Whittle and Genesis Baez, I have had the privilege of working with before, all the artists in this exhibition are individuals I have been following for a substantial amount of time. This is due to their unique ability to capture the essence of the human experience, particularly in the context of their relationships with the communities they depict. Their authenticity shines through, often turning the lens on themselves as subjects. It’s important to note that the artists in this exhibition do not ask others to do anything they wouldn’t do themselves, a crucial aspect when dealing with sensitive subjects and other people’s personal histories.”
On how he has considered the gallery’s architecture as a site of display, the curator adds: “The exhibition will utilise the Gathering’s architecture by dividing the building into two distinct sections. The ground floor will showcase photography that captures tender moments, smiles, childhood memories, nostalgia, and various facets of the human experience. Meanwhile, the lower floor will become a cinematic space for video works that tackle complex issues such as racism, classism, transphobia, and challenging familial relationships. Films will be screened on a single shared screen without headphones to encourage a communal viewing experience, reinforcing the sense of community and commonality. After visitors watch the films on the lower floor, I hope they will return to the ground floor to spend more time with the images, armed with a deeper understanding of the artists and their subjects.”
Pictures of Us. Curated by Lewis Dalton Gilbert runs from 1 December 2023 – 13 January 2024 at Gathering, London.
Feature image: Pictures of Us, Gathering, London, 1 December 2023 – 13 January 2024. Photography: Ollie Hammick. Courtesy of Gathering, London.