Critics’ Picks

View of “Ian White: “Any frame is a thrown voice,” 2018.

View of “Ian White: “Any frame is a thrown voice,” 2018.


Ian White

Camden Arts Centre
Arkwright Road
April 19–June 24, 2018

We hear the murmur of indistinct, overlapping voices within a space. We encounter various bodies held together by the frame of a room and across an expanse of time. What relations will emerge? What interpretations will be catalyzed? How will the “liveness” of these events be transmitted beyond the moment of their impact?

Such are the questions engendered by Ian White’s current exhibition, “Any frame is a thrown voice.” Curators Kirsty Bell and Mike Sperlinger deftly navigate the challenges of reactivating White’s mercurial practice following his untimely death in 2013. Translating his performances into installations using video, photography, drawing, and other media, the works aptly convey White’s fluid engagement with temporal artmaking, alongside his fiercely generous commitment to collaboration. The artist’s 2009–10 performance, Democracy, opens the show to foreground his pivotal concern with various kinds of information—including sources as diverse as museum-wall labels and a website for gay hookups. Within this complex work, a live-streaming BBC Radio broadcast evokes a flat progression of time, where tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program and Brexit, among other things, are reduced to an endless stream of sameness. Paired with a slideshow displaying images of the Elizabethan monarchy, it warns of captivating spectacles through which structures of power perpetuate their abuses. In one component of the work, footage of the artist—poised one-legged, with pants around his ankles—charges the experience with vulnerability and humor. White reminds us that our present state is inherently unstable. By communicating radically different ideas within similar formats, information can also become a medium that receivers can detourn. White’s oft-quoted statement is resounding: “Here is information. Mobilize.”