Stephen Willats

Victoria Miro Gallery | 16 Wharf Road

Since the ’60s, London-based conceptual artist Stephen Willats has focused on concerns that are now ubiquitous in contemporary art: communication, social engagement, active spectatorship, and self-organization. Willats considered his work social research and used models from disciplines such as cybernetics and systems theory to describe and study social interaction and communication. These methods were used, for example, in postwar technocratic urban planning as a form of social control. Willats repurposed these models for opposite ends—to research life on the receiving end of such state-planned projects, often working with the inhabitants of low-income housing and considering them his audience.

One of two drawings in this show, Conceptual Grids 2, 2006, is reminiscent of a cybernetics diagram. Red and blue squares might stand for people or dwelling units and are linked by arrows indicating

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