18 July – 25 August 2018
White Cube Hong Kong
White Cube Hong Kong is pleased to present ‘Remembering Tomorrow: Artworks and Archives’, an exhibition organised to mark the 25th anniversary of the gallery. The first group show to be held in the Hong Kong space, it includes 36 artworks contextualised by a selection of previously unseen material from the gallery’s extensive archives. Featuring painting, sculpture, photography and drawing, ‘Remembering Tomorrow: Artworks and Archives’ draws attention to the broad scope of White Cube’s exhibition history, which has taken place in six locations across three continents.
This landmark exhibition, configured as intimate viewing spaces arranged around a central ‘memory capsule’, explores the theme of memory in relation to time and myth, the sublime, social history and autobiography. In the ground floor gallery, memory is first explored in relation to notions of time and myth. Antony Gormley’s sculptures record emotion via specific physical poses, each holding a moment of lived time, as with BUTT (2010) which is suggestive of tension or emotional strain. Both Fred Tomaselli and Darren Almond register specific moments of time through painting. Tomaselli’s intervention onto the front page of The New York Times highlights the absurdity of global politics through the addition of cosmic imagery, while Almond’s paintings are a record of his memories of starry night skies viewed from Chile’s Atacama Desert. In the same space, Anselm Kiefer’s sculpture Daphné (2014) elegiacally explores the enduring Greek myth of Daphne at the moment of her metamorphosis into a tree, while Raqib Shaw’s invented mythological creatures are inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights.
In the adjoining ground floor gallery the idea of memory is considered as a contemplative state, through predominantly monochromatic works that focus on the seductive beauty of materials and the poetics of perception. Gabriel Orozco’s delicate watercolours on gold card reference the historical tradition of Japanese brushwork, while Virginia Overton transforms found materials, in this instance a scratched gold mirror rear lit to create a luminous painterly surface suggesting memory is inscribed through use. In contrast, Rachel Kneebone’s porcelain sculpture employs a contained explosion of limbs, plants and spheres covered with a bone white glaze, to explore more psychologically charged states. Josiah McElheny’s trio of hand-blown glass objects adapt shapes borrowed from the futuristic forms of Giacomo Balla, transposing culturally dominant forms onto the insistently poetic and tactile material of glass.
In the first floor gallery, the works articulate the idea of memory as a pathway for social enquiry, political and cultural history as well as autobiography – or the intersection of all three. Both Damián Ortega and Jac Leirner use everyday industrial products, which are reconfigured into works that suggest memory, action and time through their collective form. In Leirner’s sculpture Blossom (2017), 22 spirit levels are transformed into objects of abstract beauty when installed together across the corner of a gallery, while Ortega’s casts of the moulded interior packaging used for consumer products, set out in a line on the floor, appear like an extrapolated and frozen timeline in material form. Similarly, Mona Hatoum explores memory through familiar places and objects. Bukhara (red to pink) (2009), is part of an ongoing series of sculptures. Using a Gall-Peters equal- area projection of the world map, which scales the continents according to their true proportions, the artist has removed areas of the carpet’s weave so that landmasses appear as small fissures or moth-eaten gaps.
Works by Georg Baselitz and Tracey Emin highlight more personal memories and themes. Baselitz’s dark, almost monochromatic painting Es geht weiter abwärts (2017) presents the artist’s legs and torso upside down, emphasising gravitational pull and suggesting a sense of falling or collapsing through the deterioration of physical mass. The bird is a recurring motif in Emin’s work, symbol of an alter ego, free and unfettered. Miroslaw Balka consistently references personal historical memory in his work, transforming humble materials into potent and charged objects. 2 × 40 × 33 × 20 (2000) consists of a pair of neutrally-coloured felt masks with cut out, downward-cast eyes: muted witnesses whose material warmth and specific height relates directly to the artist’s own body. Etel Adnan’s small scale, vibrant paintings appear like crystallisations of particularly vivid memories, abstracted and condensed images recalling the landscape of her childhood in Beirut, or the years spent living on the West Coast of America.
The two ‘memory capsules’ situated at the centre of each floor of the exhibition provide a historical framework for contextualising these artworks. In these spaces a curated selection of archive material, including objects, images, films, texts and printed ephemera, serve to highlight key moments in the gallery’s history. Maquettes for Kiefer’s Jericho Towers installed at London Royal Academy of Arts, London in 2014; Shaw’s lavishly encrusted lobster claws for a monumental sculpture; or delicately embroidered appliqués by Tracey Emin, for example, are presented alongside hand-written notes by artists, press cuttings, invitation cards, publications and photographs of past exhibitions.
Amassed together they provide a unique and fascinating insight into the artistic process and methods of exhibition-making, as well as White Cube’s extensive gallery programme of the past 25 years: from its beginnings in 1993, to its current international status with two locations in London and one in Hong Kong.