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Whitechapel Gallery presents a new commission by artist Ulla von Brandenburg
Ulla von Brandenburg, Sweet Feast, 2018. Installation view. © Whitechapel Gallery. Photo: Stephen White.

LONDON.- Hundreds of children have devoured a Whitechapel Gallery exhibition for the second time in the institution’s history. In 1973 an enticing exhibition featuring hundreds of types of sweets was staged to celebrate the UK’s entry to the European Common Market. It was brought to an abrupt end when it was unexpectedly eaten by local schoolchildren. This year the extraordinary event is recreated against a background of Britain’s impending departure from the European Union in 2019.

Whitechapel Gallery is presenting Sweet Feast, a new commission by artist Ulla von Brandenburg (b. 1974, Germany) in partnership with Le Prix Marcel Duchamp, following her nomination in 2016 for this prestigious annual award. Sweet Feast features a new film screened for six months in the ground floor gallery. Visitors of all ages are invited to take a seat and watch on a large, colourful structure designed by the artist.

The historic exhibition Sweets was Whitechapel Gallery’s contribution to the ‘Fanfare for Europe’ celebrations. The irresistible display of confectionary from European Common Market members included Belgian chocolate coins, French lollipops shaped as the Eiffel Tower, gummy mice from Germany, coffee-flavoured Hopjes from Holland, Italian marzipan fruits, salty licorice from Denmark, Irish mints and toffee from Yorkshire. According to archive records on 28 January 1973, the last day of the exhibition, 500 children visited to learn about sweets as popular art. The children were invited to sample specially selected candies donated by some of the manufacturers. In their enthusiasm, they overwhelmed the only guard on duty and devoured all the displays.

Ulla von Brandenburg recorded a re-staging of this curious incident, working with the participation of children from local primary school Arnhem Wharf. The film includes a song co-written by the children and artist. Shot in the same location as the historic exhibition, it features a set accurately recreated based on photographs held in the Whitechapel Gallery’s archive.

Ulla von Brandenburg lives and works in Paris. She was nominated for Le Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2016, reflecting her work as one of the most innovative contemporary artists in France. Her multifaceted practice encompasses a combination of film, installation, performance and drawing. Renowned for a body of work drawing on theatre and performance to explore complex social issues, von Brandenburg explores the dynamics between the individual and the group in this work. Sweet Feast is informed by the context of the original exhibition, staged at a time when new educational methods considering children as individuals emerged and against a political backdrop of anti-establishment movements, struggles for freedom and civil rights. It also considers opportunities for the next generation, during a period dominated by conversations about the future impact of Brexit.

Ulla von Brandenburg (b. 1974, Karlsruhe Germany) has a multifaceted practice that is realised through a combination of black & white film, installation, performance, drawing, and painting. She lives and works in Paris.

Recent major solo exhibitions have been presented at such venues as in Jenisch Museum, Vevey (2017), Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami (2016); Power Plant, Toronto (2016); Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich (2016); ACCA, Melbourne (2016); Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis (2015); MAMCO, Geneva (2014); Kunstverein Hannover, Hannover (2014); Kunsthaus Hamburg, Hamburg (2013); Kunsthalle Hamburg, Hamburg (2013); The Common Guild, Glasgow (2011); Chisenhale Gallery, London (2009); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2008).

Significant group exhibitions have been presented at: Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016); Performa 15, New York (2015); Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2015); MAMCO, Geneva (2015); CAC, Vilnius (2014); 19th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney (2014); Witte de With, Rotterdam (2014); The Power Plant, Toronto (2012); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankurt (2011); Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit (2010); Tate Modern, London (2007).

In 2016 von Brandenburg was nominated for the Le Prix Marcel Duchamp. Previously she has been awarded the Finkenwerder Art Prize (2013); shortlisted for Daniel and Florence Guerlain Contemporary Art Foundation’s 2013 Drawing Prize (2013); Kunstpreis der Boettcherstrasse, Kunsthalle Bremen (2007); Cité des Arts, Paris (2007); Arbeitsstipendium Jürgen-Ponto-Stiftung (2006); Reisestipendium, Verein für Neue Kunst in Hamburg (2005); Stipendium Künstlerstätte Schloss Bleckede (2005); Begabtenstipendium der Dietzte-Stiftung (2003).

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