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The Bloomberg Commission: Josiah McElheny: The past was a mirage I'd left far behind


LONDON.- New York-based artist Josiah McElheny is a sculptor, performance artist, writer and filmmaker, best known for his use of glass with other materials. For his Bloomberg Commission he uses light and mirrors to transform the Whitechapel Gallery into a hall of mirrors. Josiah McElheny is the latest artist invited to create a new work of art for The Bloomberg Commission sited in the former Whitechapel library (now part of the Gallery), built in 1892 as a ‘lantern for learning’.

Seven large-scale, mirrored sculptures will be arranged as multiple reflective screens for the artist’s interpretation of groundbreaking experimental abstract films, programmed to change throughout the year. The sculptures will reflect and refract the projected film selection, saturating the whole gallery and visitors in images and light. Refracted, distorted and multiplied, the moving images explore how abstraction is used to depict an image of visual enlightenment.

The Bloomberg Commission: Josiah McElheny is displayed in Gallery 2, a dedicated space for site-specific works of art that was previously the reading room of the former Whitechapel Library. Inspired by the history of the Library as a creative haven for early modernist thinkers such as Isaac Rosenberg and Mark Gertler, McElheny’s new work explores the history of abstraction in film and video, reinterpreting them by presenting fractured, constantly morphing versions.

Drawing on the history of the former library as a centre for social reform and modernist ideals in Britain, this major installation is accompanied by a series of film presentations, lectures and events exploring the notion of abstraction in the moving image.

Josiah McElheny (b. 1966) lives and works in New York. His work combines a conceptually rigorous examination of history with an ability to create deeply engaging sensory experiences.

The Bloomberg Commission invites an international artist to create an annual site-specific artwork inspired by the rich history of the former library. Previous commissions were created by artists Goshka Macuga (2009) and Claire Barclay (2010). Bloomberg’s support reflects its commitment to innovation, and its ongoing efforts to expand access to art, science and the humanities.






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The Bloomberg Commission: Josiah McElheny: The past was a mirage I'd left far behind

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