Christopher Williams: An Exhibition Where Not All Is As It Seems

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 41 months ago
Christopher Williams: An Exhibition Where Not All Is As It Seems ★★★☆☆ 3
This rooster looks far from natural and makes viewers question whether it's alive or stuffed. Image courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, New York/London
This rooster looks far from natural and makes viewers question whether it's alive or stuffed. Image courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, New York/London
The blue background suggests these apples are outdoors, but all may not be as it seems. Image courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, New York/London
The blue background suggests these apples are outdoors, but all may not be as it seems. Image courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, New York/London
This half-submerged pan definitely has something of an advertisement feel to it. Image courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, New York/London
This half-submerged pan definitely has something of an advertisement feel to it. Image courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, New York/London
A snippet of a Citroen is a bit like a teaser trailer forcing the visitor to imagine the rest of the car. Image courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, New York/London
A snippet of a Citroen is a bit like a teaser trailer forcing the visitor to imagine the rest of the car. Image courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, New York/London
A woman is posed naturally enough, but the colour strip makes it obvious this is a staged photograph. Image courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, New York/London
A woman is posed naturally enough, but the colour strip makes it obvious this is a staged photograph. Image courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, New York/London
Close-ups of cameras are part of the self-referential nature of this show. Image courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, New York/London
Close-ups of cameras are part of the self-referential nature of this show. Image courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, New York/London

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

Whitechapel Gallery has a new exhibition in its main space, or does it? The title and the introductory text are both half-covered with a green strip of paper, yet they refer to the previous exhibition. The oddities don't end there, as the temporary walls look like they're in the middle of being removed; visitors can see the cavities within them.

This is all part of the grand plan of photographer Christopher Williams who has purposefully left out any explanatory text; his photographs must stand by themselves and interact with the viewer without clarification. It's a diverse array of work covering everything from a rooster to a finger pressing a button on a control panel.

The concept behind Williams' work is that all these photographs are designed to depict everyday life, yet are in fact staged. We're supposed to believe the woman with a towel wrapped around her head has just exited the shower, and that those apples are as you would see them in an orchard. There are also snippets of cars and suitcases, encouraging viewers to build their own stories from such glimpses.

The key point is that many of the images we see are presented in a more positive light than how they actually are, whether it be property photographs online or products in advertisements. It's a powerful message that will only hit visitors once they've taken in at least half of the show.

This exhibition is likely to divide people between those who find the work too elusive to engage with, and those who appreciate the minimalist approach that's been taken with this show. We're equally divided as we loved the radical concept, but not all of Williams' works have the strength to stand up without a greater narrative around them.

Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness is on at Whitechapel Gallery until 21 June. Admission is free and it's open Tuesday-Sunday, 11-6pm.

Last Updated 06 May 2015