Whitechapel Gallery Announces Peter Kennard: Archive of Dissent

Peter Kennard, Thatcher Unmasked, 1986, Photomontage – Gelatin silver prints with ink on card a/political collection, courtesy the artist.
Lisbeth Thalberg Lisbeth Thalberg

Whitechapel Gallery is thrilled to present “Archive of Dissent,” a groundbreaking exhibition showcasing five decades of Peter Kennard’s illustrious career as an artist and activist. Opening this summer, the exhibition will be the most extensive display of Kennard’s works to date, featuring his remarkable contributions to political art.

Renowned for his compelling images of resistance and dissent, Peter Kennard has been a prominent figure in political art since the 1970s. His influential works have spanned critical socio-political movements including the Vietnam War, Anti-Apartheid Movement, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and the Stop the War Coalition, alongside his passionate environmental activism.

“Archive of Dissent” will occupy three galleries within the historic Whitechapel Library space, transforming it into a vibrant forum of social and political dialogues. This special exhibition, conceived specifically for the Whitechapel Gallery, promises to offer an in-depth look into Kennard’s pioneering use of photomontage while celebrating his tireless spirit of activism.

The exhibition pays homage to the gallery’s rich history as a former library by transforming it into an evolving archive. Visitors can expect to see a wide array of Kennard’s works, including printed materials, placards, and his iconic posters and books. Highlighting his artistic process, the display will begin with his distinctive photomontages, inspired by John Heartfield and consistently aimed at critiquing power structures and advocating for global change.

Noteworthy installations such as “Boardroom” (2023) and “Double Exposure” (2023) demonstrate Kennard’s innovative approach to deconstructing photomontage through the use of light, glass, and projection. In addition, “The People’s University of the East End” (2024) draws on the gallery’s historical significance, reflecting on its role as a space for democratic education and grassroots protest.

Peter Kennard commented, “My art is driven by outrage at how financial gain dictates our society, concealing injustices like poverty, racism, and war. ‘Archive of Dissent’ is a collection of works fueled by this anger, aiming to unveil the harsh realities masked by corporate and state power.”

About Peter Kennard:

Peter Kennard is a prominent figure in political art, holding the title of Emeritus Professor of Political Art at the Royal College of Art. His works have been shown worldwide, featuring in prestigious institutions such as the Imperial War Museum in London and the United Nations in Geneva. Kennard’s influential photomontages are part of major collections and have served as powerful symbols in activist movements around the globe.

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Journalist and artist (photographer). Editor of the art section at MCM.
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