Stephen Willats examines connections between personal narratives and social conditions through themes of class and power. He looks at how individuals produce their subjectivity vis-à-vis reality, and how their experience of the world is shaped by systems of interdependent relations.
Willats’ career, initiated in the 1960s, combines ideas and practices from fields as diverse as cybernetics, advertising research, mass media theory, and computing. His works consist of diagrammatic representations of people, from workers to couples, juxtaposed to depictions of environments, including housing estates and offices. They usually take the form of photographic panels with text, sometimes accompanied by non-linear films or audio.
Two decades ago Willats collaborated with the Middlesbrough Art Gallery on a project involving several organisations in the town, from the library to the mosque. For this exhibition he returned to Middlesbrough to work with local community developers on a new project.
This new project is put into context with pieces created since the late 1970s. This selection focuses on problems faced by people during their everyday lives, challenges of modern society that might compromise their civil rights.
Accompanies the solo exhibition Stephen Willats: HUMAN RIGHT, 4 March – 4 June 2017, Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesborough, UK. HUMAN RIGHT continues in locations between the museum and Parliament Road.
This publication is co-published by Victoria Miro and Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA).