Chisenhale Gallery, an alternative art space in London that has achieved a cult following on the international circuit, has picked up big talent to direct the institution.
Zoé Whitley, the current senior curator of London’s Hayward Gallery, will be the next leader of Chisenhale Gallery. She’s the first person to direct the institution since its last leader, Polly Staple, departed for the prestigious position of director of Tate’s British art collection. Whitley takes up the post in late March.
Whitley has quickly risen to become one of the world’s closely watched curators. In 2017, with Mark Godfrey at Tate Modern in London, she organized “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” a major traveling survey of how Black artists were integral to and influenced by activism surrounding them during the 1960s and ’70s. The exhibition, which Whitley worked on before she had turned 40, recently made an ARTnews list of the shows that defined the 2010s. At last year’s Venice Biennale in Italy, she organized the British Pavilion, which that year featured work by Cathy Wilkes.
Other notable shows of hers include the 2013 exhibition “The Shadows Took Shape,” a prescient Studio Museum in Harlem survey that focused on Afrofuturism and was curated with Naima Keith, and “Reverb: Sound into Art,” a forthcoming exhibition at the Hayward Gallery featuring sound-art works by Christine Sun Kim, Kahlil Joseph, Oliver Beer, and more, including some newly commissioned pieces.
Prior to becoming senior curator at the Hayward Gallery, Whitley had held curatorial positions at Tate Britain and Tate Modern, working on such initiatives as a program dedicated to bringing African artworks into the museums’ holdings.
“I’ve been inspired by Chisenhale Gallery’s program since I first became a curator,” Whitley said in a statement. “I’m honored to have been selected to lead its next chapter as director and excited by the challenges and possibilities for artistic collaborations to come.”