'Free-writers'. Photo by Alice Chapman © Social Streets CIC.
Arts & artistsCultureLocal

Dancers flow through Whitechapel’s streets in Andrew Pierre Hart’s multidisciplinary exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery 

This immersive exhibition by Pierre Hart at Whitechapel Gallery represents Whitechapel’s migrant history and tells a story through dance, music, sculpture and painting. 

Surrounded by attention-grabbing shop signs on the busy Whitechapel High Street, Whitechapel Gallery’s smooth stone building draws the eye without trying. It’s always an enticing prospect to walk into its hallowed halls and inhale the enticing smell of freshly ground coffee from its café.

There’s an unspoken code of conduct when entering a gallery. Even in the corridors, it feels blasphemous to make too much noise. The wordless soundscape leaves space for thoughts to trickle through your mind, undisturbed. 

On the top floor of the building, Andrew Pierre Harts’s exhibition ‘Bio-Data Flows and Other Rythems – A Local Story’ is a multidisciplinary exhibition that feeds all the senses. 

As your feet glide along the well-polished wooden floorboards, you almost skid to sit down on the rustic wooden bench in front of the film screen.  

It’s integrated speakers make the wood beneath you rumble and shake as you watch the film. 

Black and white jagged abstract paintings cover the walls on one side, and a burgundy backdrop, with a painting of a tiger, fills the other. To the right-hand side of the room is an immersive video, with a loud thumping soundtrack. 

The video consists of three individual dancers, moving and flowing around different locations in Whitechapel. 

The artist Pierre Hart describes the dancers as ‘free-writers’. 

Their movements take you on a journey through Whitechapel, each dance lasting around five minutes. 

Some key locations the dancers flow through are Brick Lane and Altman Ali Park. In the trees and greenery of the park, the dance is ballet. In the graffitied street on Brick Lane, the dance is contemporary. 

On the left-hand side of the room stands a thick bamboo structure. The uprights are tied together with string, speaking to the temporary nature of the street stalls along Whitechapel Market. 

The entire wall behind it is painted in black and white skewed diamonds. The shapes mirror the angles of the bamboo. 

London-born Pierre Hart’s multidisciplinary style means his exhibitions appeal to people of all ages attracting sound and music lovers as well as painting and abstract art enthusiasts. 

He describes his work as focussed on ‘the symbiotic relationship between sound and painting’, while also incorporating aspects of sculpture, mural-making, installation, language, performance and film.

Hart’s ‘The Listening Sweet’ exhibition at Tiwani Contemporary in London in 2021 and Lagos in 2023 was a combination of visual, audio and painting. 

It encourages viewers to foster a holistic understanding of the artwork’s impact on human consciousness and perception​ of life. The viewer questions how sound can influence the emotional responses elicited by his paintings​. 

In 2022, Hart took part in ‘Diaspora Pavilion 2’ at Block 336 in Brixton. This was a transnational project with installations from different artists; it’s aim was to platform artists from the African diaspora exploring themes of migration, displacement, and cultural identity within the context of London’s vibrant art scene. 

The ‘Bio-Data Flows and Other Rythems – A Local Story’ exhibition is free and run until 7 July 2024.

If you liked reading this, you might also like ‘A love letter to the country of my birth’: Dina Begum’s new cookbook celebrates Bangladeshi cooking 

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