PREVIEW: Queer Spaces: London, 1980’s – Today, Whitechapel Gallery

On display from the 2nd April, this free exhibition will examine how  the changing landscape of London has affected theLGBTQ community.

Image credit: That Ray, Royal Vauxhall Tavern, 2018, Photo by Léa L’attentive, Courtesy Léa L’attentive.

Combining rarely-seen archival material with original work by artists concerned with the vibrancy and importance of LGBTQ+ cultural life, Queer Spaces will consider how market-led redevelopment of spaces around London is rapidly transforming the capital’s queer scenes from the 1980’s to the present day.

Between 2006-2016, more than half of venues for the LGBTQ+ community in London have closed, falling from 125 to 53. In 2017/2018 this figure stabilised, but what has been the effect of these changes on the lives of the community?

The exhibition will feature art work by Tom Burr, Prem Sahib, Ralph Dunn; Evan Ifekoya and Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings. Their work will be displayed alongside archive material collated by University College London (UCL)’s Urban Laboratory. It will ask the question what defines a ‘queer space’ and the relationship that these venues have to the LGBTQ+ community. 

Talking about the exhibition Amy Lamé, London’s Night Czar, said: “I am delighted this exhibition is shining a light on the huge role London’s LGBT+ venues have played, and continue to play, in the capital’s diversity. For decades, London’s LGBT+ venues have provided a safe space to unite and socialise and are at the very heart of our city’s varied night life. London is open to all, and that’s why we are working hard to support LGBT+ venues and why I’m so pleased that after a decade of decline we have seen numbers stabilise.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by  public programme featuring film, conversation and performance.

Queer Spaces: London, 1980’s – Today will be on display at the Whitechapel Gallery from the 2nd April until the 25th August.

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