Whitebread's practice investigates utopian futures as proposed by architects, social policy makers, technologists and scientists. The resulting research derived from these investigations leads her to look at how these utopian futures are subsequently categorised, formalised and presented in more dogmatic forms through publications canonising a particular historic moment or exhibitions focusing on an artistic movement. She uses her on-going artistic practice to renegotiate these reductive archives and rediscover the potentialities contained within utopian visions of the future.
Working with architectural and museum archives enables Whitebread to use them, not only as a medium, but also as a place of passage. Her work in archives and research becomes inter-related. Ideas depart and return in a loop, at each stage they are generative and interdependent. She references the tropes of science fiction literature. This exploration uses writing as its foundation and as an artistic tool to develop interests and develop strategies for her projects; she becomes a viewer of her research and thought processes for her multidisciplinary works from the text to the actuality of presentation, through typography, print, audio or video. Mixing reality with fictional literary devices enables her to examine the complex and unexpected realities that arise whilst researching utopian futures.
Collaboration enables Whitebread to identify and produce ideas, a process which has seen her working with archivists, community groups, youth groups, historians, scientists and trapeze artists. These arrangements broaden her scope and find unexpected narratives. Her work is constructed out of in-depth research that is formed so the viewer is presented with a proposition – an introduction to, or a re-examining of, various utopian futures.
Emily Whitebread works in the United Kingdom.