Interview: Michael White on his latest exhibition You’re studying that reality… We’ll act again

Glasgow-based artist discusses construction of portrait series challenging the permeation of ideology and religion in society

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Interview: Michael White on his latest exhibition You’re studying that reality… We’ll act again

Since graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 2009, Michael White has had solo exhibitions at the Glue Factory, the Collective and the Duchy. His latest show, You’re studying that reality… We’ll act again opens at Queens Park Railway Club in October

What ideas have particularly stimulated your work recently?
I’ve recently been looking at the function of faith or the belief in an ideology and how that permeates everything in society. When you start talking about things in terms of faith it starts illustrating how fictional it is. It’s only made real because we’re embedded in a system that allows the implications of the discussions to be made real because everything’s built around that idea.

What work are you showing for your upcoming exhibition?
The work is a series of 100 portraits of different philosophers, inventors, science fiction writers, psychologists, politicians etc. I have chosen to portray each figure through my own frame of reference; these are people that I believe have influenced the nature of the social, ideological and political landscape that we live in now.

How are you presenting it?
It’s not chronological or linear, it’s more of a constellation or a kind of map. The portraits are all sketched on correspondence I had with the job centre while unemployed, so it eludes to issues with the politics of labour, the welfare state and bureaucratic systems that are essentially abstract and the product of a consensually created reality. That reality is made tangible through the production of paper documents which become part of the drawings. They then create a series of loose relationships and potential narrative threads which are left open to the viewer to interpret their own position within that framework.

Queens Park Railway Club, Glasgow, Thu 2–Sat 25 Oct.

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