7 May - 12 June 2010
Victoria Miro Gallery I


16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW


From the 1960's until today, London-based conceptual artist Stephen Willats has concentrated on ideas that today are ever-present in contemporary art: communication, social engagement, active spectatorship, and self-organization.  Stephen Willats has situated his pioneering practice at the intersection between art and other disciplines such as sociology, cybernetics, systems research, learning theory, communications theory and computer technology.

Victoria Miro is delighted to present new and unseen works by Stephen Willats in THE WORLD AS IT IS AND THE WORLD AS IT COULD BE. This exhibition furthers Willats' interrogation of social interactions and the polemics of contemporary life in urban society.

Through his ongoing preoccupation with developing a new graphic language that establishes continuity between film, photography, text and drawings, here Willats takes the idea of a journey through two parallel realities, the world as it is - the world we live in - and its transformation into the world as it could be. Via this strategy, Willats explores the idea of art as something that motivates people to change their perceptions of reality, to embrace the notion that the world in which they live could be quite different, that one can effect change.

The exhibition features a large new installation Cybernetic Still Life (2010), comprised of a monumental wall drawing that incorporates film projections, as well as several photographic and text based works. Employing a diagrammatic framework to express fluidity and transience in relationships - concepts that define the locus of production and exchange of information - these new works explore the very human side of perceptions, our relationships to each other and our tendency to stereotype and make instant assumptions based on brief glimpses into the lives of others.

Cybernetic Still Life takes as its starting point the world of objects and structures in which social activity takes place. The wall drawing appears almost as a sci-fi cityscape, depicting two simplified high-rise residential towers and several seemingly outlandishly-shaped buildings. The odd forms of these structures, however, are derived from designs of modernist vases and other small domestic objects, greatly enlarged in scale. The structures are connected by arrows that represent directions of communication, and incorporate two looped film projections, one depicting people endlessly walking towards the camera, and the other a filmed sequence of ceramic objects. The installation describes relationships between the designed spaces in which we live, the designed objects we surround ourselves with, and our interaction between these two.

In Starting Afresh With A Blank Canvas (2009), poverty and poor social housing are addressed. This photographic work serves as a kind of portrait of a single mother living in a suburban estate, and looks specifically at how she transformed her life and her surrounding environment by acting as a catalyst within her community. In works such as Multi Channel Messengerfor instance photographs of people as couples are shown in relation to four developing sources of information and the increasing complexity of the information we receive from many different channels. The process is shown as almost circular and continuous, as we move from simpler frameworks within the world as we see it, towards the more and more complex world we can imagine. 


Willats described it thus: 'Ultimately, I'm interested in the idea that reality is a construction of ourselves, that we build it and we create the reality we want in our life. There's no real one way of viewing reality.'

Importantly, Willats represents particular individual relations in a generalized form, affirming that it is useful to consider social situations on both a universal and a personal level. Observations of the macro- and micro-scale, of the generic and the specific, and of engagement and distance in Willats' work serve to problematise and present various points of entry into contemporary social relationships.

Artist's new website

Victoria Miro

16 Wharf Road
London N1 7RW
t: +44 (0)20 7336 8109

View map

Victoria Miro Venice

Il Capricorno, San Marco 1994,

Calle Drio La Chiesa

30124 Venice, Italy

t: +39 041 523 3799
View map

Opening Times

During exhibitions:

Tuesday–Saturday: 10am–6pm. 


Venice: Tuesday–Saturday: 10am–1pm & 2–6pm. 


We are also closed on Sundays, Mondays and public holidays. 


Admission free. 



All general enquiries should be sent to


All press enquiries should be sent to
All rights and reproduction enquiries should be sent to

Victoria Miro does not accept unsolicited artist applications.


Before contacting or subscribing please read our Privacy Policy


We respect the choices you make about how you would like to hear from us. You will find links at the bottom of all emails we send from our mailing list which allow you to Update your preferences to change the way we contact you, or Unsubscribe if you want to opt out.


Staff contact details


Victoria Miro
W.P. Miro
Glenn Scott Wright
Divya Pande
Head of Directors' Office, Client and Business Development
Direct line: +44 (0) 207 324 0903
Grace Flitter
PA, Directors' Office
Direct line: 020 7549 0491


Matt Carey-Williams
Senior Director, Head of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4345
Oliver Miro
Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0496
Paula Sankoff
Senior Director, Sales
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0494
Clare Coombes
Director of Sales - Museum Acquisitions
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0919
Simon Kirby
Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0)207 549 0413
Alessandra Modiano
Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4346
Will Davies
Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0)20 3962 4355
Pia Sophie Biasi
Director – Venice
Direct line: +39 041 523 3799
Sofia Alemagna
Sales Administrator
Direct line: 020 3962 4347
Alexandra Bailey
Sales Administrator to Oliver Miro
Direct line: 020 3962 4344
India Cawley-Gelling
Sales Administrator
Direct line: +44 (0)207 549 0429
Fern Warriner
Sales Associate; EA to Matt Carey-Williams
Direct line: +44 (0) 207 324 0905


Erin Manns
Director of Exhibitions - Head of Department
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0423
Jessica Green
Director of Exhibitions
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0918
Mary Taylor
Senior Production Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0424
Simona Pizzi
Production and Artist Projects
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0426
Imogen Sampson
Exhibitions Associate
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109
Fiona Gent
Vortic Exhibitions Associate
Direct line: +44 (0)20 3962 4354
Julia Oborne
Digital & Exhibitions - Interim Vortic Exhibitions Associate
Direct line: +44 (0)203 962 4354
Virginia Sirena
Exhibitions Coordinator
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109


Kathy Stephenson
Director of Communications
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0422
Martin Coomer
Head of Editorial and Digital Content
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0915
Marisa J. Futernick
Digital and Social Media Consultant
Direct line: +1 (860) 549-2576
Katrina Millar
Communications, Marketing & Events Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)207 549 0499
Bea Bradley
Photography, Rights & Reproduction Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0428
Aimee Blow
Design and Communications Coordinator
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0499


Robert Holzberger
Director of Operations
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0495
Photini Pavlidis
Buildings and IT Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0914
Olivia Singh
Operations Supervisor
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0493
Mary Eleanor McNicholas
Art Fair Coordinator
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0498
Clare Rowe
Paper Archive and Records Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0493
Philip Ewe
Library Coordinator and Archive Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109
Adeline Guy
Registrar Director - Head of Department
Direct line: + 44 (0)20 7324 0916
Jayne Archard
Senior Registrar
Direct line: +44 (0)207 324 0910
Alice Panton
Senior Registrar
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0904
Emer Bermingham
Registrar, Project Manager
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4349

Technical Services

David Wood
Technical Director, Head of Department
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0900
Jon Glazier
Head Technician
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0425
Martin Fletcher
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0)20 3962 4340
Jonny Winter
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 9624 341
Rob Phillips
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0492
Ross Taylor
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0492


Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109