Answers to present-day issues – be it environmental or personal – can often be found within societies. This selection of exhibitions offers viewers the opportunity to reflect on the modern world, building a platform for self-examination and collective action through photography and sculpture.
Thomas Ruff: Photographs 1979-2017, Whitechapel Gallery, London
Ruff’s oeuvre investigates the potential of photographs as a critical and conceptual platform. The collection draws from the artist’s wider career – including the acclaimed Portraits series – and examines a diverse range of topical themes. By exploring suburban living, notions of utopia, surveillance and advertising culture, the practitioner unearths the realities of 21st century existence. Until 21 January. www.whitechapelgallery.org.
Merrie Albion – Landscape Studies of a Small Island, Flowers, London
Simon Roberts records the spaces, places and events that define the British social landscape. Chronicling the communal experience through shared idiosyncrasies, the photographer reveals truths hidden in the collective consciousness. A nostalgic practice conflates past and present, disrupting traditional notions of the picturesque by responding to political events. Until 10 March. www.flowersgallery.com.
Rachel Whiteread, Tate Britain, London
This show provides a comprehensive overview of a Young British Artist still prominent in the industry. The sculptures place everyday items and buildings in a new context, preserving a range of social and cultural objects through plastic, concrete, resin, rubber and metal. Until 21 January. www.tate.org.uk.
Thomas Struth, Aspen Art Museum, Colorado
Taken between 2009-2014, Struth’s large-scale images depict life in Israel and Palestine, providing deeply human narratives. The body of work comprises street views, sites of technological research and family portraits, recording the communities and locations that are crucial to the world in which we live. Until 10 June. www.aspenartmuseum.org.
Walking in the Universe, Sladmore Contemporary, London
John Jencks documents the iconic Garden of Cosmic Speculation, a carefully curated sculptural garden in Scotland. The images question the boundaries between nature and design, highlighting the impact of human intervention. Through recording the unique swirling landforms that punctuate the expansive area, the series creates profoundly cinematic, introspective arena. Until 26 January. www.sladmorecontemporary.com.
1. © Thomas Ruff; From Interiors, 1982.
2. Simon Roberts: Broadstairs Dickens Festival, Isle of Thanet, 19 June 2008, Merrie Albion – Landscape Studies of a Small Island, © the artist.
3. Untitled (Stairs) 2003, by Rachel Whiteread.
4 .Thomas Struth, Har Homa, East Jerusalem, 2009. © the artist.
5. John Jencks, Walking in the Landscape, courtesy Sladmore Contemporary.