Whorled (Here After Here After Here)

16 Feb – 23 Apr 2023
Edmond J. Safra
Fountain Court

The new courtyard commission by Somerset House from the Mumbai based artist Jitish Kallat is his first major public commission in the UK. A striking outdoor installation, the work comprises two intersecting spirals, 336 metres long, that echo the signage of UK roads and connects our iconic neoclassical courtyard both to locations across the planet and the distant universe.

Whorled (Here After Here After Here) is conceived as a seismic ripple or a galactic whorl, spiralling outwards from the centre of the courtyard. The work draws upon sacred geometry and alchemical diagrams, and like much of Kallat’s work, it interlaces the immediate and the cosmic, the past and present. Two vast, extended scrolls form interlocking spirals and a continuum of text and symbols which follow the visual identity of the UK's road signage. These signs indicate the distance from Somerset House to locations across the planet and beyond, pointing to celestial bodies, such as the Moon, Mars, and distant stars in the Milky Way.  

As Kallat’s work playfully reorients the courtyard in relation to a myriad of destinations, both terrestrial and celestial, visitors are invited to take pathways through the interlaced spirals. Routes through the work map circular movements through space and time. Visitors encounter a continuous shifting of focus as proximate planetary locations border distant and departed supernovae. Some of the places featured in the work have fallen victim to rising sea levels, while others are known to be under environmental threat of submersion within the next thirty years. These place names, accompanied by warning signs, resonate with Somerset House’s own proximity to the River Thames and London’s vulnerability to flooding. The cyclical movements through space and non-linear time prompt a reconsideration of our relationship with the planet, its past and imminent future, and the wider cosmos. 

Whorled (Here After Here After Here) continues Kallat’s long-standing critical engagement with ideas of cosmology, transience and the ecological and sees him return to London following previous exhibitions at Tate Modern and Serpentine Gallery. 

Presented in partnership with the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, with additional support from Malik & Azmina Karim, The Ruia Foundation and SANTI.

Header image: Jitish Kallat, Whorled (Here After Here After Here), 2023, (c) David Parry, PA