12/48 Countries

On 12 May 2018, John Hansard Gallery opened its new home in the heart of Southampton’s Cultural Quarter, with a headline exhibition of works by the renowned international artist Gerhard Richter in partnership with ARTIST ROOMS. All spaces within were devoted to Gerhard Richter’s works drawn from the ARTIST ROOMS collection, and several aspects of the artist’s practice were represented, including painting, photography, print and tapestry.

Gerhard Richter is one of the world’s most significant artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, and the exhibition was an examination of the artist’s work, bringing it to new audiences and demonstrating his immense ongoing influence and significance to subsequent generations of artists.

Alongside the opening exhibition, the Gallery undertook a project with Southampton’s international student community responding to one specific work on show on the Gallery’s walls. With focus on Richter’s work 48 Portraits, a series of 48 black and white photographs, the subjects of these portraits are all born between 1824 and 1904 of white, male, central European and North American origins prominent in the fields of literature, science, philosophy and music.

The project 12 Countries saw 12 University of Southampton students from 12 different countries responding to 48 Portraits, with the aim to increase interaction between the University of Southampton’s Student Union (clubs and societies) and the University of Southampton Malaysian Campus.

The series of portraits pose the potential for cross-community, diverse dialogues about those that are not represented and the hidden histories of other figures within the field of science, music and literature. Working with members of John Hansard Gallery’s team, the students created responses in their native tongue to 48 Portraits, filmed by independent film-makers and our co-tenants, City Eye.

12/48 Countries enhanced the international student experience of the University of Southampton, working within arts and culture. The project not only linked students with art in the city, but also help to create a sense of community both in the Gallery space and online through digital dissemination of the films.

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