White Walling
 
white walling = a neologism that expands in many directions: the literal site of contention, i.e., the white walls of the gallery; the idea of ‘blackballing’ or excluding someone; the notion of ‘whitewashing,’ or covering over that which we prefer to ignore or suppress; the idea of putting a wall around whiteness, of fencing it off, of defending it against incursion.
Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Gallery), 2016.
Acrylic on PVC panel, 60 ½ x 48 ½ in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is "Black"ness?
 
Black = “a term that, in its brusque utterance, contained a white supremacist sense of racial difference, personal contempt, and, oddly enough, complexity that came to define these new African peoples ... black has almost always initially meant racial identity, and only thereafter a social and/or political condition: an ingrained way of thinking that has been difficult to overcome … blackness is less a color than a metaphor for a political circumstance prescribed by struggles against economic exploitation and cultural domination: a state of consciousness that peoples of various pigmentations have experienced, empathized with, and responded to” (Powell, Black Art: A Cultural History, 8 -10).
 
  • Spanish speaking elite invented at least 53 words to define black people: African, colored, negro, Angolan, Calabar, nago, Koromanti, creole, mulatto, quadroon, and octoroon among them.
 
Anonymous, Las Castas, 18th century. Oil on canvas.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In his 1992 essay, "What is this 'Black' in Black Popular Culture?" Stuart Hall argues, "It is this mark of difference inside forms of popular culture ... that is carried by the signifier 'black' ... [that have] come to signify the black community, where these traditions were kept, and whose struggles survive the persistence of black experience..., of the black aesthetic..., and of the black counternarratives we have struggled to voice" (Powell, 12-13).
Powell offers five components defining the parameters of Black culture:
 
  • Struggle against claims, from within and without, of racial quintessence as against dominant cultural and political forces;
 
  • Shared beliefs, value systems, and goals towards building community-based institutions and products;
 
  • Structural dependence upon an acknowledged collection of life experiences, social encounters, and personal ordeals, the sum of which promotes solidarity and comraraderie that creates community;
 
  • A collection of philosophical theories about the arts of the African diaspora and an aesthetic grounded in the idea of a new, that crafts a post-Emancipation and post-colonial black identity; and
 
  • Characterized by forms that bear witness to that cultural difference.
 
Stuart Hall
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whitney Biennial 2017

 

The Whitney Museum's motto:
“Where great art and courageous conversations are catalysts for a more connected, civic, and empathetic world.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dana Schutz, Civil Planning, 2004.

Dana Schutz, Surface, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dana Schutz, Open Casket, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parker Bright standing in front of Schutz's painting during 2017 Whitney Biennale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parker Bright, Confronting My Own Possible Death, 2016.