Inside the Studio: Whitewashing

opensourceway (creative commons)

I’m currently pursuing a new studio sculpture project that investigates the concept of whitewashing, both in a historical and contemporary context.

I should note that by whitewashing I don’t mean the literal whitewash painting of chairs, I mean the process of minimizing and erasing racialized people (see ‘People of Colour’) both through history and in current mass media culture, politics and society.

This project explores the theoretical concept of whitewashing through the act of dipping objects in suffocating white paint. This action is repeated the point where the objects become completely distorted and illegible from the original form.


Whitewashing a mountain. (Wikimedia Commons)

Culturally appropriated trinkets and souvenirs, objects already whitewashed and homogenized through centuries of colonialism and colonization, are being used as the source objects.

The process investigates our role, whether explicit or passive, as perpetrators of historical and ongoing violence. Does acknowledgement and awareness absolve the perpetrator of their actions? Is intent even relevant? Is permission required?

Through repeated action I’m forced to investigate my own history and current involvement in whitewashing and explore the uncomfortable truths that inanimate objects represent.

Edit: Please note that I have shifted this project. Please take a look at the update.

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