Whitewashing Progress

There was something extremely satisfying about the first application of white paint. I’m not sure if it was the very physical nature of the act or the pleasure derived from watching the racist imagery disappear. Regardless, the process is bringing up different feelings and emotions than I first anticipated.

Photo 2014-09-22, 7 49 09 PMThe first object to be whitewashed is a racist representation of Native Americans, full of tired stereotypes, salt shaker. I found it in a rural volunteer-run thrift shop in Castlegar, British Columbia. It came in a set along with an equally offensive pepper shaker.

When I approached the till the older woman behind the counter fumbled and the pepper shaker went tumbling to the floor. It hit the ground and shattered into a million pieces. There was a complete look of horror on her face.

There was something relieving about that instance. The accident was a release. The energies and histories contained in the objects were broken and shattered. There was something about that moment. It was meant to happen.

Photo 2014-09-22, 7 38 20 PMAnd so the act of whitewashing begins. The repeated process of dipping and dipping and dipping and dipping. After only one application something has changed. The symbols, colours and imagery have already begun to disappear.

Photo 2014-09-22, 7 50 23 PM
Edit: Please note that I have shifted this project. Please take a look at the update.


  • Bobbi Denton

    Hey Jonny,
    As part of the Vast410 group I am not sure if this is where i should be commenting.
    On a purely visual and emotional plane, the full can of pure white paint read as virginal and suffocating.
    I have no idea where this comes from ,maybe my white Irish background.
    the idea of sealing something in a coat of pure white leaves me with no voice or breath to comment, suffocation for both the victim and the perpetrator, if that is the language of choice.
    I think this is a very loaded subject, as you have verbally described it, and I look forward to seeing other comments.

    Bobbi Denton

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