Zarina + Gabrielle, 21st Feb 2k16
Exhibitions (by exhibitions we are pointing our fingers at white cubes, k) are inherently geared towards specific identities. If you haven't read Nirmal Puwar's 'Space Invaders,’ I urge you to read it as a follow up to Brian Doherty's text ~ I wish I could prescribe reading to White Artists because I understand that sometimes things are way out on the cold edge of someone's periphery. And, although when I was younger and more militant I would have written that someone off, now I am more willing to accept that I don't know much about, say, queer politics. < I'm not emblematic of equality so I should forgive and not punch people who, like me, are unaware. > Having said that, the white cube format is oppressive and that is the kind of blanket statement I'm comfortable making. Trace Programme might have been framed by the informality of a skatepark, but it didn’t successfully invert or disrupt white cube (big F) Formalism. We have to pick at this scab because the press release read 'art in an age of austerity can speak to realities experienced by everyone.’ Uh, false universalism, we call bullshit. Like, is that line just pandering to Arts Council funding? The work was narrow, like dude, so art bro.
It’s hard because the informality of the show was charming, too. We believe it wanted to do good (in the world) but we gotta dismay that it didn’t open its arms to people of colour, women, people whose bodies don't fit, or fit but only awkwardly. IF IF IF we white-face ourselves, white-cube our beautiful heads, we can praise the informality as cheek, and a strategy that undermines this ol’ art lyf; then, the skatepark fits the bill. Neutrality unlocked, we can give sincere honourable White Pube @mentions to Richard John Jones’ reviving of lesbian bars, Kate Cooper’s twitchy gym bunny vidayo on the soft pressures of freedom, Michael Crowe’s Brechtian kitten calendars, and Ashely Holmes’ music video (who is also holding it down for us brown hoes). To curator Ruth Angel Edwards, we sympathise with the late venue change nightmare, but the space became oppressive and it wasn't the artwork, but rather something intangible / (and these things are always hard to grab in your hands. You always catch them against ur fingers briefly and then let them go) / a shift, it wasn't meant to be that way, it just ended up like that.
… AND YET, and still, and anyway, why would we wanna white-cube-whitewash ourselves? It felt like we'd been dared into exploring the haunted house at the end of the lane, where a pasty white poltergeist had been spray-painting dicks on chipboard, and leaving fall-out dust over some treasures. All Male Shows are an acknowledged problem that the art world is staaaarting to (sometimes) work consciously against. We now need to start thinking about All White Shows. We need to start thinking about what happens when you claim a space is universal, for everyone, open access; but without ever having deconstructed the barriers that made Art Space exclusive in the first place.
In one of the rooms, there was a screen between cupboards in a kitchenette showing a video of a freshly bathed dick. A sign to the side read PLEASE LEAVE THIS CANTEEN CLEAN AND TIDY AS YOU WOULD EXPECT TO FIND IT. fuckin art. FINAlly, to the kid we saw do really cool shit on roller-skates inside the park: we hope u have enjoyed your half term.