Curators can really make us think, and help us to see our world and ourselves in a new ways. I was really glad I was at the opening reception and gallery talk last night by the curators, Hank Willis Thomas and Natasha L. Logan, both African American, of an exhibit titled White Boys, at the Haverford College Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery.
The official blurb about the show says "White Boys charts the ways artists are aestheticizing white, male identity in the United States today. Privilege, invisibility, fear, anxiety, purity, emptiness, cowardice–whiteness and masculinity conjure an array of competing associations, emotions and imagery. Taken together, they present a perspective paradoxically ever-present and ever-absent: white is both the sum of all colors and no color at all. But how have whiteness and masculinity ‘evolved’ as relational constructs vis-a-vis blackness, femininity, and sexuality, modes of otherness that have often been scrutinized and alienated? Where are these terms’ entrenchments, and where do they become more pliant? Through photography, video, painting, printmaking and sculpture, the ‘white’ and ‘non-white’ artists of White Boys variously imagine male whiteness within this broader network of racial and sexual tropes and identities, marking seeming commonalities and more subtle gradations."
My own reaction to the show was fascination with much of the work, and appreciation for the photography and video especially. It was by eminent artists, well exhibited in galleries and museums nationally and internationally. My greatest appreciation however was for the curators, who brought the works of seventeen artists together and gave them a unique context that broadened the meaning of the whole. Had I seen any of the individual pieces in a gallery, I would not have thought of it in terms of whiteness and male identity. The fact that I wouldn't have thought of it that way but now I will, with a different awareness, is perhaps the point of the show and the artistry of the curators.
Philip Metz iwishiwas