Conceptions of White

Adam Lauder
Art Museum at the University of Toronto
January 11 — March 25, 2023
Conceptions of White, exhibition view, Art Museum at the University of Toronto, 2023.
Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid, courtesy of the Art Museum at the University of Toronto
Art Museum at the University of Toronto
January 11 — March 25, 2023
Too often, whiteness is just thought of as four walls enclosing the space in which art is presented and received, and as a result it stealthily evades viewers’ active awareness. Curated by John G. Hampton and Lillian O’Brien Davis, Conceptions of White cut against this grain by putting the contemporary politics of whiteness under a critical lens.

The Art Museum’s glassy entrance amplified the faux-corporate address of new media artist Jeremy Bailey’s initiatory Whitesimple (2022), whose wall-mounted tablets enjoined visitors to check their privilege at the door as part of a tongue-in-cheek exercise in pay-per-view race relations. Having undergone this ritual of purification, visitors were confronted with the symbolic threshold of Robert Morris’s Portal (1964), its white-latex-coated aluminum frame reflexively foregrounding their embodied relationship with the gallery space. In Hampton and O’Brien Davis’s incisive recontextualization, Morris’s minimalist architectonics also drew attention to the freighted meanings of the putatively neutral “white cube.”

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This article also appears in the issue 109 - Water

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