White on White
I am exploring what it means to be seen as something you hate, and the duality it creates in the psyche with the series White on White.
White male privilege or Whiteness as being a construct that is inherently invested in racism… I’m only beginning to understand the scope of my white privilege. I have always had friends, lovers, and sexual partners that were POC (people of color) so I felt I was the opposite of racist. I bought into the neoliberal idea that I did not see race. I was in this ambiguous region somewhere between ignorance and gay apathy. At some point, I decided to become more observant of people’s behavior, and more specifically, the contrast of how people treated me vs. people of color I know. I saw just how much less policed I am and how much greater access I have to opportunities, all because I have white skin.
I wanted to project infamous white male leaders onto my body, and seek out grandiose paintings of them — to me, if they had that kind of painting made of themselves, they were subscribing to their own narcissism and relationship with power (the monarchical tradition). I knew that the portraits would then distort as they wrapped around my body, but the result was surprising. I started to really play with this amalgamation of my body and their faces and what it meant for their eyes, nose, and mouth to touch my penis, my butt, my naked body. For a moment I could try and imagine what it felt like to have the power these men had.
The projection of the powerful white man onto my skin acts as not exactly a metaphor, but as a signifier to my inability to shed my skin. No matter how much I can change within, I will always be a visual representation of whiteness.
I am naked often in my work, but I don’t consider that being vulnerable. A lot of the time I feel I’m using my nakedness as a symbol of power. In this series, I chose to connect with a more submissive side of myself by performing poses where I felt exposed and unprotected — positioned to give away control. In order to understand the abundance of privilege that I hold, I needed to form a union (via their — white cis men of historical power — image projected onto my body) with the toxic masculine oppressive white supremacy that I abhor. I had to sit with my own resentment of that dominant archetype (straight white masculinity) as a white gay male, and my pathway was through sexual exploration. I needed to get fucked, and I had to be the bottom.