White on White
White on White is a venture into the psychological bifurcation created by one's identification as an entity they despise, a contemplation on the self-perceived dissonance of identity. This work centers on the exploration of white male privilege and 'Whiteness' as a construct deeply entrenched in racism, a realm I am only beginning to comprehend in its entirety.
Despite having developed personal connections, romantic and intimate relationships with people of color (POC), I naively believed that I was exempt from perpetuating racism. I subscribed to the neoliberal ideology that I was 'color-blind,' languishing in a nebulous region bordered by obliviousness and apathetic homosexuality. A conscious shift toward scrutinizing social behaviors, and specifically contrasting the way people interacted with me versus POC, led to my stark realization of my own unpoliced existence and access to vast opportunities — a privilege afforded solely due to my white skin.
In White on White, I chose to project notorious white male leaders onto my own body, appropriating grandiose portraits symbolizing their self-aggrandizement and relationship with power within traditional monarchical structures. The resulting distortions of these portraits as they conformed to my form yielded unexpected insights. The convergence of my body and their facial features — their eyes, noses, and mouths coming into contact with my penis, buttocks, and nude form — allowed a brief glimpse into the sensation of possessing the power these men wielded.
The imprint of these powerful white men on my skin serves not strictly as a metaphor but more as an indicator of my own inability to divest myself of my whiteness. Regardless of the extent of internal transformation, my exterior continues to reflect the visual representation of white privilege.
While nudity is a common element in my work, I do not always view it as an expression of vulnerability. Often, I perceive my nakedness as a symbol of power. However, in this series, I elected to explore a more submissive facet of my identity, adopting poses that conveyed a sense of exposure and surrender of control. To truly comprehend the breadth of my privilege, it was necessary to align myself, through the projected images of historically powerful white cis men, with the very toxic masculine oppressive white supremacy that I loathe. This required me to confront my own aversion to the dominant archetype of straight white masculinity, as a white gay male, navigating this terrain through the realm of sexual exploration. I needed to experience submission, to occupy the position of 'the bottom,' in this symbolic exchange of power.