This guided discussion in the Whitney’s galleries questions the ways that institutional spaces such as museums are oriented around whiteness, its assumed “neutrality,” and its effect with regards to race and power.
Taking philosopher Sara Ahmed’s 2007 essay, “A Phenomenology of Whiteness” as a starting point, this program invites participants to develop a vocabulary for analyzing whiteness through close readings of works of art in the Whitney’s collection. In particular, Ahmed’s concept of orientation provides an important framework for the discussion. As she writes, orientations “are about the directions we take that put some things and not others in our reach,” which suggests that these directions are not simply chosen, but more often inherited through socio-historical structures.
The program includes a brief introduction to key concepts in critical race studies by way of contextualizing the socio-historical presence and construction of whiteness, its continued effects, and to demonstrate how whiteness is not reducible to skin color alone.
*All participants will receive a copy of Sara Ahmed’s, “A Phenomenology of Whiteness” in advance of the workshop. A prior reading of the text is not required.
The program will be led by the Whitney’s Joan Tisch Teaching Fellows Ayanna Serenity Dozier and Joshua Lubin-Levy and assistant curator Jennie Goldstein.
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