Subscribe to our newsletter for our must-see exhibitions, artists, events and more here
Shop William Kentridge Prints here

Candice Breitz - Whiteface | Museum Folkwang, Essen

15 June – 21 August 2022

Over recent years, Candice Breitz has collected a wide range of found footage fragments that document ‘white people talking about race.’ Her archive includes the voices of political figures, news anchors and talk show hosts, as well as those of anonymous YouTube bloggers; covering white perspectives that run the gamut from neo-Nazi ideology and far right propaganda to everyday racism and the posturing of ‘good white people.’ Specifically, the archive observes the rising anxiety of white people as calls to dismantle white supremacy proliferate and intensify across the globe. As such, it offers insight into the ongoing backlash against anti-racist movements, as white people struggle to come to terms with public discourse that highlights phenomena such as ‘white privilege,’ ‘white fragility,’ ‘white rage’ and ‘white guilt.’”

In Whiteface, Breitz appropriates + ventriloquizes dozens of voices drawn from this archive, channelling them through her own white body. Wearing nothing but a white shirt and zombie contact lenses, the artist conjures up whiteness in a variety of its guises, rotating through a series of cheap blonde wigs as the work unfolds, among which her own platinum head of hair is featured. Dislocated from the white people who originally uttered them, the words that stream through Breitz accumulate to provide a critical survey of the language via which whiteness normalises and leverages its power.

Breitz’s deliberately theatrical performance in ‘Whiteface’ draws attention to the constructed nature of whiteness and other racial categories. Her bleached presence and deadened eyes locate the fictions that naturalise and perpetuate white supremacy squarely within the genre of horror.