White Man On A Pedestal (WMOAP) is a two-person exhibition by Doreen Garner and Kenya (Robinson). Presented from November 10-December 17, 2017 and curated by Gabriel Florenz and David Everitt Howe, WMOAP questions a prevailing western history that uses white-male-heteronormativity as its persistent model. At once the culmination of an extended social media performance, and a deeper investigation of the contemporary effects of racist medical histories, the exhibition is a visual conversation manifested through sculpture, installation, performance, and lighting design. In addition to the material aspects of their respective practices, the artists were highly attuned to the physical properties of Pioneer Works itself – including the structure’s architectural history as a shipbuilding facility, proximity both to public housing and high-end real estate, and its location relative to expanded forms of public transportation. Innovative means of exhibition-craft were further amplified by an insistence on offshore manufacturing processes and the realization of mechanized presentation, as well as the artists’ complicated relationship with the two white male curators.
One definition of technology–strategies employed to adapt to the material world–considers that even the most basic impulses are mitigated through culture. In that context, White Man On A Pedestal is, in fact, an investigation of technologies. Nineteenth-Century medical technologies, contemporary corporate technologies, legal technologies, material technologies, manufacturing technologies, technologies of identity–each of these impacting the outcomes of the exhibition. The resources of the Technology Department permit access to virtual spaces and supply an environment to test the conceptual gaps of linear time, by repositioning narratives into twisting loops or multi-platform fractals. For example, within the Augmented Reality of the piece, “Bebe’s Kids”, DAVE looms, then shatters into shards of the #WHITEMANINMYPOCKET with a touch of the screen; but he could just as easily be reconstituted by changing a line of code. Made and remade, resized and parsed, placed and relocated– this presents another kind of double consciousness. Ultimately, the dizzying possibility of the digital landscape mirrors the uncertainty of forms in an analog existence. The DAVES will be buried, but the residue is pixelated.