09/12/2023 – 10/03/2024,
Dominique White: When Disaster Strikes, Kunsthalle Münster
In the encounter with Dominique White's spectral sculptures a palpable emotion suggests itself—oscillating between gravity and lightness; a sense of memory comes into being, something that can be experienced.
Based on her in-depth research, the artist addresses Blackness in terms of both its conceptual and material implications. Her sculptures function as materialisations of Blackness beyond its subjective boundaries, as beacons or containers of an ignored civilisation, which is defined as an essentially stateless entity. She delves into what endures of something that has materially disappeared in us and around us. In her work, she imbricates theories of Black Subjectivity, Afro-pessimism and hydrarchy—the structure through which imperial governments assert their power on land by dominating the oceans—with the nautical myths of the Black Diaspora to create a term she defines as »shipwreck(ed)«, at once a reflexive verb and an ontology.
In the nowhere realm inhabited by the ghostly ruins of black lives, more specifically in the abyss of the Atlantic, a living vocabulary exists that continually gives birth to fantastical creatures, myths and fictions that emerge from the unthinkable union of the unborn child of the enslaved and the shipwrecked. Dominique White's sculptures are manifestations of these meaningful, if dispossessed, utterances. In her work, she has recourse to different legends that take place in the water and that have their foundations there.
White’s works function as abstract commemorative sculptures that appear as if they have been literally dredged from the Atlantic Ocean, monuments to an underwater nation made up of a submerged, aquatically immured and enslaved people. Many black futures are imagined in outer space or underwater. White's research is inspired by the sounds of Detroit techno, drawing primarily on Afrofuturist narratives (in space, but especially underwater) as elaborated by DJ Stingray, Drexciya and Tygapaw. Her research transcends the tangible: she is curious about the destruction and the myth that Caribbean hurricanes deposit in the sea. Her visual vernacular combines the imitation of an abandoned ship at sea with tattered sails, threadbare hand-woven nets, mangled anchors and battered buoys with raffia and cowrie shells that have been cast as if wrapped in a ghostly shroud of kaolin. Fishing and whaling spears, slowly degenerated by salt water, are also recurring motifs.
White charges the material she uses, expanding its iconography as well as the medium of sculpture per se. She uses the powerful union of materials as a means to detach the motifs from their original function and redefine them as bodies charged with retribution, protest and resistance. Her sculptures describe the shipwrecks as attempts to undermine and destroy the hydrarchy. The vulnerability of her sculptures is uncompromising. As fragile entities, the sculptural bodies straddle states of preservation, decay and destruction Ghosts among ghosts. It is an active rejection of authority and erasure and a protest against an enduring system based on the dehumanisation and instability of being Black. It embodies the rejection of a future based on the violence of colonialism. Dominique White's sculptures are a play on memory and metamorphosis. In their unpredictable forms, the disappeared makes its entrance into the space in the Kunsthalle Münster as part of her first solo exhibition in a German institution.
Dominique White (born 1993 in the UK) is a graduate of Goldsmiths University of London and Central Saint Martins. Her recent exhibitions include May you break free an outlove your enemy, La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2023); Statements, Art Basel, Basel (2022); Love, Bold Tendencies, London (2022); cinder oft he Wreck/les cendres du naufrage, Triangle France, Marseille (2022); Techno Worlds, produced by Goethe-Institut, Art Quarter Budapest (2021); Possédées, MO. CO, Montpellier (2020-21); Boundary + Gesture, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge (2019). White was awarded the Roger Pailhas Prize in 2019 in conjunction with her solo exhibition at VEDA, Florence (2019) and received awards from Artangel and the Henry Moore Foundation in 2020. In 2020 and 2021, White was a guest artist at Sagrada Mercancía (Santiago, Chile), Triangle France - Astérides (Marseille), and La Becque (La Tour-de-Peilz). White works nomadically.
The exhibition is supported by:
The programme of the Kunsthalle Münster ist supported by the Friends of the Kunsthalle Münster.