The biggest art event of the year in New Orleans, White Linen Night, happened this past weekend. A reader sent in the above photograph of an artwork for sale. To me, looks like three petrified albino weaves in an aquarium, but what do I know? Below, the description of the piece:
The artist is a 57-year-old white lesbian. From her self-description:
I acknowledge my white privilege as a direct remnant of slavery, the result of atrocities committed against others. I explore it through my acute awareness of the unearned advantage my white skin holds. White privilege controls America’s heartbeat, and our nation’s collective loss of memory, our historical amnesia, is to blame. I examine my self and identity in a critical manner; I hold my audience and me accountable for our complicity. Indeed, it is past time for white Americans to hold accountability for and stand up to the injustices of racial oppression.
My art is an expression of my activism, constantly and consistently mining the past to disrupt the present in order to secure the future. It is loud, expressing the pain and rage of our continued collective disavowal of responsibility from the very systems we uphold. My work is rooted in a critique of white supremacy and the systemic oppression of people of color in the United States, and it is reactive to the violent, vicious, genocidal, and unapologetic way in which we differentiate between each other based on race, gender, and class.
RR: How would you define that entry point? Advocacy? Empathy?
TM: I am an activist first and an artist second. My art manifests from my acute awareness of my own white privilege and the fact that this privilege is directly traced to slavery; the reality that white privilege is the cornerstone of American democracy. Many white Americans are in denial when it comes to their own privilege. Isn’t this the great moral issue of our time?
Activist first, artist second. I have no trouble believing that. More:
RR: Some would say it’s just white guilt. I don’t think it is always productive to compare racism to homophobia, but do you think your sense of activism has anything to do with your experience living as a gay woman?
TM: Even in my 20s and 30s, trying to make it in our hetero, white, patriarchal system, white male entitlement enraged me. Though we didn’t use the same words to describe it, some of us were out there fighting the fight constantly. So, yes, I’ve felt hate; I’ve felt discriminated against, but the bottom line is, because I was white, I knew I could overcome it. At the end of the day, am I just a big, fat, bleeding-heart liberal with massive guilt? Perhaps, but my battle is to stop perpetuating mindless hate.
RR: You’ve recently started to sell pieces. How would you respond to the accusation that you are capitalizing on the very subject that you’re defending? That is, you’re using black bodies as a source of capital by profiting from your work.
TM: My art is expensive to make. I am very far in the hole, and it has gotten to the point that I must start making money to be able to make more art.
By the way, Ti-Rock Moore is not her real name. She won’t reveal her real name. She has been calling herself Ti-Rock Moore for about three years now, in part, she says, because it sounds hip-hop. Says the middle-aged woke white lesbian liberal.
There is nothing about any of this that fails to be deliciously hathotic. The only way this could be any more enjoyable is if the artist were onscreen at the Prytania explaining the $15,000 piece and her vision.