white body archive

This photographic work responds to my experience on the evening I arrived in Scotland. They emerged out of working with coal stained bodies. I felt the images articulated aspects of the racist imaginary that were being nurtured in the media at the time, specifically fear of the black male body (in relation to media representation around the Glasgow airport bombing: link (trigger warning) here).

This dynamic first surfaced in a video drawing ‘Coal Throat’ (small stills are shown above) where the ‘miner’ in the performance clutches his throat, trying to breathe and in the same action, stains himself, reminiscent of the way miners necks became stained. During this his elbow came out of shot a number of times, leaving an image that looked like a white man being strangled by a black hand . As he becomes more panicked the shot pans out and the viewer can see that it is, indeed, his own hand. (unfortunately I can’t upload the video here)

These images create an illustration of racism being contained in white bodies and how, as Wood (2002) states, fear of the ‘raced other’ is located in and around white bodies, and is a component of the white archive, unconnected to real black bodies. The first image and the similar one are photographic works developing this idea that surfaced in the video drawing. Photographing from behind the body and detailing goose bumps on the neck drew on associated references; attempting to simultaneously illustrate and drain racist imaginings by focusing on where those imaginings are located.

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