"One does not speak in a normal voice; one does not laugh, eat, drink, lie down, or sleep; one does not get ill, go mad, sing, dance, or make love." These are the basic properties of the White Cube. The White Cube is for looking. It is for observing. So, please enjoy the show.
The white cube space has stood for some time as the slate of purity responsible for launching artist's ideas. Free of prejudgements, and grime of the outer world, it is understood as a vacuum sealed area. Anyone who enters the space takes place in and operates as a unit of subjection. Their eyes become mouths to taste with as does their every being. If they are not aware of this feeling, it will soon take root and grow.
Aside from human beings entering the white cube, there is the work of art. Arriving earlier than the viewers, dependent on material, the space situated will determine the inflection. The work of art momentarily stands as the artist in freeze form, ideas concrete but never completely accessible by the viewer. This limbo space may be facilitated by the white cube.
To escape this state, work then seems that it should respond to something or be able to react. This would be the reason for emergence in installation and socially engaged art. The void is escaped through people, kinetic energy, or general obstructions created by work.
In his book Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space , Brian O'Doherty states: "Art exists in a kind of eternity of display, and though there is lots of 'period' (late modern) there is no time. This eternity gives the gallery a limbolike status; one has to have died already to be there."
O'Doherty refers to the stark white walls of the gallery space that seem to be the default for displaying artwork. This is the accepted strategy for allowing the work to "take on its own life". It is less distracting. How can we enjoy a work for what it truly is when it clashes with its surroundings?
He brings up an interesting point when he calls this white cube "limbolike". The white cube is timeless; no matter what period the art is from, it looks like it belongs in the space. No context means no confusion. O'Doherty also states: "The white cube was a transitional device that attempted to bleach out the past and at the same time control the future by appealing to supposedly transcendental modes of presence and power."
Framing the White Cube is a project that does exactly that. Figuring out the framework for a space and dealing with the containment that comes with is. Our role is to fall into place with the operation of politics, yet have the upper hand. Even with its sterile representation, we bring in dust with our secrets. We bring in our deepest thoughts and correspond them with the space.
This white temple is mostly seen as a space to have sought answers. As creators we have the upper hand because we infiltrate with our prior knowledge. Rather than the white cube holding information, we use it to teach lessons. Lessons that leave with the spectator and can be applied to a new space, building on the knowledge of environment awareness. We take back the power.
Statement by Kate Garman, Dexter Dixon, Jennie Wentzel, and James Howard. Photographs by Anna Hunt.