Ninth Max Mara Art Prize Winner Dominique White Unveils Deadweight – Whitechapel Gallery

Dominique White's "Deadweight" Unveils at Whitechapel Gallery

The Whitechapel Gallery in London will host “Deadweight,” from July 2 to September 15, 2024, a striking new exhibition by Dominique White, the winner of the ninth edition of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women. This exhibition showcases White’s innovative exploration of rebellion and transformation through four large-scale sculptural works.

Born in 1993 in the UK, White continues her journey of creating new worlds for ‘Blackness with a particular fascination for the sea’s metaphoric potency and regenerative power. Her works are not just art pieces but evocative statements that merge force and fragility. The sculptures, reminiscent of anchors, ship hulls, and skeletal remains, symbolize defiance and resilience. These forms, crafted from manipulated metals and organic materials like sisal and driftwood, were submerged in the Mediterranean Sea, absorbing the transformative effects of water, rust, and oxidation.

The exhibition title, “Deadweight, is borrowed from a nautical term that denotes a ship’s total weight, thus determining its buoyancy and functionality. White cleverly inverts this concept, presenting disruption instead of stability and suggesting emancipation through a metaphorical abolition of conventional structures.

White’s new commission intertwines Afrofuturism, Afro-pessimism, and Hydrarchy, key philosophies in her artistic practice. Her vision of an Afro future is rooted in the ocean, offering a realm of fluid, rebellious realities free from capitalist and colonial constraints. Her sculptures, or ‘beacons, envisage an imagined, sea-bound world foretelling the emergence of the Stateless, a Black future that, according to White, “hasn’t yet happened, but must.”

The works in “Deadweight were developed during a six-month residency organized by Collezione Maramotti. This residency allowed White to travel through Italy, including Agnone, Palermo, Genoa, Milan, and Todi stops. She collaborated with academics, researchers, and specialists in naval and maritime history and the Mediterranean slave trade and learned new metalworking techniques from historic foundries and artisan workshops.

The Max Mara Art Prize for Women, established in 2005, is a unique collaboration between Whitechapel Gallery, Max Mara, and Collezione Maramotti. It supports and nurtures UK-based emerging women-identifying artists, offering them visibility and resources at crucial career stages. Previous winners include Emma Talbot, Helen Cammock, and Laure Prouvost.

Following its stint at Whitechapel Gallery, “Deadweight will travel to Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy, from October 27, 2024, to February 16, 2025. The presentation at Whitechapel Gallery is curated by Katrina Schwarz, the gallery’s Curator of Special Projects.

A short documentary detailing White’s Italian residency experience will be screened at Whitechapel Gallery during the exhibition and available online. Additionally, an exhibition catalogue featuring writings by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, an essay by Olamiju Fajemisin, a conversation between White and Bina von Stauffenberg, and three poems by June Jordan will be published to coincide with the show.

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