Skip to content Skip to footer

Museum Folkwang presents Candice Breitz: Whiteface

June 15–August 21, 2022

Candice Breitz’s most recent video work will be on display at the Museum Folkwang beginning June 15, 2022. In addition to the internationally premiered video installation Whiteface, the exhibition with the same title includes seven single-channel videos dubbed White Mantras, as well as a series of photographic portraits of Whiteface characters. Candice Breitz examines whiteness in her current series of paintings. The show will be on display until August 21.

Breitz has gathered and stored a wide range of recovered footage fragments that depict “white individuals talking about race” in recent years. Her collection contains the voices of well-known politicians, TV anchors, and talk show hosts, as well as lesser-known and anonymous YouTube bloggers, covering everything from neo-Nazi ideology and far-right propaganda to daily bigotry and “good white people” posturing. “The collection observes white people’s mounting fear as long-standing calls to remove white supremacy multiply and escalate around the globe,” Breitz adds.As a result, it provides insight into the continuous backlash against anti-racist groups, as white people grapple with public rhetoric that emphasizes phenomena like “white privilege,” “white fragility,” “white wrath,” and “white guilt.”

Breitz appropriates and ventriloquizes dozens of voices from the collection in Whiteface, channeling them via her own white body. The artist conjures forth whiteness in a variety of guises while wearing nothing but a white dress shirt and zombie contact lenses, moving through a series of inexpensive blonde wigs as the work progresses, including her own platinum head of hair. Breitz’s un-wigged presence among the characters in the picture acknowledges the artist’s own whiteness.While Breitz and many of the disembodied voices she lip-syncs in Whiteface may be recognizable (Tucker Carlson, Rachel Dolezal, Bill Maher, Richard Spencer, and Robin DiAngelo all make vocal cameos), white people are not the primary target of this biting parody. Breitz’s goal is to bring the situation of whiteness into the spotlight. The words that flow through Breitz, separated from the white people who first uttered them, accumulate to provide a scathing examination of the vocabulary and grammar that underpin this condition, a critical examination of the language through which whiteness frames, normalizes, and leverages its power.

Breitz’s deliberately theatrical performance in Whiteface draws attention to the constructed nature of whiteness and other racial categories. Her bleached presence and deadened eyes locate the fictions that naturalise and perpetuate white supremacy squarely within the genre of horror.

Born and raised in South Africa during the era of apartheid, Breitz has consistently sought to grapple with whiteness in her work, from early photographic series such as “Ghost Series” (1994), to later installations such as Extra (2011) and TLDR (2017). Whiteface represents her most direct stab at autoethnography yet.

Museum Folkwang
Museumsplatz 1
45128 Essen
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm,
Thursday–Friday 10am–8pm
Facebook / Instagram / Twitter