Keywords:whiteness, critical race theory, black studies, practice research, artistic research, embodied research, critical whiteness studies
This “illuminated” video essay works through the juxtaposition of textual and audiovisual material to interrogate the cultural and philosophical whiteness of bodies and institutions. It demonstrates a reciprocal and circular relationship between textuality and audiovisuality insofar as the documented practice responds to a textual object — a physical copy of Giorgio Agamben’s book The Open: Man and Animal — while another layer of critical poetic text interrupts, critiques, analyzes, and illuminates the video. Agamben’s treatment of Heidegger is taken as a reference point to deconstruct the racialized human/animal binary, while the productively ambiguous perspective on whiteness found in contemporary Black studies and critical race theory is invoked as a possible alternative. At the same time, the tactile and sensory qualities of the documented practice — hovering between song and speech, gesture and action — emphasize the embodied, material, and affective dimensions of both whiteness and our attempts to escape it. The video asks: Can the white body be decolonized without killing it? Its multimedial form implies that answers to such a question can only be found through forms of thought that displace the tyranny of writing, or logocentrism, as is also suggested by Fred Moten in the video’s closing epigraph.
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