Dominique White’s “Deadweight” Weaves Together Culture, Art and the Power of the Sea


Dominique White
Private View of Dominique White: Deadweight, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2 July 2024. Photo: Dan Weil

“I’ve always been very interested in nautical themes but through the lens of Blackness and through the lens of escaping,” explained artist Dominique White, winner of the 9th Edition of Max Mara Art Prize for Women, in a video documenting the making process of Deadweight. “Deadweight came as a realisation that there is no means of escape, only destruction.”

This thought-provoking belief influenced by her Afrofuturist and Afro-pessimist philosophies informed the direction of this artwork. The result? A series of four large-scale sculptures displayed at the Whitechapel Gallery that was a space for White to explore Blackness and the regenerative powers of the sea. Her imaginary world captures the fluid, rebellious spirit the sea offers and gives her the hope for “a (Black) future that hasn’t yet happened, but must.”

Read more: Pioneering Artist Jia Wei Makes Debut at Linda Gallery with “Ruhua Wilding” Exhibit

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Private View of Dominique White: Deadweight, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2 July 2024. Photo: Dan Weil

But the sea’s transformative powers were also not lost on White. As part of the creative process, the artworks were immersed in the Mediterranean Sea, resulting in the rusting and oxidisation of the metal structures and fragmentation of natural elements like raffia and driftwood.

Deadweight was realised during White’s residency, which saw her travel Italy to work with specialists in naval and maritime history and the Mediterranean slave trade, along with experts in metalworking techniques. The residency is a six-month bespoke experience offered to winners of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, a collaboration between Whitechapel Gallery, Max Mara and Collezione Maramotti to support and nurture UK-based emerging women-identifying artists.

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Private View of Dominique White: Deadweight, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2 July 2024. Photo: Dan Weil

Deadweight is showing at the Whitechapel Gallery from 2 July 2024 to 15 September 2024 and at Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy from 27 October 2024 to 16 February 2025.

Meanwhile, learn more about the making process of Deadweight in the documentary below.

This story originally appeared on Grazia.Sg

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