About this artwork
Vaginal Davis’s touchstone work, The White to be Angry, challenges white supremacy culture in the United States through irony and pastiche. Davis is a key figure in the history of queer music, performance, and video art, whose work bridged the queer performance and punk club scenes of Los Angeles in the late 1970s. Adopting the last name of activist Angela Davis, the artist created her own mythology during the live performances of her “multiracial, maxi-gendered” bands—a tension between identity, fiction, and societal critique that also informs Davis’s influential xeroxed print publications (or zines), as well as her later video work and drawings. The White to be Angry is a visual album in which each song functions as a chapter.
It was originally a live music performance and vinyl record that Davis’s and Glen Meadmore’s band Pedro, Muriel, and Esther (PME) recorded in Chicago in the mid-1990s. Clips of appropriated American television footage separate video segments that parody the work of established film directors, such as Woody Allen, Bruce LaBruce, and Clive Barker. In one of the key scenes, a young skinhead is indoctrinated into a culture of hate but struggles with conflicting desires of violence and attraction toward those he is taught to despise. Embracing ambiguity and extravagant dark humor, The White to be Angry creates an image of America that remains unnervingly topical today.
- Currently Off View
- Contemporary Art
- Vaginal Davis
- The White to be Angry
- Single-channel video (transferred to HD), color, sound; 19 min., 22 sec.
- 19 min, 22 sec.
- Purchased with funds provided by Eric Ceputis and David W. Williams