Day 2 | Joe Small

The video White Boy Can’t Dream is part of a series of work called The Unbearable Whiteness of Being. This body of work the representations of whiteness in art and popular culture. Whites in western culture have been able to control their representation more than any other group. Through this ability, whites have been able to eliminate the markings of race by eliminating the labeling of whiteness in language, allowing whiteness to be a process, not a thing. This video uses smoke as a metaphor for whiteness. It consumes everything while also being nothing. This work allows for the creation of new myths while dissecting and disposing of the old myths. All of society in general has something to gain from the examination of whiteness through the good and the bad, the old and the new.

White Boys Can’t Dream – TRT 5:00 mins.

Joe Small is a visual artist that uses photography, video, sculpture, and text. He has a BS in Photography from Drexel University and is an MFA candidate in Photography and Video at the University of Notre Dame. His work is currently part of Catherine Edelman Gallery’s The Chicago Project and he received the Society for Photographic Education’s Freestyle Crystal Apple Award for Outstanding Achievement in Black and White Photography in 2009. His photographs are in The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Permanent Collection, Center for Fine Art Photography’s Collection, and various private collections. His work has been exhibited at many institutions including Woodmere Art Museum, South Bend Museum of Art, and The Perkins Center for the Arts.

Joe Small – Alexandria VA

7 thoughts on “Day 2 | Joe Small

  1. I think the quote used, “It consumes everything while also being nothing” is a really true and moving statement about the metaphors used here. This video does a really good job of showing this concept. I felt very uncomfortable watching the smoke surrounding the guy, and he just stayed on the couch! It made me thirsty and feel suffocated, which seemed to be one of the goals of the video. It portrayed how the color of our skin really should not matter, yet for some pointless reason, it unhealthily consumes us, just like the smoke consuming the room.

  2. The concept is good but without the description it would be hard to follow what it means. it just looks like a guy sleeping on a couch being consumed by smoke. it seems like it would represent how sometimes the world suffocates the people in it.

  3. Going off of April’s comment, I too felt thirsty and suffocated once the smoke filled the room. After some reflection I saw these feelings can be another metaphor for the dominance of the ‘White’ race. Through globalization the ‘White’ culture has begun to suffocate and dry out the many cultures of the world creating one bland generic culture.

  4. I like the idea of this video and the fact that your thinking about the world and our effects on it through history. It’s a cool metaphor after reading your description. I agree with some of the comments above though that the video is a bit ambigious and hard to see a message withought reading your description.

  5. interesting concept after reading the statement. Overtime the white culture is beginning to fade into one ordinary race, as other cultures start becoming more like us. Love the metaphor use of smoke to portray concept!

  6. without reading the artist statement, i would not have guessed that this work had anything to do with race or culture. although i do get the sense that the person is subconsciously being consumed by something (represented by the smoke).

  7. Interesting concept. I wouldn’t have figured out exactly what was going on unless I read the statement. Even after I watched it again, I still felt disconnected.

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