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National Geographic and the White Gaze
March 25, 2018 @ 3:30 pm - 6:00 pmFree
Please join us for an artists’ talk and book party with Michelle Dizon and Viet Le in conversation with Laura Fantone and Targol Mesbah. In conjunction with the exhibition WHITE GAZE, these artists and scholars will be talking about the role of photography-and specifically the images of National Geographic-in reinforcing racist hierarchies in the cultural imaginary of the West.
WHITE GAZE, an exhibition of works by Michelle Dizon with the poetry of Viet Le. deconstructs an archive of National Geographic magazines to explore the visual and narrative structure of the publications’s White Gaze, the Western-centric bias that informed its editorial decision-making for decades. Drawing from her archive of magazines, Dizon uses poetic subtraction, the erasure of most of the text on the page, to give us back the original language in fragments or threads that together write a decolonial counterpoint to the Western-centric focus of the pictures.
In April National Geographic will publish an issue that explicitly embarks on a reckoning with its past and its complicity in reinforcing the racism of the white American narrative through a photographic language. Join us to talk about this history and explore the implications of the magazine’s decision.
White Gaze has also been published as a book by Bay Area-based Sming Sming Books, Chicago-based Candor Arts, and Los Angeles-based at lands edge, and includes text by Viet Le, who uses Dizon’s work as a starting point for a poetic exploration of the legacies of war and empire.