Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London
Supervised by Professor Paul Goodwin, Chair of Contemporary Art and Urbanism, Chelsea College of Arts and Dr Martin Myrone, Lead Curator, Pre-1800 British Art, Tate
October 2019 –

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ‘The Beloved (‘The Bride’)’ 1865–6
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
The Beloved (‘The Bride’) 1865–6

This project, an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership between Tate and University of the Arts London, seeks to interrogate and make visible some of the overt and implicit modalities of ‘whiteness’ at Tate Britain.

Responding to critical race scholars’ characterisations of whiteness as ubiquitous and invisible to those who inhabit it, this research aims to name and visualise some of the various white identities represented in artworks in Tate collections. Also key will be an analysis of the contexts in which these artworks operate – how they have been made, exhibited, explained and understood over the last three centuries – to locate and construct definitions of whiteness in art historiography and museology. By scrutinising how collective racialised power is produced and reproduced, it is hoped that the normativity of whiteness can be challenged.

This practice-based doctoral project will contribute towards situating critical whiteness studies and decolonial theory within art history, and will build upon past Tate projects such as ‘Tate Encounters’ and ‘Picturing Blackness’ to examine both the historically mutable relationships between race, ethnicity and British identities, and the contested terms that describe them. Reflexivity, reciprocal collaboration and acknowledgement of my and others’ subjectivities will be fundamental to this research in order to construct definitions of whiteness from a range of positionalities besides my own.