Austin Martin White: Last Dance

14 September - 22 October 2022
  • It’s all too much, really. There are credit cards to pay down, rent to cough up—never mind the wildfires and the mass shootings. A sense of pressure is building, impossible to contain but with nowhere to go. What do you do when it feels like your world is ending? 

     

    You party. In Last Dance, Austin Martin White’s (born 1984, lives and works in Philadelphia, PA) first solo exhibition at Capitain Petzel, radiant large-scale paintings and drawings depict euphoria at end of history. White’s paintings traffic in the deliberate misuse of grids, the enduring and hyper-rational framework of traditional Western art. White applies a rubber-paint admixture to a mesh overlay from the reverse side, pushing the material through the latticed grid and onto the work’s surface. Breached by veins of polychrome paint, the mesh oozes with the material legacy of colonial extraction on rubber plantations in Brazil and Congo. Screens intended as barriers—to keep out bugs, nature, “wild” things—instead yield the pockmarks of a glowing moon or the figures in a nineteenth-century Sioux bear dance.

  • Austin Martin White, (last)Bacchanal(pity party) after B. Thompson, 2022

    Austin Martin White

    (last)Bacchanal(pity party) after B. Thompson, 2022 3m reflective fabric, rubber, pigment, graphite, vinyl, spray paint and screen mesh
    243.8 x 289.5 cm
    96 x 114 inches
  • Austin Martin White, overcastingfluncer, 2022

    Austin Martin White

    overcastingfluncer, 2022 3m reflective fabric, rubber, pigment, graphite, vinyl, spray paint and screen mesh
    243.8 x 243.8 cm
    96 x 96 inches
  • Austin Martin White, lyftoutofcrisis, 2022

    Austin Martin White

    lyftoutofcrisis, 2022 3m reflective fabric, rubber, pigment, graphite, vinyl, spray paint and screen mesh
    243.8 x 243.8 cm
    96 x 96 inches
  • Pressure and release are constitutive forces in Last Dance. These works begin as digital underdrawings that White constructs from colonial images, which he flattens into bare digital schematics. The resulting compositions are rendered on fabric fed through the barrels of a repurposed vinyl-cutting machine. A technology designed to slice away plastic is transformed into a drawing apparatus, its razor stylus swapped to hold pens and markers. Hypnotically complex, White’s works index the machine’s frantic, computerized path in clustered grooves that fray as the ballpoints dull and the markers tatter. These kaleidoscopic tableaux erode the rationalized stability of their European source images, undermining visual strategies meant to dehumanize Black and Indigenous civilizations into flattened stereotypes.

     

    White’s paintings traffic in the deliberate misuse of grids, the enduring and hyper-rational framework of traditional Western art. White applies a rubber-paint admixture to a mesh overlay from the reverse side, pushing the material through the latticed grid and onto the work’s surface. Breached by veins of polychrome paint, the mesh oozes with the material legacy of colonial extraction on rubber plantations in Brazil and Congo. Screens intended as barriers—to keep out bugs, nature, “wild” things—instead yield the pockmarks of a glowing moon or the figures in a nineteenth-century Sioux bear dance.

     

    White repurposes colonial tools to imagine a liberatory present. Misappropriating a vinyl-cutter inverts its function, adding intricate pigment instead of cutting away plastic. Destabilizing the machine’s logic of production and efficiency, White nods to techno’s embrace of grinding metal against the death of Detroit’s car industry. For all the centuries of colonial attempts at annihilation, fugitive joy persists. Spaces to be ecstatic, to be together, to just be. To party like it’s 1999. This is not the first time the world has ended, and it likely won’t be the last. 

     

    Text by Lucy Hunter

  • I have been making a series of paintings about partying at the end of history. A primary source for the images has beewn Native American war dances, as well as images of ’90s raving — I chose these sources because they are both depictions of dance at the end of a historical era.  

     

    – Austin Martin White

  • Austin Martin White, fireatthechurchofclubs (Bye Bye Berghain), 2022

    Austin Martin White

    fireatthechurchofclubs (Bye Bye Berghain), 2022 Watercolor and ink on paper
    Paper dimensions:
    140 x 203 cm / 55.1 x 79.9 inches
    Framed dimensions:
    147 x 209.5 cm / 57.9 x 82.5 inches
  • Austin Martin White, ghostsonthefloor, 2021

    Austin Martin White

    ghostsonthefloor, 2021 Watercolor, ink, rubber, pigment and screen mesh on paper
    179.5 x 136 cm
    70.7 x 53.5 inches
    • Austin Martin White f*ckboyphantasm (ClubClimateChange), 2022 Watercolor, ink, rubber, pigment and screen mesh on paper Signed, dated and titled verso 155 x 126.5 cm 61 x 49.8 inches
      Austin Martin White
      f*ckboyphantasm (ClubClimateChange), 2022
      Watercolor, ink, rubber, pigment and screen mesh on paper
      Signed, dated and titled verso
      155 x 126.5 cm
      61 x 49.8 inches
    • Austin Martin White DotheDeadcat, 2022 Watercolor, ink, rubber, pigment and screen mesh on paper Signed, dated and titled verso 176 x 151.5 cm 69.3 x 59.7 inches
      Austin Martin White
      DotheDeadcat, 2022
      Watercolor, ink, rubber, pigment and screen mesh on paper
      Signed, dated and titled verso
      176 x 151.5 cm
      69.3 x 59.7 inches
    • Austin Martin White bunkerdance (ClubClimateChange), 2022 Watercolor, ink, rubber, graphite and screen mesh on paper Signed, dated and titled verso 155 x 158 cm 61 x 62.2 inches
      Austin Martin White
      bunkerdance (ClubClimateChange), 2022
      Watercolor, ink, rubber, graphite and screen mesh on paper
      Signed, dated and titled verso
      155 x 158 cm
      61 x 62.2 inches
    • Austin Martin White gatekeeping (ClubClimateChange), 2021 Watercolor, ink, rubber, graphite and screen mesh on paper Signed, dated and titled verso 195.5 x 142.5 cm 77 x 56.1 inches
      Austin Martin White
      gatekeeping (ClubClimateChange), 2021
      Watercolor, ink, rubber, graphite and screen mesh on paper
      Signed, dated and titled verso
      195.5 x 142.5 cm
      77 x 56.1 inches
  • Austin Martin White, In the rubber coils, 2020

    Austin Martin White

    In the rubber coils, 2020 Burlap, rubber, pigment, vinyl and screen mesh
    109 x 68.5 cm
    42.9 x 27 inches
  • Austin Martin White, Untitled (Massacre des Blancs par les Noirs), 2020

    Austin Martin White

    Untitled (Massacre des Blancs par les Noirs), 2020 Burlap, rubber, pigment, graphite, vinyl, spray paint and screen mesh
    185.5 x 229 cm
    73 x 90.2 inches
  • When I initially started to work on the drawings for these paintings in the summer of 2020, I was consumed by the absurdity of Space X’s first manned shuttle launch which just happened to coincide with the George Floyd protests and a global COVID19 Pandemic. I brought this sentiment along with me when I visited the Metropolitan Museum’s online etching archive to research references for drawing. I was searching for an instance that occurred during the colonial period representing a regression in pursuit of the ideals of progress and pertaining to the Enlightenment and colonialism. What I discovered was the 1785 etching “The Death of Captain Cook” by Francesco Bartolozzi, which depicts a battle scene set on the shores of Hawaii. At the etching’s center is the moment right before the British explorer captain James Cook is killed by the Kanaka Maoli people.

     

    Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “History doesn‘t repeat itself, but It often rhymes”. When looking through hundreds of images in art historical archives, one is struck by how true this phrase rings. Cook’s demise may not be repeated in future exploration of space, but I certainly anticipate it rhyming.”

     

    — Austin Martin White 

  • Austin Martin White, Thedeathofacartographer(2), 2020

    Austin Martin White

    Thedeathofacartographer(2), 2020 Jute, 3m reflective fabric, rubber, pigment, graphite, vinyl and screen mesh
    198.5 x 127.5 cm
    78.2 x 50.2 inches
  • Ambition leads me not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go.

     

    — Captain James Cook 

  • Austin Martin White, ownworst..., 2022

    Austin Martin White

    ownworst..., 2022 Polyester, burlap, rubber, pigment, vinyl and screen mesh
    157 x 133 cm
    61.8 x 52.4 inches
  • For White, colonial image production is entangled with a contemporary collective memory as well as the reproduction of racist power dynamics. This play of references permeating throughout White’s artistic practice operates like active traces that continuously recur in the past and influence the present. Jacques Derrida termed this phenomenon hauntology in 1993. Through the concept of hauntology, the colonial past can be imagined as a ghost, a spectre, that haunts history, and can thus help perceive the persistence of today’s coloniality. For White, this concept holds the key to his archival research and its later decolonial and deconstructive undoing. 

  • Austin Martin White, The Eviction (fordlandia), 2021

    Austin Martin White

    The Eviction (fordlandia), 2021 Watercolor, ink, acrylic and screen mesh on paper
    Paper dimensions:
    146 x 214 cm / 57.5 x 86 inches
    Framed dimensions:
    154.6 x 221.4 cm / 60.9 x 87.2 inches
  • Austin Martin White, Revelation (fordlandia), 2022

    Austin Martin White

    Revelation (fordlandia), 2022 Watercolor, ink, rubber, pigment and screen mesh on paper
    Paper dimensions:
    200 x 138 cm / 78.7 x 54.3 inches
    Framed dimensions:
    209.4 x 146 cm / 82.4 x 57.5 inches
  • Austin Martin White, work cycle (fordlandia), 2022

    Austin Martin White

    work cycle (fordlandia), 2022 Ball point pen and vinyl on paper
    Paper dimensions:
    75.5 x 85.5 cm / 29.7 x 33.7 inches
    Framed dimensions:
    81.5 x 91 cm / 32.1 x 35.8 inches
    $ 6,500.00
  • Installation view, Austin Martin White, 'Last Dance', Capitain Petzel, Berlin, 2022
  • Austin Martin White, Cobalt spectre, 2021

    Austin Martin White

    Cobalt spectre, 2021 Watercolor and ball point pen on paper
    Paper dimensions:
    71 x 62 cm / 28 x 24.4 inches
    Framed dimensions:
    77 x 69 cm / 30.3 x 27.2 inches
  • Austin Martin White

    Austin Martin White

     

    Born in Detroit, MI in 1984
    Lives and works in Philadelphia, PA

     

     

    Austin Martin White received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Cooper Union in 2011 and holds a Master of Fine Art in painting from The Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College since 2019.

    He has exhibited at the Derek Eller Gallery in New York in 2021 along with artist Kathia St. Hilaire as well as at T293 in Rome, Italy and at Y2K in New York.