At The Install- How I Learnt to Reject the White Cube.

The white cube, the museum room where is simply white. The background- where the painting is unframed- looks modern- doesn’t it? Is it really modern? Have we evolved past minimalism? Is there a point where we say, “no more white cube?”. This is also for one of my assignments; it wasn’t explained during the assignment module but is still contemporary and the white cube was explored by another module. I believe that it still fits into the assignment neatly.

Before starting off this post I would like to say that this is my opinion and thoughts and nothing should be taken as fact.

Open Eye, has literally opened my eyes. I volunteered there in October and since volunteering, I have gained new ideas about what makes a “post-modern” gallery. Questioning the status quo, decolonising the gallery and last of all giving the unheard a voice.

White Cube- it’s bland. It’s a concept- devoid of life.

It’s just a white room- which does minimalize distraction. But why do we remove distractions? Why do we remove the original frames (the white cube is the frame in a white cube gallery)? It’s ugly and doesn’t fit the 21st century. We fight for the climate yet this cube denies the natural light. It uses electricity to fuel its light; which in turn burns our planet. Is this modern?

There are merits of this “cube”, however, abstract work looks amazing on it. Go spill forth onto the walls and imagine yourself in the painting. Then stretch it out, say- “the painting doesn’t end it lives forever”. Therefore you can just extend a painting- the white cube is perhaps a canvas!

I’ve witnessed art becoming more politicized and figurative and less abstract in galleries. Hence I put my believe that this system- is becoming more outdated. We put the stories of countless people and groups going through problems in this world in white cubes. But we must frame them! You must enter the frame and try and understand their concept in a new world. Perhaps, we’re at a point where- the frame is back. Now the white cube has an alternative.

It’s not galvanising!

Okay. Let’s put a group in a white cube and one in a black room. Both have shocking content inside- we record their reactions. I believe that the black room would have much more of an effect on the audience- it is a colour for the mood. Do we do colour theory only to have our work put into a gallery that is plain white? Why can’t the artist take over the background? The gallery can be their canvas- the world that transports the audience.

The construct of the white cube, I believe, is too sterilising. Can art not be for the normal person? Putting it on a pretentious wall makes it inhuman- almost as if we can say it’s higher than us. Art is human. We should treat it like that. Humans can be shocking. A white wall is not. It’s too normal now- we need to galvanise and challenge the status quo.

The white cube is boring.

We look at art- some of us think of art as art for art’s sake. It’s beautiful- can we not admire something of beauty? The white wall is ugly. It’s like a prison- paired with the concrete flooring. It’s man-made and inhumane; this is the environment you would factory farm chickens. That says a statement of art in a white cube; it’s a commercial product. The more art in a white cube; the more its value will possibly increase due to exposure.

Put the human back into art. Life into art. I argue that we humans are locked up in cages. Our skyscrapers are living prisons while we slave away at a job. In the white cube- art has been slaved to be an asset of the collector. If we look at a beautiful wall- whether contemporary decoration or traditional- it’s beautiful. It has humanity inside of it; it was made by a human. We appreciate that.

Human appreciation of manual labour and beauty,

For the “Africa Show” that I helped install. I had to paint a lot of walls, not white but multiple colours. It was a lot of effort but not one wall was one static colour- there were more. It required effort on the volunteer part and acquires appreciation. A human did that- not a machine. It’s not perfect as the white cube- it has a human error.

Those mistakes- make us human.

How do we understand another’s problems if we cannot enter their world?

If the white cube becomes the canvas for the painting but doesn’t limit the painting. How can we enter their worlds? This is especially the case for non-abstract work. If there’s an art piece of real-life trouble- how can we relate if we expand it. We must be limited to be allowed into the artist’s personal life. Confined to their space. The frame is necessary, again.

The white prison, it has its purposes- but it must evolve to survive. Minimalism won’t die- but the prison that cages art- hopefully, will.


Along with this as we enter the meta-modern period we are seeing the active removal of the white cube. The meta-verse and meta-space have created many opportunities for a non-white-cube space. It’s about time this happened and let’s embrace it!

This is an opinion piece and therefore definitely something up to debate! Please if you have anything to question me on my opinion- send it in the comments and I will reply! I want you to try and change my opinion! It’s all about looking at different perspectives!

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