héloïse charital


When is white white enough?
Installation
2020


While the use of colours on ancient Greek marble statuary is evidenced since the 19th century, this characteristic is mostly unknown by a general audience. One of the reasons can be found in the white chromatic signal sent by museums when entering a room dedicated to ancient Greek art. Drawing upon this paradox in the institutional discourse `When is white, white enough?’; questions the role of museums as producers of ‘’knowledge’’. Focusing on a cleaning to remove the patina of famous sculptures from the Parthenon by the British Museum in 1937, `When is white, white enough?’ is a theatrical performance based on letters exchanged between museum staff members during the cleaning. The historical re-enact of a material cleaning, a process, mostly neglected by museums storytelling, aims to show the importance of this event as well as the subtle violence a cleaning implies physically and metaphorically. The general purpose of the installation is to put into parallel the mechanisms of museum display with the one of theatre in which scenography, script, role-play, create illusion.
Three different curtains act as open windows into the various significations of the same object. Three acts in which take place three different stories depending on the narrator, the context or the time. For this reason, in addition to the letters from the middle of the 20th century, contemporary use and appropriations of ancient Greek culture in political speeches to promote an idea of whiteness are put into perspective with the institutional discourse of the museum. As the play goes on, the combination of the historical event with its contemporary resonance highlights the ideological reasons behind the cleaning and the impact it had more broadly.
Reproducing a historical event, the play offers a new version of dioramas in which the backstage of the museum and the modern appropriation of the past is depicted. By focusing mainly on the “institutional life” of objects, When is white white enough? re-examines the multiplicity of stories and projections that are put on an object, asserting the claim that object can’t be fully possessed and that the narratives in which we put them tell more about the present than they do about the past, tell more about us than they do about it.












When is white white enough?
Performance
10 minutes
De Fabriek
June 2019020

















Kaiu Meiner, Coline Gauthier and Ismaël Rifaï




Mark