Michelle Dizon’s work White Gaze is based on a collection of National Geographic magazines from the 1930s to the early 2000s that Dizon bought at a flea market. By preserving the pictures presented in the magazines intact but editing out parts of the accompanying text, Dizon underscores the racist stereotypes contained in the originals. By making use of a magazine that is recognized globally and has for decades provided a window on the surrounding world, Dizon makes visible the role of photography and the mass media in the spread of colonialist and imperialist ways of seeing.
In the installation The Archive’s Fold, Dizon uses images of the US colonial and postcolonial period in the Philippines, sourced from archives in the Philippines, the USA, her family albums, and the internet—to deal with the intergenerational legacies of colonial violence. The official archival photographs are contrasted with Dizon’s personal portrayal of an intimate realm where physical and spiritual remains are shared by the dead, the living, and the unborn. The piece takes the form of a conversation between Dizon’s great-great-grandmother in the year 1905 and her grandchild’s great-granddaughter in 2123. Both are named Latipa. The future Latipa lives in a time when climate catastrophe has made the Earth uninhabitable. She is now on her way to Proxima B, the closest planet to Earth believed to be capable of supporting human life. The work suggests that colonial assaults on people and the environment are deeply linked and have a devastating impact—lasting long after they are officially considered over.
Michelle Dizon (b. 1977 in Los Angeles, U.S.A.) lives and works in Riverside, California. The violence of imperialism and the intimate spaces of resistance within globalization form central pivots in her work which take the form of media installations, expanded cinema performances, essay films, books, and pedagogical platforms. Dizon earned an MFA in Art at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley. She directs the Memory and Resistance Laboratory and is Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at UC Riverside.
Courtesy the artist
The Archive’s Fold
11 slide projectors, sound, light board with pictures, and wall text
Courtesy the artist
Göteborgs Konsthall: White Gaze
Röda Sten Konsthall: The Archive’s Fold
Image: Michelle Dizon, The Archive’s Fold, 2018. Photo: Hendrik Zeitler