Your Space Or Mine
The White Pube: Ideas for a new art world
Teaming up with The White Pube has been a long time coming but worth the wait. TWP is the collaborative identity of Gabrielle de la Puente and Zarina Muhammad. They first joined forces in 2015 and started writing about art in reaction the ‘boring, bad chat exhibition reviews produced by middle class white men.’ They’ve since branched out to share their sharp wit, enthusiasm and critical nous in broader cultural fields such as offering advice in Dazed magazine, to podcasting and writing about food and video games.
At the heart of everything they do is an impassioned commitment to candour, transparency and inclusivity across society and in particular the creative industries. Their campaigning for better pay and conditions for everyone – including ancillary staff and support workers – is inspiring. Working for better access, fair treatment and art/community spaces that do more than pay lip service to social engagement is their clarion call.
For the Your Space Or Mine collaboration TWP wanted to address some of the systemic injustices and inequalities that prop up a rarefied, hierarchical model of art production and consumption. Their ‘ideas for a new art world’ comprise direct and ambitious suggestions as to how things might be improved for the many and not just the few. Posters and billboards bearing sparse black text on a series of brilliant colour backgrounds – ‘Shiny Self Care’ blue; ‘Luvd Island’ red and ‘Soft e-Boi Blush’ pinky-lilac, to mention a few – echoing the website ‘Pube Pallete’ (courtesy TWP’s fave designer Amad Ilyas). These grey-day-defying interventions confront passers-by with plain speaking ideas such as ‘old guard gatekeepers need to step aside for diverse leaders that frequently evolve – in art and everything else as well to be honest.
What’s special about TWP is they walk the walk. A visit to thewhitepube.co.uk evidences independent and tireless effort. In their own words, “We decided to start writing and state how art made us feel (happy, bored, angry, in love). We try to write in a way where we would fall through feelings and write about the art along the way (someone would later tell us this is like embodied criticism: body first encounters in the gallery).” Not content to produce numerous, entertaining, always thoughtful and very much felt texts they also support new writers by dishing out grants, champion creatives through offering their site homepage as a rolling platform and provide resources that level the playing field for emerging talents.
Gabrielle and Zarina hail from and currently reside in Liverpool and London respectively – Instagram is their ‘office’ – so over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing TWP’s mini-manifesto for a fairer art world, and a more just society on billboards and street sites in both cities.
Follow them on Instagram, check out their artist shout-outs and read or listen to the sometimes provocative, always attentive, probing and reflective texts via their website. Oh, did I mention they’re also down to earth and often very funny. Taking the world and work seriously doesn’t mean being po-faced. TWP are a breath of fresh air, just what we need to kick off 2021.