The Whiteness House – Tarred and Feathered is a walk-in model of The White House, tarred and feathered. Tarring and feathering is a form of public humiliation and criticism used in feudal Europe and on the American frontier, mostly as a form of mob vengeance. According to Critchley, The White House takes on an ominous presence with a white President who has defined much of his Presidency based on color. Critchley asks “How is whiteness expressed through the White House following the tenure of America’s first black President? Who is getting tarred and feathered? The American people, the rightful owners of the White House, or the present tenant, the 45th President of the United States?” By asking these questions, creating an interactive sculptural metaphor, and initiating dialogue around the topic of “whiteness,” Critchley strives to cultivate transformation and redemption, and to heal the great divide growing among We the People.
The public presentation of The Whiteness House at the Santa Fe Art Institute included an interior installation with sound, and performances and a panel discussion, “Why Whiteness?” Performances included: the artist’s invocation, “O Breaker of Bones,” and a lip-sync dance to Nancy Sinatra’s, “These boots are made for walkin” (with tarred and feathered boots); Peggy Diggs’ Whiteness Project, whereby she passed out white cookies with sayings from the people she interviewed for her project; indigenous, activist artist and poet Israel F. Haros Lopez; and San Francisco-based artist Raphael Noz, whose letter and performance actions were presented by Critchley.
The panel discussion with the artists that followed included exhibition designer and artist Veronica Jackson.
Jay Critchley is a conceptual and multi-media artist and activist whose work has traversed the globe, showing across the US and in Argentina, Japan, England, Spain, France, Holland, Germany and Columbia. He founded the controversial patriotic Old Glory Condom Corporation, Miss Tampon Liberty and his backyard septic theater, Theater in the Ground. His movie, Toilet Treatments, won an HBO Award at Provincetown Film Festival in 2002, where he was featured in 2015 in conjunction with his survey show at the Provincetown Art Association & Museum, Jay Critchley, Incorporated. The show traveled to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. He has taught at the Museum School at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and has had artist residencies at: Harvard University; AS220, RI; Harvestworks, NYC; Williams College, MA; Real Art Ways, Hartford; Milepost 5, Portland, OR; Fundacion Valparaiso, Mojacar, Andalucia, Spain; and CAMAC, Marnay-sur-Seine, France. Jay was honored in 2012 by the Massachusetts State Legislature as an artist and director of the Provincetown Community Compact, which has raised $4.5M for AIDS, women’s health and the community.