January 30, 2021

What Do White People See When Walking In The Woods?

Matt Sillars

Digital PhotographWhite Gaze - The Past is Always Present, 2020

In responding to the Black Lives Matter movement, I have to account for my own male, white, middle class, European privilege.

I cannot voice injustice on behalf of those whose voices are now being heard, as those voices should not be mediated through my channel.

They speak powerfully in their own right. Therefore, my work reflects on my privilege and concentrates on my experience – hoping to show by the absence of others where the issues lie.

“White Gaze -The Past is Always Present” comments, through the motif of white blocks and white frames intruding on the scene. On the way that landscapes are not naturally occurring but are socially constructed. The urban woodland areas around my house in Inverness are the preserve of the dominant group and people who are ‘othered’ may see them in entirely different ways. These are spaces where vulnerability is exacerbated and the chances of negative encounters are heightened. Although not visibly marked as such, they are landscapes of white, male privilege. They act as constant reminders of vulnerability and marginalisation. They are as much a monument to colonialism as statues.