Blond Beast of Prey

Blond Beast of Prey

Russell Bruns/‘Shane Malone,’ Happy Mother’s Day (2020) (courtesy of Russell Bruns)

Against the backdrop of a global outcry and the battle against systemic racism, this essay examines the role of whiteness—as an idea, rather than as a racial category—in the maintenance of an acculturated system of power. I argue that race and racism are not the root of the problem but the symptom, and that the deeper issue resides in the inhumanity of institutions: in this case, the institution and culture of art, its values, its manifest self-regard, its exclusionary and controlling force. Through an examination of works by the artist Russell Bruns, I consider how, within the physical and ideological skin of whiteness, this malevolent project is challenged.