'Remove racist paintings' and 'give back stolen objects': The White Pube takes its manifesto to the streets

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The Buck stopped here

The Buck stopped here is a weekly blog by our contemporary art correspondent Louisa Buck covering the hottest events and must-see exhibitions in London and beyond

For more than five years The White Pube—the collaborative alter ego of Zarina Muhammad and Gabrielle de la Puente—has been the online scourge of the art world.

Via Twitter and Instagram and weekly texts posted to their website, they combat all that is male, pale and stale with their confessionally subjective, emoji-studded exhibition reviews that fly in the face of staid art criticism.

The duo behind this most alternative of art writing platforms met as undergraduate students at Central St Martin’s art school in 2015 and originally set up The White Pube to write their own reviews instead of reading what they describe as "bad chat by middle class white men".

Since then, The White Pube’s scope has expanded to targeting multiple failings across the creative industries as well as writing about video games and food. They also host community based podcasts, recently launched a monthly writer’s grant, and their website offers a comprehensive successful funding application library.

Now The White Pube has taken to the streets in collaboration with the BUILDHOLLYWOOD family of JACK, JACK ARTS and DIABOLICAL agencies to launch a three-month campaign that emblazons "ideas for a new art world" across posters and billboards in London and Liverpool, the home cities of Muhammad and de la Puente.

Their manifesto takes the form of six punchy proposals as to how matters might be improved socially, economically and ethically for museums, galleries, artists and art workers. Each of these six "ideas" is printed on a different coloured background to confront passers-by with bluntly worded statements that range from Idea 002: "Universal Basic Income and affordable housing so that everyone, including artists, can make a living," to the more provocative: ‘Dear museums, give back all stolen objects," so reads Idea 006. Tate continues to be a particular White Pube bugbear, with Idea 001 baldly stating: “If I were the Tate, I would simply remove my racist paintings.”

“We wanted to plop these ‘lil aphorisms out there, as simple, feasible solutions; almost to prove how easy solutions can be if change is sincerely sought,” declare Muhammad and de la Puente with determined optimism. “None of these things are particularly radical, they’re just common sense, but for some reason the creative industry operates in this wild space that makes them seem outlandish,” they say. Simple on paper maybe, but of course in practice The White Pube’s uncompromising manifesto is anything but. Now the gauntlet has been thrown down, let’s see how—or if—the wider world picks it up...

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