Dedicated to raising awareness for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A), the show promotes the need for inclusion. “Everybody wins if the E.R.A is passed,” says White. The exhibition serves as a launching platform for a two week march from New York City to Washington, DC, to raise awareness of the Equal Rights Amendment with the mission of educating people about the issue along the way.
The United States is only one of seven countries in the world along with Iran, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and the two Pacific Island nations Palau and Tonga that have not ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination of Women (CEDAW). Known as the International Bill of Rights for Women, CEDAW has been signed and ratified by 187 countries, virtually every other country on Earth. This fact is what inspired White to dedicate her life to getting the E.R.A passed, raising awareness through her art.
“The Vietnam War ended in part because rock and roll music brought attention to the issue and a call for peace was transmitted through art. The Civil Rights movement was spearheaded by poets and activists calling out their leaders. I am an artist– it is my duty to help stop centuries of discrimination against women. Even if it’s not convenient or easy, it must be done,” says White.
Natalie White for Equal Rights features White’s self-portrait double exposure oversized polaroid images in red, white and blue. A bronze sculpture of White, nude in combat boots holding the American Flag is the centerpiece of the exhibition. The underground exhibition space will feature an interactive study with books on the Constitution, a timeline of the history of the E.R.A and information on steps that can be taken to get it passed. A series of propaganda flags will be shown, “Sons of Liberty, Defend the Republic” will alternatively read, “Sisters of Liberty, Demand Equal Rights”. Moreover, instead of the original flag in which the rattlesnake is sliced into pieces that originally represent the states of the Colonial America, White’s redefined flag will have abbreviations of the states that have yet to ratify the E.R.A.
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that would expressly prohibit discrimination against girls and women on the basis of gender. The Constitution currently does not guarantee equal rights for women. In her work, Natalie White advocates for a more progressive legislature, rooted in the fact that economic inequality, pregnancy discrimination, violence against women, and other forms of discrimination against women and girls are pervasive and leave women without effective legal recourse. State laws are not uniform and federal laws are not comprehensive. Moreover, these laws can be, and in some cases have been, rolled back at any time.
Natalie White is a provocative and progressive feminist artist, best known for her self-portrait work in giant polaroid photography and her contributions as a “muse” to the work of many of today’s art and fashion luminaries, such as George Condo, Olivier Zahm, Will Cotton, Spencer Tunick, and Sean Lennon. “Feminist by nature, riot by habit”, Natalie White is a leader in advocating for female empowerment and self-affirmation through art. Born in 1988 in Fairmont, West Virginia, White first gained attention internationally as a young model. She is notably the first American ever to be featured in French Playboy. Reclaiming the objectification of her body as her own art in 2013 at Who Shot Natalie White, a retrospective from twenty five artists for whom she had been a muse, White debuted herself as a solo artist. She also has performed at the Art Basel Miami Women in Art benefit in collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth Sackler Center.
Laura O’Reilly, founder of Wallplay, curated the first installment of Natalie White for Equal Rights entitled “Instant Gratification”, in September 2015 at Wallplay’s store-front project space in The Hole. The installation featured a daily performance piece by White, topless and enclosed in a plexiglass box in the front window with a sign stating that the E.R.A had never been passed, a fact which most women walking by were not aware of. Natalie White for Equal Rights is a platform and exhibition produced with the aim of bringing wit and enjoyment to the daunting process of instigating policy change.
White’s exhibition at WhiteBox will serve as a launching platform for a two week march from New York City to Washington, DC in protest of the lack of ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Feminists of all genders, age, religion and race are invited to participate. There will be two stops a day in various cities and towns along the way. The concluding stop of each day of the March For ERA will feature festive speeches, a concert and collaborative art installations. Participants will stay and rest at community centers, rock & roll tour buses and campgrounds. Once the March reaches DC, there will be a final protest asking Congress to vote to extend the deadline on the ERA. A supermajority of Congress (⅔ of Congress) will have to vote to extend the Equal Rights Amendment before ratification would go to the States.
Natalie White and WhiteBox are raising money for the march through donations channeled through WhiteBox, a 501 c3 organization, as well as crowdsourcing on Kickstarter and donations through art sales from the exhibition.