The White Pube 23 Liverpool & London
Categories: Art

Posted: 2nd October 2017

Meet Gabrielle de la Puente & Zarina Muhammad, the founding duo of alternative art review platform: The White Pube. Born a week apart in June of the same year, the Cancer babies met whilst studying Fine Art at Central Saint Martins and soon became best friends. But it was a general rant about a particular exhibition review (Jon Rafman’s show at the Zabludowicz) published in the Evening Standard – and its lack of the fundamentals: opinion and critique – that turned their friendship into a creative partnership, too. Not only were they sick of reading the same mundane re-hashed press releases, Gabrielle and Zarina were also disheartened by the lack of representation and accessibility in the art world or as they put it, tired of “white people, white walls and white wine”. So, by switching the 1-5 star review rating system for emojis and deciding on a strategy that favoured carefully considered, natural, inclusive and informative storytelling (and a flexible approach to grammar), Gabrielle and Zarina said “fuck it, let’s do it ourselves” and The White Pube was born.

Now located between Liverpool and London Gabrielle and Zarina cover everything from exhibition reviews (Mark Lecky’s exhibition at Cubitt this summer received a fire emoji, whilst Wolfgang at The Tate got the looky-looky eyes), to musings on the production value of Love Island, and skincare advice, as told by Zarina. The White Pube also includes a library, that sees Gabrielle and Zarina invite members of TWP’s community to submit their texts for others to read and the duo regularly curate screenings, like Zayn Malik Zindabad at London’s ICA. A celebration of artists of colour, the screening focussed on the individuals at hand and their work rather than their identity, and was presented to and discussed by a wide, diverse audience.

Having garnered quite the cult following online, Gabrielle and Zarina realised the potential of their virtual real estate and started The White Pube Residency, that sees them invite web artists to exhibit their work each month. They’re also big on dating. But not of the Tinder or Bumble variety. Instead, The White Pube put out a call for “art dates”, as a way to get to know their community IRL by spending time at a gallery, a park, or wherever else you might fancy. Now that’s a date we’d swipe right for.

Tell us about yourselves and what you do: We are art critics. How did you guys meet? We were in the same year doing BA Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, and in second year we were in the same tutor group so we got to be friends. How did you come up with The White Pube? We were sat in the studio in third year moaning about an exhibition review in the Evening Standard and how it only described what was in the show, making no attempt to qualify why the journalist had given it three stars blah blah… so boring. We realised we don’t read exhibition reviews because they are boring and written by old white men, and basically said fuck it let’s do it ourselves. Let’s write careful nice accounts of reviews like tiny short stories or angry rants, texts that actually say something. Also, let’s give exhibitions emoji summaries instead of star ratings. Tell us about The White Pube residency… Realising we had some pretty good real estate with thewhitepube.com (the amount of visits to the website baffles me tbh) we put a call out to invite web residents to exhibit there on a monthly basis. We started with Miss January (Sarah Boulton) last year and we’re currently on Lord August (Haseeb Qureshi). We try and make sure that we are inclusive and generous to ppl who could rly benefit truly from some space of their own, even if it’s just for a month. So, for this reason we are selective, we have an anti-diversity policy where we make sure our year is predominantly non-white and non-male. Our residents can do literally anything they like, we just hand over the keys and let ‘em run with it. We don’t curate it rly, we just ask ppl who we think would like it. It’s just a nice gift to give your friends. What project have you been most proud of to date? Gabrielle: Zayn Malik Zindabad; after the first one, Zarina cried. We’re now about to do the third one, a day after Indian Independence day and I bet u she will cry again. (Zayn Malik Zindabad is a screening programme of moving image work by artists of South Asian descent. Gathering Motherland and diaspora close to our chest; pan-brown-unity. We wanted to do the screening because Zarina was sick of ppl accessing her work through her identity, so we put this screening together so the artists’ brownness was banal, and other facets of the work could be discussed and pulled apart. Ya, Zarina cried because it worked. And your biggest challenge? Probably also Zayn Malik Zindabad. Curating is rly difficult and draining and tbh, I don’t envy anyone who does this as their full-time job. Either that, or any time we’ve written a funding application. Which artists are you backing the most right now? Rly love Imran Perretta tbh, the show at Jerwood made me feel, and that is rare. Also, every time we meet Imran, we are blown away by the pure eloquence and excellence, truly a dreamboat. Also, I still keep thinking about Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s room in the Tanks last year. My god that still sticks with me, stuck to my back, can’t get it off. I don’t want to either. I don’t think we think too much about like, “Ah, this artist is v. good”. I feel like we see things as a flatlay; “this person did a good thing,” with an emphasis on the thing rather than the individual. How would your friends describe you in a sentence? Zarina: Very thinky, paced, beautiful water-type friend. Gabrielle: Doesn’t suffer fools, excellent eyeshadow. When are you happiest? Zarina: When I am with my grandma, my tiny cousin, and my aunt, in my aunt’s kitchen and we r all gossiping about our other family members. Either that or when me and my boy go out to eat (boy + food = happy gal). Gabrielle: I found out the other day that you can be sexy hungover so I’m gonna say that. Who do you admire? Zarina: When I was younger I wanted to be Shami Chakrabarty. Now I just wana be as on it, as organised, as take-no-bullshit as my mum. Gabrielle: Single mothers. I’m not even trying to b dramatic but how do they do it idk? What's your current obsession? Gabrielle: Naked Heat palette Zarina: Sudoku. I do one with my coffee every day. I am very good at them. What’s your best advice? Take no bullshit; don’t expect other ppl to do it for u so be prepared to do it urself and prepare to rely only on urself. Demand payment for ur labour always;;; don’t listen to white ppl:;; surround urself with woc who r excellent/doing excellent things, and their excellence will lift u up and support u, make u feel at home when the world wants to squash u like a bug;;;; always carry a small pot of cocoa butter with u, u never know when ur ankles will be inexplicably ashy;; don’t worry about proper punctuation. What could you not live without? Gabrielle: I was thinking about this last night when I was taking my makeup off because: makeup remover. I went on holiday to Lanzarote years ago and I forgot to bring some with me, and I couldn’t figure out how to get mascara off with soap and water and I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE STRESSED. Zarina: I concur. Could not live without my entire skincare bag tho, because I remember that time we got stuck in Liverpool by accident in 2015, and I didn’t have any moisturiser and it was the dryest day of my life. (I always carry a small face cream w me now because of this very incident). Book club recommendation? No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July. They are short stories and they are fuckin THE BEST. Best party you've ever been to? We’re having our 2nd birthday at WAH nails this year, October 12th, we’re going to get a cake with our faces printed on it very excited about that. Song to be playing as you enter the club? We don’t go to the club we go to bed. (But if we did, Zarina’s would be: Diljit Dosanjh – “Patiala Peg” – not a remix, the actual original). What's your signature dish? Gabrielle: I can’t cook and it is part of my aesthetiq. Zarina: I have so many bc I am the Indian girl of every mother’s dreams (I am excellent at cooking). I make very good spicy Sriracha stir-fry, but also I make crackin mixed veg Sabzi w whatever veg’s left in the fridge. I also make amazin Idli sambhar. But tbh my boy is a better/more enthusiastic cook than me so I don’t make the same thing too often, so don’t have a signature. What three things would be on your rider? Gabrielle: COCA COLA, WIFI, THE DRIED MANGO SPECIFICALLY FROM WAITROSE ITS AMAZIN. Zarina: wifi, Palmer’s cocoa butter, lemon n chili casava crisps. And finally… What's next? Trying to figure out ways to make money writing; moving out of our parents homes; buying a puppy the day I move into my own place; we r more concerned with life than art; tryna make our lives, this job, sustainable and supportive. AND FINALLY...WHO IS YOUR NEXT BABYFACE GIRL SUGGESTION?Who: Gabriella: Molly Gough
Why: because she is a real artist
Who: Zarina: Rene Matic
Why: she’s excellent, tiny punk lady, very tender, very soft, feels a lot. Love her lots.
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